IIn recent years, Apple has grown in part thanks to its excellent semiconductor design arm, which has created custom processors based on the ARM instruction set – not only for the iPhone, but also for the Mac, the ‘Apple Watch, AirPods and iPad. The Mac is particularly interesting because, until 2020, Apple used microprocessors from Intel, the company behind the “silicon” in the American Silicon Valley.
Macs have been the domain of creative professionals – video editors, filmmakers, graphic designers and musicians. Through a combination of hardware and software achievements, Apple extended the Mac’s niche to audiences in other product categories. Intel had faltered in the 2010s, leading Apple to bet on its own microprocessor design.
Commercially, it wasn’t a loss for Intel, as the Mac accounted for less than 5% of its notebook processor industry revenue. But it was an influential market that also underscored the winds of change in the computer industry. Since 2021, under CEO Patrick Gelsinger, Intel has been experiencing something of a second coming. Its latest generation of Alder Lake (12th Gen) processors have spawned a new generation of laptops that, while aimed at gamers, are great devices for creative users that Apple apparently has a strong hold on.
More efficient for creative professionals
For creative professionals, time is money. And Apple’s latest offerings – the MacBook Pro models with the M1 Pro and M1 Max chipsets – offer an unprecedented blend of performance, features, portability and battery life. But laptops like the Alienware x15 R2 are turning the tide in favor of the Wintel duopoly – the Microsoft Windows-Intel alliance that defined the PC era.
While portability is affected due to the sheer size, you get a 15-inch screen that has a 360Hz refresh rate and the most powerful Intel Core i9 processor based on Alder Lake architecture. It also includes 16GB Nvidia GeForce 3060Ti graphics and more. If time is money, many video editors swear by the Alienware x15 R2 over Apple’s latest – when plugged in, it has a higher performance threshold. This means that tools like Adobe Premiere Pro will edit videos as fast as a MacBook Pro with the M1 Max chip. Importantly, it does this while being relatively cheaper and more readily available.
Getting an Apple Mac with the M1 Max chip is very difficult even if you can afford it. The Alienware, with its discrete Nvidia graphics, is also an average gaming machine, perfect for triple-A titles. With an Xbox Game Pass subscription, you’ll be able to play games such as F1 22, Cricket 22, Forza Motorsport and FIFA 21 – something I’ve personally tested and compared to a PlayStation 5. The MacBook Pro can’t do this because macOS has not been friendly to game developers.
Nowadays, apart from graphic designers who live on tools like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, the added graphical grunt at the player level also helps artists who design visuals for events. Video jockeys are rarely seen with a Mac, but the next generation of gaming laptops like the Alienware x15 R2 have now become a staple. Architects also use “game books” because of their graphic prowess.
Creators developing apps or content for the Metaverse are also getting their hands on these Intel Alder Lake-powered gaming laptops. Windows software is more suitable for working on virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Generally, added graphics hardware allows for faster and more reliable development.
For musicians, the central processing unit (CPU) is perhaps the most important tool, and Intel’s improvements in its CPU lineup are evident as many producers now turn to a gaming PC with specifications similar to Alienware. While the Mac is a more developed environment for DJs, producers, and composers, Intel’s Windows hardware and software combination has evolved enough that a gaming laptop could be a viable and cheaper alternative.
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A big return from Intel?
Intel’s gains also trickled down to current prices. The Mac has seen a resurgence with the launch of AMD’s M-series processors and silicon-based hardware. For example, the new Xiaomi Notebook Pro incorporates the i5 variant of the 12th Gen Intel processor and comes in an ultra-slim MacBook Air-like design. For general use like browsing the internet, working on documents and spreadsheets, watching videos and light photo editing, it’s as capable as a MacBook Air and rivals the masterful battery life of the Apple’s best-selling laptop. Wintel has just received a new boost.
While Apple has made great strides at Intel’s expense, primarily in the PC market, ‘Chipzilla’ is making a comeback – slowly but surely – and there are already signs of huge improvements. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Intel’s new graphics processing units (GPUs) called ARC are ready to challenge the duopoly of Nvidia and AMD. Its 13th Gen Raptor Lake processors will make things even more competitive on the CPU side. This will happen as Apple prepares to launch the M2 Pro and M2 Max-based MacBook Pro models next year. AMD is also on board as it announced its Ryzen 7000 series of processors, which also promise a lot.
Anyway, next year things will be interesting as Apple, Intel and AMD will have products that will not only appeal to creators, but also to the average user looking for a new laptop. .
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(Edited by Humra Laeeq)
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