Out with the old...
The time has finally come to retire my beloved daily driver laptop, my Mid-2012 Apple Macbook Pro i5 13". This laptop was by far the best laptop I've owned and the best part is, I bought it in 2016 for $300 from an old coworker! This was a popular model since it was the last model that was (mostly) user-servicable. I took full advantage of that in upgrading the RAM to 16GB, swapping out the 500GB HDD for a 500GB SSD, and even removing the SuperDrive for this handy SATA HDD tray with another 500GB HDD. This made for a fairly snappy machine, at least for a laptop from 2012.
Sadly, after years of use, some parts of the laptop were wearing and its internals were starting to show their age. I started to keep an eye out for a new laptop, some things that I was particularly interested in were:
- USB-C - an absolute must for me. I have two Lenovo P27h-10 27" monitors at home and I would love to utilize the unified displayport/usb-c pd feature. Plus, less cables is always a win for me.
- Higher resolution screen - the Mid-2012 MBP 13" is rocking a 1280x800 resolution, and while that was probably pretty good in 2012, not having a 1080p screen (at minimum) in 2020 kind of sucks. Not to mention, my screen was actually starting to give out and the left fifth of the screen would occasionally go all black w/ green lines
- More powerful processor - the Mid-2012 MBP boasts a dual core, 2nd gen core i5 processor. For most things I do, it's not even that big of a deal, but having a more modern CPU would be nice :p
I had also considered a Lenovo Thinkpad T480 for the excellent linux support, decent build quality, and RAM and storage expandability. However, I decided to stick inside the Apple ecosystem in the end.
In with the new...
The new kid on the block is the Apple's M1 SOC. Funny enough, I actually had just purchased an Intel 2020 Macbook Pro i5 13 at the beginning of November, fully aware the M1 was coming out. I had opted for the Intel 2020 MBP because I was expecting the M1 to be fairly lackluster and didn't want to deal with any of the first-gen transitional issues that would come with switching to ARM.
However, after watching the keynote and seeing Apple make some extremely bold claims in their "One More Thing" keynote, I was both skeptical and very interested at the same time. As an embedded systems engineer, I'm always super excited to see some innovation in the hardware space (one of the reasons I've disliked intel's anti-consumer practices and stagnating products for a while and been super bullish on AMD since zen1 first released in 2016). However, I still wanted to be very cautious with first-party benchmarks, especially such bold ones as Apple had claimed.
Not too long after, third-party benchmarks flooded youtube & I watched almost all of them before finally returning my 2020 Intel MBP and pulling the trigger on a 2020 M1 MBA (with the help of a very generous employee discount from one of my friends, thanks SM!).
Here's a table comparing the specs and costs between the two machines:
|2020 Intel MBP 13"||2020 M1 MBA 13"|
|Processor||10th gen Intel Core i5 (4c)||Apple M1 CPU (8c)|
|Graphics||Intel Iris Plus integrated graphics||Apple M1 SOC 8-Core GPU|
|Storage||512GB SSD||512GB SSD|
|RAM||16GB 3733MHz LPDDR4X||16GB Unified Memory|
|I/O||4 Thunderbolt ports||2 Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports|
|Price*||$1799.00 (although I purchased an open-box one for $1349.00)||$1449.00 ($1091.00 w/ discount)|
* before tax prices
So, in the end, I spent ~$300 less than I intended to, yay! And for what, I would argue, is a superior machine (for my needs). So far though, I am happy with my purchase and will try to continue to write about my experiences with it.
I think I will do another post with some benchmarks of this new machine and compare it to what I was getting with my old Mid-2012 MBP for funsies.