Buying guide for Apple Silicon M1 Mac: 2020 MacBook Air vs....

Apple’s Macs with the Apple Silicon M1 processor are the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini. Here’s how to choose the right one for your needs.

Apple’s 2020 M1 MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini

Apple announced the first Macs equipped with the new ARM-based company

System-on-Chip (SoC) on his
„One More Thing“ -Event

. The M1 MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and
Mac mini

are available for pre-order from the Apple Store starting today and will be available next week. At TechRepublic, we’ll be buying the new Macs to test with their Intel-based Mac counterparts and similar Windows PCs. But should you buy one … for yourself or for your business? And which one should you choose?

As with any business technology purchase, the answer to these questions depends on what the machine is being used for. So I’ll break down each machine based on the job categories I think it’s best for. If I was still in SMB and corporate IT, where I started my tech career, that’s how I would deploy the M1 MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini. Remember, I’m assuming my company already has the infrastructure to support Apple hardware and the purchase will follow ours
Hardware and software procurement policy

This means that end users are either queuing for a new machine as part of our computer upgrade cycle or we are buying new machines for short-term hires.


Apple MacBook Air (M1 2020)

The M1 MacBook Air can with a 7-core GPU or an 8-core GPU variant of the M1 chip, 8 GB or 16 GB RAM, 256 GB (only available with the 7-core M1 version), 512 GB , 1 TB or 2 TB SSD can be configured warehouse. Unlike previous generations, the new Air does not have a fan. The laptop has 2x Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports, a 3.5 mm headphone jack and a 13.3 inch display. It supports Wi-Fi with 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6, 802.11a / b / g / n / ac and Bluetooth 5.0. Prices start at $ 999 for a 7-core GPU model with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage. This is the same starting price as the previous generation. A maximum M1 MacBook Air with an 8-core GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 2TB of storage costs $ 2,049.



Image: Apple

The M1 MackBook Air is a great option for:

  • Existing MacBook Air users who need an upgrade
  • Laptop users who are under-exhausting their CPU or GPU (executives, salespeople, knowledge workers, students with no engineering, etc.)
  • Creative professionals, photographers, video producers, graphic artists, etc. who need a highly portable laptop

TechRepublic and our sibling site ZDNet will actually be testing one of the M1 MacBook Airs as a video production machine in the coming weeks. Look forward to our test results and the full review.

Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch M1 2020)

The 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro can be equipped with 8 GB or 16 GB RAM, 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB or 2 TB SSD storage, 2x Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports, 3.5 mm headphone jack and 13.3 Inch display can be configured. In contrast to the new Air, it has a fan and Apple’s Touch Bar. It supports Wi-Fi with 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6, 802.11a / b / g / n / ac and Bluetooth 5.0. Prices start at $ 1,299 for the Pro with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. An M1 MacBook Pro with 16GB of RAM and 2TB of storage will bring you back $ 2,299.



Image: Apple

The 13-inch M1 MackBook Pro is a great option for:

  • Existing MacBook Pro users who need to upgrade
  • Creative professionals who need sustainable performance from their CPU and GPU
  • Developers, engineers, CAD users, etc. (or students in these fields) who usually work on a laptop

I’m going to be testing a 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro on my current computer – a 15-inch MacBook Pro from late 2016. I’m particularly interested to see how the M1’s built-in GPU and 16GB combined storage work with it the discrete GPU and 4 GB graphics RAM of the older computer.

Apple Mac mini (M1 2020)

The M1 Mac Mini can be equipped with 8 GB or 16 GB RAM, 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB or 2 TB SSD storage, 2x Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports, HDMI 2.0 port, Gigabit Ethernet port, 2x USB A ports, 3.5 mm headphone jack can be configured. and built-in speaker. It supports Wi-Fi with 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6, 802.11a / b / g / n / ac and Bluetooth 5.0. Prices start at $ 699 for a model with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. That’s $ 100 less than the previous generation. A full-fledged Mac mini with 16GB of RAM and 2TB of storage is still expensive at $ 1,699.



Image: Apple

As the most affordable M1 Mac, the Mac mini is a great option for:

  • Existing Mac Mini owners who need an upgrade
  • Creative professionals and desktop users who don’t need the performance of a Mac Pro or the built-in screen of the iMac or iMac Pro, but who need sustainable performance
  • Developers who want to start building apps for Apple Silicon
  • IT staff who need to test the new M1 machines

Apple M1 SoC and software compatible … TL; DR

The above recommendations also assume that you’ve done your homework on how Apple’s move from Intel-based processors to ARM chips will affect software compatibility. But if you haven’t followed the story, here’s the TL; DR version.



Image: Apple

Apple planned that
Transition from Intel silicon in Macs

For some time now and officially announced their plans at its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) 2020. The company has used its own chips in iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch for years, and using Apple chips in Macs has many advantages:

  1. If Apple doesn’t rely on Intel, it can better control its component costs (better margins) and supply chain (Intel’s delay in the 7nm process).
  2. Developers can more easily create an app that runs on all Apple hardware.
  3. Users get a “more seamless workflow” for iOS, iPadOS, and macOS devices.
  4. The M1 will help Apple stand out in a crowded market. Larry Dignan wrote in his assessment of the M1 on ZDNet: “Apple Silicon is probably a differentiator. Apple can market its processors well and Apple fans will likely buy in. “

There is one potential hiccup that IT departments and buyers need to understand. Software written for Intel x86_64 processors that use Complex Instruction Set Computing (CISC) cannot run natively on arm64 processors that use Reduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC). For most M1 Mac buyers, this shouldn’t be a problem.

All apps that come with the latest version of macOS
Big Sur

(macOS 11.0) or Apple-made devices have been optimized for use with M1 chips. Safari, iWork apps like Pages, Numbers and Keynote, iMovie, Final Cut Pro, GarageBand, etc. all work fine.

iPhone and iPad apps can also run natively on M1 Macs. How well iPadOS and iOS apps can take advantage of a Mac’s bigger screen is TBD.

Then there is what Apple calls “universal apps,” which contain both a native binary version for Apple Silicon and one for Intel chips. If you download one of these apps, it will work on either an M1 or an Intel Mac. During the launch event, Apple noted that Adobe will be making a universal version of its apps available, starting with Lightroom in December and Photoshop early next year.

Big Sur can also run software written exclusively for Intel chips thanks to a new version of Rosetta. Rosetta was introduced in 2006 when Apple switched from PowerPC to Intel processors. It is a binary translator that allows users to “run apps that contain x86_64 instructions on Apple silicon”.

However, Rosetta is a stop-gap measure. Apple’s developers want their existing Intel apps to eventually be converted to Apple Silicon apps. And frankly, the speed of the Apple Silicon transition depends on how quickly software developers jump on board.

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