What is the Difference Between MacBook Air M1 Vs MacBook Pro M1
Let’s compare the Difference Between MacBook Air M1 Vs MacBook Pro M1, This is an apple silicon m1 processor which I have come to realize may stand for a miracle and I have been testing these things for a week and just trying to make them stutter and fail
it’s pretty impressive so we got the MacBook air and the 13 inch MacBook pro both of these were the apple m1 arm based CPU’s inside, but honestly, there’s so much that’s very similar in these it makes sense to put them together and maybe to help you decide which one you should buy while you are at it we’re going to look at it now.
All right so let’s talk about this for a minute, I am cautiously optimistic about apple’s new arm CPUs for their mac laptop models why do I say that because manufacturer always make high in the sky claims for how great their new hardware is software is whatever it is and while apple tends to be a bit more honest like when they make battery runtime claims
They are typically actually correct unlike manufacturers still when they show you graphs that have no numerical values or what they are you know going up against exactly it’s a little unclear I was just kind of worried but it’s not that because I can like I said I trust apple a little bit more than some other companies when it comes to their claims.
But it’s the history of emulation and things like that okay so yes originally when mac switched from power pc to intel processors they use Rosetta which was an emulation layer and that wasn’t that bad in terms of performance it wasn’t that sluggish.
But we are talking so long ago that programs were much less capable so weren’t looking for the kind of performance that we are today so that’s a little worrisome and then you look with a look at windows warm on windows right ok and the surface pro x
For example, there’s a piece of hardware I just wanted to own and buy because it was so drop-dead gorgeous great display pen support a removable keyboard but windows on arm are just still really not great they finally just added support for 64-bit applications on their that took a while
So, there was hurt right there say if you are using the links adobe cc programs and all that sort of things and it’s still kind of sluggish and they are still driver issues because drivers need to be different for the arm based, so compatibility all this performance photoshop you can just watch it sometimes stuttering and staggering even using 32-bit photoshop older versions
So I thought you all how could this be and we get both of these in a house with very very similar specs inside both of these are the m1 CPU with 8 gigs of ram which sounds pretty paltry by today’s standards, especially for a power user like me and 512 gigs SSD.
They are just phenomenally fast so those arm native applications just absolutely fly I have an a6 inch MacBook pro with the Core i9 and Radeon 5500m and I’m talking in some tasks that these little guys are faster and when are looking at emulated software which is going to be the adobe cc suit.
But it’s missing some features for photoshop and a few of the other apps but let’s just call it that it’s still fast and snappy it’s every bit as fast in photoshop working with my Sony a7 mark iii files and doing many edits and colour corrections and all stuff that I normally do and having several raw files open at once as if I was using my 16-inch MacBook pro this is crazy while we talk about this whole intel versus arm software.
So, most of the benchmarks out there which actually for mac aren’t a lot but geek bench 5 and cinebench r23 you know those are already arm native to our universal application so that’s nice so we’re benchmarking it
But then we look at things like saying geek bench 4 which has not been updated and we found the same score that you could see with a core i7 6 core 45 watt CPU on a mobile workstation and it’s approaching that of the Core i9 MacBook pro that I have 16 inches and that’s under Rosetta that’s under emulation so the fact that you might be using software that’s going to take a while till it got updated.
That’s not something to worry about that’s not a reason to wait if you want to buy one of these machines Microsoft office they have betas available now that are for arm processors
But you can just use the intel version it’s not a problem first time you try to run an intel program it will say the mac will say Rosetta 2 isn’t installed do you want to install it and you think ok I’m going to have a cup of coffee go away wait no it takes like about three-second installs it and boom you are ready to go so all of your intel apps will run, this doesn’t mean it’s all wonderful roses because here are some got Chas here.
So with big sur which is the operating system that Apple just released and of course these run and require and not just with big sur when it comes to arm1 max2 they changed a few things to the driver architecture for USB devices.
Now that won’t matter for a lot of people keyboards, mics, SSD and external hard drives that use the standard operating system level driver those devices do will be just fine
But if it’s a specialty device that required a speciality driver say you want to install the latest razor mouse you have to make sure that they have an arm mac version available if you want to install their special software to tweak the settings on that particular kind of mouse
But more importantly, because a lot of you who watch us are artists because we review a lot of pen displays Wacom if you need their drivers they have drivers ready for big sur but not for arm until the end of January or beginning of February
So if you have a Cintiq pro even in two hours you are going to have to wait before you can use one of these macs so again it’s a speciality USB kind of product that this is going to be an issue with but there’s a few of them out there next up is the fact that one external display only that’s all you can hook up to these it seems to limitations of the chip
So yes you can use the internal display the laptops display plus that external monitor you could even use wirelessly use an iPad display to add in an additional monitor if you want so then you would have three displays total going there and with counting the built-in panel or you know you can use that airplay to use a tv as well as a wired monitor but only one wired monitor so for those who need more than that well this isn’t the mac for you. You have to wait for whatever they come up with next in 2021.
Also, these are built despite the performance on their most affordable existing chassis for the MacBook Air and MacBook pro which means only two Thunderbolt 3 ports which also nominally are USB4 but I’m that gets complicated anyway you only got two ports on here. So, it’s the same problem that you always have with these macs.
So you are going to need a little thunder ball 3 hub or USBC hub whatever it is you want I have tested this with thunderbolt 3 docks it works just fine the ones that I was using on my 16 inch MacBook pro and there are a bazillion little USB hubs out there but port constraints as ever it is more expensive MacBook pro-13-inch with 4 thunderbolt three-port is still intel basis the existing model nothing has changed
There the chassis hasn’t changed at all as you can see so for those who are hoping for a fresh new look or something to go with these fresh new processors no not now with the MacBook air one thing to note is the very base model has an eight-core CPU and they are all the same m1 CPU clocked the same by the way and that eight-core means eight high power four high power cores and four low power cores and just as smartphones do.
But the base model has a seven chord GPU if you go up one notch to go with that eight gigs of ram and two and five 12 gig SSD instead of a 256 gigs SSD is that one 1250 or something then that one gets you eight cores
And Then you are looking at the same thing that’s in the 13 inch MacBook pro and this becomes mystifying to some people as to which they should get other than the fact that you might have a design preference for one over the other the slightly lighter MacBook air with the wedge design versus the well traditional MacBook pro design
And here are the differences you get a fan in the 13 inch MacBook pro and this is a fan you will never hear if you put your ear right up next to it while you do final cut protests or gaming which believe me
I did a lot of you will hear the fan but it’s quiet but it can prevent that little bit of thermal throttling that might happen for long demanding tasks say you are playing a game like a tomb raider or something like that or you do what we do
Which is to produce 8 to 12 minute long videos so obviously that’s hours of editing time so you will get a little less throttling or no throttling really on the 13 inch MacBook pro versus a little bit on the MacBook air the other difference is the display while normally they look the same in terms of resolution 2560 by 1600 it’s the usual 16 by 10 aspect ratio IPS retina display.
The MacBook Pro is 100 nits brighter so for those who appreciate or need a brighter display there’s that also the contrast ratio is significantly higher on the MacBook pro not just because it’s brighter.
But it has better lower black levels you can see those values on screen right now and the MacBook airs black level of 0.45 is not that really great but subjectively looking at them they look similar and they both look very nice lastly you get a bigger battery in the 13-inch MacBook pro
So that translates into 10 to 15 per cent longer run times and the charger with the MacBook Pro is bigger and higher capacity is a 61-watt charger versus 30 for the MacBook air why the pro is a bit brighter display maybe it needs more power
It has a bigger battery to charge. But not we are not talking like the twice the capacity either in terms of battery so I don’t know it’s a perk it does charge faster, so there are the real reasons why you would choose one or the other.
So let’s talk about the real-world performance now you have seen the benchmarks flying across the screen while you have been watching and listening to this thing and you can see the benchmark numbers are phenomenal I mean It’s beating my 16 inch MacBook pro for some CPU tests, not for graphics test
Because the Radeon 5500m, that I have is still going to be faster for something like the unigene valley GPU test there but still in the real-world test which is what counts here in which we have to rely on a lot more with the mac when not running windows on the mac.
Because there aren’t as many benchmarks out there so I spend the whole week doing everything I could with this thing photoshop lightroom latest edition of that the intel versions of those flawlessly running fast I mean I’m working with 24 raw mega files and I’m doing all sorts of effects on them and I’m putting correction layers on them and I typically have five to eight open at a time it’s fine lightroom works great.
Which are arm native and I think it’s a still a selling point for a lot of people who buy a mac because the final cut kind of rocks so well on the mac and the performance is amazing and by the way, I’m using a Samsung t5 external SSD that’s where all my media files and my project files are because I think most of us who do serious video editing all the time with 4k footage you are going to run out of space constantly on the internal storage device and you are just going to wear it out.
So most of us work with external drives so even that said it’s a fast enough drive that I didn’t see any performance issues but let’s take a look at the final cut right now ok so to test this out in final cut pro and again this is the base model of the MacBook pro.
But the same performance we see pretty much on the MacBook air model with eight-core GPU and a core CPU and this has only eight gigs of ram so we will talk a little bit about memory pressure and all that sort of thing pretty much also I have tested on the final cut pro
And then I’ve seen some tests and people throw together videos and it’s pretty much just a single timeline without all of this stuff that we throw on top which is to say a whole lot of beauty shots or b-roll or whatever you want to call it which complicates matter a lot each with their effects grading transitions all of graded.
That was a motion template that I didn’t bother installing so that needs it and say we want to do something like I really wouldn’t do this but we want to do something like add a tint to this not advisable but see how that affects you know playback or something like that
But we have a better quality turned on by the way not better performance and we do allow background renders nothing that I have been able to do has bought this machine to its knees it has stayed fluid working through an 8 minute 4k 30 frames per second project with all sorts of stuff going on colour grading again on everything audio mostly just playing with the levels that sort of thing and removing some noise
So what’s the memory pressure like if we go, it’s at 43 it was up to 74 earlier final cut pro is using 3 gigs earlier it was using 7.73 gigs and this is only an 8 gigs machine so it’s hitting virtual memory the interesting thing here though is that I really couldn’t tell there was no stuttering there was no problem with playback but I would say obviously if you don’t want to hit virtual memory then getting a 16 gigs model would make more sense even if the performance is certainly acceptable here.
So, for those of you who use adobe products primarily never as well optimize for mac as well as windows and premier pro seems to behave pretty well. I’m not a premier person so I didn’t test that one again in photoshop, Lightroom is delightful.
What about games because you know it, it used to be you had to get a 16 inch MacBook pro if you kind of wanted to play some games and it’s absurd to think about doing this on the MacBook air and the 13 inch MacBook pro lower end models so that’s what I did now you are not going to find you know the latest greatest metro exodus or something necessarily available for the mac and DLSS and all that other Nvidia goodness
but still, we look at the tomb raider test and that is just too easy for now tomb raider is an older grow right so you can see 109 frames per second going there whether it’s the MacBook Pro or the MacBook Air is the same and even with a little bit of throttling on the MacBook air it didn’t do more than take off five frames per second which is nothing when you are looking at those frame rates.
So, then that was too easy so we went to the shadow of the tomb raider a newer game and something that we still love use to benchmark and test windows gaming laptops with much more powerful hardware and it did decently enough about 34 frames per second on average
When playing at medium settings and 1440 by 900 resolution so this is not going to replace your Alienware gaming laptop is it but for gaming on the go it’s fine and the more amazing thing just like when running photoshop isn’t that hard these days is it just like doing final cut pro with our eight 8 minutes long video with lots of edits and all that sort of thing
It doesn’t even hot to the touch I mean it’s getting a little chilly you know I wouldn’t mind it if it warm my lap a little bit no neither of them would do that warm lightly warm that about that’s about all they did fan no fan really and when playing tomb raider.
You have to put your head near that 13-inch MacBook pro to say oh yeah is it running just a little bit it is crazy now I wish I could give you all sorts of internal metrics but Apple hasn’t given anybody the hooks yet to measure the CPU temperatures the closest we get it the SSD temperature now since the SSD is soldered onboard here well that might be a good indication somewhat of the zone temperature and typically 33 to 34 degrees centigrade which would be very very chilly.
So that’s the other amazing thing here with this my 16-inch MacBook pro you know how that goes that thing just can roar with the fans when you make it work hard even the 13-inch MacBook Pro can get pretty darn hot to the touch and noisy when you are making it work hard and there are coders out there who’ve been sharing how well this thing has been doing with XCode and Swift for compiling and sometimes even beating out their 16-inch MacBook pro.
This is a once in a 10-year moment honestly in technology I’m just tickled by all this it’s good stuff but just to temper that a little bit it’s the same old mac thing going on here you can unscrew the bottom cover if you want but for the most part what would be the reason everything is soldered onboard.
Let me tell you everything is glued down in this house right so the SSD which is fast and faster than the previous generations is integrated and soldered onto the motherboard it’s not a little m.2 SSD
It’s something custom-engineered by apple the upside is the performance is phenomenal there a ram is soldered onto the motherboard you cannot upgrade that
So if you think you might want that 16 gigs of ram you better ordered it that way because you can’t change it after the fact serviceability Nah upgradeability Nah I mean you know an apple service deck can replace the battery they can swap out your motherboard
Which is what is going to take if the ram or the SSD fails or the CPU or the WI FI or any of those things so that’s still life with the mac just to temper some of your joy for a moment
but there’s one more thing to quote Steve jobs battery life and again oh my god these things run on unicorn farts I’m telling you it’s just mental right this was the hardest thing to test because went a couple of days without running the battery down on each of these so those tests times too this is just not what you expect to see
I mean mac usually has a pretty decent battery life you know but nothing like this so apple claims whatever 15 hours 18 hours and it was a pc maker we would say yeah you always say that and we always get six to seven hours you know in this case they could be right
I mean and this is a variety of tests using photoshop doing some final cut and doing the everyday normal things that we do like watching some Netflix and hitting the web and social media and email all those sorts of things I’m not saying I’m playing a tomb raider for 18 hours straight no that I don’t mean
But in a mixed-use case of probably what most normal people would do it’s really hard to quantify but you know apple claims are not pie in the sky crazy it’s that good while being that fast I mean AMD Ryzen Zen 2 got me excited on the pc side of the house
but this is even getting more exciting between AMD and apple. wow good things are happening so there you have it two max two amazing Macintoshes the m1 arm CPUs are fantastic for battery life there’s like no heat generation to speak of on these the performance is much much above what I would have ever expected even
When running intel applications in emulations mode the drawbacks are going to have to wait for some things like those who use Wacom city for example for drivers for that to appear if you need windows on these now your Bootcamp is pre-installed
But if you run it says sorry it won’t run on our mac so if you need windows which is something that I think apple needed as a crutch.
When they switched over to intel because they were trying to get market share back and they were saying hey look you can run windows too so it’s ok to buy us.
I think they feel like they don’t need that anymore so I don’t think we’re going to see it now parallels are working on an updated version with a VM that can run windows again and we’ll see how that goes and how the performance is.
I’m not going to be too worried at this point because things have been so darn rosy but you know so should you buy this it depends on what you need to know if you are a 16 inch MacBook pro kind of person and you want a bigger screen or you need those four thunderbolt ports and two isn’t enough for you to wait.
I’m sure in the next year 2021 apple will have something for those who need that sort of thing if you want a desktop instead there is a mac mini which offers the same internal of these and can drive two displays not just one and that’s available now
But if you want an iMac I’m sure that’s coming mac pros eventually I’m not sure what they are going to do for the graphics to kind of you know the approximate the level of radian performance that they had before but they pulled up these CPU miracles. I will wait and see what they do at the GPU next.