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A Developers perspective on the M1 MacBook Pro after 5 months of usage

Andrew Baisden
👨🏿‍💻 Full Stack Developer 📝 Blogger 🎮 Gamer ✏️ Creative 👁 Anime Addict ٩(●ᴗ●)۶
Updated on ・4 min read

I purchased my new M1 MacBook Pro at the end of last year which was December 2020, and it arrived in January 2021. My previous laptop was a 2014 MacBook Pro Retina which was starting to show it's age because it was lacking in power and the battery was overdue for servicing. It was also out of warranty so I figured that the time was right to upgrade.

The M1 MacBook Pro

This is the best computer that I have ever owned. I have to hand it to Apple they really know how to build great computers. This laptop is super quiet it does have fans unlike the M1 MacBook Air but you barely notice them. On my old computer I used to go to a few websites that had far too many ads on them that could not be disabled otherwise you could not view the website. This put extreme stress on my computer especially using Google Chrome which would spin up the CPU increasing the speed and fan noise. It was incredibly annoying and even noise canceling headphones could not block out all the noise.

Performance and Support

I am happy to say that this is no longer a problem with the M1 MacBook Pro. I sometimes play games on my Mac, Starcraft II mostly and even then it does not get that loud. Sure it might get a bit warm but not hot enough to burn unlike my previous laptop. Initially when Apple released this laptop not all apps and tools were supported. Docker did not work at all until recently. The fact that it has much better support now means that it can be considered as an ideal choice for a programmer.

Android Studio also had some issues as Apple Silicon does not have full support yet as far as I am aware. It works fine with Intel processors though. This is a problem because Android simulators don't work as well so it is hard to test on a simulated device. iOS simulators work fine though they have full support with Apple Silicon. There are work around's though. In terms of performance this thing is fast! My old MacBook took between 4 - 10 minutes to start simulators in Android Studio. This was awful just imagine how slow mobile development was. The new M1 MacBook can run simulators in less than 1 minute!

Also I could only play games with all low settings enabled. The M1 MacBook Pro can at least play some games with all settings set to medium which makes a huge difference considering it is not a gaming laptop. The battery life is great this laptop can last for hours on one charge, it is at peak performance. My entire development workflow is much faster on this new M1 MacBook Pro. It takes less time to get servers running, as well as working with development environments that have a package ecosystem. Speed matters when you have deadlines to meet and you need to have a super smooth process.

Ports and Build Quality

Apple also fixed the keyboard in its latest Mac's so they don't get stuck anymore leading to phantom presses or keys not working at all. Fortunately this is something that I never experienced because the MacBook Pro Retina models had the previous generation keyboards. The build quality is excellent and it is light and portable I can't fault it at all. I do wish it had more USB-C ports though it only has two so if you want to use more accessories you will need a dock. I am using the CalDigit USB-C Soho Dock.

I don't miss the old MagSafe connectors at all because they had a bad habit of fraying and falling apart making them useless and expensive to replace. USB-C cables are much better they are affordable, better quality and last much longer. Apple is rumored to be adding MagSafe back to the newest Macs which are not out yet hopefully they are of better quality this time around.

Screen and External Monitors

The screen is beautiful, bright and very sharp with good color reproduction. I have mine connected to a LG 27UL850W 4K UHD LED LCD Monitor. The connection is very stable when connected via USB-C it allows me to use it as a second display and it also charges the laptop at the same time. One of the drawbacks for these new M1 Macs is that they can only support one external monitor whereas the Intel models can support at least two monitors. This is not a problem for me as I only need one external monitor but it is still something to take into account if you care about it.

Final Thoughts

I really hope that you enjoyed reading this article and learned something from it. As a content creator and technical writer I am passionate about sharing my knowledge and helping other people reach their goals. Let's connect across social media you can find all of my social media profiles and blogs on linktree.

Peace ✌️

Discussion (21)

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anku profile image
Ankit Tiwari

I have been using M1 MacBook Air Pro for 1 month and I am absolutely blown away by it. It doesn't feel like an upgrade, it feels like I am using something else.

VS Code takes a second to load and never slows down even for huge workspaces. Build time has been reduced by half or even less.

I haven't heard the fans yet. The battery lasts 24 hours even with heavy use.

It's unbelievable what Apple has done here.

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andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden Author

There is only M1 MacBook Air and M1 MacBook Pro. If you have the Air then there are no fans to be heard 😉

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anku profile image
Ankit Tiwari

Oops, I said Air Pro 😛

I have the Pro variant with 16 GB of Ram. I think the I haven't heard the fans yet because I haven't been able to push it to its limits.

The amount of softwares I run was impossible to run smoothly for my old 2019 Macbook Air but this machine doesn't even break a sweat.

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ameysunu profile image
Amey Sunu

I have been using the MacBook Air M1 since February and hands down, it’s best device I have ever used. Xcode is super smooth and fast, and since the Air has no fans, there is not a single noise emitted, unlike my old 2019 MBP with the i9 that starts sounding like an airplane engine, the moment I open the 3rd or 4th Chrome tab.

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dadci_raouf profile image
Dadci Raouf • Edited

You switched from a mbp 16 inch i9 to mbp 13inch m1? Am in the same place as you and im going in the m1 way 😀

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ameysunu profile image
Amey Sunu

Yeah I did. It’s thermals are so bad, that it started causing me a lot of discomfort especially while using it on my lap. And boy the noise it makes lol. M1 is definitely way better.

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Toby Caulk

I'm excited for the 16" MBP to get the M1 treatment! My 2019 16" MBP is still running pretty great, but the M1 sounds like it would blow the i7 in my MBP away. Plus I can't wait to see what GPU they throw in it!

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Rick Mills

I've been blown away by the M1 Macbook Air. I moved to it as my daily work mac having previously been on a 2016 touchbar 15" MBP.

I was a bit concerned about resources as I only went with the 8GB model - my fears were totally unwarranted, it's a beast of a machine and handles anything I throw at it with ease.

I pretty much always have PHP Storm (known to be VERY memory hungry), chrome, docker, iterm, sequel ace, Apple Music and a bunch of other stuff running and it rarely gets about 4-5GB of ram used and stays cold.

I know people say 8GB isn't enough and I think normally they'd be right, but the new architecture of these machines mean you can no longer compare the memory needed on an intel machine. You effectively need less than half of what you used to need as the OS is extremely memory efficient.

Apple redeemed themselves with these. The 2016 MBP was a massive disappointment, with its rather lacklustre touch bar, terribly flawed keyboard and the known thermal issues that meant the MBP was often hot enough to warm up a cup of coffee! These new machines are a whole different thing though, they've really outdone themselves.

One thing I keep thinking of. If this is the kind of performance we're getting with the first generation of their desktop chips, imagine what their true pro line of SOC's will be like!

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Danish Saleem

Thank you @andrewbaisden for sharing your experience about M1 Pro. I was thinking for an upgrade. But I wasn't upgrading because I've seen some bad reviews about M1. But now I'm gonna buy MacBook Pro M1 within this month hopefully 😉

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Mickael Naulet

Hello,
Have you testing with the new version of docker ?
I need to buy another computer but I am afraid I can't run my docker container, Il use phpfm8, mailcatcher, elasticsearch, nginx, mariadb.

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Andrew Baisden Author

I have not tried Docker yet but apparently it has support now docs.docker.com/docker-for-mac/app...

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Mark Otway

I've been using docker on my M1 MBP for a few months and it works just fine.

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dcsan profile image
dc

Docker is my concern too. What images are you using? If there docker system works is there any incompatible images?

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rickmills profile image
Rick Mills

I've been using it for a while too, the only images that I've had issue with was the official MySQL ones, although MariaDB has worked fine. That being said I believe Oracle has now updated their images to support arm64 so these should now work fine, but not one I've tested out as MariaDB is practically the same thing.

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yoh profile image
Νικηφόρος Βλάχος • Edited

Beautifuly put review, I have seen countless YouTube review and articles on the new M1 mackbooks but your just had more heart to it.

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ernes128 profile image
Ernesto Gagliardi

Thanks you for sharing your experience with the new M1 MBP! Currently I'm using a 2019 MBP (latest with intel processor) and I think that I should wait a few years until change to M1 because of compatibilty and (most of it) to see how the market reacts to this new processor. Did you find any troubles when setting up your environment? (besides the thing you mention about android studio)

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andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden Author

Nope I did not notice anything of significance it just felt like a normal installation.

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Pierre

Hey ! Does it support nodeJs ?

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Andrew Baisden Author

Yes it works perfectly.

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James Heggs

Is the dual monitor something they are going to address? Seems a shame to not support two monitors

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Andrew Baisden Author

Apparently Apple said they would fix it in a Big Sur update. Until then you can get it working by installing third-party drivers.

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