By Dan Moren
November 10, 2020 11:48 AM PT
Quick hits from Apple’s Mac event
Note: This story has not been updated since 2020.
For a 45-minute event, Apple packed a lot in. And it was all about the Mac: new versions of the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac mini, all based on Apple’s new M1 chip. And, just like that, about half of Apple’s Mac lineup has already made the transition to Apple silicon.
A few details that are worth noting outside of the headlines:
Not all GPUs are created equally The base level MacBook Air, the one that starts at $999, is the only of the new Macs to sport a 7-core GPU, instead of the 8-core graphics processor found in every other M1 capable Mac. The consensus seems to be that these chips are ‘binned’, which is to say, are chips where one graphics core didn’t quite pass muster and thus are used for cheaper models, a fairly common practice in computing.
A slow goodbye to Intel Though Apple is maintaining many of its Intel-powered Macs, the transition has already begun in earnest. The company is no longer selling the Intel version of the MacBook Air, nor the two-port version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Both the 16-inch Pro and the Mac mini remain available in Intel variants alongside the new M1 versions.
USB4 for all All M1-powered Macs support Thunderbolt/USB4 (they’re actually just two names for the same technology: USB4 is based on Thunderbolt 3); but don’t worry, they support earlier versions of Thunderbolt and USB as well.
Wi-Fi 6 The new Wi-Fi standard (aka 802.11ax), which already debuted on the iPhone 11 series and this year’s iPads, makes its first appearance on these M1-powered Macs.1
Newish cameras No, the new Macs didn’t get 1080p FaceTime cameras, despite our new “always be videoconferencing” reality. But Apple says they will benefit from the M1’s improved image signal processor (ISP), which it claims has a number of benefits to image quality. We’ll have to wait and see just how well those claims bear out.
Updated at 9:35pm to correct information about Wi-Fi 6.
- If only Apple made a Wi-Fi 6 compatible base station. 😢 ↩
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The latest novel in his Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi space adventures, The Nova Incident, is available now.]
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