Thanks to Apple’s new M1 processor, the latest MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini machines are breaking benchmarks left, right, and center. That’s enough for many of the geekrati to level up to the ARM-based hardware, but Apple has something spectacular planned for 2021.
Building on his previous reports, noted Apple analyst Ming Chi-Kuo lays out a stronger case for Apple switching to mini-LED displays in the MacBook hardware next year. With Apple’s suppliers gearing up for a massive switch in production, it’s clear that the LED panels offering improved colors, higher contract, and better brightness, are on the way. Tim Hardwick reports:
“According to the report, Apple is set to launch its first mini-LED iPad Pro in the first quarter of 2021 and mass produce mini-LED MacBook Pro models in the second quarter, and a number of Taiwan manufacturers are building a “pre-emptive presence” in the Mini-LED segment in anticipation.”
This is confirmation that, unless you are one of the elite members of the geekerati, you should consider waiting before picking up one of the Apple Silicon powered MacBooks.
First of all is the consideration of the silicon. The M1 chip is posting some great numbers of benchmarking sites, and the raw processing power is already matching top tier chips from Intel. While there is more to a computer than the processor, it makes a pretty big difference.
While many are pointing out that Intel still has the superior chip, that misses two pieces of positioning.
The first is that you have to look at the chips being compared. The entry level MacBook Air, with the lowest specced M1, is outperforming everything bar Intel’s top tier of chips. Put the M1 chip against one of Intel’s entry level chips, say in the Core i3 range, and you have a more honest comparison.
Yet the M1 chip is the first generation chip. Literally any MacBook released after this point is going to have more performance in it. When Apple rolls out an M2, or perhaps even the presumptively named M1X for faster desk-bound machines, I would expect Intel to lose that the performance lead.
Then there is Apple’s hardware and software. For all of the slick presentation and joyful initial reviews the M1 and the associated Mac machines are still first generation hardware; coupled with a signification update to macOS to allow it to run on Apple’s ARM-based silicon. While some apps work wonderfully, others are causing problems, running slower than on the Intel Macs, and significantly impacting on battery life.
As with any computing platforms, many of these problems will be addressed with software updates in the majority of cases, although the possibility remains that issues could be found in the hardware. Much as the lore of Apple is rock solid, in practice this is first generation hardware and software. The cautious should wait.
And finally, as typified by this report on the upcoming use of mini-LED screens in next year’s MacBook machines, the current MacBook Air and MacBook Pro machines are old designs. While they have the M1 chip inside, and the necessary updates circuitry to accomodate the changes, apple declined to make any external changes.
That certainly makes the sell to the average consumer a little easier (“look,” the theory goes, “it’s the same Mac you know and love, but its faster and has a longer lasting battery”), yet the brave new world of ARM surely demands a brave new design with the latest technology? That’s coming next year.
A faster processor that will out-gun most if not all of the x86 options; iterations to improve the first generation hardware and software; and the latest technology. All of these are expected in next year’s new MacBooks.