MacBook M1 review

After years of sticking to Intel processors, in the middle of this year at the WWDC developer conference Apple suddenly announced the transition to a self-made ARM processor. The MacBook M1 (including Air and Pro) along with the Mac mini M1 are the first devices in this roadmap.

From the outside, the MacBook M1 is almost nothing different from the versions equipped with Intel processors released earlier this year. Both have Retina True Tone display with P3 color range, Magic Keyboard with scissor mechanism instead of the old butterfly keyboard. Both have two Thunderbolt 3 / USB4 ports and a 3.5mm jack.

However, there is a slight change in appearance on the MacBook Air located in the keyboard. If you look closely, you will notice that instead of the Launchpad key and the two keys that increase or decrease the keyboard brightness, it is now changed to Search, Spelling and Do Not Disturb. In addition to those changes, the Fn key in the bottom left corner of the keyboard now acts as an emoji key, allowing you to quickly invoke emojis that pop up when pressed.

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On a MacBook Pro, due to using the Touch Bar, this difference is not visible, while on the Fn key, with the Intel MacBook after updating to macOS Big Sur all have the same feature.

The rest of the difference between an Intel MacBook and a MacBook M1 both comes from within. This is what you will get when using a MacBook M1.

“Wake up” instantly

Like the iPhone, iPad, MacBook M1 has the ability to wake up immediately while in sleep mode. If you own an Intel MacBook model then you may find that after opening the lid, you will need to wait a few seconds to get ready to work, although not too long but sometimes annoying us every time. urgent work.

Quiet operation

The 13-inch M1 MacBook Air is completely fanless and one thing is for sure a great choice for those who prefer a completely quiet laptop. And even if it’s equipped with a fan to maintain high performance over long periods of time, the MacBook Pro M1 and Mac mini M1 are incredibly quiet even when running on continuous performance tests. This is due to the highly efficient energy use of the 5nm ARM chip.

This is a new MacBook Air without a fan

And this is MacBook Air Intel

Excellent screen quality

The display of the MacBook Air increasingly resembles that of a MacBook Pro. With the MacBook Air 2020 models both Intel and M1 are equipped with Retina display, True Tone support and P3 color space similar to MacBook Pro. The only difference lies in the screen brightness, the MacBook Air can reach 400 nits while the MacBook Pro can reach 500 nits. But in general, for indoor use we only use 150-300 nits, but rarely higher.

Still a 720p webcam…

720p FaceTime Camera is probably the problem that MacBook users have been dissatisfied with for many years now. It is clear that Apple could have a much better quality 1080p camera like it did with the iMac.

Apple M1 chip – a game changer on the MacBook M1

Without the M1 chip, the new MacBook duo is nothing worth mentioning because they almost nothing different from the old Intel MacBook. Like the A-series processors in iOS devices, the M1 processor also contains all components from CPU, GPU, Neural Engine, and unified memory. There are also storage controllers, Image Signal Processors, Security Encryption, etc.

The Apple M1 is a processor with 8 CPU cores, a utopia especially on the MacBook Air. The 8-core CPU is divided into a cluster of four high-performance cores (p-cluster) and four energy-efficient cores (e-cluster). Depending on the type of workload, each kernel cluster will work together to be as efficient as possible.

Below is the test in MacBook Air M1, with 4 energy efficiency cores named cpu 0 – cpu 3, 4 high performance cores including 4 – cpu 7.

Idle rest

Download Logic Pro from the Mac App Store

Runs Cinebench benchmark

According to the test above, it is easy to see that the M1 processor has the highest clock speed of 3.2GHz, which is interesting when we compare it with the MacBook Air 2020 with Intel Core i3 configuration clocked at 1.1 – 3.2GHz.

Geekbench 5

Cinebench R23

7-core GPU

The base configuration MacBook Air comes with a 7-core GPU, while the higher versions and all MacBook Pro models have an 8-core GPU. And even so, Apple’s integrated GPU is still said to outperform the GTX 1050 Ti discrete card. To verify, we go through the tests with Final Cut Pro, Unigine and Geekbench. Keep in mind that Unigine tests run using the Rosetta 2 translator, which can result in a drop in performance.

Unigine Heaven and Unigine Valley (Rosetta 2)

Geekbench 5

Final Cut Pro Performance

HEVC (H.265) is a video codec that is compressed at a high rate, thanks to the low video size but still excellent quality. However, for encryption and decryption, hardware is powerful enough to be used. Apple has shown us that the iPhone 12 is capable of capturing and playing 10-bit HEVC 4K video easily, of course with the Mac M1 too.

On a MacBook Air Intel, playback of 10-bit H.265 video is quite difficult, sometimes stuttering and rendering time …

As shown in the image above, the ability to render 4K HEVC 10-bit video on the MacBook M1 is excellent. In some cases, render times are even faster than Mac Pro 28-Core with dedicated W5700X graphics. That doesn’t mean the Apple silicon Macs are the complete alternatives to high-performance machines, but the results are overwhelming for a slim, lightweight and… fanless laptop.

16-core Neural Engine

Thanks to the 16-Core Nerve Engine, operations powered by Machine Learning could be faster and more efficient on Apple’s new Mac hardware. For example, Final Cut Pro’s Smart Conform function, which uses machine learning to automatically re-adjust clips with a different aspect ratio from the project’s, significantly faster on a Mac M1. Professional apps like Pixelmator Pro are able to upscale images while maintaining sharpness and clarity even faster than before.

In the future, the Neural Engine could be used for features like automatic subtitles and transcription, among other potential applications.

Unified memory

For these new Macs, Apple has placed RAM on the M1 mold, which means that the Mac mini can no longer upgrade the RAM. But in return, this consolidation makes the data access much faster, and the RAM can also be accessed directly from the GPU and Neural Engine faster.

The MacBook M1 is equipped with a high speed SSD

Apple says the SSD inside the MacBook Air M1 is almost two times faster than the SSD in its predecessor, and here are the results:

Wi-Fi 6

The MacBook Pro is the first Apple computer to be equipped with Wi-Fi 6 offering many advantages such as higher speed and lower latency.


Not Thunderbolt 4, but USB 4 to be exact, it’s basically the same as Thunderbolt 3. This port is nearly backwards compatible with virtually any Intel Mac-compatible device. USB4 itself has the same 40Gbps data transfer capability as Thunderbolt 3, supports screen output up to 6K @ 60 and powers the MacBook.

MacBook M1 battery life is really impressive

This is the result obtained with mixed use tasks including: writing content, browsing the web, calling via Zoom, editing images and videos:

The results are really impressive, not only comfortable for an 8-hour working day but even for you to work from morning until night or until the next day to need to plug in a charger. If the 16-inch MacBook Pro in the future retains the same capacity as the present, perhaps the battery life is far beyond the above results.


Although there are currently many software that cannot run directly on the MacBook M1, but for the majority of office users who are not too professional can fully respond well. When buying a MacBook M1 users will receive a product with great performance when running optimized software, of course still powerful enough with the software running through Rosetta 2, especially the ability to operate extremely quietly. static, great battery life, and for a price that’s comparable to the base configuration of the previous Intel MacBook.

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