Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

Apple M1 From Other Camp

Apple launched new Mac hardware, powered by their new in-house M1 processors, earlier this month. Power efficiency and performance claims were out-of-this-world. Actual hardware have shipped, and they are in the hands of retail customers, so these are real, and they are to be believed.

Many respected YouTubers have had their go on the new Mac computers and they are pretty much all in agreement. The new M1 processors are supremely impressive. Here are some of their impressions and reviews, if you haven’t had the chance to see them.

MBQHD: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4g2nPY-VZc

Dave 2D: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQ6vX6nmboU&t=612s

The Verge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEaKQ0pxQsg

It is not unbelievable that the M1 processors would come. From the time Apple put their own processors in their iPhones, this possibility that they would replace Intel processors in their Mac hardware is something many techies believed would happen. It is not if, but mainly a question of when.

Then, when it does come, well, I’ll be honest. I expected the first generation Apple processors, ones that are intended to replace Intel’s stronghold on laptop and desktop processors, to be not entirely impressive. They will be definitely be competitive, in some metrics, but to just outdo Intel completely, that was unexpected.

Intel has, after all, been in this processor business for decades. Surely, a new-comer would not catch up that quickly? Yes, the A-series processors have outperformed Qualcomm’s Snapdragon for many generations. But, laptop processors is a different ball-game?

The thing is, the M1 is here, and they are shockingly good. They run native apps, those newly recompiled for ARM platform, which the M1 is based on, incredibly fast. In fact, they even run x86 apps, translated through the Rosett 2 emulation layer, as good as the counterpart Intel processors, maybe even better.

Can you imagine that? Emulated programs, originally designed for Intel processors, are running better, or at least as good as, on the new Mac computers.

What in the world has Intel been doing all these years? A new kid on the block just came along and completely beat them at their own game. Even AMD, yes, they should be ashamed.

Looking at the price points of the new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini, Apple is not charging an arm (pun intended) and leg for the new processors. In fact, they are not even charging any premium for these new M1 processors. This makes their new hardware even more attractive. Better, yet not more costly.

Some people, like me, who abandoned Mac hardware and gone to Windows in recent years, may look on in envy. Did we make a mistake to bail out on Apple? Is it time to switch back? How does the Mac compare with Windows now?

It was hard switching from Mac to Windows. I jumped ship a few years ago. I don’t fancy going through the pains of switching. Fortunately, for now, I think the reasons I hard for going to Windows are still relevant, and despite how amazing the new M1 processors might be, I don’t exactly see them swinging back a boatload of ex-Mac users.

The M1 processors might be very fast, and use very little power. But Intel’s processors aren’t completely trashy. I mean, the 10th or 11th generation mobile processors are generally fast enough, and can last long enough on batteries, for most casual uses. Faster is always better, and longer battery runtimes would be neat, but we can make do with what we have now. (But Intel, seriously, you need to catch up with the M1!)

Yet, I don’t rule out that Apple might just some day do for the Mac what I’m hoping they’ll do. I want touch, and I want pen input, on a laptop-tablet convertible. Apple seems to be trying to move in that direction, but yet still trying to keep the Mac and iPad as two separate, distinct, product lines.

There are also other “concerns” I have over Apple’s locked ecosystem. If Apple could be more open and inclusive with what runs on their platform, and give users more real choice about how they want to use those platforms, that will be a big change.

When that time comes, I’ll have a serious problem. Mac, or Windows.

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