I’m used to being underwhelmed by Apple.
I bet you didn’t expect an M1-related article to start with that, right? But it’s true. For instance, despite the furore surrounding the release of macOS Big Sur, I stand firm by my opinion that it’s yet another incremental upgrade.
That’s not a problem, but it does illustrate my issue with Apple these days. They’re just not as exciting as they used to be.
Take the iPhone 12 Pro, for instance. That too is hugely underwhelming unless you’re upgrading from a significantly older device. I remember when every new iPhone had at least one killer feature you desperately wanted. That just isn’t the case for me any more.
So, what about the M1? Well, I am genuinely impressed by what this chip can do. But, if we’re honest, this was inevitable. Ever since the first Apple-designed chips appeared in iOS devices, their eventual ascent to the Mac platform was always going to happen.
Apple has simply done the right thing for their profit margins, desire to control everything – and their audience. I love my M1 MacBook Air. I’m writing this article on it right now, and, like so many impressive things in tech, it’s the little things it does which impress me the most.
The ridiculous battery life (I no longer worry about charging my laptop), the silent operation (yay) and the snappiness that’s inherent within M1-optimised apps makes it an enjoyable machine to use every day.
But my next Apple silicon Mac won’t be a laptop. It’ll be an iMac, and for one significant reason.
I’ve got a 16” MacBook Pro already
Recently, I conducted an experiment between the M1 MacBook Air and my trusty 16” MacBook Pro. The latter is specced out; i9 8-core processor, 32GB of RAM and the best graphics card you could get at the time.
The 8GB, base spec M1 MacBook Air wiped the floor with it on a rendering test in Final Cut Pro.
Then, the Air got a taste of its own medicine during an export test.
Both results surprised me in equal measure, as you can see in my video reaction. Also, not all was quite what it seemed during that export test, which reveals why the 16” isn’t quite dead in the water yet.
Since then, I’ve edited a few videos on the M1 Air and, as noted, use it regularly for other tasks such as writing.
But I keep going back to that 16”, because for all the fan noise, heat and occasional Intel weirdness, it’s still the best MacBook I’ve ever purchased. So, I won’t be upgrading to an M-series version of that as soon as it arrives.
I did spend north of £3,500 on this one, after all.
I’m finding myself using my 2017 iMac more and more
The other device in my life is a 2017 iMac. By today’s standards, it’s rather underpowered:
- 3.5GHz quad-core i5
- 16GB RAM (self-upgraded to 32GB)
- 256GB SSD
- Radeon Pro 575 graphics
It was relatively powerful at the time I bought it, but it pales in comparison to today’s machines, given how fast this stuff iterates.
However, I realised yesterday that I’m now doing most of my work on the iMac.
And I’ve worked out why.
That 5K 27” screen is the best screen in my house
It’s that screen. That damn screen.
There’s no other Apple device (bar the pro-priced XDR display) that’s as big, vibrant or genuinely profitable, productivity-wise, than the 27” iMac. Mine has delivered a huge return on investment – I know that without even doing the numbers.
If you’ve never used one or glimpsed at that 5K screen before, you’re in for a treat if it’s on your shopping list. It’s why I still think the 27” iMac is a good buy today if you’re in need of a device like this for your work. I get so much done on that computer because the screen real estate boosts my productivity – it’s that simple.
The iMac’s 5K display is without doubt the best screen I have access to in my house. Don’t get me wrong – every Apple device I own has a lovely screen, and I’ve got a nice TV, but they still all pale in comparison to that 5K iMac.
This is why the next M1 Mac I buy will be an iMac; it is solely because of that screen.
Let’s face it – the Apple silicon iMac is going to be amazing
Little to nothing is known about the next iMac. Macworld suggests that the first iMac to get the Apple silicon treatment early next year will be the 21.5” version, complete with a new design.
But that’s not a 27” screen, is it?
The one I’m waiting for, I suspect, probably won’t make an appearance until later in 2021, and I guess it’ll be powered by the step up from the M1 chip.
If these initial M1 chips are anything to go by, it’s going to be an absolute beast. I can’t really justify upgrading an already perfectly powerful 16” MacBook Pro, but I reckon I can swing it when it comes to upgrading that 2017 iMac. My suspicion is that there are many, many people in the same boat as me. Maybe that’s you.
What are you going for next?