My experience with the MacBook Pro 13 inch with Apple Silicon M1 chip

My experience report on the MacBook Pro 13 inch with M1 chip

I've been using my Apple Silicon MacBook Pro since the day before yesterday. The first day, however, was spent tidying up my old MacBook Pro, because before I dragged all the data over, I wanted to tidy up a bit again. I always like to use the time of a Mac move to at least roughly go through the user folder and see what can be in the bin.

Cleaning up before the migration

The day before yesterday I started the migration and in the evening and the next morning I was busy checking individual programs and reinstalling them. I had left out the "System and Network" area during the migration and the missing settings resulted in error messages or warnings from many programs because they had no hard drive access, could not check their license or were in other pain. I was happy to accept this extra work because I now know that the system is halfway "fresh" again.

I always have a little party inside when I open the Apple boxes (Photos: Sir Apfelot).

I always have a little party inside when I open the Apple boxes (Photos: Sir Apfelot).

How's the MacBook Pro? What does the M1 do?

But now we come to the subject of the report, the 1-inch M13 MacBook Pro. Visually nothing has changed compared to the previous year's models, as Apple only changed the innards. I would have liked to see you throw the Touch Bar out again and install the function keys, but unfortunately nothing happened in that direction. But something much more important has already changed: the processor architecture.

Of particular interest here is the first Apple silicon chip, which - as it is the first of its kind - is called "M1". Even if it is the first M1, it is probably based on the A14 that can be found in the current iPhone 12 models. And this one is - incredibly fast.

My iPhone Xs gets bored most of the time when I use it, but the iPhone 12 Pro will probably just twiddle its thumbs even when it comes to 4K video editing. So it was time Apple finally put these chips in Macs where they actually get something to do.

Outwardly, little has changed in the MacBook Pro design - but the important things are inside: the M1 Apple silicon chip.

Outwardly, little has changed in the MacBook Pro design - but the important things are inside: the M1 Apple silicon chip.

Geekbench results for the new M1 MacBook Pro

The Geekbench program carries out a compilation of different tasks, measures the time the computer needs for them and then outputs a value in the form of a number. On the Geekbench website one can find a brief explanation that DeepL has translated as:

Geekbench 5 measures your processor's single-core and multi-core performance for everything from checking your email to taking photos to playing music, or all at once. Geekbench 5's CPU benchmark measures performance in new application areas like augmented reality and machine learning so you know how close your system is to the forefront of progress.

The results from Geekbench are therefore interesting for comparing the current Apple Silicon Macs with the Intel Macs.

Benchmark Tests: M1 MacBook Pro competes with Mac Pro 2019

I watched various videos in which Youtubers let the MacBook Pro with the Apple Silicon Chip compete against other Mac models. I just want to take a screenshot from the Video from Appleinsider share which shows how fast the M1 processor actually is:

Single-core results

So the bottom line is that there is no Mac in single-core mode that could even come close to holding a candle to the MacBook Pro. Even the Mac Pro from 2019 is topped by almost 100 percent. For intensive computing tasks, however, it depends on the multi-core value, because programs such as Final Cut, Premiere, Cinema 4D, Maya or something like that uses, then the Macs throw all existing cores into the ring to solve the task.

Longer bar = better. As you can see, the M1 chip already delivers impressive results.

Longer bar = better. As you can see, the M1 chip already delivers impressive results.

Multi-core results

In the multi-core tests with Geekbench it doesn't look so blatant, but the small MacBook Pro is still very close to the Mac Pro, Apple's current computing monster, which costs over 6000 euros even in its smallest configuration. For comparison: the small MacBook Pro costs just a quarter of that.

While the Mac Pro got 8632 points, the 13 inch MacBook Pro still managed 7395 points. So the Mac Pro is almost 15% faster. The Core i9 16 inch MacBook Pro from 2019 is already put in the pocket of the Apple Silicon MacBook Pro, because it only got 7067 points in Geekbench tests.

The multi-core results of the M1 chip with 8 cores are not quite as clear as the single-core measurements, but still do not need to hide.

The multi-core results of the M1 chip with 8 cores are not quite as clear as the single-core measurements, but still do not need to hide.

How does the M1 MacBook Pro perform in everyday life?

Geekbench results are all well and good, but it gets exciting when you look at the device in everyday use and I now had two days to do so. In fact, I am also typing this text on the device.

Can it replace a 15-inch MacBook Pro from 2017?

I can answer this question with "yes", because my MacBook Pro is in the corner and I only work on the Apple Silicon MacBook Pro. The smaller screen size of only 13 inches compared to the 15 inches I had before is not so important for me, as I work on the external monitor most of the time anyway. For me it was crucial that I could have many programs open at the same time. These include a few memory hogs such as Adobe Photoshop, Firefox, Chrome or Microsoft applications.

The MacBook Pro copes with it perfectly. It is even noticeably faster in everyday life. I already had the feeling with the old Intel MacBook Pro that macOS Big Sur brought a little speed improvement. But since Big Sur has been optimized for the M1 Macs, you will of course notice another increase when you switch to an Apple Silicon Mac.

Some apps, such as Adobe's Photoshop, are still waiting to be optimized for Apple's M1 chips. Until then, the universal translator "Rosetta" will step in and make the programs run for Apple Silicon.

Some apps, such as Adobe's Photoshop, are still waiting to be optimized for Apple's M1 chips. Until then, the universal translator "Rosetta" will step in and make the programs run for Apple Silicon.

Not everything is faster (yet) ...

My wife works a lot with large Photoshop files and is currently still struggling with a 2013 iMac that is constantly throwing the beach ball. We wanted to test how the speed differences are noticeable when using Photoshop and have opened a 2,5 GB file on all three Macs - including starting Photoshop.

I measured the following results with the stopwatch:

  • Intel iMac from 2013: 1min 20s
  • 2017 Intel MacBook Pro: 18s
  • Apple Silicon MacBook Pro from 2020: 20s

As you can see, the M1 chip is fast, but it cannot show its performance here, as Photoshop will not come in a version that is optimized for Apple Silicon Macs until 2021. In the transition period, Rosetta “translates” the program for the Apple CPU, which of course costs computing time.

In between reading tips:

According to the data sheet and Apple advertising, the 13-inch MacBook Pro has built-in fans on the left and right, but I haven't heard any of them to this day. And it's not just me ...

According to the data sheet and Apple advertising, the 13-inch MacBook Pro has built-in fans on the left and right, but I haven't heard any of them to this day. And it's not just me ...

Goodbye fan noise

An extremely remarkable feature of the M1 MacBook Pro is the volume, because the device is completely silent even under full load. It has built-in fans, but the M1 chip works so efficiently that the fan does not start even when rendering video.

The Intel chips, on the other hand, are real power guzzlers, because when I started Geekbench on my 2017 MacBook Pro, the fan noise not only made it sound like I was at the sea, but I could also fry fried eggs on the metal bar above the Touch Bar. I didn't do it, of course, but the CPU was already extremely warm.

No noticeable waste heat with over 600 percent CPU load

I tormented the MacBook Pro with the M1 chip with Geekbench while rendering a video with iMovie. In certain tests by Geekbench, the CPU load was even more than 600% in places - nevertheless, you only felt a slightly lukewarm spot on the underside of the MacBook Pro. As a result, the fans have still not started.

The MacBook Pro with the M1 chip is as quiet as a mouse - even if you give it something to do.

The MacBook Pro with the M1 chip is as quiet as a mouse - even if you give it something to do.

Small drawback: no more Windows with Parallels Desktop

I've tried all sorts of software on the new MacBook Pro that I use here and there. The only thing I've found that steadfastly fails is Parallels Desktop. Even version 16 runs with Big Sur, but unfortunately not with the Apple Silicon Macs.

On the one hand this is bad because my invoicing program has been running under Windows with Parallels for years, but on the other hand it is good, because now I can finally draw a line under the matter and delete Parallels Desktop and Windows from my Mac life forever. Sometimes you just have to be forced to make decisions.

Parallels Desktop can be opened on the Mac, but when you try to open your Windows virtual machine, you get this error message.

Parallels Desktop can be opened on the Mac, but when you try to open your Windows virtual machine, you get this error message.

My conclusion on the Apple Silicon MacBook Pro 13 inch

I have to say, I'm really excited about what Apple has achieved here. When I think of the earlier switch from the PowerPC platform to the Intel chips ... that was perhaps a painful story. This time, however, the changeover is going really well. This is not really surprising either, since Apple has been working on getting macOS to run on the iPhone and iPad chips for years.

Now Apple has finally managed to become processor-technically independent. This opens up completely new possibilities for Mac users. For example, if you were to run an Intel processor with 64 cores, you could buy a cooling system with liquid nitrogen and half a nuclear power plant. An Apple silicon chip with 64 cores, on the other hand, should still be easily feasible as a laptop if I look at the battery life of the new Macs.

I am happy that I bought the Apple Silicon MacBook Pro. Except for the Parallels Desktop dropout, I haven't had any bad experiences with the device. Everything runs very smoothly and the MacBook Pro comes back from sleep as quickly as you are used to from an iPad or iPhone. Speaking of iPad and iPhone: I haven't tried the function that I can now run iOS apps on the Mac, but there will be a little report on this soon.

Can you recommend the new 13 inch MacBook Pro or not? From my point of view, the new Apple Silicon Macs have definitely been given the go-ahead. Only people who have the Mac in a fixed workflow and do not want to take any risks should perhaps use Intel Macs again. I don't count myself among them and I was willing to take risks - it was worth it.

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11 comments

  1. Wolf says:

    Thank you for the report. I'm also toying with the change. But wait and see if an MBP 15 or MBP 16 comes in the spring. In the office and home office I have a 40-inch or a 32-inch device with 4K or 5K. But on the way, the 13 inches would be a bit too small for me.
    And I hope for an M2 with 16 and 32 GB of RAM!
    I don't need Windows anymore, neither at work nor privately.

    • Jens Kleinholz says:

      Yes, I think there will be a version with 32 or more GB for sure. Otherwise the "pro-users" would certainly not switch. Then I wish you that they bring the new models soon!

  2. Walter K. Siebert says:

    Greetings, I read your article "My experiences with the MacBook Pro 13 inch with Apple Silicon M1 chip" with great interest. If Parallels is currently completely down. How do you then work with (almost) pure PC programs, such as various WISO programs? Greetings Walter

    • Jens Kleinholz says:

      Hello Walter! Currently I only have the Orgamax program (accounting), which I use under Windows. It only works on my old MacBook Pro 15 inch, so I first have to use the program on my old device. Otherwise there is currently no way - as far as I know. That with Crossover I haven't tried it ...

  3. Froyo says:

    That with Windows 10 will soon be resolved. Microsoft is in the process of adapting the Windows 10 ARM version of the Surface Pro X for the M1.

  4. Peter says:

    Which external monitor would you recommend? Possibly the LG Ultrafine 5k from the Apple site? Or is there an approximately equally good, cheaper recommendation?

    Thank you in advance and best regards

    Peter

    • Jens Kleinholz says:

      Hi Peter! In terms of resolution and optics, the LG Ultrafine is certainly not a bad choice. There have only been a few problems with it in the past, such as interference from Bluetooth or WLAN and a lot more. But I think that LG has now fixed these "quirks". Here on Amazon By the way, you can get the 5K model almost 300 EUR cheaper because it is used. But since it is sold by a dealer, there is no need to worry about defects. On the one hand, you can send it back for 2 weeks without a reason and, on the other hand, they have to offer a 1 year warranty.

      • Peter Skamira says:

        Are there any alternatives that you can recommend?

        • Jens Kleinholz says:

          Sure, what are your key data? Price, size, intended use, calibration important? So completely in the blue, I always find it difficult to recommend something. : D

          • Peter Skamira says:

            4K or 5k for photo and video editing. A MacBook Pro M1 should be connected.

          • Jens Kleinholz says:

            I have an older version of the LG Curved. If I had to choose something today, it would be the 2020 model of the monitor with 34 inches and USB-C port: LG 34WN80C-B. I think this thing is great ... and the price is totally ok for what you get. The reviews are pretty good too.

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