MacBooks with the Apple M1 chipset are now available for purchase in select markets. It’s a sea change from the previous generation MacBooks, but you won’t see it on the surface because it’s internal. The M1 chip replaces the Intel chipset that Apple claims is revolutionary in the PC world. Most reviews point out that the M1 chip meets these claims, in fact it pushes the limits of how fast a laptop can get. That becomes even more fascinating to know, thanks to the latest revelations from the folks at iFixit who did complete teardowns on the latest MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.
In their respective teardowns, one of the main points about MacBook Air and MacBook Pro was that they are not very different from each other. Of course, the biggest difference between the two MacBook models is the fan the Pro has, but the Air lacks. And this difference has more to do with performance than the size and footprint of these MacBooks. According to iFixit, the fan’s place has been taken by an aluminum heat spreader that hangs from the logic board to dissipate the heat generated by the processor.
iFixit has noted that this system works perfectly for the MacBook Air but in turn introduced a performance limit which is something the MacBook Pro can overcome because it has a fan. “There is not much that can go wrong here. A thick cold plate atop the M1 processor draws heat by conduction to its flatter, cooler end, where it can radiate safely. Without a fan, this solution can take longer to cool down and can be clogged sooner, but by forgoing heat pipes or a steam chamber, the sink also has more mass to saturate with thermal energy. There are no moving parts or anything that can break. Every now and then you’ll want new thermal paste, and that’s it, ”iFixit noted in its MacBook Air teardown report.
The MacBook Air is also a bit different from its Intel-based predecessors. The battery is a different size than its previous counterpart, along with the location of some other components. But the general repair process for the M1-powered MacBook Air “will remain largely unchanged.” This means that the MacBook Air will be repaired using the same method that Apple engineers use for Intel-based MacBooks. Apple will also likely charge the same fee for repairs as it does for Intel-based MacBooks, in case the warranty has expired.
The MacBook Pro, on the other hand, has the privilege of having the fan chilling its guts for when they get hot while handling heavy workloads. The fan, however, is no different from the one fitted inside the predecessor. It was speculated that the MacBook Pro’s fan will be quieter than its previous model, but that is not the case.
According to iFixit, “The single fan on the MacBook Pro M1 is identical to the fan on Intel’s 2020 dual-port MacBook Pro that we purchased earlier this year. Not similar, identical. “But while that’s true, the fan does have some moderate noise and that’s due to the fact that the Apple M1 chipset is very capable of handling peak workloads without generating a lot of heat.” Remember, this Same M1 chip works fine on the fanless MacBook Air, so this fan probably won’t have much to do even under long load. “
The superstar, the M1 chip, looks like Apple has shown it in various promotional materials. It is a 5-nanometer processor featuring an 8-core design, four of which are reserved for performance cores and four for efficiency cores. The memory chips used with the M1 chip are similar to those found in recent iPad models. “If it looks familiar, it may be because you’ve seen one of our recent iPad teardowns. It’s no wonder Apple copied some of its own homework here. By including RAM in the M1 package, each part of M1 (CPU, GPU, Neural Engine, etc.) can access the same pool of memory without having to copy or cache data in more than one place, ”iFixit noted in its disassembly.
But while several things are perfect, Apple hasn’t made these memory modules user-friendly. This means that they will be replaced along with the processor and there is no way you can just remove them from the entire module. But that’s something Apple can fix in the future. This is the first generation of ARM-based chipsets from Apple. The transition from Intel to M1 itself will take around two years and that’s a lot for Apple to tackle some things that could be in its favor.