What Apple didn’t tell you at the One More Thing event

Apple hosted the One More Thing virtual event on Tuesday to showcase the anticipated silicon called the M1 SoC. The chip is based on an ARM architecture and is Apple’s solution to reduce the dependence on Intel processors. In addition to the new silicon, the Cupertino company announced the new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac mini based on the M1 chip. However, during the event, the company did not reveal all the details about the new silicon, as well as the latest Mac machines.

In this article, we round up all of the information that Apple did not provide at the event, but which could prove very important to customers.

The M1 chip does not support eGPUs

Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware technologies, emphasized during the virtual event that the M1 chip has the world’s fastest integrated graphics. He also explained the 8-core GPU architecture that allows nearly 25,000 threads to run concurrently. However, neither Srouji nor Apple gave any information about whether the M1 chip supports external graphics. As an AppleInsider ReportsThe new silicon does not support external GPUs. This means that the new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini must rely on the built-in GPU to render graphics.

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The M1 chip has integrated graphics
Photo credit: Apple

There are no details on whether the unsupported behavior is from the M1 chip or just because of some software-level limitations. Even so, Apple removed the Blackmagic eGPU from the list of compatible accessories for MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini based on the M1 chip to confirm the latest change.

In March 2018, after long anticipation, Apple brought eGPU support to its Mac family. The move was announced at WWDC 2017 and went into effect with the release of macOS High Sierra 10.13.4. However, with the first M1 rollout, the company appears to have suspended eGPU support.

16 GB of RAM is the limit

Apple claims that the M1 chip can deliver CPU performance up to 3.5 times faster than previous generation Macs. However, after Tuesday’s event, it was discovered that the new chip currently appears to have a limit of up to 16GB of RAM. This is not the case when you look at the older Intel-based Mac models, which can have up to 32GB of RAM. Apple mentioned A fine print in its press release tested the performance of M1 along with 16GB of RAM. Apple’s website, which lists the new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini, has 16GB of top-end RAM to choose from.

The 16GB RAM limitation might not be a problem for MacBook Air or 13-inch MacBook Pro users, but it can limit performance for users looking for a powerful 16-inch MacBook Pro, iMac, or Mac Pro . As noticed from The Verge, the RAM on machines using the M1 chip is also not upgradeable because it is part of silicon. This further limits the possibility of increasing the storage capacity of the new offers in the future.

Apple continues to sell the Intel-based MacBook Pro and Mac mini so users can decide if they want RAM upgradeability over the new silicon. However, this is not the case with the MacBook Air as its older model has been discontinued.

The fanless design distinguishes the MacBook Air from its Pro sibling

The new MacBook Air and the new MacBook Pro have a lot in common, as Apple no longer has a faster processor to make better use of the Pro model. Both new machines are equipped with the M1 chip, which offers eight CPU and GPU cores, although the entry-level MacBook Air has seven GPU crores. However, it is the built-in fan on the new MacBook Pro model that makes a big difference to the fanless MacBook Air. Apple has also provided a similar fan for the new Mac mini.

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The new MacBook Pro has a fan that can be used to improve performance
Photo credit: Apple

As reported According to The Verge, the presence of the fan on the MacBook Pro and Mac mini can help maintain peak performance longer than the new MacBook Air.

Apple didn’t see any performance differences between the three new computers at the time of the virtual briefing. However, because of the fan-based design, it’s pretty certain that the new MacBook Pro and Mac mini can manage their temperature better compared to the MacBook Air. This would eventually provide some performance boost and allow the CPU to continue running at a high clock rate.

No increase in the resolution of the FaceTime camera

The cameras of the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are supposed to improve the white balance and use the new image signal processing (ISP) of the M1 chip to record sharper images and more details in shadows and highlights. There’s also machine learning (ML) enhanced face recognition. Although Apple didn’t specifically mention this during the event, the FaceTime cameras on the new Mac computers are still set to 720p details available on the Apple website. This means that the resolution does not improve.

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New MacBook models have camera enhancements, but they have the same 720p resolution as before
Photo credit: Apple

Apple recognized during the event that the camera image quality is even more important as people stay indoors and work from home. However, with some improvements at the chip and software level, it is unclear how the company will meet the demand for better webcam experiences on Mac computers.

Special MacOS keyboard shortcuts

At the virtual event, Apple developed various performance improvements based on the M1 chip. The company didn’t provide details beyond the new silicon, however, and specifically how the new MacBook Air differs from the older model. However, some changes were noticed shortly after the event.

One big change is the MacBook Air’s new keyboard, which has special keyboard shortcuts for features like Spotlight, Dictation, and Do Not Disturb. Apple has replaced the previous Launchpad shortcut with the Spotlight button and the keyboard brightness control with the Dictation and Do Not Disturb buttons tweeted by Mark Gurman from Bloomberg. There is also a special emoji globe icon on the function key that can be used to quickly activate emojis.

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The new MacBook Air has new MacOS keyboard shortcuts
Photo credit: Apple