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Apple M1 chip: Everything you need to know

The Apple M1 chip is what started it all, being the very first processor for laptops and desktop PCs based on Apple Silicon, following the company’s decision to ditch Intel’s CPUs.

The M1 lineup has since moved on from the initial M1 chip, with Apple now boasting the M1 Pro, M1 Max and M1 Ultra chipsets. But the M1 is where it began, first being debuted in the 13-inch MacBook Pro 2021.

There are now rumours about the M2 and M2 Pro chipsets, which should offer increased performance over the M1 lineup, though Apple has not made any definitive comments on the M2 chips yet.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the Apple M1 processors.

Which devices feature the Apple M1?

The Apple M1 chip is currently available in the MacBook Air13-inch MacBook ProMac MiniiMac 2021 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021.

The latest iPad Air 2022 also comes with the M1 chip, which Apple claims provides a 60% CPU performance increase on the A14 Bionic that was featured in the last-gen iPad Air.

The M1 chip is generally being used for devices that need basic productivity performance, with the M1 Pro, M1 Max and M1 Ultra chips reserved for more powerful machines such as the 16-inch MacBook Pro and Mac Studio.

Specs

The M1 chip has 8 CPU cores, made up of 4 P-cores for high performance and 4 E-cores for energy efficiency. The latter ensures that devices can stay powerful with a long-lasting battery while still being portable.

The M1 chip is available in two flavours, one with seven GPU cores and another with eight. Despite boasting an impressive GPU performance in benchmark tests, it still only offers entry-level performance, especially when compared with the other chips in the M1 lineup.

Since the M1 chip uses Arm architecture instead of the more traditional Intel x86, it’s not really possible to directly compare its specs to laptop and desktop processors developed by AMD and Intel.

A dark themed brochure with multiple images showing features of Apple's M1 processor

Benchmarks

Since the M1 chip is now available, we have been able to test out various Apple devices to see what each M chipset is capable of. We have been using Geekbench 5 for a lot of the tests, as it’s a great indicator of what each chip is capable of in terms of processing power and general performance.

It’s also important to note that the processor performance is subjective to a few other variables, like what cooling solution is being used in each laptop. Therefore, you should treat the benchmark scores below as a rough guide rather than conclusive scores.

Geekbench 5: Single CoreGeekbench 5: Multi-Core
Apple M11731 7308
Apple M1 Pro174512,520
Apple M1 Max178412,713
Intel Core i7-1195G715565643
Intel Core i7-1185G714655424
AMD Ryzen 7 6800U14827509

Looking at the table above, we can see that the M1 chip does outpace the Intel solution, both in single-core and multi-core performance. Intel does have a more powerful H-Series range that is not listed here, but those are aimed at high-performance laptops that are a lot bigger and less portable than the MacBook Air.

Intel has also recently released its 12th-Generation Alder Lake processors, so it is possible that the performance gap may start to close.

The benchmark results also prove that the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips are capable of greater speeds than the vanilla M1, meaning that they are the best option if you’re looking for a MacBook that prioritises performance over portability.

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