Apple’s message for everyone: Keep up


Three weeks after Apple unveiled its new MacBook Pro laptops, orders for virtually all models still extend out for weeks — as they have pretty much from the start. If you didn’t order right away on Oct. 18 or manage to snag one in an Apple store after Oct. 26, you’ll be waiting a while.

Supply chain issues are part of that problem, but the long-awaited transition from Intel’s chips to Apple’s custom ARM-based system-on-a-chip also highlighted the built-up in demand for true pro-level hardware. And make no mistake, the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips are pretty much everything Apple users would have wanted, sporting both high-performance/high-efficiency cores, up to 64GB of RAM, a variety of GPU core options, and benchmarks that basically shout Apple’s underlying message to the industry as a whole: keep up.

There’s a reason the Apple event was called “Unleashed.”

The performance/power problem

For years, there were rumblings that Apple execs weren’t particularly happy with the power/performance ratio of Intel’s processors. The performance-per-watt ratio was never quite good enough. Intel chips that ran cool enough to use in a MacBook Air, for instance, were never considered high-performers. And the company’s more powerful chips consumed too much power and generated the heat to match. (That’s a bad combo for laptops.) Each chip from Intel forced a compromise Apple engineers had to design around, leading to Apple’s own foray into chip design.

The M1 Pro and M1 Max improve on the already impressive M1 chip that debuted last year in the 13-in. MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. (Apple still sells the smaller MacBook Pro, but it lives in the shadows now of its big brothers.) The new 14-in. and 16-in. MacBook Pros are meant specifically for business and power users and offer more than just multi-core SOCs: there’s also the 16-core Neural Engine, ProRes hardware accelerators (for high-end video editing), 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of unified memory, up to 8TB of high-speed storage, mini-led ProMotion displays, and a battery that can last the entire workday.

That’s just the hardware side: Because Apple wrote macOS Monterey specifically to take advantage of the custom hardware, the MacBook Pros deliver performance at unprecedented efficiency. And while there are still computers that are technically faster, there aren’t any that can match Apple’s performance-per-watt. These new Macs seem to defy logic and the age-old expectation that more power always means more heat and less battery life.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.



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