A Look at the Impressive Performance of the New MacBooks

Apple's move to its own silicon has been one of the most notable paradigm shifts in the computing world in recent memory, and now that the first computers with the M1 chip are on the market, their performance capabilities are turning heads. This great video review takes a look at the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops.

Coming to you from 9 to 5 Mac, this excellent video review takes a look at the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops. Given how many photographers and filmmakers work on Apple computers, the shift to Apple-made silicon is one that is likely to have a serious impact on the industry. Already, we are seeing highly impressive performance out of these computers coupled with top-notch battery life and good application compatibility. What is even more impressive is just how good the performance is relative to the price. While the M1-equipped computers are limited to the Mac mini and 13.3-inch Air and Pro models at the moment, support will surely be expanded to larger laptops in the future, and I am certainly excited to eventually upgrade my current MacBook Pro once that happens. Check out the video above for the full rundown on both computers.

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Hector Belfort's picture

The machines are 8GB of RAM which traditionally would be slightly underpowered if you are running Lightroom and Photoshop. Does this new chip overcome the need for RAM?

stuartcarver's picture

I think upgrading to 16 is sensible in this case, but im using Capture One and Affinity on my 5yr old Macbook with 8gb of RAM and whilst its not super quick it still works.

Deleted Account's picture

I believe the new M1 chips do not need as much RAM. The efficiency of the System On a Chip (SoC) reduces much time sending instructions back and forth from the CPU and GPU. That's why they can get away with less RAM with higher performance much like today's gaming consoles.

Hector Belfort's picture

Thanks Greg. Interesting.

Martin Peterdamm's picture

no you cannot overcome physics. if it is about editing media at a certain size it needs to be in the ram. if you are only working on small pictures for the web or 2D illustration you won't hit that wall. but when using awful unoptimized adobe software with high res raws bigger than 24 mpix you will run into it. also these macs won't be screaming fast with capture one because their GPU is awfully slow, ok fast compared to intel GPUs but these are also laughingly slow. Also there is a world outside intel and apple with 3. gen ryzen which is, when tested by non-religious apple adiccts as fast in single core and much faster with multicore and especially with this awful adobe software we all have to use.

Jacques Cornell's picture

I think you are overly pessimistic. The M1 GPU is roughly comparable to the Radeon Pro 5300M in Apple's 16" MacBook Pro. It works fine for PhotoLab 4 Elite's DeepPRIME noise reduction processing, which is highly GPU-dependent, while exporting a JPEG from a 50MP medium-format RAW. This is on my M1 MacBook Air, which has 7 GPU cores and just 8GB of RAM. The mini and MacBook Pro have 8 GPU cores.

Anthony Cayetano's picture

16GB of RAM is inadequate if you are running multiple large applications. Remember, you have to consider the memory footprints of the OS and for video. The reason why 8GB seem “adequate” is because of the fast SSD (almost twice the speed in the M1 Macs than previous models) can swap between main RAM and secondary SSD memory, giving the illusion of having a bigger RAM memory. And tests only run single applications on the reviews. Virtual memory is good but if there is a lot of RAM-SSD swapping, as in the case for 8GB, the SSD’s useable life will shorten significantly. Flash Memory only has a limited number of Read/Write cycles. The memory size also limits the number of available display to two. With Big Sur, you need at least 32GB if one plans to use more than two displays efficiently and multiple apps.

darrell miller's picture

16gb might be inadequate on a PC/ Intel Mac.. but these systems are VERY different.. many of the bottlenecks in a standard intel/x86 system are not there. until the native M1 applications are out, it will be very hard to make a true comparison.

Anthony Cayetano's picture

My claim is relevant now =) SSDs are now getting worn out from excessive over-swapping, exactly as I predicted.

Jacques Cornell's picture

You need to listen to Macworld's podcast on the subject. Those guys did everything the could think of to make their M1 Macs hit the RAM wall, and they couldn't.
Also, regarding displays, I'm running my 32" 4K display and my MBA's Retina display on Big Sur with just 8GB RAM, and everything's hunky-dory.

Anthony Cayetano's picture

May I present Exhibit A: https://youtu.be/h487I_5xOZU

Anthony Cayetano's picture

My claim is relevant now as the SSDs are now being worn out from over swapping. Exactly as I predicted

Anthony Cayetano's picture

I’m missing the point of this post...