The MacBook Air's M1 chip is unbeatable – Apple says it wouldn’t have made it otherwise

Apple also says its looking at a GPU for "intense gamers", and talks about not believing the battery life at first

Apple M1 processor
(Image credit: Apple)

The Apple M1 processor has sparked something of a revolution since it arrived in the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) and MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020), and provided both those machines with desktop levels of power, yet doesn't even require a fan.

It has since enabled the most radical iMac redesign in over a decade in the form of the iMac 24-inch (2021), and made the iPad Pro (2021) the most ridiculously overpowered tablet on the planet. 

As a result, the Apple M1 has won the 'Breakthrough Award' in the Tom's Guide Awards 2021. Our friends at Tom's Guide spoke to some of the key players at Apple about the development of the M1 chip, and revealed some very interesting information about the past and future of Apple's processors.

One thing of note is that Apple doesn't seem to expect anyone else to catch up with the M1 immediately. The likes of Qualcomm and Intel are, naturally, now aiming to compete with it for efficiency and power, but Apple's vice president of platform architecture, Tim Milet, had this to say:

"If somebody else could build a chip that was actually going to deliver better performance inside that enclosure, what's the point? Why would we switch? And so for my chip architects, that was the target."

Apple's VP of worldwide product marketing, Bob Borchers, also talked about playing with the chip for the first time, and not really believing what they had on their hands:

"When we saw that first system and then you sat there and played with it for a few hours and the battery didn't move, we thought 'Oh man, that's a bug, the battery indicator is broken'."

Of course, it was all working as planned, much to Tim Cook's amusement, apparently.

Tom's Guide also got Milet to open up a little about the potential future of Apple's chips. "You can imagine the pride of some of the GPU folks and imagining, ‘Hey, wouldn't it be great if it hits a broader set of those really intense gamers'," he said. "It's a natural place for us to be looking."

More powerful GPU options have been rumoured for the 'M1X' (or whatever it ends up being called) that would power the next MacBook Pro models, so it sounds like we could see some ambitious moves in that direction

Read the full awards piece if you want more tidbits from Apple's M1 development, along with some other worthy winners.

Matthew Bolton

Matt is T3's former AV and Smart Home Editor (UK), master of all things audiovisual, overseeing our TV, speakers and headphones coverage. He also covered smart home products and large appliances, as well as our toys and games articles. He's can explain both what Dolby Vision IQ is and why the Lego you're building doesn't fit together the way the instructions say, so is truly invaluable. Matt has worked for tech publications for over 10 years, in print and online, including running T3's print magazine and launching its most recent redesign. He's also contributed to a huge number of tech and gaming titles over the years. Say hello if you see him roaming the halls at CES, IFA or Toy Fair. Matt now works for our sister title TechRadar.