New MacBooks get new brains with their first Apple-designed processors

  • At an online launch event Tuesday, Apple announced new versions of its Mac computers with Apple-designed processors. The new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac Mini are the first Apple PCs in more than a decade that aren't powered by chips from Intel.

    At an online launch event Tuesday, Apple announced new versions of its Mac computers with Apple-designed processors. The new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac Mini are the first Apple PCs in more than a decade that aren't powered by chips from Intel. Courtesy of Apple

 
 
Posted11/14/2020 6:19 AM

The Mac is getting a brain transplant.

At an online launch event Tuesday, Apple announced new versions of its Mac computers with Apple-designed processors.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac Mini are the first Apple PCs in more than a decade that aren't powered by chips from Intel. The new computers with Apple silicon don't outwardly look very different from Apple's existing lines. But Apple says they're faster at running applications that have been designed for the new processor. And the 13-inch MacBook Air, it says, can go twice as long on a single charge for video conference calls.

The MacBook Air price remains the same, at $1,000. Apple shaved $100 off the price of the Mac Mini, now priced at $800. And the MacBook Pro will cost the same at $1,300. The new computers are available for pre-order immediately and will ship next week.

Apple's shift to its own processors, first announced in June, is part of a long-term effort to make its Mac computers more like iPhones and iPads. Apple's new M1 Mac processors use a custom design based on an architecture from a company called Arm, which Apple also uses in iPhones.

New Mac processors could open up some new possibilities for Apple's computers, which otherwise haven't changed much in recent years. Macs are still a fraction of the PC market, but Apple has seen record sales of them -- $9 billion in the quarter that ended in September -- during the coronavirus pandemic.

Apple announced the new computers in a prerecorded video streamed online Tuesday morning, featuring lots of sweeping drone shots. It was the company's third such event in two months, after ones focused on the iPhone and the Apple Watch, and was definitely the wonkiest. The first 24 minutes were filled with technical jargon and claims, charts without numbers, and short videos of power users singing the new processors' praises. For most consumers, the devil will be in the details. Will their preferred apps work on the computers? Should they upgrade now or wait?

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