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What is the Apple M1 chip? Here’s everything you need to know

If you’ve looked into buying an Apple Mac in the past few months, you’ve likely come across the M1 chip. But what is the Apple M1 chip and how does it differ to what the likes of AMD and Intel have on offer? 

We’ve assembled this Apple M1 guide in order to help you with your Mac buying decision. And if you still can’t find the answer to your question, don’t hesitate to contact us on Twitter.

The Apple M1 chip is the very first processor to launch that’s based on Apple Silicon. Apple revealed back in June 2020 that Apple Silicon processors will gradually replace Intel’s CPUs in every single Mac.

The Apple M1 chip is the only Apple Silicon processor currently available, and is being used in Macs that require a day-to-day productivity performance. The Apple M1 chip is currently available in the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, Mac Mini, iMac 2021 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021.

Apple claims the M1 is the best processor they’ve ever developed, using a 5nm process and Arm architecture that allows for increased power efficiency. In practise, this should mean new MacBooks will see substantially superior battery life figures than the preceding Intel configurations – and judging from our MacBook Air M1 review, that looks to be true.

The Apple M1X chip is rumoured (via @LeaksApplePro) to be the name of a more powerful version of the M1 processor, and is said to be designed for the likes of the MacBook Pro 2021 and iMac Pro.

The M1x chip is said to feature 12 cores (made up of 8 performance cores and 4 high efficiency cores), but none of this is confirmed just yet. The leaker also confirmed that the name isn’t final, so it could potentially be called something completely different once it finally launches towards the end of 2021.

This is a difficult comparison, since the M1 is just one chip, while Intel has an entire range of processors for various machines from low-powered laptops to monstrously powerful gaming rigs.

For this reason, it would be unfair to compare the M1 chip to the likes of the Intel Core i9-11900K, but it makes complete sense to compare to Intel’s 11th generation (Tiger Lake) laptop processors. Below, you can see how the M1 chip outperformed both the Intel Core i7-1165G7 and Ryzen 7 4800U laptop processors in the multi-core Geekbench 5 benchmark test.

 

It’s important to remember this is just one benchmark test and so isn’t necessarily a good representative of the overall performance, but it’s still a useful snapshot to see how powerful Apple M1 is compared to the competition.

Of course, the M1 is currently only in productivity-focused laptops, so AMD and Intel still provide better options for high-end machines for content creation and gaming. But in terms of the ultrabook market, there’s no doubt that M1 Macs are the most powerful machines available right now.

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