Mini 2020 Macbook Pro M1 review

Discussion in 'Apple and Mac OS X' started by Clutch, Jan 25, 2021.

  1. Clutch

    Clutch cute and cuddly boys

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    Mini review of the 2020 MacBook Pro M1 (which I may update later).

    My configuration is 16GB of RAM and 500GB of storage.



    The reason for getting this computer was due to the fact that I have a new job and will be essentially living out of a suitcase for several months (Monday through Friday) and my old laptop was in the process of kicking the bucket (Google Pixelbook).



    When looking for a new computer my main requirements were:

    Higher than 1080p resolution (16:10 preferred) with a high quality panel

    16GB ram

    Quiet

    USB C charging

    High quality track pad

    Reliability

    “Enough’ performance



    Some of the competition was the Dell 9310 XPS 13 with the i7, 16GB Ram, 512 storage and 4k+ screen and the Lenovo X1 carbon.



    The pixelbook was okay. It had an amazing screen and touch pad, but it was replaced 4 times under warranty (the last time it broke it was still under warranty but they were not all that willing). The other issues I was having dealt with the fact there was no file system and when attaching documents to forms I could not see the full file name (ie a date on the end of a file).



    The Lenovo at the time was to expensive and the Dell was within $10 in price.



    My brother has the previous gen XPS 13 but I was not very impressed by it. It has the 1200p screen and the i7. What I did not like was the plastic bezel around the screen and worrying about the screen touching the keyboard, driver issues, and blue screen issues. Reading around online I was also seeing a lot of other people with quality issues related to Dell and even the 9310 specifically.



    The things I liked about the Mac (and ultimately won me over were the following)

    The fully glass screen (traveling a lot I was worried about screen flex into the keyboard)

    I know several people with 5+ year old Macs (before the keyboard design changed)

    The M1 processor seemed powerful and interesting

    Positive reviews of the screen

    Very high battery life

    High quality touch pad



    My skepticisms about the Mac.

    The M1 chip
    With my pixelbook running emulation it got very hot and horribly inefficient. I am worried the Mac would do the same when running something not specially written for the M1/ ARM chip

    With the M1 chip Apple locking down not only apps from the app store but limiting the programs (or approved developers) that could be installed on the computer to begin with (see political censoring)

    The fact that I have not used a Mac for around 7 years
    I had a few issues with how the Mac worked in regards mostly to the Dock

    People are really anti touch bar

    The ability to put on Linux or different OS in the future if I choose



    What I have come to find out/learn about the Mac over the past few days.

    The screen is indeed really good looking

    The touch pad is nice (using the haptic click is still a little weird)

    Even when playing Civ VI the fan could only be heard (barely) if you put you ear near the computer

    I became spoiled by having a charging port on both the left and right side of the laptop with my pixelbook. Now I feel like I am going back in time with only having it on the left.

    Enough of my games can be played to keep me amused in the evenings. Some that I play are windows only, but the XPS 13 would not have been able to run them anyway.

    When you specify the touch bar to be extended all the time it works just like normal function keys so no problem there.

    When pressing the FN button it takes a split second before the touch bar changes to the function keys (not that is really matters, but just something I noticed). Maybe it is a reduced refresh OLED like on the watches?

    They keyboard makes a kind of hollow sound when typing on your lap as opposed to a table (which makes sense as it is an aluminum tub)

    The back hinge is a little sharp and could use a better chamfer

    The speakers are not as load as the old pixelbook, but they are a higher quality





    There are still a few Mac things I am getting used to (using the program altTab and Magnet to help fix them), but not being able to click on the icon to minimize programs is annoying and command C or V is more awkward than control I think (placement wise).



    In summary

    I think I ended up with the right computer. I was also figuring if I needed to return it for any reason it would be easier with the Apple vs. Dell (I called Apple as I had a question on my old account and payment and I got a real human who spoke English in about 2 minutes). Yes this computer is a little more dense (little heavier) than some of the competition, but I don’t mind that. It seems solid and hopefully about to survive many months/years of travel.



    For me this laptop is mainly just a laptop. I have a fast desktop with a large monitor at home and this does not replace that. But for staying on the couch, vacation, or work trips this computer is doing just fine (I have a Dell workstation as a work computer).
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2021
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  2. jclausius

    jclausius Notebook Virtuoso

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    Nice review. However, could you elaborate on what type of work load you put on this laptop? Are you just using it to browse a couple of pages here and there, some word processing and the gaming you mentioned?


    Also, you mentioned, "The ability to put on Linux or different OS in the future if I choose..." I'm pretty sure the BIOS they've built into these new Macs will not let it run anything but macOS. You may want to research this a big more, as while I'm not 100% positive, I'm pretty sure I came across something about their locks on the BIOS for these new M1s that it will only boot to macOS.
     
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  3. ZaZ

    ZaZ Super Model Super Moderator

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    That's all that matters, right?



    Linux on the M1 chip has already been done.
     
  4. Clutch

    Clutch cute and cuddly boys

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    This laptop is purely for personal/fun use.

    When I use a computer for anything, I want it to be snappy. Typically I turn off all animations as they take to long (windows opening/closing).

    My desktop is a i5-9600k with NVMe storage and a 1070 video card and even still I find sluggish at times.

    But I could have dozens of tabs open, installing a program, watching a movie, browsing the internet, tinkering with a VM (going to try and get windows ARM with parallels going at some point long with crossover) and downloading something all at the same time.

    I dont do many heavy tasks, but I do lots of them at the same time.

    For installing a different OS, I dont really have a need or reason to. But sometimes its fun just to change it up.
     
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  5. jclausius

    jclausius Notebook Virtuoso

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    Doesn't seem like this is for the faint of heart of what it'd take for someone to convert their Apple M1's to run LInux, but it's a definite start.

    Glad it isn't locked down as I had believed.

     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2021
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  6. ZaZ

    ZaZ Super Model Super Moderator

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    I don't know why you'd buy a Mac to primarily run Linux on it, but to each his or her own.
     
  7. kojack

    kojack Notebook Virtuoso

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  8. etern4l

    etern4l Notebook Virtuoso

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    A respectable attempt at claiming bragging rights for the most overpriced Linux machine?
     
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