ARM-Based M1 Macs: New MacBooks & The Mac Mini RETURNS…

By Michael Grothaus •  Updated: 11/11/20 •  5 min read

For years there had been persistent rumors that Apple was going to transition the Mac to chips based on the A-series used in iPhone and iPads.

In June, Apple finally confirmed those rumors, announcing the Mac was moving to ARM-based chipsets.

And as of this week, Apple introduced the first Macs using that ARM-base chip, called M1.


Make no mistake about it: the M1 ARM-based Mac is a historic moment in Apple’s history.

It makes a monumental shift not only in processing architecture but Apple’s ability to design more of its own Macs in-house.

For over a decade, Apple has been reliant on Intel and its chips and upgrade timelines in order to introduce new Macs.

ARM-Based M1 Macs: New MacBooks & The Mac Mini RETURNS...
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But with Apple resining its own silicon in-house, it’s likely we’ll see each Mac–be in a MacPro, iMac, or MacBook–updated yearly, each year bringing a new, more powerful M-series chipset.

For now, however, the Macs Apple announced this week will ship with the M1 chipset, which Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Technologies, raved about, saying:

“There has never been a chip like M1, our breakthrough SoC for the Mac. It builds on more than a decade of designing industry-leading chips for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, and ushers in a whole new era for the Mac. When it comes to low-power silicon, M1 has the world’s fastest CPU core, the world’s fastest integrated graphics in a personal computer, and the amazing machine learning performance of the Apple Neural Engine. With its unique combination of remarkable performance, powerful features, and incredible efficiency, M1 is by far the best chip we’ve ever created.”

As for which computers are getting the M1 chip this time around, Apple announced the new silicon will go into three new Macs.

MacBook Air (2020)

ARM-Based M1 Macs: New MacBooks & The Mac Mini RETURNS...
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Here are the specs of the new 2020 M1 MacBook Air:

The bummer about the new MacBook Air is that it retains the same form factor as the previous one.

That means it looks identical. Matter of fact, the newest thing about it is the M1 chipset. However, that’s a massive upgrade in itself.

As Apple says: “With the M1 chip, MacBook Air speeds through everything from editing family photos to exporting videos for the web. The powerful 8-core CPU performs up to 3.5x faster than the previous generation. With up to an 8-core GPU, graphics are up to 5x faster, the biggest leap ever for MacBook Air, so immersive, graphics-intensive games run at significantly higher frame rates.”

But best of all, despite the massive boost in processing power thanks to the M1, the MacBook Air is still only $999.

MacBook Pro 13in (2020)

ARM-Based M1 Macs: New MacBooks & The Mac Mini RETURNS...
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Here are the specs of the new 2020 M1 MacBook Pro:

What might surprise you is that the MacBook Air and the new 13in MacBook Pro aren’t that different. What you get with the Pro that you don’t with the Air is the Touch Bar, an extra 100 nits of brightness in the display, improved speakers, and the longest battery life of any MacBook ever–at up to 20 hours (INSANE!).

The new 13in MacBook Pro starts at $1,299.

Mac mini (2020)

ARM-Based M1 Macs: New MacBooks & The Mac Mini RETURNS...
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Here are the specs of the new 2020 M1 Mac mini:

To the rejoice of fans everywhere, the first desktop Mac that got the new M1 chip is the Uber-popular Mac mini. From a performance perspective, it’ll have the same processing power as the MacBook and MacBook Pro. However, as Apple points out, the new Mac mini with M1 is a MASSIVE improvement over the older model:

“M1 brings an 8-core CPU with up to 3x faster performance than the previous generation, dramatically accelerating demanding workloads, from compiling a million lines of code to building enormous multitrack music projects. An 8-core GPU delivers up to a massive 6x increase in graphics performance, allowing Mac mini to tackle performance-intensive tasks like complex 3D rendering with ease.”

Best of all, Apple actually LOWERED the price of the Mac mini. It used to cost $799, but now the M1 model is just $699.

And maybe one thing that’s even better: none of these MacBooks have the terrible Butterfly keyboard. Also, be sure to learn How To Check If Your M1 Mac Is Running Intel Apps!

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Michael Grothaus

Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.

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