New 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro

Apple’s professional MacBook Pro has been a workhorse of the Mac lineup for years. Since 2016, however, customers have expressed irritation at Apple’s removal of ports, the loss of MagSafe magnetic charging, and the Touch Bar. The new models still lack USB-A ports but supplement three Thunderbolt 4 ports with an HDMI port for video, an SDXC card slot for camera media, and a headphone jack. The MacBook Pros (apart from the low-end 14-inch model) include powerful chargers and a USB-C to MagSafe 3 charging cable capable of fast-charging the devices. Apple has replaced the Touch Bar with traditional F-keys. A Touch ID sensor remains available at the top-right corner of the keyboard.

M1 Pro: The M1 Pro offers up to 1.7 times the performance of the M1 thanks to a 10-core CPU that has eight performance and two efficiency cores. Its 16-core GPU is up to twice as fast as the M1. The M1 Pro up to 32 GB of unified memory, and it increases the memory bandwidth by nearly three times.

M1 Max: The M1 Max has the same 10-core CPU as the M1 Pro but provides a 32-core GPU with up to four times the performance of the M1. The largest chip Apple has ever made, the M1 Max offers up to 64 GB of memory, and is nearly six times faster than the M1.

The new MacBook Pros feature new Liquid Retina XDR displays with higher resolutions than previous models. On the downside, Apple brought the new displays so close to the case edges that the new 1080p FaceTime HD camera lives in an iPhone-like notch that cuts the Mac menu bar in half. Full-screen apps can avoid the notch.

Numerous options are available, so you can choose an M1 Pro or M1 Max for either size, and pick from 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB unified memory configurations. When it comes to storage, your choices are 512 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB, 4 TB, and 8 TB.

Let your budget be your guide, and aim for an M1 Max if you work with video. You can place orders with Apple now, but be warned that global supply chain issues may mean waiting for some configurations.

The 24-inch iMac Comes in Colors

Apple has continued replacing Macs at the lower end of the product line with new models featuring the company’s homegrown M1 chip. While the first Macs to get the M1—the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac mini—didn’t receive any design changes, Apple radically overhauled things for the new M1-based 24-inch iMac.

At 11.5 mm thick, the 24-inch iMac is thinner than the original iPhone. It comes in seven colors: green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, blue, and silver. The back of the iMac—which is often visible, such as on a receptionist’s desk—is a bold, vibrant color, whereas the front uses a muted version of the color and a light gray bezel. It looks like a 24-inch iPad clipped to an aluminum stand. It’s so thin that there’s no room for a standard power jack, so it comes with an external power adapter that includes an optional Ethernet jack.

Behind the iMac’s “chin” is the guts of the computer, most notably the same M1 chip as in other M1-based Macs. Overall performance will be stellar thanks to the M1’s 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU, but you can tweak the price/performance curve slightly by choosing a 7-core GPU instead and by picking either 8 GB or 16 GB of unified memory.

The screen, which actually measures 23.5 inches diagonally, offers 4480-by-2520 resolution, making it a 4.5K Retina display, between the 4K display on the now-discontinued 21.5-inch iMac and the 5K display on the 27-inch iMac. It’s topped by a 1080p FaceTime HD camera that, with help from the M1 chip’s image signal processor—and advanced microphones and speakers—should offer excellent out-of-the-box videoconferencing quality.

Apple introduced three new color-matched versions of the Magic Keyboard as well. One adds dedicated keys for Spotlight, Dictation, Do Not Disturb, Lock, and Emoji; the second trades the Lock key for the first Touch ID sensor on a standalone keyboard; and the third includes both Touch ID and a numeric keypad. They come with color-matched models of the Magic Mouse, or you can upgrade to a color-matched Magic Trackpad instead.

Two models of the 24-inch iMac are available:

  • $1299 gets you that 7-core GPU, two Thunderbolt ports, 256 GB of storage that’s upgradable to 1 TB, optional Gigabit Ethernet, and a standard Magic Keyboard. It’s available in only blue, green, pink, and silver.
  • $1499 gets you the 8-core GPU, 256 GB of storage upgradeable to 2 TB, two Thunderbolt ports and two USB 3 ports, standard Gigabit Ethernet, and a Magic Keyboard with Touch ID. And you can pick from all seven colors.

The new 24-inch iMac is a great Mac for a family, student, or front-office worker where everyone will appreciate its striking color and design. It may not offer everything a pro wants, but the Intel-based 27-inch iMac remains available, and Apple will be releasing even more powerful Macs based on Apple silicon for professionals, likely later this year.

M1 Macs: What You Need to Know

What Is the M1 and Why Should You Care?

Since 2006, Macs have been powered by CPUs from Intel. The M1 is a new Apple custom designed chip. This chip will enable Apple to make Macs that are faster at a lower cost, and that have better battery life. It will also allow Macs to run all iPhone and iPad apps, since the M1 is similar to the A-series chips that power those devices.

The first three Macs to take advantage of the M1 are the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac mini. Apart from a few small exceptions, the main thing that has changed about these Macs is the M1 chip and they require macOS 11 Big Sur.

MacBook Air

The new M1-based MacBook Air replaces the previous Intel-based model that Apple released in March 2020. It does so thanks to massive M1-powered performance improvements: up to 3.5x faster processing, up to 5x faster graphics, and up to 9x faster machine-learning workloads. The M1’s integrated storage controller and the latest solid-state storage technology also combine for up to 2x speedier SSD performance.

The MacBook Air no longer needs a fan to keep its cool. Apple significantly improved battery life as well, promising up to 15 hours of “wireless web” and up to 18 hours of video playback.

There are a few other small improvements:

  • Two Thunderbolt 3 ports that support the new USB 4
  • 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 networking, up from 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5
  • Better image quality on the (unchanged) 720p FaceTime HD camera
  • Instant wake from sleep

13-inch MacBook Pro

Things get a little more confusing with the M1-based 13-inch MacBook Pro. Previously, there were four configurations, priced at $1299, $1499, $1799, and $1999. Apple replaced the bottom two with M1 configurations but left the top two with Intel chips. Probably because the higher-end Intel models can take up to 32 GB of RAM. They also have four Thunderbolt 3 ports and a 4 TB storage option.

Apple doesn’t say if or by how much the new M1 MacBook Pro is faster than the Intel models, but it does say that it’s up to 2.8x faster overall than what it replaces, has up to 5x faster graphics, and is up to 11x quicker for machine-learning tasks.

Mac mini

The third Mac model to switch to the M1 chip is the Mac mini. Like the 13-inch MacBook Pro, not all models make the jump, however. Previously, there were two Mac mini models, one starting at $799 and the other at $1099. The M1 Mac mini replaces the low-end model and drops the price to $699.

Apple says its CPU performance is 3x faster than the model it replaces, it has up to 6x faster graphics, and machine-learning tasks complete up to 15x faster.

The M1 model will likely prove to be much faster but the Intel version has its own advantages and is still available.

  • The M1 Mac mini offers only 8 GB or 16 GB ($200) of RAM, whereas the Intel Mac mini is configurable to 32 GB ($600) or 64 GB ($1000) as well.
  • The M1 Mac mini has only two Thunderbolt ports, whereas the Intel Mac mini has four.
  • The Intel Mac mini has a $100 option for 10 Gigabit Ethernet, whereas the M1 Mac mini is limited to Gigabit Ethernet.

macOS Big Sur

The new Macs require Big Sur, macOS 11. We strongly recommend that you check compatibility carefully before upgrading a production Mac or stay with Catalina. Along with a complete user interface overhaul, it has significant under-the-hood changes that could pose compatibility problems for some workflows in the near term.

Bottom Line on M1 Macs

These Macs and the M1 chip are the future of the Mac line. We’ll all need to jump in sooner or later although for many workflows now might not be the time. Check compatibility carefully because many vendors list their products as incompatible with the M1 chip as of this article. For example Google Drive File Stream is incompatible, Parallels and VMware Fusion are also incompatible, the Adobe Creative Suite runs in emulation (known as Rosetta) but Photoshop has issues. Again, check carefully or have MacLab consult with you regarding your purchase.

New 2020 27 inch iMac

Faster Processors

You have choices of four of the latest 10th-generation Intel Core processors: a 3.1 GHz 6-core i5, a 3.3 GHz 6-core i5, a 3.8 GHz 8-core i7, and a 3.6 GHz 10-core i9. Performance and cost both rise through that list.

Higher Performance Graphics

Apple also moved to the next-generation AMD Radeon Pro graphics chips, with the Radeon Pro 5300 with 4 GB of memory in the low-end and mid-range models. The high-end model starts with a Radeon Pro 5500 XT with 8 GB of memory, and you can upgrade to a Radeon Pro 5700 with 8 GB for $300 or a Radeon Pro 5700 XT with 16 GB for $500. The more expensive options would be useful for graphics-intensive workflows, complex video editing, or developing 3D content.

Higher RAM Ceiling

All configurations of the 27-inch iMac start with 8 GB, but you can expand that to 16 GB ($200), 32 GB ($600), 64 GB ($1000) or, for the first time in the iMac line, 128 GB ($2600). Unlike on most other Macs, RAM is user-accessible through a panel on the back.

Increased SSD Storage

Storage is locked at 256 GB for the low-end model, whereas the mid-range model starts at 512 GB and lets you upgrade to 1 TB ($200) or 2 TB ($600). The high-end model also starts at 512 GB, offering the same 1 TB and 2 TB upgrades and adding 4 TB ($1200) and 8 TB ($2400) options. The Fusion Drive is no longer an option for the 27-inch iMac.

Better Video and Audio for Videoconferencing

Those who spend their days on video calls will appreciate the new 1080p FaceTime HD camera, a notable improvement on the previous 720p camera. Apple also says the 27-inch iMac now features higher-fidelity speakers and a studio-quality three-mic array for better audio output and input.

Improved Glare and Ambient Light Handling

The 27-inch iMac now offers a $500 option for “nano-texture glass,” which Apple says provides “better viewing under various lighting conditions, such as a bright room or indirect sunlight.” Previously, nano-texture glass was available only for Apple’s Pro Display XDR screen. The iMac’s Retina display also now supports True Tone, enabling it to adjust its color temperature automatically for ambient light conditions.

Faster Networking

Finally, if you need the ultimate networking performance, a $100 option gets you 10 Gigabit Ethernet.

Overall, if you need a powerful desktop Mac with a gorgeous display, you can’t go wrong with the new 27-inch iMac. It’s significantly cheaper than the iMac Pro and more powerful than both the Mac mini and the 21.5-inch iMac. Just remember that some of the options are available only if you start with the high-end configuration.

Macs Moving to Apple Silicon

Apple announced that in the future, Macs will no longer be powered by Intel chips but will instead rely on custom-designed Apple chips. The company has made such massive transitions twice before: first in 1994 with the move from Motorola’s 68000 chips to IBM’s PowerPC platform, and again in 2006 with the jump to processors from Intel. 

What is Apple silicon?

Apple creates its own chips to power the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple TV. These chips are based on a platform called ARM. Of all Apple’s products, only the Mac has continued to use processors from Intel. Apple said it would be creating chips specifically to power Macs, although they’ll be part of the same chip family used in iOS devices.

Why is Apple making this transition?

  • Performance: By creating its own chips, Apple can tweak the designs to the sweet spot of performance and power consumption for any given Mac.
  • Profit: Intel processors have high profit margins, and Apple would prefer to keep that money instead of paying it to Intel.
  • Control: With Apple making its own chips, its product roadmaps are within its control, rather than being subject to Intel’s schedule, capabilities, and whims.

When will the first Macs with Apple silicon appear?

Apple said that we’d see the first Mac with Apple silicon by the end of 2020.

Is it better to wait for Apple silicon Macs?

There are two schools of thought. Some recommend buying the first models that appear because Macs with the previous chips may have a shorter effective lifespan. Others prefer to buy the last models with the earlier chips under the assumption that the first new Macs might have unanticipated problems.

How long will Apple keep selling Intel-based Macs?

The company said that it anticipates releasing new Intel-based Macs for roughly 2 years and that it has some exciting new models in the pipeline.

How long will Apple continue to support Intel-based Macs?

Apple didn’t commit to a specific length of time but said it would be releasing new software and supporting Intel-based Macs “for years to come.” In the previous processor transition from PowerPC to Intel, Apple maintained the Rosetta translation environment for over 5 years.

Will my software run on a Mac with Apple silicon?

Happily, yes! Apple announced Rosetta 2, which will ship with macOS before Macs with Apple silicon appear. Rosetta 2 automatically translates existing Intel-based apps. Apple said that Rosetta 2 will be completely transparent to the user.

WFH Internet Protection

MacLab support plans now include Internet protection for work-from-home staff. Typically, home Internet is not protected from botnets, malware and phishing sites. Office networks have firewalls that block attacks, but home networks are left to fend for themselves and given weak or ineffective protection by the Internet provider. MacLab has a small agent that installs on the Mac that redirects traffic through a filter and checks for malicious sites. This can also be customized for your organization to block or allow particular sites or categories of sites. Domains created within the last 30 days can also be blocked, since those are the most likely to be sources of phishing.

The service is effective regardless of where the computer is being used. Home, coffee shop, or public wifi. This is not designed to stop email spam. Spam is blocked by your spam filter. However, if the message makes it through and a malicious link is clicked, the site may very well be blocked by this service.

The service is included free with most new support plans.

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