Experience with the Apple M1 Processor


Today’s Question: You mentioned [during the recent GreyLearning Virtual Photo Conference] that you had to upgrade your computer due to the failure of your previous MacBook Pro. I was wondering why you chose the Apple M1 chip versus a similar Mac with an Intel processor? I have been told that there are programs that will not work with the M1.

Tim’s Quick Answer: The primary reason I opted for a computer with the new Apple M1 chip was improved performance. I also wanted to test out the new chip so I could report back to my readers. Fortunately, compatibility issues have been virtually non-existent.

More Detail: When the new Apple computers featuring the Apple M1 chip were announced, I was intrigued but had no intention of buying a new computer. I figured I would just go to an Apple Store to do some testing of the new computers so I could report back on them and wait a while before I actually upgraded my computer.

Then my computer started failing, so I didn’t have much choice but to buy a new computer. There were options available with both the Apple M1 processor as well as the Intel processor. I was skeptical about making a change, in particular because of concerns about compatibility.

I did some side-by-side testing, however, and was impressed (perhaps even shocked) at how much better the performance was with the M1-based MacBook Pro compared to the Intel-based computer. I decided it was worth the risk of compatibility issues in order to get better performance and to be able to report back on my experience with the new processor.

I was a little surprised that I faced virtually no compatibility issues at all. Applications that do not support the new M1 chip natively can be run in a compatibility mode, and many applications (including most from Adobe) have been updated to natively support the M1 processor.

The only issue I’ve run into is that with the new M1-native version of Adobe applications the plug-ins that have not yet been updated to support the M1 processor will not work. If they are able to run standalone rather than only as a plug-in, that will provide a solution. Otherwise, you would need to keep an older version of the host application (such as Photoshop) installed in order to make use of plug-ins that have not yet been updated.

Overall I am extremely pleased with the performance of my MacBook Pro with the M1 processor, and am even a little grateful that my prior computer was starting to fail, since that forced me to upgrade a bit earlier than I otherwise would have.