Portable Macs with ARM processor M1: Also very similar to Intel Macs inside

Regardless of whether the new MacBooks with the M1 chip are viewed from a distance or up close – there are no major differences to the previous Intel models.

Only a globe icon on the fn key of MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, with which emojis can be called up faster, reveals that these are brand new devices. Even in terms of weight, there are hardly any differences, although Apple’s own SoCs allow significantly more integration.

MacBook Air without a fan

A first teardown of the two M1 MacBooks carried out by the repair service provider iFixIt now demonstrates how “Intel” still is in terms of the inner workings of the devices. “Something old, something new” is appropriately headed. The biggest change can be found in the MacBook Air. Apple has now omitted the fan for the first time.

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A thick aluminum heat spreader should now be solely responsible for removing the waste heat. There are no moving parts. The main board is of course new, the combination of M1 and memory is recognizable. There is no longer a T2 security chip; it is in the SoC. The WLAN Bluetooth module (with Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0) does not seem to be from Broadcom, it has an Apple designation (USI 339S00758). The other hardware structure with battery and more looks very much like the predecessor. Apple installs similar components in both M1 MacBooks. It should be noted with the Air that it runs less with one graphics core.

Nailed up even more

With the MacBook Pro, the changes are almost even smaller except for the new, integrated motherboard. Apparently Apple even uses the same fan as in this year’s Intel models. The T2 chip is also missing from the MacBook Pro. Apple’s work in merging all of these functions of course also makes the machines more difficult to repair. If the RAM fails, the entire integrated SoC has to be replaced. The SSDs are of course soldered (which is not new).

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The Mac is making the next big change in processor architecture. Instead of Intel processors, Apple has been using in-house ARM-based SoCs (System on a Chip) since the end of 2020, starting with the M1. The change had been evident for a long time.

IFixIt believes that Apple has been working intensively on the new interior for years, despite the apparently minor changes. And that should only be the beginning. The machines are quiet, fast and interesting. But they are also more difficult to repair, especially outside of Apple’s own workshop network.


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