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This might be our first look at Apple’s blazing-fast next-gen M1X chip

Published Feb 17th, 2021 10:33AM EST
MacBook Pro 2021
Image: Apple Inc.

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  • The M-series chip that might power some of Apple’s 2021 MacBook Pro and iMac versions has apparently just leaked.
  • The M1X could be the successor of the M1, powering devices like the unannounced 14-inch MacBook Pro, 16-inch MacBook Pro, and 27-inch iMac.
  • A leaked M1X benchmark indicates the chip will feature a better GPU and a higher TDP, suggesting the chip will deliver better performance than the M1.

The M1 processor that Apple unveiled last November turned out to be a hit. Thanks to incredible performance and battery life, the M1-powered MacBook Air and MacBook Pro have received outstanding reviews. The best possible endorsement came from Intel a few days ago. The chipmaker needed two months to process and comprehend what had just happened to the chip industry, before mounting a fierce attack on the Apple M1 chip. Those ads criticized various aspects of the M1 that need improvements, like support for more external monitors and a better GPU. Those are the kind of upgrades expected down the line, and we already have the first leak telling us that Apple is indeed working on the M1 successor that will power this year’s Macs.

Apple confirmed at WWDC last year that it will transition all of its Mac computers to Apple silicon. The M1 was only used in three devices, including the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac mini. Eventually, the 16-inch MacBook Pro, iMac, iMac Pro, and Mac Pro will get M-series chips as well. The implication is that Apple is working on more powerful ARM platforms that will support the kind of Pro experiences expected from some of these devices. Also, as Apple continues to beef up its desktop processors, the entry-level MacBook Air and Pro are likely to see upgrades soon.

The M1X might be the next Apple desktop processor to power Macs. Found by CPU-Monkey (via Apple Insider), the M1X has seemingly appeared in a benchmark of a “pre-sample” version of the chipset.

While the specs can’t be confirmed at this time, the listing says the M1X will deliver even better performance than the current-gen M1. The M1X is still a 5nm chip and it’s clocked at 3.2GHz. But the processor will offer improved graphics performance, featuring a 16-core GPU with 16GB of maximum memory. It will also apparently feature 256 execution units compared to 128 for the M1. The M1X might be able to drive three displays instead of two. The chip will seemingly support up to 32GB of LPDDR4X memory and PCIe 4.0 storage.

The M1X should also have a much higher TDP at 35W, compared to just 15W for the M1. This is another indication that the processor will sport faster performance.

CPU-Monkey claims the processor will power the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models that Apple is expected to launch this year, as well as the 2021 27-inch iMac. Apple has yet to introduce the 14-inch MacBook Pro, a laptop version that’s expected to replace the 13-inch model.

While these claims can’t be verified at this time, the M1X would certainly help Apple differentiate the MacBook Pro from the Air. Right now, the M1 Air and M1 Pro deliver similar performance, given that they feature the same chip version. That’s just speculation, however. It’s unclear how Apple will mix and match its M-series chips in the Mac lineup once all its computers transition to Apple silicon.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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