Home Ministry Tech Leaders Apple’s Big Sur and M1 Chipset Upgrades: Proceed with Caution

Apple’s Big Sur and M1 Chipset Upgrades: Proceed with Caution

Apple's Big Sur and M1 Chipset Upgrades: Proceed with Caution

There’s a lot of excitement about Apple‘s Big Sur and M1 Chipset upgrades. I recommend ‘caution’ on moving forward too quickly on adopting either one. Here’s why.

Big Sur (macOS 11)

  • The upgrade path, though free, can be challenging. We have run into some software solutions that don’t like it (or that it doesn’t like).
  • Though it’s only been available a short time, we have gotten a number of support requests for help after a client’s team member has attempted or done the upgrade.
  • There’s nothing compelling about Big Sur, so we recommend waiting for improved integration with the solutions you and many others on your team may depend on before moving forward with Big Sur.

Apple M1 Chipset

The fanboys are especially excited about the new Macs built with the M1 chipset. Here’s why I’m recommending caution about it.

  • The M1 is a move away from Intel x86 architecture.
    • Before moving to the Intel chipset about fifteen years ago, Macs were not great enterprise network devices, and some of the solutions and production suites that Windows team members relied on (like Microsoft Office, for example) didn’t run very well on the Intel chipset predecessors (PowerPC).
    • Apple’s adoption of the Intel chipset helped those of us on networks and in corporate environments in moving to the Apple platform.
  • The M1 is a faster and more powerful chipset than the Intel chipsets.
  • M1 Macs may have issues running any apps or solutions built to run on Intel x86 architecture. We are waiting and watching to see, but at this time we are not recommending M1 Macs.

Here’s a little more meat on the M1 bones:

  • MacRumors did an ‘everything you need to know review’; here’s the link:  https://www.macrumors.com/guide/m1/. Here are a couple of excerpts from that review that may help you understand the x86 app issues that may exist.
    • “Apple is still selling Intel 13-inch MacBook Pro and ‌Mac mini‌ models, and performance-wise, the M1 versions of these Macs offer much faster CPU speeds. It’s not a good idea to buy a non-M1 version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro or ‌Mac mini‌ at this time because of [their] inferior performance unless compatibility with x86 apps and the option to run Windows is a concern.” [Emphasis added.]
    • “…apps designed for Intel machines will continue to run on M1 Macs [via an app called Rosetta 2] with some limited performance compromises.”

We’re watching, listening, and have ordered an M1 iMac so we can have real-time depth on it. Our position at this time is that we do not recommend moving in the M1 direction, but hope to get to a point where we can recommend doing so. We’ll update that as appropriate via our corporate Twitter account (@mbs_inc).

I hope that helps! I personally like working on the macOS platform, and hope this move away from Intel chipsets doesn’t force an end to that.

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Nick Nicholaou is President of MBS, Inc., a team of IT strategists who evaluate, engineer, and support servers, Mac & Windows computers, and mobile devices. In MBS’ private cloud datacenter they host email, databases, VoIP phone systems, SPAM filtering, file servers, and more.