Apple's M1 chip is rocking the computer industry with impressive improvements in performance and battery life. With the recent introduction of the M1-based iMac, there's even more reason to be cautiously optimistic about moving to an M1 Mac in the near future.
However, the decision to move to an M1-based Mac is still not as easy as it seems. We're going to highlight the biggest pros and cons of using an M1 Mac to help you decide if this is the right time to switch.
1. Battery life and energy efficiency are much better
If you have your eyes on an M1-based MacBook, you can definitely expect better battery life from the device than you can from an Intel-based MacBook. Desktop computers like the Mac mini and iMac are now more energy efficient, which means they use less power and are less likely to experience overheating.
These are well-accepted facets of M1 Macs. For many people, these factors alone are reason enough to upgrade.
2. M1 Macs are much faster
When compared to Intel-based Macs, you will almost always get better performance with an M1 MacBook. Your computer is less likely to lag or freeze. This is a major reason to switch.
For most people, it just means the freedom to open more browser tabs without worrying about performance. You'll also find that M1 Macs start up faster, wake up from sleep faster, and apps load much faster on these new computers.
However, for professional use cases like audio and video editing, the answer is not that straightforward.
While these new Macs are faster, not all professional apps have been optimized to take advantage of this power. We'll discuss this in detail later, but for general purposes, suffice it to say that for most people, the new M1 Macs are a great choice.
3. Optimized portfolio eliminates confusion
In the world of Windows computers, it's easy to spend endless hours debating whether the Ryzen 5 5600X is better than a Ryzen 7 3700X for your purposes. If you've ever considered building a Windows PC or buying a laptop, you've likely had similar concerns.
Some people love this freedom of choice; others find it unnecessarily complicated and stressful. Even on Intel-based Macs, there may be too many processor options with confusing nomenclature.
Apple has fixed this problem with M1 Macs. You no longer have to worry about your Mac's processor or graphics. From high-performance desktop computers to portable laptops, every machine has the same M1 processor.
Since the processor has an integrated GPU, you no longer have to worry about this selection. Sure, some variants may offer an additional GPU core, but by and large the portfolio is optimized. This is great news for most people.
4. Upgrades? What are these?
As much as we've praised M1 Macs for their performance, the lack of upgrade options after purchase is a huge disappointment. Most people will be happy with 8GB of RAM. However, if you want to add more RAM later on, M1 Macs just can't do it. This forces a lot of people to consider upgrading at the time of purchase, but even that has some problems.
For starters, upgrades are ridiculously expensive. A Mac mini with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage costs $ 699. If you need 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage, the same computer costs a whopping $ 1,699. You'll see similar price hikes in the M1 Mac range, and these upgrades are even more expensive in many regions of the world.
Even if money is not an issue, 16 GB of RAM seems to be limited for the top variants of all Macs presented so far. Video editors in particular may eventually need more RAM, and these upgrade limitations can force them to look elsewhere.
5. Fewer connections and limited support for professional accessories
The new Macs don't have SD card slots and generally have fewer ports than ever before. Apple has made a habit of removing useful ports from its computers, but removing basics like an SD card slot and Ethernet port from a $ 1,299 iMac is hard to justify.
Similarly, professional environments rely on the support of multiple external monitors and external GPUs. M1 Macs lack both, and until that is fixed this could be a deal breaker for some people.
6. Are your favorite apps compatible with M1?
Before you dive in, check that all the apps you use are compatible with M1 Macs. The compatibility situation is much better than it was in 2020, but some hugely popular apps like Adobe Premiere Pro still don't have a stable, optimized build for M1 Macs.
You can check out websites like Is Apple Silicon Ready to see which popular apps are optimized for M1 Macs. It's faster than visiting the websites of your favorite apps individually.
Likewise, gaming apps like Steam don't run very well on M1 Macs yet. When trying to play iOS games on your Mac, you may encounter unexpected problems and strange behaviors. Even with the CPU and GPU power of the M1, avoid M1 Macs for gaming purposes.
7. Boot Camp does not work on M1 Macs
Boot Camp is an Apple tool that allows you to install both Windows and macOS on Intel-based Macs. Unfortunately, Boot Camp isn't supported on M1 Macs, so your dual-boot options are limited to Mac apps for virtual machines like Parallels Desktop.
Under Windows, virtualization does not achieve the same performance as natively installed Windows via Boot Camp. If you do this a lot, stay away from M1 Macs.
Are you ready for m1?
While we've listed a few shortcomings of M1 Macs, these probably won't bother most people considering one of these machines. If you're looking for a no-fuss machine with great performance and battery life, the M1 Mac won't disappoint.
For some people who value raw performance above all else, it may make more sense to wait for the next generation of Apple's M-series processors to see what performance improvements you can expect. We're not too far from these machines, but then again, most people should be perfectly happy with the great products Apple has already released.
Photo credit: Apple
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About the author
(18 articles published)
Adam mainly writes for the iOS area at MUO. He has over six years of experience writing articles related to the iOS ecosystem. After work, he'll try to find ways to add more RAM and faster storage to his old gaming PC.
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