After fifteen years of beating into the rhythm of Intel Cores, Apple has begun its two-year transformation to Apple’s Silicon chip. The first ARM Macs have arrived and we’ve been able to say good things about the 13-inch MacBook Pro we reviewed.
To the point, moreover, one might wonder what was left of the high-end MacBook Pros with Intel processors, as their performance was swept away by the Apple Silicon chip that armor two entry level models.
Same good basics
An even more pressing question since the two MacBook Pro models offer many similarities:
- the one dimensions (30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56 cm) and the same pressure (1,4 Kg);
- the same slab Retina (13.3 inches for native definition of 2560×1600 pixels at 227 ppi), equipped with the same technologies: True Tone, P3, and the like. ;
- the same keyboard Magic Keyboard, which is given to be far more durable than the regretting butterfly keyboard nonetheless;
- the one Touch Bar, which oscillates between facilitating specific applications in applications and complicating life for basic settings historically assigned to Function keys;
- button Touch ID, with the difference that the Intel model is controlled by the T2 chip that suffers from an impossible-to-correct fault, while the Mac M1 is based on the secure enclosure of the new SoC;
- the one trackpad huge and hard to find fault with;
- the same camera Time Time, which insists on being just 720p, even if the M1 allows for a slight gain in video quality.
However, there are areas where not only the two laptops stand out but where the Intel MacBook Pro gets the best, again … Points that are especially important for professionals, those who may have very difficult use of their laptop, even if the 13-inch MacBook Pros remain at a point of balance between demanding consumer and professional use.
Processors: Intel Advantage, for choice, M1 Advantage to the rest
The M1 is a powerful SoC, available in its most powerful version on the MacBook Pro, as it benefits from its 8 CPU and GPU cores and 16 cores for the Neural engine.
However, the Mac M1 does not offer other optional processors, while the Intel model shows two possible options. The default, a quad core 2 GHz Core i5 (3.8 GHz Turbo Boost), and the optional one, a Core i7 2.3 GHz (Turbo Boost 4.1 GHz), also quad-core. Both chips are tenth generation and offer the Iris Plus graphics chipset.
The 13-inch models do not offer an optional Core i9, and the presence of the Core i7 ensures additional power for certain renderings and tasks that benefit from operating frequencies.
In the light of our testing, the Core i7 is not necessarily more powerful than the M1, however it shows very decent performance and in particular has a distinct advantage over the M1 platform: it can take advantage of more RAM.
RAM: Intel’s advantage, despite a difficult comparison
The Intel platform, as introduced by Apple, can handle up to 32 GB of RAM. That’s twice as much as the first Apple Silicon chip can handle.
This could make a difference for some professional applications that are particularly memory-intensive in general, and which may not have become Universal yet. We think for example of Photoshop.
However, this point is only valid in the short term, if you need to change engines quickly. It really is very likely that the replacements for the high-end 13-inch MacBook Pro will carry more RAM and offer even better performance than some Intel chips and even the M1. If you can wait, our advice: do it.
Especially since this advantage of the amount of RAM is still a bit difficult to judge. Comparing the memory requirements of one architecture and the other is complicated. Indeed, the M1 Macs and their SoC adopt a unified approach to memory, which implies less data transfers between the CPU and the GPU, or in any case less writing and rewriting of the same elements in the memory, and therefore less RAM requirement, possibly.
In any event, our tests have shown, with the same amount of memory, as for most uses, that the M1s dominate the Intel Cores.
Connector and external demonstrator: Intel Advantage
Historically, entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pros have been on the diet in terms of connectivity. They offer only two ports, one usually occupied by the electric charger, and the other available to plug in what needs to be connected: USB key, adapter, etc.
The model at the top of the range not only offers twice as many ports, but they are distributed on both sides of the machine, which is much more practical in everyday life.
However, that is not the only advantage of the 13-inch Intel MacBook Pro. When the MacBook Pro M1 officially can connect an external display at the same time, whether it’s 4K or 6K, the Intel MacBook Pro can handle not only 6K or 5K display, but two 4K displays at the same time . Which can obviously be a game changer for some professionals who work with big timelines or large contact sheets.
However, it seems that with a bit of software trick and the right adapter / screen it is possible to work on two external screens at the same time as the Mac M1. The graphics chip would take the shock without worry. But Apple doesn’t recognize this possibility right now.
Finally, the last point, the M1 Macs have Thunderbolt / USB 4 connectors (identical to USB-C). While USB 4 is technically capable of handling, Apple Silicon Macs are currently unable to work with eGPUs, these external boxes that have a dedicated graphics card to help with the main configuration. If you really need a solid GPU for 3D rendering or parallel computing, you’d better stay under Intel’s jurisdiction.
Wireless connectivity: The advantage of Apple Silicon, finally
It’s a small point, but the M1 Macs are Apple’s first Wi-Fi 6 computers. As consumer routers grow in number and affordability, it’s about time. that Apple, which has done so much to bring this technology to the fore, is finally turning to the next generation of Wi-Fi. This will give MacBook Pros better speeds, especially in environments where many machines are populated.
This “reluctance” is all the more surprising as we do not understand why the latest Intel Macs are not compatible with Wi-Fi 6, as the chips and platforms provided by the Santa Clara giant are obviously.
Applications: Apple Silicon advantage, weight of history, strength of novelty
Currently, as we are at the beginning of the migration from Intel to Apple Silicon processors, the vast majority of applications are built to run natively on x86 chips – and even when ported to run on ARM . , they will remain compatible with Intel processors for a long time to come.
However, ARM Macs provide enough power that we do not hesitate to recommend them, although some programs will need to be simulated through Rosetta 2 initially. If there are some hiccups of course, Rosetta also works well enough to allow some applications to be faster … when they are simulated on M1!
You may be interested in staying with the Intel team if you change your machine quite regularly and your business is heavily dependent on very specific software. However, in this case, you will need to make sure that your software library will follow you.
Another case, the fate of which is yet to be determined, is the fate of Windows. So far the possibility of installing Windows through Boot Camp has allowed some users to reconcile two worlds, two limitations that are not necessarily designed to coexist.
For now, the first results with Windows simulation or virtualization tools are encouraging, but performance and stability are not always there.
Autonomy and discretion: Apple Silicon Advantage, a new era
Users of MacBook Pros know how cool its cool machines can be when you put too much strain on their graphics processor or chipset, or worse, both at the same time. Sometimes it happens that encoding is a bit long, too many open tabs in a browser push the super portable to ventilate a few tens of seconds before going back to sleep. Nothing crazy in absolute terms … Or at least that’s what we thought until now. Certainly, the MacBooks were accustomed to quiet, non-fan engines, but they were mostly frustrated by their lack of power. The Mac M1 seems to combine the best of both worlds. More than enough royal power and silence in 98% of cases. Not only is it a pleasant surprise, but it is a luxury we can hardly do without.
In terms of autonomy, the Macs have always been able to do well. They have not always been the best in the category, but they knew how to stay in the lead group. With the MacBook Pro M1, the flagship group being forgotten, Apple has just created a separate category.
As a collection
The MacBook Pro M1 has a lot to offer: novelty appeal, proven design strength, power, autonomy, silence and an impressive software solution that ensures good backward compatibility with Intel applications.
However, MacBook Pros with Core is not without interest. They have software stability on their side, especially for professionals who can’t afford to lose out. They therefore continue to be a good choice in certain cases, despite a clear sky at the end of a reign. However, be careful, they will undoubtedly have less resale value within two or three years.