Our take on the New M1 Mac
n my career in AV, I have seen several transitions with computers and though each one has been significant, this one might be my favorite. In an effort to test and experiment with new equipment, as we always try to do for our customers, I purchased an M1 iMac and gave up my barely one year old highly spec’d intel MacBook Pro… and I haven’t looked back. If you aren’t familiar with the M1 apple products, it’s a new chip designed by apple. This chip takes on an entirely new hardware design and in doing so really pours on the performance. The big adds are what is called ARM-based RISC computing, along with on-chip graphics processing, and on-chip memory. Basically, the computer is able to access more of its resources quicker. What does this mean for you and me? Here are a few great use cases I have seen on my own.
How do we connect so many outputs when the M1 says it can only work with 1 external display? Enter DisplayLink and Decklink! DisplayLink is a protocol working with several adapters. Products Using DisplayLink Technology (https://www.displaylink.com/products) allow software-based video cards to operate fluidly and without delay. There is no limit to how many you can connect based on resources, we tried 4 on the M1 Mac and found a YouTube video of another user trying over 30. These don’t count against the 1 external display and allow you to add many, many outputs. For more pro-based outputs you can use Blackmagic Design’s Decklink cards in thunderbolt 3 enclosures just like the helium from OWC or Blackmagic’s Ultra Studio Mini line to add SDI interfaces to the Mac (which also don’t count as external displays). These options seem to work better and more fluid than they ever did on previous Mac machines.
But now let’s take a look a few things that don’t work so well, aka “growing pains”. NDI video is not yet native and so isn’t very reliable or usable in most areas yet. Audio programs also seem to have issues, Dante is non-native and is not as fast or reliable as on intel Macs, and Waves audio is completely nonfunctional currently. I would expect these issues are fixed soon.
Overall, I’m definitely excited about the ability and potential of the M1. It’s been a great solution for me and maybe it will be for you too!
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