Apple’s new M1 silicon Macs are here: MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro and Mac mini promise big performance gains

Apple M1 Macs
(Image credit: Apple)

As expected, Apple has announced a new range of Macs powered by its first silicon chip, which we now know is called the M1. The MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro and Mac mini have all been upgraded, with each one promising to be significantly more powerful than its predecessor.

When it comes to performance, Apple claims that the M1 can deliver up to 3.5x faster CPU, 6x faster GPU and up to 15x faster machine learning capabilities. What’s more, battery life on the M1-powered laptop models is said to be up to twice as long.

The new MacBook Air contains an 8-core CPU and up to 8-core GPU, and because there’s no fan inside, promises to run in complete silence. There’s a Retina display, and two Thunderbolt ports with USB 4 support. Prices start at $999/£999.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro appears to have similar raw specs, though it does have an ‘active cooling system’. What’s more, it seems that you’re stuck with just two Thunderbolt ports, rather than the four you get on the higher-end Intel-powered 13-inch MacBook Pro. Prices for this one start at $1,299/£1,299.

Finally, there’s the Mac mini. Once again, you’re looking at an 8-core CPU/GPU M1 chip here, with Apple claiming that you can use up to three times more real-time plugins in Logic Pro (presumably when compared to the previous model). Again, there are two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports, plus two USB-1 ports. The Mac mini starts at $699/£699, which is $100/£100 less than the previous quad-core model.

It remains to be seen if the new Macs can live up to Apple’s performance claims in real-world scenarios, but the numbers certainly sound impressive.

There’s also the question of how long it will take DAW and plugin developers to create Universal versions of their products so that they’re M1-compatible, though there is always the option to run legacy software via the Rosetta 2 technology. What’s more, those who buy M1-powered Macs will be able to run iOS apps, too, and Apple has already updated all of its own Mac software.

Find out more on the Apple website. The new M1 Macs are available to order now and will start shipping next week.

Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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