Apple MacBook Pro 13 Review of the laptop

The talk that Apple will abandon Intel processors in favor of solutions of its own design has been going on for a long time. Earlier this year, the Cupertino-based company distributed test systems with the mobile A14 chip on board to select partners to prepare macOS software developers to migrate to the new architecture, and now it has finally made a life-changing move. Apple’s M1 System-on-Chip, which powers the next-generation Mac Mini, MacBook Air, and 13-inch MacBook Pro, should change everything – dramatically increase performance, extend battery life, and bring a ton of features that add up to a user’s big picture. Experience under the control of the new version of macOS, because now Apple controls the hardware and software of its products inside and out.


Also, on the off chance that you accept the producer’s guarantees, the M1 not just amends the inadequacies of the past “Maubuk”, which weighs on the ravenous and hot Intel silicon, yet is essentially the most profitable chip among note pad CPUs. How about we investigate how Apple has dealt with back up such high-profile cases, and how evident they are.

Apple MacBook Pro 13 Review of the laptop

Goodbye x86. Hello ARM


The Apple M1 crystal replaced both Intel processors and several auxiliary discrete components on the motherboard, such as an SSD controller and a T2 security chip. Unlike Intel and AMD products that dominate ultrabooks today, the M1 CPU section is driven by the ARM instruction set, or more specifically, the most recent ISA iteration called ARMv8.6-A with 64-bit AArch64 extensions. The M1 central processing unit consists of two blocks of cores – four high-performance Firestorm cores and four energy-efficient Icestorm cores. The operating system distributes the load between the cores of both types according Apple to the nature of the task, but note that when the computer needs to give its best (for example, in rendering 3D graphics or video encoding), all eight cores work on an equal footing.


The Firestorm and Icestorm cores share the M1 with the A14 Bionic chip used in the latest generation iPhones, but Apple has strengthened the design to meet the more demanding desktop environment. In specific, the fast Firestorm centers got an amazing measure of store: L1 of each center contains 192 KB of information and 128 KB of guidelines, and the aggregate L2 – 12 MB. For smaller Icestorm cores, these figures are 128 KB, 64 KB and 4 MB, respectively.


The fundamental differences between Apple’s proprietary systems-on-a-chip and x86-compatible CPUs are not limited to a different set of instructions and asymmetric clusters of cores. Firestorm cores feature the widest pipeline of any commercially available Apple processor and can decode eight instructions per clock cycle. For comparison: current solutions from Intel and AMD are limited to four instructions due to the peculiarities of the x86 instruction set (uneven instruction length). And further down the Firestorm pipeline, a high processing rate is supported by a mass of execution units working in parallel.


As a consequence of the wide architecture, the M1 CPU offers significant IPC (instructions per clock) gains over x86 hardware and thus leading-edge single-threaded performance without the need for clock speeds as high as Intel and AMD chips are aiming for. Apple, as usual, does not declare such parameters as the power consumption of the crystal. But judging by our own measurements (which are corroborated by data from other reliable sources), the frequency of Firestorm cores in an active cooling device (MacBook Pro or related Mac Mini) does not exceed 3.2 GHz, and the Icestorm ceiling is around 2 GHz.

Goodbye x86. Hello ARM


The TDP of the M1 chip on the MacBook Pro platform is 20-21W, which is in line with typical power targets for mid-range notebook chips. But according to the component budget, this is a real giant: the crystal contains 16 billion transistors. For comparison: AMD’s eight-core Renoir chip is only 9.8 billion. Thanks to the advanced 5nm process technology that Apple used at the facilities of Taiwan’s TSMC.
An imposing share of the M1’s area is taken up by an combined graphics CPU. The GPU consists of eight cores, each of which combines 128 shader ALUs. In the M1-based MacBook Air, one core is deactivated, but the MacBook Pro and Mac Mini have a chip with a fully functional graphics pipeline. In total, the GPU contains 1,024 shader ALUs, 64 texture mapping units, and 32 rasterization operations (ROPs).

It is simply pointless to compare such a configuration with the video adapters built into the central processors of Intel and AMD. Suffice it to say that according to the ALU, TMU and ROP formula, it completely coincides with the mobile version of the GeForce GTX 1650 from NVIDIA. Of course, this does not mean that the devices are equal in performance in real conditions. In particular, the CPU and GPU in the M1 share a common RAM bus, while the GTX 1650 has its own GDDR5 or GDDR6 array. And yet M1 integrated graphics are not only the most powerful solution in their class to date, but also a direct replacement for entry-level discrete GPUs.


Finally, another important component of the M1 is the 16 so-called Neural Engine cores, which serve to accelerate machine learning tasks. Alongside macOS 11 (Big Sur), Apple delivered the ML Compute structure and TensorFlow system records, incorporated and upgraded for its own engineering, so M1 can assume control over the AI highlights for which NVIDIA silicon is popular.

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Obviously, every one of the guarantees of record M1 execution in the class of portable SoCs will work out as expected just if the application code, right off the bat, is gathered for the ARM ISA, and also, it contains explicit advancements for the M1 design. In this manner, Apple has planned to the arrival of the new “Macintoshes” a full-scale update of the working framework, which was granted the following non-partial number in the name – macOS 11 – as much as 19 years after the presentation of Mac OS 10.0.

What about third party products? Known applications that have been ported to native M1 code or will be ported in the future include (but are not limited to) the Google Chrome browser, Adobe professional delivering apparatuses, DaVinci Resolve video editorial manager, and Microsoft Office.
At the same time, any (at least in theory) program from an extensive library created for previous versions of macOS and x86 architecture works on M1 through the Rosetta 2 emulator. Action. Old and new applications run a similar way, and we have not experienced Rosetta 2 bringing on any glitches or perceptible loss of execution with the unaided eye.And we still have time to measure the actual overhead from emulation in benchmarks.


At the same time, the migration of Apple computers to a new architecture does not mean that devices of the previous generation will immediately lose access to updated software. The upgrade to macOS 11 is not open to the latest Mac models, and third-party programs compatible with M1 are distributed as universal binaries. By the way, this format allows you to run any application through Rosetta 2, if suddenly the native code causes any problems or you want, as in our case, to compare the performance of versions compiled for different architectures. It is enough to put a tick in the properties of the package with the program, and the executable file itself can be launched in the terminal using the command:


Other technical characteristics, prices


MacBook Pro RAM is soldered on a single substrate with an M1 crystal in the form of two high-density chips with a total volume of 8 or 16 GB. LPDDR4X chips are rated for a single channel of 4266 MT / s, which is the standard for many latest generation ultra-books based on Intel Ice Lake or Ryzen 4000 chips. But the M1 has one important difference: while the two LPDDR4X channels on a typical x86 platform form a 64-bit wide data transmission interface, Apple uses a wide 128-bit bus. As an importance, the RAM bandwidth is actually folded here, which is particularly important for the combined GPU. The M1 uses a unified system memory architecture where the CPU and GPU cores have equal access to external memory.


The only problem with the integrated design of the M1 is that the amount of RAM of 16 GB in modern conditions is the minimum for demanding professional applications, and for everyday work it no longer looks excessive. The RAM reserve for the future of the new MacBook Pro is questionable, but it is better to forget about configurations with 8 GB of RAM right away: if you are not going to run work applications that require more RAM, or keep dozens of open pages in your browser, you should consider the cheaper MacBook Air of the latter generations.


Here is a complete order with the volume of the drive. The base configuration includes a 256GB SSD, which, again, will only be enough for the most casual users, but there is an upgradeable up to 2TB. Only this, like RAM, needs to be taken care of at the purchase stage. No component of a laptop can be replaced by yourself.


Appearance and ergonomics


On the surface, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro is simply indistinguishable from its predecessors. Apple has built a computer based on the M1 chip in the exact same package. However, it cannot be said that the laptop design, which was introduced back in 2016, has since become obsolete. It is as yet one of the most slender 13-or 14-inch machines. Nonetheless, it isn’t the lightest – it weighs 1.4 kg – which more than makes up for the unbending nature of the processed aluminum body boards. The MacBook Pro feels like a one-piece product, with no flex or squeaks, and a solid foundation under the keyboard.


Actually, the keyboard is one of the main advantages of all Apple mobile computers. Since the problematic butterfly mechanism is a thing of the past, the MacBook Pro keyboard has been immune to premature failure. The tactile response of the membranes is clear and uniform, and the key returns to neutral position quickly. Though, this is motionless not the best console Apple makes. The 16-inch MacBook Pro, which appears to be queuing up for the M1 processors, has longer key travel and more pressure resistance. Some users, including the author of this review, may find the 13-inch Mac’s keyboard too soft. But the touchpad is still beyond praise. Firstly, it is huge, and secondly, there are no mechanical switches under it. 

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