Apple unveils new M1-powered MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac mini

On a momentous day for the Mac, Apple today introduced a new MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac mini powered by the revolutionary M1, the first in a family of chips designed by Apple specifically for the Mac. By far the most powerful chip Apple has ever made, M1 transforms the Mac experience. With its industry-leading performance per watt, together with macOS Big Sur, M1 delivers up to 3.5x faster CPU, up to 6x faster GPU, up to 15x faster machine learning (ML) capabilities, and battery life up to 2x longer than before. And with M1 and Big Sur, users get access to the biggest collection of apps ever for Mac. With amazing performance and remarkable new features, the new lineup of M1-powered Macs are an incredible value, and all are available to order today.

The new MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac mini are now powered by M1, Apple’s revolutionary chip.
The new MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac mini are now powered by M1, Apple’s revolutionary chip.

“The introduction of three new Macs featuring Apple’s breakthrough M1 chip represents a bold change that was years in the making, and marks a truly historic day for the Mac and for Apple,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, in a statement. “M1 is by far the most powerful chip we’ve ever created, and combined with Big Sur, delivers mind-blowing performance, extraordinary battery life, and access to more software and apps than ever before. We can’t wait for our customers to experience this new generation of Mac, and we have no doubt it will help them continue to change the world.”

MacBook Air: A Thin and Light Powerhouse

MacBook Air with M1 is an absolute powerhouse of performance and thin-and-light portability.
MacBook Air with M1 is an absolute powerhouse of performance and thin-and-light portability.

MacBook Air is Apple’s most popular Mac and the world’s best-selling 13-inch notebook. With the M1 chip, MacBook Air speeds through everything from editing family photos to exporting videos for the web. The powerful 8-core CPU performs up to 3.5x faster than the previous generation. With up to an 8-core GPU, graphics are up to 5x faster, the biggest leap ever for MacBook Air, so immersive, graphics-intensive games run at significantly higher frame rates. ML workloads are up to 9x faster, so apps that use ML-based features like face recognition or object detection can do so in a fraction of the time. The M1 chip’s storage controller and latest flash technology deliver up to 2x faster SSD performance, so previewing massive images or importing large files is faster than ever. And in MacBook Air, M1 is faster than the chips in 98 percent of PC laptops sold in the past year.

With the industry-leading power efficiency of M1, MacBook Air also delivers this performance in a fanless design, which means no matter what users are doing, it remains completely silent. And the new MacBook Air features extraordinary battery life, with up to 15 hours of wireless web browsing and up to 18 hours of video playback — the longest battery life ever on a MacBook Air.

When compared to the previous generation, the M1-powered MacBook Air can:

• Export a project for the web with iMovie up to 3x faster.
• Integrate 3D effects into video in Final Cut Pro up to 5x faster.
• For the first time, play back and edit multiple streams of full-quality, 4K ProRes video in Final Cut Pro without dropping a frame.
• Export photos from Lightroom up to twice as fast.
• Use ML-based features like Smart Conform in Final Cut Pro to intelligently frame a clip up to 4.3x faster.
• Watch more movies and TV shows with up to 18 hours of battery life, the longest ever on MacBook Air.
• Extend FaceTime and other video calls for up to twice as long on a single charge.

Other new features in MacBook Air include Apple’s latest image signal processor (ISP) in the M1 chip, which improves camera image quality with better noise reduction, greater dynamic range, and improved auto white balance and ML-enhanced face detection so users look their best during video calls. Support for P3 wide color results in an even more vibrant, true-to-life Retina display. The Secure Enclave in M1, combined with Big Sur, delivers best-in-class security with features like Touch ID, which makes it easy to unlock MacBook Air and make secure online purchases using Apple Pay with the touch of a finger. And Wi-Fi 6 delivers faster wireless performance, while two Thunderbolt ports with USB 4 support allow for connectivity to a wide range of peripherals.

With its sleek wedge-shaped design, stunning Retina display, Magic Keyboard, and astonishing level of performance thanks to M1, the new MacBook Air once again redefines what a thin and light notebook can do. And it is still just $999, and $899 for education.

13-inch MacBook Pro: Even More Powerful and Even More Pro

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 delivers game-changing performance and the longest battery life ever on a Mac.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 delivers game-changing performance and the longest battery life ever on a Mac.

When compared to the previous generation, the M1-powered 13-inch MacBook Pro can:

• Build code in Xcode up to 2.8x faster.
• Render a complex 3D title in Final Cut Pro up to 5.9x faster.
• Fluidly design intricate game scenes in Unity Editor up to 3.5x faster.
• Perform ML tasks in Create ML up to 11x faster.
• Separate out beats, instrumentals, and vocal tracks from a recording in real time in djay Pro AI, thanks to the amazing performance of the Neural Engine.
• Play back full-quality, 8K ProRes video in DaVinci Resolve without dropping a single frame.
• Compile four times as much code on a single charge, thanks to the game-changing performance per watt of the M1 chip.

Other new features in the new 13-inch MacBook Pro include studio-quality mics for super clear recordings and calls, and Apple’s latest camera ISP in the M1 chip enables sharper images and more detail in shadows and highlights on video calls. The new MacBook Pro also delivers best-in-class security with the Secure Enclave in M1 and Touch ID. And it features two Thunderbolt ports with USB 4 support to connect to more peripherals than ever, including Apple’s Pro Display XDR in full 6K resolution.

With its amazing performance and unbelievable battery life, combined with its gorgeous Retina display, Magic Keyboard, and 3-pound compact design, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro is the ultimate expression of what the M1 chip can do. And it is available for the same starting price of just $1,299, and $1,199 for education.

Mac mini: Staggering Performance and an Ultracompact Design

The new Mac mini packs a staggering amount of performance into its ultracompact design.
The new Mac mini packs a staggering amount of performance into its ultracompact design.

When compared to the previous generation, the M1-powered Mac mini can:

• Compile code in Xcode up to 3x faster.
• Play a graphics-intensive game like “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” with up to 4x higher frame rates.
• Render a complex timeline in Final Cut Pro up to 6x faster.
• Take music production to new levels by using up to 3x as many real-time plug-ins in Logic Pro.
• Magically increase the resolution of a photo in Pixelmator Pro up to 15x faster.
• Utilize ML frameworks like TensorFlow or Create ML, now accelerated by the M1 chip.

Mac mini also features an advanced thermal design to sustain its breakthrough performance while staying cool and quiet, support for up to two displays including Apple’s Pro Display XDR in full 6K resolution, and Wi-Fi 6 for faster wireless performance and the Secure Enclave in M1 for best-in-class security.

With M1 and Big Sur, Mac mini represents a massive shift in what an ultrasmall desktop can do. Far more versatile and far more capable than ever, Mac mini is now available for just $699, $100 less than the previous-generation quad-core model.

macOS Big Sur

All new Macs come with Big Sur, the latest version of the world’s most advanced desktop operating system. Big Sur introduces a beautiful redesign that is entirely new yet instantly familiar, and powerful updates to apps including Safari, Messages, and Maps. Big Sur is engineered, down to its core, to take full advantage of all the capability and power of M1, delivering a massive boost in performance, astonishing battery life, and even stronger security protections. With M1, things users do every day feel noticeably faster and smoother. Just like iPhone and iPad, the Mac now instantly wakes from sleep. Browsing with Safari — which is already the world’s fastest browser — is now up to 1.5x speedier at running JavaScript and nearly 2x more responsive.

With Big Sur and M1, Mac users can run a greater range of apps than ever before. All of Apple’s Mac software is now Universal and runs natively for M1 systems. Existing Mac apps that have not been updated to Universal will run seamlessly with Apple’s Rosetta 2 technology. And iPhone and iPad apps can now run directly on the Mac. Additionally, the foundations of Big Sur are optimized to unlock the power of M1, including developer technologies from Metal for graphics to Core ML for machine learning.

macOS Big Sur is engineered to take full advantage of the M1 chip in the new Mac lineup.
macOS Big Sur is engineered to take full advantage of the M1 chip in the new Mac lineup.

Pricing and Availability

• The new MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac mini with M1 are available to order today on apple.com and in the Apple Store app. They will begin arriving to customers and will be in select Apple Store locations and Apple Authorized Resellers starting next week. The new MacBook Air starts at $999 (US), and $899 (US) for education; the new 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,299 (US), and $1,199 (US) for education; and the new Mac mini starts at $699 (US), and $679 (US) for education.

• Customers are able to find the same great shopping and support services at apple.com/shop, in the Apple Store app, and at Apple Store locations. Customers can get shopping help from Apple Specialists, choose monthly financing options, trade in eligible devices, and get Support services and no-contact delivery or Apple Store pickup options. Customers are encouraged to check apple.com/retail for more information on the health and safety measures in place, and the services available, at their local store.

• Additional technical specifications, configure-to-order options, and accessories are available online at apple.com/mac.

MacDailyNews Take: Rather amazingly, you can get any one of these insanely powerful and efficient new Macs for less than a decked out iPhone 12 Pro Max!

22 Comments

      1. TxUser, Apple Silicon performance just screams long term investment opportunity buy buy and buy…. I’m working on some of my co-workers, they like to talk about Wall Street, but don’t want to do anything long term. Saving and investing (online) along with an education can equalize many things.

  1. As I wrote in the “Apple unleashes the insanely powerful M1” thread, anyone who is upset about the M1 clearly loves to bathe themselves in x86 chips and pretend they’re still techie. lol

    1. No, don’t love the chips, but do require the functionality. Believe me, I wish I didn’t. It is what it is, and I would really rather not do the dance between two networked computers to get my work done. This would literally be unworkable in a portable situation. Well, maybe not literally. But it would be a literal colossal pain.

    2. Hey, at least the x86 chips allow you to install more than 16GB RAM.
      I had 16GB RAM on my 2012 MBP. 16GB was a good limitation back then, not today.
      They should have been able to support at least 32GB and, preferably, 64GB RAM.

  2. Interesting, max 16GB Ram on all three devices.
    But Mac mini price is definitely more in line with an entry-level computer.

    However, to upgrade a Mac mini from 256 GB to 1TB SSD, is still a mouth-dropping $400 surcharge. And to get a 2TB SSD is a mind-blowing $800 surcharge. (It is very easy to find high quality, name brand 2TB SSDs for less than $300).

    $1,699.00 for an “entry-level” computer with no mouse/no keyboard, 16GB RAM, 2TB SSD? Of course, the previous generation mini could easily blow past $2K if you upgraded to 64GB RAM.

    See: (https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1553992-REG/apple_z0zr_mxnf51_10g_mac_mini_2020_i7_64gb_2tb_10_gigabit.html)

    Will be very interested to see how the new iMacs compare? Are GPUs from other vendors also history now?

    1. $699 is not an entry-level computer price at all. The Mac Mini once cost $399 and then $499 back when they were seriously trying to take market share from Windows machines. When Apple was forced to acknowledge that only Apple fans were buying them and not iPod and iPhone loving platform switchers, they doubled the price. Giving $100 of it back doesn’t make it a great deal. You can still get an Intel i5 laptop with 8 GB RAM and an Nvidia graphics card for less.

  3. ‘Play a graphics-intensive game like “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” with up to 4x higher frame rates.’

    Um . . . there sort of aren’t any. And now there will likely be even less. You do the math. 😉 I like Apple Arcade, but it can’t hold a candle to some of the other services on offer. Incidentally, I just played that very game pretty flawlessly on an admittedly very upgraded seven year-old Mac, so that doesn’t really do it for me.

    Not too keen on the inability to expand – that isn’t going to work on truly pro level machines (see my remark about playing Tomb Raider. Expandability and upgradeability are pretty much deal breakers on higher end machines. This was a game. Some higher end work is much more demanding). Perhaps they have something in the works for those machines, I guess we’ll see, I’m not going to be an early adopter, but i’m open to evolution.

    The Mac Mini is very impressive, though. Glad they’ve stood by that little guy. We are definitely in the midst of an industry-wide transition in hardware and it’ll be interesting to see where it goes. If the chips are eventually powerful enough, there may even be the possibility of a perfectly usable emulation if Windows is necessary, which it is for many of us. Guess we’ll see.

  4. Note that the new M1 MacBook Pro 13-inch are not replacements but supplements to the lineup. They look like the Intel version which remains available as configurations of a product simply called “MacBook Pro” (my prediction last week). Quite a bargain at $500 less. They apparently run on half the RAM and storage. If you spec it up to match Intel configs (in raw numbers), it’s still $100 less.

    MacBook Air IS a replacement. Seems like even better bargain for most users. For Mac mini, existing darker colored Intel version remains in lineup as most expensive 6-core choice.

  5. I’m disappointed that Craig “Steve Martin” Federighi didn’t do some lines from Let’s Get Small. He looked the part and his peek into the MBP, might have been the time.

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