Apple’s M1-Powered Macs Blow Away Intel-Powered Models in First Reviews


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Apple made it pretty clear during last week’s Mac event that the first Macs powered by its M1 system-on-chip (SoC) would deliver substantial performance and battery life improvements relative to their Intel-powered predecessors.

a screen shot of an open laptop computer sitting on top of a table: Apple's M1-Powered Macs Blow Away Intel-Powered Models in First Reviews

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Apple’s M1-Powered Macs Blow Away Intel-Powered Models in First Reviews

Nonetheless, reviewers taking the new Macs for a spin were often stunned at just how large those performance and battery life gains wound up being.


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Reviews dropped on Tuesday morning for Apple’s M1-powered MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro and Mac Mini desktop. And just about every reviewer was taken aback by how much faster the Macs were relative to comparable, prior-generation systems — both when handling demanding workloads and everyday tasks.

“The MacBook Air performs like a pro-level laptop,” wrote The Verge’s Dieter Bohn about Apple’s cheapest notebook, which has a $999 starting price. “It never groans under multiple apps. (I’ve run well over a dozen at a time.) It handles intensive apps like Photoshop and even video editing apps like Adobe Premiere without complaint. It has never made me think twice about loading up another browser tab or 10 — even in Chrome.”

In The Verge’s tests, the M1 outperformed Intel-powered Mac and Windows notebooks with integrated graphics, and held its own against some notebooks packing discrete GPUs, when running Adobe’s Premiere video-editing software or playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

This performance was delivered, Bohn noted, even though neither program has yet been rewritten to run natively on the Arm-architecture M1. Rather, they rely on Apple’s Rosetta 2 software for translating macOS code written to run on Intel’s x86-architecture CPUs, which impacts performance some.

Likewise, in tests run by TechCrunch, M1-powered Macs handily beat an Intel-powered, 13-inch, 2019 MacBook Pro in both single-core and multi-core tests involving the popular GeekBench benchmark, when running code that needed to be translated by Rosetta 2.

They also outperformed an Intel-powered, 16-inch, 2019 MacBook Pro in single-core tests when using Rosetta 2, while comfortably beating it in both single-core and…