Review of the all-new MacBook Pro M1

Review of the all-new MacBook Pro M1

It was time to modernize my main work tool. Purchased in December 2017 in the refurbished section, my Intel i5 processor MacBook Pro (2.3GHz, 8GB RAM, 128GB storage) was starting to struggle under demand. In short, with two web browsers and several pages open – stock market, Yahoo Finance, news – Word, three screens and a little music, the laptop was starting to heat up, literally.

Materially, the most disappointing was certainly its battery which has not held its capacity so well in just three years, despite my habits to preserve its performance. Having said that, back to my new toy.

M1 system chip

Same 13-inch screen size, same exterior design, the new MacBookPro at processor M1 made by Apple of the chip-system type (system on chip or SoC) completely disrupts the way we design a computer system.

In addition to MacBook Pro (MBPro), this M1 is now installed in MacBook Air and Mac mini.

Review of the all-new MacBook Pro M1

We say “system chip” because this M1 integrates both an eight-core processor, an eight-core graphics card, 16-core Neural Engine machine learning functions, cache memory and RAM. Only SSD storage is separate. It is also an SoC architecture identical to iPhone and iPad mobile devices.

Review of the all-new MacBook Pro M1

Because all of these components are unified, performance surges. Not only is startup faster, everything becomes instant, or almost. Regardless of the amount of software, it is very quick to open for those that have been rewritten to run on this completely different system chip from the Intel PC architecture. To open, these need an emulator, Rosetta2, which translates the program code to make it compatible with the M1 system chip – like Rosetta 1 at the time of the transition from PowerPC to Intel.

Limited options

If there is a downside to a system on a chip, while negligible in my opinion, it is the lack of choice. Before, you could choose the type of graphics card, the central processor and the number of cores. Here, this choice is limited to the amount of RAM.

Between 8 or 16 GB, I chose the second option to have a long-term efficient computer.

The last choice on the Apple store remains storage, between 256GB and 2TB. I had 128GB in the old MBPro, which didn’t cause any inconvenience other than the inability to install macOS 11 Big On which required more free space. The 256 GB of the new one will be more than enough for my needs. Note here that my music and photo catalogs, as well as the backup, are stored on an external USB-C dual SSD drive, each on 500 GB.

Review of the all-new MacBook Pro M1

Installation and transfer

Right out of the box, the MBPro M1 was ready to go with the configurations for use. Until then, everything is fine.

For transferring content, software and preferences from one to another, the two MBPro did not recognize each other on my WiFi network. Regardless, I much preferred the direct method, via USB-C Thunderbolt3 cable, the same one I use for my external disk drive.

Here it was enough to start the old MBPro in target mode (target mode), that is to say by holding the T key at startup which makes it an external disk. Then connect the two with the USB-C cable.

The new MBPro immediately recognized the old one and started the transfer which only took about 15 minutes.

Microsoft ready

I found in the new all the content of the old. That said, it took installing the update to version 11.1 of Big Sur, Apple’s brand new system for its new and old machines. I will come back to Big Sur and the amazing battery life in a future column.

Finally, there were several software to update, such as the Microsoft 365 (Office) suite, all compatible and rewritten for the M1 system chip.

Oops! One less screen!

Big black spot here. The Mac M1’s Thunderbolt 4 USB-C architecture only supports one external display and not two like my old MBPro did.

Including the 13 ” laptop screen, I had two external 29 ” and 24 ” displays connected CalDigit TS3 Plus docking station which, in addition, provides power to the MBPro and the connection of other peripherals: external disks, digitizer, speaker, SD cards and Ethernet network cable.

I hope that an update from Apple will correct this important deficiency which did not exist with the Thunderbolt 3 ports.

Price

You will be as amazed as I would when you go to the Apple site, the prices of MBPro M1 are significantly lower than those of Intel chip systems.

Purchased in the refurbished section in December 2017, the old MBPro Intel i5 cost $ 1,677 including tax.

Before choosing the new M1, the Mac I was eyeing was a powerful 15 ”or 16” i9 MBPro running around $ 3,000. The new M1, with 16GB of RAM, comes in at $ 2,241 including tax. The delivery time was around three weeks.

As for the “old” MacBook Pro, it will soon be getting an interior makeover – new battery, new SSD storage – to be resold.

Review of the all-new MacBook Pro M1

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