We continue to investigate and discover more details of the new Macs with Apple Silicon. From the number of ports, to the support of Wi-Fi 6 through the 6K screens or the external GPUs, we are getting an idea of what these new computers will be capable of doing.
The three new computers introduced, the MacBook Air, the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the Mac mini, are the first Macs with support for 802.11ax, also known as Wi-Fi 6. Apple began rolling out this technology with the iPad Pro of 2020, and continued it with the new iPhone 12. Now, with the arrival of the M1 comes this new network technology to Macs. A technology that promises higher speeds, better network management, lower latency, and lower power consumption.
New function keys on the MacBook Air
The function keys are those that we find in the upper part of the keyboard of our Macs, above the numbers. Along with F1, F2, etc. the keys allow us to raise or lower the volume, adjust the brightness and more. While the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 features a TouchBar, the MacBook Air does have that strip of function keys – keys that have now been updated.
In the new keyboard layout, the F4 key will give us access to Spotlight, F5 to dictation and F6 to do not disturb mode. Thus, the two keys that allowed us to adjust the brightness of the keyboard and the one that gave us access to the Launchpad are replaced. In addition, the fn key will allow us to enter Emoji, something marked with the small ball of the world typical of iOS.
Support for 6K displays across the range
In terms of screen resolution, the new 13-inch Mac mini and MacBook Pro are capable of moving an external screen to 6K. This means that for the first time these two computers are compatible with the Apple Pro Display XDR.
Recall that the last MacBook Air with an Intel processor, presented last year, already had this support for 6K screens, and it is renewed in the variant with M1, with which support for 6K is now present across the entire Mac product line.
Thunderbolt 3 cable and Mac mini connectors
This past July Intel shared the details of the new Thunderbolt 4. The maximum speed is still 40Gb / s, as in Thunderbolt 3, however there are some improvements such as support for 8K displays. Newer Macs with the M1, however, offer only Thunderbolt 3 support. On the other hand, all the USB-C ports of the new machines are compatible with the USB 3.1 Gen 2 standard, with speeds of up to 10Gb / s.
Also mention the new Mac mini, which in its version for Intel came with four Thunderbolt ports, now offers only two. A detail to take into account depending on which accessories we want to connect to it.
No support for eGPUs
None of the newer M1 Macs will have support for external graphics cards. With the architecture change to ARM, Apple has stopped supporting all GPUs, internal or external, other than Apple. This implies that the Blackmagic eGPU, which until now was recommended as an option on the same product page, is no longer compatible with the new Macs.
We do not know what kind of third-party GPU support will be offered in the 16-inch MacBook Pros, iMac and iMac Pro that are yet to be introduced, but it would seem that they will not offer support either. The M1, as a SoC includes a GPU, one developed by Apple with excellent support for Metal.
Apple has progressively eliminated support for different graphics cards, such as those from Nvidia. It should also be remembered that in the iPhone or the iPad, there is also no compatibility with third-party GPUs, something that seems to be extended to the Mac. We do not know the case of the Mac Pro, a modular computer that is characterized by being able to add the components, we will have to wait for more details.
The full ‘One More Thing’ event: all about the new Mac with Apple Silicon chip
These new computers lay the foundation for a transition that will last about two years and that encompasses much more than the processor. It means a change in design, in functions, it redefines what Macs can do in many ways.