The Apple M1 is designed with a new unified memory architecture that is said to improve power efficiency, and is manufactured on a 5nm process Credit: Apple

Apple has announced the first in its series of ARM-powered Mac computers with the new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac mini, as it begins the transition from traditional Intel processors to those that run in the iPhone.

Apple announced earlier this year that it would begin transitioning its entire Mac product line to in-house ARM-based processors from the Intel X86 CPUs that it has been using for the past 15 years. The first of this new generation of Apple Silicon processors is called the Apple M1, which features eight cores (four high-power and four power-efficient) as well as a custom integrated GPU, image signal processor, Secure Enclave, and Neural Engine. The Apple M1 is designed with a new unified memory architecture that is said to improve power efficiency, and is manufactured on a 5nm process.

The new MacBook Air with the M1 chip looks essentially the same as its predecessor but is fanless

Macbook Air

The first new Apple Silicon machine is the MacBook Air. The new laptop has a similar design to the previous version, except for the lack of a fan making it silent in operation. It has a better webcam, an improved 13in screen and can now wake instantly just like an iPhone.

The M1 in the MacBook Air gives it 3.5 times faster processor performance, five times faster graphics performance and significantly longer battery life of up to 15 hours of web browsing or 18 hours of video playback, which is six hours longer than before. Apple also said the MacBook Air will last twice as long while video conferencing.

The new Apple MacBook Pro with the M1 chip has the same design, but higher performance and longer battery life

13in MacBook Pro

The new more powerful 13in laptop has a fan for longer sustained performance. It has up to 2.8 times the processor performance, five times faster graphics performance and longer battery life, lasting up to 17 hours while web browsing or 20 hours for watching video, which is twice as long as the previous version.

The MacBook Pro also has an improved webcam, better mics but only two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports, as compared with four Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports on the previous version. Apple did not update the larger 16in MacBook Pro.

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The new Mac mini with the M1 chip promises significantly more performance in its diminutive form

Mac mini

The new Mac Mini is said to be up to 3X faster in terms of CPU performance than the previous version, with a 6X increase in graphics performance and 15X faster machine learning. It is also said to be just a tenth the size of the current top-selling desktop PC, and up to 5X faster.

MacOS 11 Big Sur will be able to run iPhone and iPad apps on Macs with the M1 chip

MacOS 11 Big Sur

MacOS 11 Big Sur has been engineered to schedule tasks between the high-performance and efficiency cores. Macs powered by Apple Silicon are said to instantly wake from sleep just like iPhones and iPads. All Apple software has been optimised, and vendors including Adobe are readying updates to their offerings. Logic Pro is said to allow up to 3X more instruments and effect plugins. Final Cut Pro is said to run 6X faster when rendering complex timelines. MacOS 11 will be available for download starting on Thursday, November 12.

New MacBook Pro 13-inch, MacBook Air, Mac Mini prices in India

The new refreshed 13-inch MacBook Pro will be priced starting at Rs. 1,22,900 with 256GB of storage, and Rs. 1,42,900 for 512GB of storage. These are the same prices as the previous MacBook Pro models. The prices in the US are $1,299 and $1,499 respectively. Both feature 8GB of unified memory. Intel-based MacBook Pro 13-inch models are also still listed, with 512GB and 1TB of storage priced at Rs. 1,74,900 and Rs. 1,94,900 respectively. All variants are sold in Silver and Space Grey.

The MacBook Air with Apple M1 SoC will also keep the same prices as before, with a 256GB variant priced at Rs. 92,900 in India and a 512GB model priced at Rs. 1,17,900. The prices in the US are $999 and $1,249 respectively. Intel-powered MacBook Air models are no longer listed. Colour options are Silver, Space Grey, and Gold.

The Mac Mini gets a $100 price reduction and corresponding decrease in India as well, with the 256GB version now priced at Rs. 64,900 and 512GB version at Rs. 84,900. Prices in the US are $699 and $899 respectively, and Silver is the only option. A single Intel-powered variant is still listed.

Education pricing is also available for all new Macs powered by Apple Silicon. They will be available in the US next week. All new Macs are configured with 8GB of memory by default and an upgrade to 16GB at purchase time will cost Rs. 20,000 extra. The online Apple Store in India is accepting orders already, and lists November 25 as the earliest shipping date.

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