Review: Apple M1 MacBook Pro

Value From £1,299. 16GB RAM configurations start at £1,499
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There’s all the time a buzz of pleasure and anticipation round Apple product launches. Customers and commentators are fast to query the legitimacy of the Cupertino tech titan’s newest claims. ‘Is it actually that significantly better than the final one?’ However, with the introduction of the Apple Silicon M1 chip within the newest technology of MacBook Execs and Mac Minis, extra heads have turned than typical. Somewhat than a mere improve, Apple has referred to as its new CPU a breakthrough. It’s a daring assertion. We received our arms on a 13-inch M1 MacBook Professional with 16GB RAM and 1TB storage and, as music-makers, we may be satisfied.

We’re evaluating the efficiency of the M1 MacBook Professional to 2 different Mac laptops. The primary is a 2019 MacBook Air with 8GB RAM, 1.6GHz Twin-Core Intel Core i5 and 250GB reminiscence. The second is a MacBook Professional 2018, with 16GB RAM, 2.6 GHz 6-Core i7, and a 500GB SSD. The Air is appropriate for on a regular basis use and the dealing with of smaller musical tasks; the Professional geared in direction of extra strenuous functions. These comparisons present how mighty the M1 MacBook Professional is.

Treading new floor

Apple’s new laptop computer boasts an eight-core GPU and eight-core CPU, with the latter cut up into 4 high-performance cores and 4 high-efficiency cores. The M1’s ARM-based System on a Chip (SoC) packs 16 billion transistors. It’s the first pc chip constructed utilizing five-nanometre course of expertise, making it much more intricate than the Intel chips produced utilizing the seven-nanometre course of. This can be a huge step ahead from Apple, making certain the brand new MacBook Professional packs a robust punch.

Apple M1 chip

The internal workings of the M1 MacBook may be new, however its aesthetics are very acquainted. It sports activities the Contact Bar, a divisive characteristic that’s reportedly being discontinued in upcoming fashions. Coming from a laptop computer with no Contact Bar, that is barely jarring. However the Bar’s integration with Logic Professional 10.6 provides you fast entry to parameters. Even when the tactility is minimal, it’s a reduction to not should click on and drag faders if you happen to’re working with out {hardware}.

Its audio system are superb for basic media playback. They go as loud as laptop computer audio system ought to go and have the anticipated low-end-lacking response. As a producer, you’ll seemingly be plugged into an interface or headphones anyway, which is achieved through the 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports on the left and a headphone output on the best.

There are not any two methods about this: two ports are usually not sufficient for professional customers, particularly since Thunderbolt ports double as charging ports. This design selection makes a USB hub a necessity. Nonetheless, there are rumours {that a} new line of 2021 MacBooks will revive the MagSafe charger connector and broaden on USB ports, which we’d wholeheartedly welcome.

You’d anticipate that choosing a MacBook Professional over a MacBook Air would provide you with extra energy and connectivity. Nonetheless, the variations between the 2 fashions are slim. The M1 MacBook Air comes with no fan and Contact Bar, and has a barely lower-spec display screen and a shorter battery life. The battery lifetime of the Professional is outstanding and lives as much as Apple’s 17-hour declare. We’re repeatedly shocked to open it up and see how little battery has drained.

M1 efficiency

The fan within the MacBook Professional is essential, after all. Although the laptop computer boasts fast efficiency, it wants a lift for large duties comparable to rendering giant audio and video tasks. That’s when the fan kicks in, cooling the MacBook Professional to permit it to feed power-hungry duties for longer durations. More often than not, although, it performs completely properly with out the fan.

Usually, the M1 MacBook is lightning-quick. Apps and web sites load in a flash and Logic Professional 10.6, optimised for Apple Silicon, runs like a dream. Tasks and inventory plug-ins open nearly immediately, and audio-editing capabilities execute promptly.

Apple M1 MacBook Pro Logic Pro
Logic Professional Benchmark Check on the M1 MacBook Professional

Apple promised that, with the M1 chip, Logic Professional might run a boatload of plug-ins. Utilizing the Logic Benchmark Check created by, we have now Logic enjoying again 104 situations of Sculpture with a sign chain of Channel EQ, Multiplier, Refrain, AutoFilter and PlatinumVerb. The 2019 MacBook Air can play again solely 13 channels on this configuration, whereas the 2018 MacBook Professional performs again 66. It’s clear, then, that native Logic Professional results are rather more at house on the M1.

Arturia’s OB-Xa V, a very CPU-hungry soft-synth, might be loaded onto 30 channels enjoying eight-note chords on the ACD-3 Slower Strings preset. In the meantime, the MacBook Air can play simply two situations of the identical patch, with the MacBook Professional 2018 managing 22. We load in Arturia’s Piano V 2, a robust physical-modelling instrument, of which the M1 can load 9 concurrent situations. The MacBook Air manages three and the 2018 MacBook does 12.

We examined the M1 MacBook Professional with Arturia’s OB-Xa V, a CPU-hungry comfortable synth.

In Ableton Stay 10 – the Stay 11 Beta isn’t suitable but – the M1 runs 56 situations of Wavetable enjoying eight-note chords with two oscillators. Impressively, Stay can also be working through Rosetta 2, which is a seamless expertise. The 2019 MacBook Air is able to 13 Wavetable situations. Intriguingly, the 2018 MacBook Professional is able to enjoying again 60 situations of Wavetable.

Apple M1 MacBook Pro Ableton Live
Ableton Stay Wavetable check on the M1 MacBook Professional

We didn’t anticipate the 2018 MacBook Professional to outperform the M1 in any surroundings, so it’s fascinating to see it accomplish that properly with Piano V 2 and Ableton Stay 10. Arturia says that its software program is but to be examined and configured for Apple Silicon, which proves that Rosetta 2 is able to working unsupported plug-ins and apps. And, as soon as builders port over to the brand new structure, we should always anticipate better efficiency enhancements.


We need to strive Kontakt-based devices on the M1 however, on the time of writing, Native Devices is but to meet up with Apple. Any huge orchestral instrument libraries utilizing Kontakt as a bunch, then, are a no-go proper now. For essentially the most half, Rosetta 2 is convincing in its internet hosting of incompatible software program. Venerable soft-synths comparable to U-He Diva and Sylenth1 run with nearly no points. Apparently, some VST3 plug-ins would crash Ableton Stay and Logic Professional X however run superb as AU plug-ins. Early adopters ought to go for the latter format wherever potential.

Geekbench scores are one other good technique to visualise the ability of your machine. Our MacBook Air scores 538 on the single-core metric and 1,017 on the multi-core; our 2018 MacBook Professional scores 975 for single-core and 4562 for the multi-core. The beastly M1 MacBook smokes them each, clocking 1,730 on the single-core rating and seven,547 on the multi-core rating.

Multi-tasking is a breeze on the M1. When working in an Ableton Stay undertaking, apps comparable to Adobe Photoshop are working easily within the background with out us even noticing.

Lastly, iPhone and iPad app integration is a cool characteristic, however few fascinating apps can be found. Motive compact doesn’t work, and there are not any apps from Korg, comparable to Kaossilator or Korg Gadget. Thankfully, Moog has not too long ago made the Mannequin 15 app obtainable on Large Sur. We must always see extra enter the fray quickly, which might give rise to extra inexpensive desktop software program.

Must you purchase an M1 MacBook Professional?

Regardless of it being a blisteringly quick machine, we’re not satisfied that the M1 MacBook Professional is strictly tailor-made for music professionals. An M1 MacBook Air has comparable specs, the one noticeable distinction to music producers is the fan’s omission. We’ve heard that the MacBook Air is a robust laptop computer, with many glad they went with it over the Professional. If you happen to typically render huge tasks, the Professional would possibly provide you with a serving to hand right here. Nonetheless, two connection ports – one if you happen to’re charging with no particular adaptor – appears feeble given what number of peripherals we repeatedly hook as much as our laptops.

If you happen to want a brand new laptop computer proper now and are contemplating an M1 MacBook for its efficiency, go for it. Simply bear in mind that some vital plug-ins are usually not but suitable. You gained’t be upset by its pace and battery life. If you happen to can maintain out for a bit of longer, we advise ready for the subsequent launch of MacBooks. By that point, manufacturers comparable to Native Devices and DAW builders can have hopefully caught up with the tech, and the subsequent line of M1 (or M2) merchandise will seemingly be much more spectacular. Hearsay has it {that a} 14-inch and 16-inch are on the horizon, with the aforementioned MagSafe charger and a 12-core CPU.

Apple’s M1 MacBook Professional is an indication of issues to return. By ramping up effectivity with the SoC expertise, the bundle performs much better than the RAM or CPU specs would counsel. The 16GB RAM within the M1 means greater than it does in Apple’s predecessors, due to Apple’s Unified Reminiscence Structure. Contemplating how maxed-out Mac Professional tower computer systems carry out nowadays, it’s thrilling to consider their potential efficiency when outfitted with SoC tech, too. However one of the best information for brand spanking new prospects? Apple hasn’t hiked up the worth in gentle of those new developments.

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