Despite the COVID-19 pandemic causing significant disruptions, Apple has managed to pull off a phenomenal 2020 in terms of product launches.
The company not only released their usual slew of products, but also a completely new product, the M1 chips, which power the new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro 13-inch, and Mac Mini.
We have the MacBook Pro 13″ for review, and most of what we say about it applies to the MacBook Air and, to a lesser extent, the Mac Mini. So, is the new M1 chip as revolutionary as everyone claims? We have the definitive answer.
The Apple MacBook Pro 13″ we received for review is the base model, which includes the M1 SoC (8 CPU cores, 8 GPU cores), 8GB memory, and 256GB storage. This configuration costs Rs 1,22,900, and I believe that most people who want to buy this machine will choose this configuration.
Testing the M1-based Mac presents some challenges, as traditional benchmarking tools suffer a performance hit due to the Rosetta 2 translation layer.
As a result, our testing focused on more real-world applications and use. To provide some context, I recently upgraded from a top-of-the-line 16-inch MacBook Pro to an M1-based MacBook Pro, and the transition was seamless. Let me explain.
If you’re a video content creator, you’ll be relieved to know that FCP is already fully optimised for the M1 Macs. This means you’ll have the same well-optimized experience. In terms of render times, the 5-minute clip (4K to 1080p) was exported in 53 seconds flat.
To finish the project, significant colour grading was applied to each clip, as well as transitions and a number of text and animation layers. In comparison, the same render takes 58 seconds on a 16-inch MacBook Pro. If you prefer Adobe’s video editor Premiere Pro, the company has just released a beta version optimised for the M1 chip, which we will thoroughly test.
For the time being, we tested Premiere Pro on an Intel Mac using the Rosetta 2 translation layer. When converting the identical 4K project to a 1080p file, the MacBook Pro 13″ lagged behind the Intel version by a few seconds.
This is rather good, especially given that the rendering is done through an emulation layer. Similarly, there is no M1 version of Adobe Lightroom Classic available, but even with emulation, the popular picture editor from Adobe works brilliantly, giving speed and performance comparable to the Intel Core i9-powered 16-inch MacBook Pro.
The greatest aspect is that the fan on the MacBook Pro 13″ seldom turns on, and when it does, it’s scarcely audible. The fan does assist to keep the chip cool, allowing for continuous performance, which is very useful for long renders.
In terms of performance, this 13-inch MacBook Pro can compete with the Intel Core i9-powered 16-inch MacBook Pro while costing less than half the price. But it gets a lot better.
The entire draw of Apple’s silicon is that these processors were believed to deliver much increased performance in contrast to their Intel equivalents while using significantly less power. And boy, does it deliver. On a daily basis, I charge the MacBook Pro once every three to four days.
This is with the machine mostly being used to compose documents, research stories on the web, and use WhatsApp in excess while Spotify is running the majority of the time. The sound was coming from both the inbuilt speakers and a Bluetooth headset.
On days when I needed to edit a number of images in Adobe Lightroom Classic (still using the Rosetta 2 translation layer), I could still use the MacBook Pro for two days between charges.
According to Mac’s own battery consumption widget, the longest period I had my screen on was a little more than 9 hours, but it was on days when I only used simple apps like browsers and word processors. Music and WhatsApp remained a component of this usage pattern.
There are numerous ways to express the same thing here: the battery life on the MacBook Pro 13″ is exceptional and something you won’t have to worry about on a daily basis. This type of battery life was formerly the territory of the MacBook Air, but the Pro outperformed it by a wide margin.
There’s now a “optimise battery charging” feature that learns from your usage and charging patterns to extend the life of your Mac’s battery.
The MacBook Pro 13″ has a 13.3-inch display with a 16:10 aspect ratio. The resolution of this screen is 2560×1600, and the panel type is IPS-LCD.
Color spaces supported include sRGB, Adobe RGB, and, of course, DCI-P3. Unfortunately, we were unable to use our colorimeter to assess the panel’s quality owing to a mismatch between the calibration software and the M1 Mac.
We were able to edit a few photographs on the M1 Mac using Adobe Lightroom Classic and then evaluate those images on a calibrated monitor. The colour reproduction was flawless, leading us to infer that the Apple MacBook Pro 13″‘s display has been perfectly calibrated for the sRGB colour space.
We will go further into other features of the panel after the software has been updated for compatibility. Finally, this is a very bright screen, with a maximum brightness of 430 nits in the centre. The display supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision video from your choice source.
In certain areas, the M1 Macs differ significantly from their Intel counterparts. The primary worry with these modifications is app compatibility. Apple promised a seamless transition, and they’ve mainly kept that promise.
When we set up the Apple MacBook Pro 13″ for testing, most of the usual programmes we use were not yet optimised for the M1 processor. This contains the Adobe suite of apps, MS Office, Handbrake, and, of course, Photoshop and Lightroom plugins.
At the time of testing, all of these tools ran as smoothly and consistently as they do on an Intel-based Mac. The only noticeable change here is that programmes that must be run through the Rosetta 2 translation layer take roughly 30 seconds to launch, but only on the initial launch. Up until you reset, subsequent starting times are quick.
It’s rather astonishing how quickly big software companies have developed M1-optimized versions of their apps. BlackMagic has released DaVinci Resolve 17.1 with native support for M1 Macs. Adobe’s Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Premiere Rush, and Audition are all accessible as public betas and fully functioning.
Microsoft has also upgraded its Office suite. All of this in less than a month and a half after the machines were unveiled. We anticipate that most developers will begin migrating their apps to at least the universal binary, if not a native M1 version, in the near future.
One of the most intriguing aspects of Macs’ transition to ARM-based architecture is the ability to run iOS and iPadOS programmes on the Mac. The Mac App Store now offers a section for iOS and iPadOS apps that have been made accessible for the Mac, but regrettably, none of the popular apps are available through this means.
However, if you can obtain an IPA file for the software you want to run, you can just install it like any other app and it will work just fine.
However, there are certain difficulties. For example, Instagram isn’t accessible on the Mac, but we were able to obtain the official IPA file for Instagram and install it on the Apple MacBook Pro 13″. However, when I launched the programme.
I was confronted by a small window and a difficult-to-use user interface. This is due to the fact that Instagram is only accessible for the iPhone, and hence the material runs in a small window that cannot be enlarged.
Also, because the software is meant for touch-based navigation, using a keyboard and trackpad to operate it is a bit more difficult. Similarly, we were able to install Call of Duty: Mobile for iPadOS on an Apple MacBook Pro 13″ and were banned only a few minutes into a battle.
This might be due to executing the software in an unsuitable environment. Currently, the range of iOS and iPadOS apps available through the Mac App Store is limited, but this should improve in the coming months.
The MacBook Pro 13″ follows Apple’s tradition of containing some of the best-sounding speakers on the market. This computer lacks the force-cancellation sub-woofers seen on the larger 16-inch model, but the speakers are still rather outstanding.
Even at maximum volume, the MacBook Pro 13″ gives outstanding clarity while viewing movies or listening to music. On numerous times, I find myself utilising the integrated speakers instead of headphones and still getting an excellent listening experience.
The keyboards on the new 13-inch MacBook Pro include scissor switches, which are also featured on the Magic Keyboard. Because of its short yet robust travel, this keyboard provides a very pleasant typing experience.
What makes the typing experience even better is that you don’t have to hit the centre of the key to record the keystroke. The touchbar has received a lot of flak, but I really find it extremely useful, especially when it comes to controlling the volume or changing the brightness.
Even in programmes such as Microsoft Word, Excel, Safari, and Spotify, the touch bar enables faster access to the most basic of configuration settings.
Then there’s the trackpad, a little glass rectangle that has continued to set the standard for the rest of the industry. Finally, there are two USB-C ports that comply with the USB4 specification, which is the same as Thunderbolt 3.0.
Simply told, the Apple MacBook Pro 13″ is incredible. For the longest time, the absence of a separate GPU put the older 13-inch MacBook Pro at a disadvantage, especially when it comes to video applications. With a complete architectural change, this computer achieves performance figures comparable to the top-of-the-line Intel-based MacBook Pro.
And this performance isn’t coming cheap. You’re still getting unbelievably fantastic battery life, all while the machine comes preinstalled with a wonderful colour correct display, a terrific keyboard, and a really pleasant and accurate touchpad.
However, there are a few factors to keep in mind. If you’re a video content maker, you’ll need more than 16GB of RAM and at least a terabyte of storage. If you’re a photographer or a music producer, you might deal with less storage, but I still recommend 16GB RAM.
If you’re a casual photographer, videographer, or music producer, 8GB RAM will enough because everything will work smoothly and without hiccups, but pros will want more lifespan.
If creating material isn’t your thing, the MacBook Air will provide fairly comparable levels of speed and battery life, but owing to its fanless design, it won’t be appropriate for extended renderings.