Apple unveiled during its last Keynote – the third since the start of the school year – the first three machines to take advantage of the M1 chip, the first born of the brand's laboratories: the Mac Mini , the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro .
Many of you are probably wondering what this first processor has in the belly.
You couldn't have been happier. After several weeks spent in his company, here is the test of the MacBook Pro M1.
Design & Ergonomics
The MacBook Pro M1 is a surprising machine in many ways, but ultimately it was its compactness and weight that struck me the most at the start.
Before him, I used a 15-inch MacBook Pro every day. The very last to have benefited from this diagonal. A heavy and bulky machine, but which had the merit of giving me all the power I needed.
Power paid for at a high price. My configuration had indeed cost me a little over four thousand euros at the time.
Beside, the MacBook Pro M1 is clearly a featherweight. Much more compact than its big brother, it does not exceed 1.4 kg, against 2 kg for the 15-inch model.
600 grams of difference, therefore.
As always, the finishes are exemplary. The brushed aluminum frame is beautiful and it exudes strength.
The screen is imposing, but it is also framed by borders that are a little too present. Apple would clearly have had enough room to fit a 14-inch slab and it's obviously a shame that it didn't.
The keyboard is a good surprise and we find sensations similar to that of the Magic Keyboard of Macs with precise typing and a fairly short stroke. Nothing to say for the touchpad, which is still a model of its kind. Very responsive, it instantly recognizes each caress and each gesture made with our fingers.
The Touch Bar is similar to that of the 16-inch MacBook Pro. Unlike my model, therefore, the MacBook Pro M1 is equipped with a real physical Escape key and a separate Touch ID reader. A reader that works like a button and that will allow you to close your session with a simple press.
For connectivity, Apple has chosen to limit itself to two Thunderbolt ports. In itself, this is not a problem, insofar as this standard makes it possible to chain several devices one after the other. And as far as I'm concerned, when I'm at the office, my Macbook Pro is connected to a Thunderbolt dock anyway.
What is a little more annoying, however, is that these two ports are placed on the same side, and therefore on the left edge. Personally, I would have preferred to have a port on each side. Especially since there was plenty of room on the right, alongside the microphone / headphone jack.
Screen, Processor & Autonomy
Apple has always focused on the display, and the MacBook Pro M1 is obviously no exception.
The panel therefore reaches 13.3 inches and it naturally gives pride of place to IPS technology, with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 for a pixel density of 227 ppi.
As a bonus, the screen achieves a luminance of 500 nits and it supports the entire P3 color space, which of course will delight creative people from all walks of life.
But the real novelty is of course the chip.
The M1 is indeed based on an ARM-type architecture, an architecture similar to that of the chips on board the iPhone and iPad. The SoC therefore brings together a CPU, a GPU, a Neural Engine and unified memory between all these elements.
The CPU reaches a total of 8 cores, divided into two clusters. The first cluster groups together 4 high performance cores for the most demanding tasks and the second four high energy efficiency cores for the usual tasks. The GPU also includes 8 cores, against 16 cores for the Neural Engine.
During the Mac M1 presentation, Apple flooded us with superlatives … and they are totally deserved. I will be very clear with you, I did not expect such power.
In current use, I saw no difference between my MacBook Pro M1 and my 15-inch MacBook Pro. Which ultimately hurts quite a bit. For the M1, my choice fell on the base model, a model that cost me € 1,449.
That's € 3,000 less than my full option 15-inch MacBook Pro.
But what do I mean by “common use”?
Outside of video, I always work with two Chrome windows open, windows that have between thirty and forty tabs each. All with a Photoshop, Safari, two or three Pages documents, Spotify, Skype, Tweetdeck and two or three odds and ends like Ulysses or even FileZilla.
So with all that, no lag and, above all, no noise. In two weeks, the only times I've heard the MacBook Pro M1 fan was while exporting videos to Premiere Pro and Final Cut. For the rest, he always remained silent. Always.
We will talk about it again in the last part of this test, but the MacBook Pro M1 marks a change in architecture. This also means that applications developed for Intel Macs are normally incompatible with the M1 chip.
To counterbalance this limitation, Apple has therefore set up Rosetta 2 , an emulation layer which acts as a translator and which makes it possible to launch applications developed for Mac Intel on Mac M1.
Premiere Pro, in fact, is not yet optimized for Apple Silicon chips and therefore uses Rosetta 2. Just like Photoshop, by the way.
At home, then, and with shots filmed in 4K with my Sony A7 III, Première Pro worked well, but only up to a point. No problem for the derush of my facecams, or even for the actual editing. The performance remained correct.
On the other hand, the situation deteriorated when I started to add the layers dedicated to colo and effects, with a lot of drop frames and more significant slowdowns in the timeline. A trend which then worsened with the integration of graphic elements.
On the export side, it was also complicated. For a 15-minute video, the MacBook Pro M1 needed two hours to export, compared to only half an hour for the 15-inch MacBook Pro.
And then then I launched Final Cut Pro, which is optimized for Mac M1.
And there, we will be very clear, I took a tremendous slap across the face. With an identical project, the MacBook Pro M1 proved to be as responsive and as smooth as my 15-inch MacBook Pro. I did not notice any difference, whether in the level of logging, editing, setting up effects or even colo.
Each time, the MacBook Pro M1 has remained unmoved and hasn't shown me the slightest sign of weakness.
But above all, what surprised me the most was his silence. On my 15-inch MacBook Pro, the fans raced a few times, especially when I changed the colors and exposure of my shots. On the MacBook Pro M1, I didn't hear anything.
In addition, I also tried an export on the two machines, still with the same project, always from the same external SSD. The video lasted 13 minutes and was quite loaded with effects, with the added bonus of some occasional acceleration.
The 15-inch MacBook Pro needed 9 minutes to complete the export. Against 7min10 minutes for the MacBook Pro M1.
We are therefore on fairly similar results, which gives a good idea of the possibilities offered by the chip.
But the power of the MacBook Pro M1 isn't its only trump card. We must also talk about its autonomy, with once again very nice surprises.
I'll be very honest with you, I didn't expect to last this long with the MacBook Pro M1.
On its site, Apple announces 17 hours of web consultation and 20 hours of video playback on Apple TV +.
Well for once, it is. The MacBook M1 is rock-solid endurance. With my standard uses, it takes more than a day without the slightest difficulty.
Platform & (In) compatibilities
The MacBook Pro M1 therefore has a nice look, it is also extremely powerful and durable, and we are also entitled to a very nice panel.
However, it was impossible to present this test to you without mentioning the change in architecture and its possible repercussions.
To understand this change, the best is probably to start with an analogy. Switching from an Intel chip to an M1 chip is like changing the language. Applications compatible with Intel chips have indeed been developed in a language understandable by them.
Changing architecture can naturally lead to misunderstandings. Or, if you prefer, incompatibilities.
Apple, for its part, encourages developers to offer universal binaries for their applications, and therefore applications that combine both an Intel version and an Apple Silicon version.
The advantage of these applications is that they can run on either of these architectures. On the user side, everything is obviously done transparently.
It will take time, however, for each publisher to take the fold. In the meantime, Apple has therefore integrated into macOS Big Sur Rosetta 2, a tool that functions as a virtualization layer. Or a translator.
Rosetta 2 therefore allows Macs equipped with the M1 chip to launch applications designed for the Intel architecture.
And it really works really well. Switching from my 15-inch MacBook Pro to my MacBook Pro M1 was painless and I was able to find all the applications I use every day. Photoshop, Lightroom, Premiere Pro, Ulysses, Antidote, Skype, Tweetdeck, VLC, Spotify, Filezilla or even Dashlane, to name just a few.
The only application that did not want to launch, ultimately, is Airfoil, a small utility that allows you to steam your music from your Mac to connected speakers. The devs were however very responsive and they uploaded an M1 compatible beta a few days after my MacBook Pro M1 arrived.
I will be very frank with you. When I ordered the MacBook Pro M1, I really expected to wipe off the plasters of this architectural change, so I expected repeat bugs and insurmountable incompatibilities.
But this is not the case. Overall everything is working fine and it doesn't feel like we changed chips. This is a good thing, and above all it proves that Apple has well anticipated this new revolution.
The time has come to take stock of these two weeks spent with the MacBook Pro M1.
You probably know it, but there is often a big difference between what you feel at the time of a press conference, where the manufacturers often tend to add more, and what you experience when you have the product. Between hands.
Well there it was not. For me, the MacBook Pro M1 lives up to all promises made by Apple. We are in the presence of an exceptional computer.
And for once, it has nothing to do with the design. So of course, the finishes are exemplary, but it is a chassis that we have known for a while. The surprise therefore does not come from the look of the machine, but rather from its performance.
Because in the end, for € 1,449, we have a computing power equivalent to that of an Intel MacBook Pro of over € 4,000. Better yet, we also have a computer equipped with a beautiful screen, able to last more than a day on a single charge and which makes almost no noise.
And on these very specific points, it therefore surpasses my 15-inch MacBook Pro.
All with compact dimensions, light weight and a housing that stays cool at all times.
So it's true, not all applications are optimized yet and Premiere Pro tends to slip when pushed a little too much, but this change in architecture manages to take place smoothly and it even augurs well for very beautiful things for the future.
Because Apple is obviously not going to stop there. The brand is currently working on an even more powerful chip, a chip that we should normally find on board the next 16-inch MacBook Pro , but also on iMacs. And when we see what this little MacBook Pro M1 is capable of, we can only be excited about what awaits us next year.
MacBook Pro M1