New Mac mini experience: Apple M1 chip performance and compatibility are fully tested

Single-core performance is very strong, daily use by non-professional users is OK

  As early as 2005, the Mac series changed from Motorola and IBM’s Power series processors to Intel Core processors.
  And now, Intel is also experiencing bottlenecks in performance, process development, and power consumption. Therefore, it is not surprising that Apple introduced a self-developed processor for Mac systems.
  M1 is Apple’s first SoC chip specially designed for Mac. This is the biggest technical foundation of M1. Next, we will use this as a starting point and combine the actual test of the new Mac mini to reveal the real users of M1. Experience whether “punch i9, kick PC” like rumors.
  For a long time, Apple’s SoC has adopted low-frequency + few cores + ultra-wide architecture IPC solutions. M1 has only 4 cores, but under TSMC’s 5nm process, 16 billion transistors have been inserted. 4 large cores can be allocated to very large Abundant transistor resources inherently have obvious single-core performance advantages over X86 competitors.
  Geekbench 5’s single-core running score is 1732. As a comparison, the Intel Core i7 10875H with a single-core up to 5.1GHz is only over 1100 points, and even the strongest Core i9 10900K on the desktop can only approach 1500 points at most. And in the test, the CPU occupancy rate has always been between 45% and 65%, the peak power consumption of the platform is only 28W, the whole machine runs very quietly, and the body shell basically has no heat.
  In addition, what everyone is most concerned about is software compatibility. According to my actual test, most of the apps that I use daily, such as QQ, iQiyi, WPS, and other domestic apps, have been adapted and can be directly in the APP Store is installed and used, so there is no daily problem at all.
  But for relatively professional applications, compatibility problems do exist at present. However, there are also many APPs that have been adapted, such as Final Cut Pro, etc., but the popular software under Adobe is not so fast. The fastest Lightroom CC will be December, and Photoshop will be in 2021. Premiere, Illustrator, etc. No timeline was announced.
  Although macOS Big Sur includes the Rosetta 2 compiler, it will prompt to download and install when running the supported X86 Mac APP, but its limitation is also obvious: software that uses the AVX/AVX2/AVX512 instruction set cannot be compiled, but this is precisely what Essential for productivity software.
  Therefore, for users who need to develop and use third-party large-scale software in a virtual machine environment in a short time, the M1 chip model needs to be cautious.

A large number of dedicated chips ensure high performance and low power consumption

  Back to the hardware function, as a computer processor in the form of SoC, what are the advantages of M1 over traditional X86 CPUs?
  So on the official structure of M1, we can see a lot of dedicated chips: image processing, video codec, audio processing, encryption and decryption, neural network… This is actually the same number as the mobile chip, using dedicated The chip maximizes the energy consumption ratio, thereby achieving both high efficiency and low power consumption.
  If you often use video editing/special effects software such as Premiere or After Effect, you will definitely be impressed by the lag caused by high-resolution material playback, even if the price of your computer configuration exceeds 10,000 yuan.
  How about the performance of the M1 combined with a dedicated chip?
  In Final Cut Pro 10.5, we used several 8K resolution materials to create a video project, and played it back in real time with “better quality”. No matter how you drag the timeline, the preview screen and timeline pointer can respond instantly, and After adjusting the color, saturation, and exposure data and cropping in small increments, the preview can also be previewed with zero lag without separate rendering, which is difficult to achieve on traditional X86 processor models.
  In addition, when editing the 4K resolution 60 frames Rec 2020 color gamut H.265 encoded HDR video taken by the iPhone 12 Pro Max, the Mac mini supported by the M1 chip can also achieve completely smooth playback and editing, and the platform functions The power consumption can be controlled within 15W, and the CPU/GPU occupancy rate is also very low.
  We put this video on a Windows 10 notebook with a Core i7 10875H processor, 32GB RAM, and RTX 2070 unique display, and used Premiere Pro 2020 to edit it. When hardware acceleration is turned on, there will also be stuttering. Moreover, the platform power consumption easily exceeds 80W, and the memory is almost full. It can be seen that the function of the dedicated chip is very obvious under the supported APP.
  The same conclusion also applies to projects that include machine learning, data encryption, audio encoding and other dedicated chip acceleration. For example, in the djay Pro AI audio editing software, M1 can accurately identify the beats, drums and vocals in the music and support each Separating and remixing, the accuracy rate is much higher than that of the audio post software on the Windows platform, and the control through the slider is also very intuitive.

On-chip package memory design that breaks performance constraints

  In terms of memory, M1 provides a completely different solution. Two LPDDR4X DRAMs are directly packaged on the M1 substrate in the form of SoC. In this way, the wiring distance is at least shorter than the traditional socket or motherboard soldering. Very much, which in turn reduces latency and power consumption.
  However, packaging memory also means that scalability is completely abandoned and the upper capacity limit is significantly lower, which will form a natural user group upper limit. The maximum memory capacity of the three Mac products using the M1 chip is only 16GB. MacOS cannot relieve the memory pressure by killing processes like iOS. Parallelism is a natural attribute of computer operation, so this is destined to be at least at the M1 stage. It can still only find a sense of presence in mainstream positioning products.
  But from a commercial point of view, this entry point is very applicable, because the mainstream means high shipments, which is the foundation of ecological formation and user habits. M1 must be able to lay down this basic disk, and ARM can go further on the Mac side. .
Why did we choose Mac mini for testing?

  Among the three models of the M1 chip, you may be more concerned about the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, but we know that the performance of the CPU is often positively related to heat dissipation. Compared with the notebook with thin and light as the main design direction, although the Mac mini is positioned Mini, the body is only not much larger than the set-top box, but the thickness is also 36mm, which also reserves enough margin for its heat dissipation design.
  From our test, even when running X86 high-load applications that require a compiler to compile, there is no obvious noise, and the body heat is almost negligible. Therefore, the Mac mini is the most stable performance release among the three M1 chip models. One.
  The Mac mini also keeps the user’s budget pressure at the lowest level, and can make full use of the existing or favorite peripheral hardware to start work. The video output can be through HDMI2.0 and a Thunderbolt/USB4 with a bandwidth of 40Gbps. Achieve dual displays.
  In addition, there is 1 Thunderbolt/USB4 interface, and 2 USB-A, Gigabit wired, 3.5mm audio output and support WiFi6 wireless protocol, for most users who want to change the Mac platform. Said, it is also the most practical solution at present.
  Of course, if it is a heavy peripheral user, the number of interfaces is still relatively tight.
  The use of a computer processor solution based on the ARM architecture also means that the iOS and iPadOS ecosystems are fully opened up. After all, the two are basically the top spot in their respective fields.
  The emergence of M1 opened the beginning of the unification of Apple’s computer, mobile phone, and tablet ecosystems. The future trend is that the APP side has a broad foundation for both three uses, and the upper level develops their own specialized APP as an extended distinction. This is Apple’s push The market purpose of M1.
  Another major advantage of unifying the processors of mobile phones, tablets, and computers is that it can make full use of the scale effect to reduce costs. Even the first-generation product M1 has gained low cost thanks to the huge volume of iPhone and iPad. benefit.
  Compared with the version with Core i5 processor, the M1 version of Mac mini with the same 8GB memory and 512GB SSD configuration is 1,500 yuan cheaper, but there is almost no difference in basic daily use, and it can also rely on a dedicated chip to give Apple apps With strong Buff, it can be said to be a product with obvious advantages.