Back at WWDC 2020, Apple announced its big plan to transition all of its computer over to custom-designed ARM-based processors, and now Apple is finally ready to announce its first batch of systems using those chips starting with this: the new MacBook Air with M1.
Sporting the first of a new family of processors designed specifically for the Mac, Apple’s M1 processor is the heart of the new MacBook Air. The M1 is based on an advanced 5nm process featuring 16 billion transistors with the CPU using an eight-core design split between four high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores to optimize both speed and longevity.
Compared to a top-end PC laptop CPU, Apple says the M1 delivers twice the performance and three times the performance per watt. Furthermore, despite using an integrated GPU, Apple says the M1's eight-core GPU delivers two times better performance than an equivalent laptop integrated GPU. Finally, rounding out the rest of the M1 is an all-new secure enclave and a 16-core neural engine.
When it comes to software, to get the most out of the M1 chip, Apple says it has optimized macOS Big Sur to run faster and more efficiently on Apple’s homegrown silicon. As an example, Apple is touting things like instant wake times, 1.5x better performance in Safari, and more. And with a larger amount of memory shared between all the different components of the M1's processor, Apple claims the new MacBook’s GPU has access to more resources than it would on a competing Windows laptop.
Apple even says its revamp of macOS for the M1 means it has optimized every single one of Apple’s default applications. Meanwhile, for non-native apps, Apple has also created a Universal App platform for apps designed to run efficiently on both Apple Silicon and Intel-based Macs, with some Universal apps even running more efficiently on Intel-based systems than before. And because these new Macs will now have the same base silicon architecture as iPhones and iPads, you’ll be able to seamlessly run iOS and iPad OS apps on Macs too.
As for the MacBook Air with M1 itself, it features a similar design to the previous MacBook Air including an Apple Retina display, a thin scissor-switch keyboard, and onboard USB-C ports. And when compared to the previous MacBook Air, Apple says the MacBook Air with M1 offers 3.5 times better performance and 5 times better graphics, with its new SSD getting a 2x bump in speed too. And despite the added performance, the MacBook Air with M1 is totally fanless, while also delivering up to 15 hours of web browsing or up to 18 hours of video playback on a single charge.
Another big upgrade is that the MacBook Air with M1 is also getting a new webcam that delivers better image quality with less grain in a smaller overall package.
Thankfully, when it comes to price, the MacBook Air with M1 still starts at just $1,000. Pre-orders start today and it will ship next week.