back to article The M in M1 is for moans: How do you turn a new MacBook Pro into a desktop workhorse?

The M1 MacBook Pro is like that brilliant colleague who insists on microwaving fish in the office kitchenette. Good at its job, certainly, but also deeply annoying. On one hand, this machine is a veritable beast. It's fast, quiet, and has the best battery life of any machine this reviewer has used. Yet it suffers from two …

  1. Jonathon Green

    …and of course if you’re dependent on any Wintel apps you’re screwed.

    Which is why I just nabbed myself an example of what I assume is the very last Intel based MacBook Pro for my own personal use.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      If Microsoft

      Ever gets around to selling Windows/ARM licenses so it can legally run in a VM, you'll be able to run Windows/ARM and it can run Windows/x86 binaries. There's a performance hit (since they don't use translation as good as Rosetta 2) but unless it is something like a CAD app or game where running at 30-50% of native speed is a show stopper, it would work.

      Obviously this isn't sufficient for you since you must have needed something now to have already bought an x86 Mac, but for others who have x86 Macs they use to run the odd Wintel app hopefully this will eventually provide them a good transition path.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: If Microsoft

        Whilst Autodesk have made software for Intel OSX, Dassault never made an OSX version of Solidworks (on the sensible grounds that few mechanical engineers used Macs.)

        Interestingly though, Dassault have used the Solidworks engine to create an iPad-native CAD application.

        Any Mech Eng using an Mac already knows that they are being a little bit odd and will likely encounter hurdles they will have to sidestep. Bootcamp was one such sidestep, another sidestep would be virtualization, another is just buying a second computer with Wintel, another sidestep is using cloud hosted software...

        Apple's move to ARM doesn't negatively effect Mech CAD users. And indeed, the idea of pro CAD on a workshop-friendly device (a tablet) that incorporates a laser-based 3D scanner (iPad Pro) is exciting.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: If Microsoft

          Most Mechanical engineers working with Solidworks (Or NX, Catia, ProEngineer/Creo, Fusion, etc) don't really care much about the operating system as long as it's sufficiently secure and doesn't regularly crash (which is often more down to the CAD software than the operating system). They most of the day inside the CAD environment anyway, so imho it really doesn't matter much if it's Windows or MacOS or some flavour of Linux running that software.

    2. AMCMO

      I’m currently running Win10 ARM on an M1 and it runs better than on my i9 MBP. Both under Parallels

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        I didn't think Microsoft was selling Windows 10 licenses separate from the hardware? Has that changed recently, or did you manage to work around that? For "testing purposes" of course lol

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          As far as I know, as long as you pay Microsoft their monthly tithe they don't seem to care much what you run it on, and just about the first thing Parallels does is download Win10 and install it as a VM (which then sets the clock ticking for licensing it).

  2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    It might just be me, but I fail to see this as a serious reason for criticism. It's a laptop, not a desktop.

    1. If you're tethered to a desk, then buy a Mac mini. Half the price, better performance.

    2. If you're not tethered to your desk but want more working space, use the built-in display and an external display (=2 displays).

    3. If If you're allergic to an open laptop on your desk, buy an ultrawide curved monitor like the LG Ultrawide 5K2K.

    Personally I'd go for the ultrawide monitor. It's a far more elegant solution than multiple displays anyway, and it offers the same (if not more) working space. It also includes a decent peripherals hub, freeing up your MacBook's 2nd Thunderbolt port for any high-speed peripherals you might need.

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Nope. It shouldn't be a choice between "goes nowhere and has lots of ports" and "can be moved but not plugged into anything when you get there".

      I'm not talking about connecting the "full american" (keyboard, mouse, monitor), but when I get to the office I want to plug into a monitor and a PSU - and now I have no more ports? Forget it. I'm holding out for the next one.

      1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

        "Full american"

        It is not goot for your health to be extended hours using a keyboard attached to the touch, plus having a display there.. Any decent laptop can be "docked".. and most crappy ones can too!

      2. John Robson Silver badge

        "I want to plug into a monitor and a PSU - and now I have no more ports? Forget it. I'm holding out for the next one."

        Ok, so that's taken one of your ports, and you also have ethernet, sd, and multiple USB-A ports open as well...

        What did you want the second port for?

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. phandrens

        Seriously?

        A relatively cheap adapter gives type-C power passthrough, Ethernet, HDMI, SD and Micro-SD and three USB-A 3.1 ports. That is ONE port taken.

        It is widely known that the M1 devices (except Mac mini) only support one monitor.

        You could plug a 5K 27" monitor into the other port instead of the HDMI out.

        It's a 1.25Kg laptop, what do you expect?

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Re: Seriously?

          > It's a 1.25Kg laptop, what do you expect?

          It's also a £1,300 laptop. So, since you ask, I expect more than two sodding ports.

          No-one should have to tote around a hub for basic tasks, and I'll submit that charging while connected to a monitor and simultaneously charging my phone, or connecting to a LAN, is a basic task. One which my current Macbook Pro is performing as I type. It's a "pro" machine, not an Air. 4 ports good, 2 ports bad.

          1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

            Re: Seriously?

            "No-one should have to tote around a hub for basic tasks, and I'll submit that charging while connected to a monitor and simultaneously charging my phone, or connecting to a LAN, is a basic task. "

            You don't need a hub for any of these things; assuming you've got a reasonably decent monitor, one Thunderbolt port does it all.

            1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

              Re: Seriously?

              Downvoted by the fish microwaving maniac again - sigh...

              1. doublelayer Silver badge

                Re: Seriously?

                I'm guessing that you were downvoted because your solution boils down to "you don't need a hub if you already have a hub". If you assume that all displays you might encounter have hubs built in, then you're fine, but you'll find that lots of displays don't have that. Maybe people are using older ones which were intended to be connected with a connection which doesn't do USB passthrough. Maybe the work-issued ones are cheaper and don't include it. Maybe someone wants to connect more than one USB device while charging but doesn't have an external monitor, so no option for a hub to be built into it. That's what I'm thinking, anyway. I didn't downvote you though, so I can't vouch for others agreeing.

          2. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: Seriously?

            And one that is easily accomplished - have a monitor that supports PD (because either it's a USB-C native monitor and should support PD or it's not and you need a doodad anyway).

            The difference between a doodad and a doodad that supports PD is virtually nothing.

            I also doubt that you tote around that monitor, so just leave the dongle there, and you have your power, monitor and anything else already plugged in with just one cable to connect when you get back to your desk - I've spent years plugging in half a dozen cables after each meeting, or having a expensive docking station that only supports one model of laptop, so gets thrown out with each update.

            Now we have the ease of single cable docking, with the confidence that our next machine will use the same cable and everything will work, we don't need to replace the whole desktop setup every time.

            I'm not a great fan of toting hubs around either, but I'd rather carry something the size of four pens than a power brick. Although I've mentioned elsewhere, I think power bricks should come with HDMI/USB-A/Ethernet by default now.

        2. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Seriously?

          "It's a 1.25Kg laptop, what do you expect?"

          Well, in 2015 I bought a 1.35 kg laptop which managed to include several USB ports, Thunderbolt, a dedicated charging port, SD, etc. So maybe they could do that. I should let them know about this one, as they could perhaps hire away the engineers who built it to show them how to put more than two tiny ports on a laptop. It was made by a company named Apple, so they should be able to relate on some things.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      We alternate between home office and real office. I also have to sometimes go to other sites to solve problems, change infrastructure etc.

      I have a laptop for that, because I need to be able to work on the move, even if 95% of my work is in the office or home office. Instead of having a PC at home and a PC at the office, I have a dock at home and a dock in the office.

      I have a mouse, keyboard and monitor(s)* attached in both locations. That makes it very convinient.

      At work a pair of 24" monitors, at home, my old, personal 34" UW monitor.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Best you don't buy the Apple M1 then!

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Most of our software is Windows only, anyway, so Apple doesn't come into the equation anyway.

          I use a mixture of Apple, Microsoft and Android products at home.

        2. BGatez

          Why I don't shed $$$$ on something not up-gradable or easily recyclable or serviced where i please.

    3. John Robson Silver badge

      Personally I'd go for the ultrawide monitor. It's a far more elegant solution than multiple displays anyway,

      You're one of those people who like constantly rearranging windows are you?

      I used to use ion3 window manager because it, well, managed my windows.

      With my current 5 monitor layout I again don't have to arrange windows, I just choose which display they should be on (everything maximised or fullscreened, text size ~175-200% in general, else I would probably only have the three)

      1. AMBxx Silver badge
        Windows

        I do similar but with a mere 3 monitors. It's also cheaper to have 3 monitors than 1 giant monitor.

        Not sure how this will change with the snazzy new window stuff in Windows 11.

      2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        "You're one of those people who like constantly rearranging windows are you?"

        Most (if not all) Ultrawide monitors have multi-monitor mode built in. They can function as 2 separate monitors on one physical panel.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Which would then break on the M1 again, negating the benefit which led to it being suggested in the first place.

      3. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

        5 monitors?! - fap fap fap -

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Have text large enough to read for someone with gaze stability issues, and I end up with only 44 lines of text on my terminal on a 32" screen.

          I'd love to be able to cope with only the two screens I used to use, believe me.

    4. jason_derp Bronze badge

      "If you're tethered to a desk, then buy a Mac mini. Half the price, better performance."

      That reductionist logic isn't very helpful to the case. Observe:

      "If you have a Mac mini and you want to be portable, buy a five-year-old laptop of any other brand. It's more powerful, it's portable, and docks are cheap."

      Pretty soon you realize all the problems with MacBook Pro aren't solved by buying a Mac Mini, they're solved by buying almost anything other than Apple.

  3. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    And while I'm here; comparing it to a colleague who microwaves fish in the office is a shite comparison. The fish-microwaving maniac is an antisocial psychopath with scant regard for the wellbeing (or sanity) of her co-workers, who should be locked up in a basement stationery cupboard for her own good.

    The M1 MacBook could far more accurately be compared to your borderline autistic, "somewhere on a spectrum" colleague who is UNBELIEVABLY good at doing things which fit within his parameters, is capable of being social and communicative under normal circumstances, but gets obstinate and uncooperative when pushed outside his comfort zone.

    The first colleague is no use to man nor beast. The second is an incredibly effective way to get stuff done when you take the time to properly understand his capabilities.

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Loving the downvote - obviously caught a closet fish-microwaver ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      1. AceRimmer1980
        Coat

        What kind of fish would be in the closet - a rainbow trout?

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        I don't think fish microwaver in the office and closet go together. Someone knows who they are.

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      "The fish-microwaving maniac is an antisocial psychopath with scant regard for the wellbeing (or sanity) of her co-workers, who should be locked up in a basement stationery cupboard for her own good."

      Or someone who simply hasn't done it before or had it done in an office they are in.

      It's decades since I made the mistake of grabbing last night's leftovers for my lunch without thinking - and it's not a mistake I'll make again, nor will anyone I worked with at the time.

    3. Snake Silver badge

      Bitter redemption

      Then, when she starts her fish, step up and unplug the microwave. Take her fish out and place the dish on top.

      If not, then present her [still uncooked] fish back to her on her desktop. Whilst surrounded by your co-workers.

      Do it enough times and she'll get the hint direct prodding.

    4. jason_derp Bronze badge
      Joke

      "The first colleague is no use to man nor beast."

      You're just lining them up to be knocked down, aren't you?

      Fine, the MacBook Pro is the first guy. There. /s

    5. imanidiot Silver badge
      Trollface

      Interesting you went straight to using HER here. Some old traumas of a particular female cow-orker perhaps?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A Mixed Bag for me

    Love the battery, speed and lack of any noise whatsoever (didnt hear the fan kick-in in the last 6 months I've been using this thing).. but forget about virtualization, it doesnt exist. I bought it thinking that Vmware (where I'm invested in ie bought the latest Fusion version) would somehow catch up with an emulator. Didnt happen and then got involved in an android project and there's just so many things I need to tinker with Android Studio to make it run on an M1 cpu that I ended up getting a frigging Windows 10 laptop.

    If you're a developer, stay away from this beast.

    PS. lately it seems to have a memory management problem. The OS would occasionally show me a list of apps that I can terminate.. I have the 16GB MBP M1.

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: A Mixed Bag for me

      If you're a developer with your specific use case, stay away from this beast.

      FTFY.

      1. ThomH Silver badge

        Re: A Mixed Bag for me

        Yeah, for the record: no issues whatsoever using any of QTCreator, VS Code or Xcode. Albeit that's with VS Code for server development, so builds and runs occur elsewhere. But they always did. It's still a third kind of development to which M1-or-not is immaterial.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: A Mixed Bag for me

      I've just counted my laptops that I have for different use cases .I'm a bit shocked.

      And I still want an M1 MB Pro to add to the collection.

      1. Martin-R

        Re: A Mixed Bag for me

        I seem to have my MacBook (which probably counts twice as I use Bootcamp when I need Windows) plus three different client laptops... And that's as someone who usually works on servers over RDP!

    3. newspuppy

      Re: A Mixed Bag for me

      Parrallels does work for ARM virtualisation....

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: A Mixed Bag for me

        Not a lot of help for virtualising an Intel only environment...

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: A Mixed Bag for me

          But neither is a wintel laptop much good for long battery life without crippling back injury.

          Horses for courses.

          If I was developing across multiple platforms then I'd be running anything I wanted on the desktop/laptop and have hardware instances of the major target platforms.

          I used to have three machines on my desk - Linux, MacOS, Windows. I has x2vnc set up, so I could seamlessly move the cursor between them, made for an easy experience between the three - I don't think I'd bother any more, just screen share - if I really needed low level access then a KVM on one of my screens, or an IP KVM of some description (the RasPi based ones look pretty good).

          1. big_D Silver badge

            Re: A Mixed Bag for me

            It depends, the current crop of Ultrabooks are under 1.5Kg and can do a minimum of 12 hours, which should be more than enough for an 8 hour working day...

        2. DS999 Silver badge

          Why would anyone

          Think that an ARM based laptop would be a good purchase if "virtualizing an Intel only environment" is one of the requirements? Anyone who does that loses their right to fault Apple, the design of the M1 Macs or anyone else but themselves.

          There's a report earlier in this thread from someone who has Windows 10 ARM running on his M1 Mac. I didn't think Microsoft was selling Windows/ARM licenses separate from hardware yet, so either that's changed or he is doing something you wouldn't rely on for your profession.

          But given that ability now, or eventually if not quite legal today, you can rely on Windows 10 ARM's ability to run Windows/x86 apps. It just won't be as fast as an M1 Mac running x86 Mac apps using Rosetta's superior translation technology.

    4. Jason Hindle Silver badge

      Re: A Mixed Bag for me

      Well Parallels works and I was able to get ARM based Ubuntu to work with my specific use cases. However, ARM based Linux does have some surprising limitations. As far as I can tell, you can forget about using Eclipse or the JetBrains tools (though VS Code puts in a surprising appearance) and there's little in the way of browsers other than Firefox. Windows? Yes, it runs but it's ARM based Windows and we're still waiting for Microsoft to get their **** together with that.

      Overall, it works for me and what I need to do (mostly a bit of Java as far as any development goes), At the moment though, I think M1 Macs are best suited to to the kind of developers who fire up XCode and develop for Mac and iOS,

    5. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: A Mixed Bag for me

      When you talk about virtualisation, presumably you mean for x86 systems? Parallels has announced some beta products but expecting anything to be ready for the market yet was just naive.

      Regarding memory: you know that one of the party tricks used to make things seem so fast is shared memory, including zero copy between CPU and GPU. Depending on what you're making the GPU do that will definitely restrict the amount of available RAM.

  5. Salts

    How come ...

    People don't research the products they buy? They pay £1200 quid for a product that is no good for their use case and then moan on about how it does not work for them. Seems a bit daft to me :)

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: How come ...

      I can see though that there is nothing better on the market currently, even if you take into account all the shortcomings.

      I write that as a passionate Linux user. I wish there was a Linux laptop like Mac M1

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: How come ...

        There will be soon - it will be the M1.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How come ...

        Yes but with the ability to upgrade the ram and ssd, an ethernet port would be handy too.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: How come ...

          I am still certain that RAM will soon be available as a TB plugin.

          After all both intel and AMD are already sharing GPU memory, and TB exports PCIe lanes directly, so it really ought to be possible.

          Thunderbolt for storage is already faster than you need, and ethernet, even multi gigabit ethernet is easily handled.

          But *now* we're finally at a point where the count of ports matters, potentially, sometimes.

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: How come ...

            "I am still certain that RAM will soon be available as a TB plugin."

            Just what I need. RAM which can be accidentally disconnected during a run. At least with a GPU, the OS can shift back to the integrated one if the connection fails. If the RAM's detached, any application using it is not coming back. You should hope the OS didn't put anything in there and stuck to internal as well. Not buying.

            1. John Robson Silver badge

              Re: How come ...

              Well if the GPU disconnects I assume that the OS will lose anything that was running on its memory anyway.

              I'm merely ditching the actual GPU component of the device and using an external PCIe connection.

          2. bazza Silver badge

            Re: How come ...

            What is this, a call for something like the RAM add on for the ZX81, or Sinclair Spectrum? Good grief, try one of those to see how bad an idea it is.

            This would be a massive backwards step in computer history.

            1. John Robson Silver badge

              Re: How come ...

              Not really - PCIe is ridiculously fast, and the speed of memory on GPUs is also insane.

              The fact that that connection is now available externally is a bonus. Port memory between your machines as needed, buy memory and use it with your next three laptops?

              Sounds like a win to me...

        2. Sven Coenye
          Coat

          Re: How come ...

          Maybe a slot in the back you could slap a RAM pack onto?

          The one with the roll of double-sided tape in the pocket, please...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How come ...

      .. I got me a shiny new i7 win10 laptop for apps thats incompatible with the M1 CPU.. despite the shortcomings of M1 it's still my preferred work machine. the win10 laptop while newer and almost equally speedy as it is with the M1 simply reminds me how MS OS quality lags behind macOS. Hanging apps (although no BSOD so far) on a daily basis, even the windows finder hangs.

  6. po

    Better idea, spend an extra £90-odd and get a Dell Inspiron 3000, which will do all the same things as your fancy Macbook, which you can then deploy for its real purpose: to sit on a table and look smart, like any luxury accessory.

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      We've already heard that one.

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      25% more mass, 25% less battery capacity, and a substantially less efficient processor - so you aren't really comparing apples with apples there are you.

      Find one with comparable battery life, and performance, and weight and you might start to make a point, but I suspect you won't get that within anything like a reasonable budget

      1. Jason Hindle Silver badge

        More like comparing a lemon with an Apple.

      2. DS999 Silver badge

        25% more mass, 25% less battery capacity, and a substantially less efficient processor

        What good is an M1 Mac that's clearly a better laptop in those categories if it doesn't do what you need YOUR laptop to do? That's like me buying a laptop with a 12" screen and then bitching the screen is tiny. That's why I bought a laptop with a 17" screen, because I'm not an idiot and based my purchase on my requirements.

  7. andy 103
    Facepalm

    Why only M1? Also applies to Intel Macbook's

    I have a MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020, Two Thunderbolt 3 ports). Intel i5.

    In my home office I have a single Samsung HDMI monitor and a keyboard/mouse that needs a USB adaptor to connect. This means I can either:

    1. Charge my laptop and plug in the monitor (via a separate HDMI adaptor), but not connect my keyboard/mouse

    2. Not charge my laptop (use it off battery) whilst also being able to use my monitor and keyboard/mouse.

    The problem is when the battery runs out none of (2) works. I can either use my monitor *OR* my keyboard/mouse whilst it's being charged!

    Imagine if I'd also bought an iPhone 12 and wanted to charge that via my shiny Apple laptop. Oh yeah, I did.

    The irony of this is that my 2015 Macbook Air doesn't have this problem. I can connect it to power, use the keyboard/mouse and connect it to my monitor (via a Mini DisplayPort - HDMI adaptor)... and still have a 1 spare USB port.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Why only M1? Also applies to Intel Macbook's

      My MBP has four ports - One is used for the eGPU, which supports power delivery (and is used for that), another is used for the dongle that does Ethernet, 3*USB A, SD cards, and also an HDMI port if I'm out and about, and also supports power delivery (and I use that when visiting an office).

      One of those USB A ports feeds the usb hubs on my monitors, the other feeds a hub on the desk, and the third feeds a dedicated audio interface.

      The other two aren't used.

      So why exactly can't you use power delivery?

      1. andy 103
        WTF?

        Re: Why only M1? Also applies to Intel Macbook's

        @John Robson - The first line of my post - the bit about TWO Thunderbolt ports - is a copy/pasted version of what's under "About this Mac". It's not like I need confirmation though since I can see it only has 2 Thunderbolt ports.

        The only other port is a 3.5mm headphone jack.

        So either:

        - Use 1 for the monitor + 1 for the keyboard/mouse = 2 ports used

        - Use 1 for the charger + 1 for the keyboard/mouse = 2 ports used

        - Use 1 for the charger + 1 for the monitor = 2 ports used

        If you can make those numbers add up any other way please let me know.

        Unlike my older Macbook Air there is no separate/dedicated power port; charging is done via a Thuderbolt 3 (USB-C) charger that was supplied by Apple with the laptop. Have a look at "What's in the box" on https://www.apple.com/uk/shop/buy-mac/macbook-pro/13-inch-space-grey-apple-m1-chip-with-8-core-cpu-and-8-core-gpu-256gb#

        The reason you can do it is because your model has 4 ports... not 2! I'm guessing it's an earlier model.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Why only M1? Also applies to Intel Macbook's

          I'm only using two - and only use one when I visit an office (the eGPU isn't really a portable device)

          Both my eGPU and my USB adaptor (which also gives me hdmi and ethernet ports) are individually capable of powering the laptop - the eGPU uses its own power brick, the USB adaptor has a USB-C power in port, so would use the laptop power brick.

          You don't need to dedicate a port to a charger - that's one of the good things about USB-c, it can do multiple things at the same time.

          You want a monitor (hdmi?) and a couple of USB type A ports (three to have a spare for a thumb drive) and power delivery... Well that's all handled by my USB adaptor, which was ~£20 and works on a variety of difference devices.

          To my mind Apple missed a trick by not putting a USB-A port, an HDMI port and an ethernet port into their power bricks - make them a USB-C hub that happens to have a PSU in it as well - but then I'm not aware of anyone else who has done that either.

          I'd have liked to retain magsafe, because that's frankly a brilliant piece of design, solving a real problem, but complaining that ports that can easily do everything you want strikes me that you haven't actually looked for a solution, or even investigated what the ports are capable of.

          1. andy 103

            Re: Why only M1? Also applies to Intel Macbook's

            @John Robson - this seems to have become a bit pedantic although I think you missed the point I was originally making.

            My current set up of a 2020 Macbook Pro and an iPhone 12 cost me about £2000. Anyone spending that shouldn't even have to spend "only" £20 more to get... connectivity. I never recall having this problem on older Apple laptops (my 2015 Macbook Air being a good example) or even cheaper PC hardware.

            If it's "only" £20 then Apple can fucking well throw one in the box - at trade prices it would be pennies for them. But no... have to be bastards for the sake of it. I like Apple hardware but stuff like this really is insulting.

            Incidentally this wouldn't happen with anything - or from anyone - else. Imagine spending £2k on a washing machine to then be told, oh if you want to connect it to water/power you need to spend £20 on an extra adaptor? Literally nobody would.

            1. John Robson Silver badge

              Re: Why only M1? Also applies to Intel Macbook's

              So you have bought a USB-C keyboard without a hub built in, and a USB-C monitor that doesn't support power delivery (which is the single most obvious thing for a monitor to support, though I'd suggest that it should also pull out a few USB ports at least).

              It's almost as if you didn't actually look at what you were spending your money on. I price up a laptop, and include the price of a case, and historically the cost of a docking station as well.

              Now I don't need to include a docking station ever again, because it's a £20 dongle that I can keep from one machine to the next.

              In terms of throwing one in the box - absolutely the power bricks should break out HDMI/USB-A/Ethernet, even if it's an optional* power brick, but I don't know of *any* manufacturer that does that.

              The shift to USBc has taken quite a while. It took me a long time to start to move over, but having done so just before lockdown (new machine from work) I can really see the advantages that a single connector gives you. The throughput capacity of the connector is also staggering, and it should therefore be able to survive for a decent number of years.

              It's also supposed to be more robust than many of the connectors it replaces, and I can believe that, although I don't have enough experience to confirm or refute the claim.

              The machine gives you connectivity - probably more than you will ever need. But you do need to make sure that the things you want to connect are appropriately adapted. In the same way that I need to ensure that my washing machine isn't plumbed into the gas supply, and that it's drain is actually put into a trap, and that the electrical supply is appropriately fused, and switched in a position that is accessible.

              * The option would be a choice between this and a smaller/lighter brick without the ports.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why only M1? Also applies to Intel Macbook's

          > - Use 1 for the charger + 1 for the monitor = 2 ports used

          Then connect the keyboard, mouse and any USB sticks into the (typically) 4-port USB hub built into pretty much any modern monitor and you're sorted.

          1. tiggity Silver badge

            Re: Why only M1? Also applies to Intel Macbook's

            Flawed belief that you will use the laptop with an external monitor.

            I'm happy to use a laptop just with laptop screen... BUT .. do want to have external mouse & keyboard plugged in if I'm using it for anything more than a few minutes.

            If I did use an external monitor it would not have lots of ports (I use kit until it dies, I don't replace stuff just because something newer comes out) - & monitors have long lives.

            1. John Robson Silver badge

              Re: Why only M1? Also applies to Intel Macbook's

              Well the original post was complaining that he couldn't do fourteen things with the two ports, despite one port being sufficient for all of them.

              I also don't upgrade monitors often, but I still get 3 USB ports, SD reader, ethernet and HDMI out of one port, whilst still using that same port for power delivery.

              And that HDMI lets me use my old monitors quite happily (I only have two VGA monitors left, and they are on server duty, the only places where I still have VGA only devices).

              So it's not a replacement, it's a different connector - one that should outlast this laptop, and will still work with the next one, and possibly the next...

              It gives you a single cable docking solution - yes it costs a couple of cups of coffee to get, but it'll last longer than any other docking solution in the past.

            2. Aitor 1 Silver badge

              Re: Why only M1? Also applies to Intel Macbook's

              You should use an external monitor or put the laptop screen high enough was if it was an external one, otherwise with time your body will complain.

    2. Sykowasp

      Re: Why only M1? Also applies to Intel Macbook's

      It's not like USB-C adaptors with USB-A ports and HDMI aren't cheap.

      My work threw in a https://www.amazon.co.uk/Adapter-MOKiN-MacBook-Surface-USB-C/dp/B086PQG2CW?ref_=ast_sto_dp&th=1&psc=1 with the new laptop.

    3. Wyrdness

      Re: Why only M1? Also applies to Intel Macbook's

      I plug my Macbook into my Dell monitor using a USB-C cable and the monitor charges the Macbook. So I'm only using a single port for both video and charging.

      I can also plug in a cheap (£12 off fleabay) USB-C hub and have monitor, charging, ethernet and USB-3 ports whilst only using a single laptop USB-C port. I don't find the lack of ports disturbing.

    4. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: Why only M1? Also applies to Intel Macbook's

      @Andy 103:

      The Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport adapter costs £59, and gives you HDMI, USB-A and USB-C passthrough; so you can charge and link to an HDMI monitor through one Thunderbolt port. You can plug your keyboard dongle into the USB-A port as well.

      Then you have everything through a single connection, freeing up your other Thunderbolt port for anything else you might need.

      1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        Re: Why only M1? Also applies to Intel Macbook's

        "1 thumb down"

        Fish-microwaving fiend strikes again ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        1. myithingwontcharge

          Re: Why only M1? Also applies to Intel Macbook's

          "1 thumb down"

          At least two now, because your "solution" is actually the already stated problem.

          1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

            Re: Why only M1? Also applies to Intel Macbook's

            "At least two now, because your "solution" is actually the already stated problem."

            It really isn't though, is it.

            OP wrote:

            I have a MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020, Two Thunderbolt 3 ports). Intel i5.

            In my home office I have a single Samsung HDMI monitor and a keyboard/mouse that needs a USB adaptor to connect. This means I can either:

            1. Charge my laptop and plug in the monitor (via a separate HDMI adaptor), but not connect my keyboard/mouse Multiport adapter solves this with USB-C for charging, USB-A for keyboard & mouse and HDMI for monitor

            2. Not charge my laptop (use it off battery) whilst also being able to use my monitor and keyboard/mouse. Multiport adapter solves this too

            The problem is when the battery runs out none of (2) works. I can either use my monitor *OR* my keyboard/mouse whilst it's being charged! Adapter means you don't have to choose.

            Imagine if I'd also bought an iPhone 12 and wanted to charge that via my shiny Apple laptop. Oh yeah, I did. Not a problem with your free Thunderbolt port.

            The irony of this is that my 2015 Macbook Air doesn't have this problem. I can connect it to power, use the keyboard/mouse and connect it to my monitor (via a Mini DisplayPort - HDMI adaptor)... and still have a 1 spare USB port. Already using 1 adapter, yet an adapter for the new machine is too much of a problem. Bizarre.

            I thought posters here were generally smart. You obviously slipped through the net somehow.

    5. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Why only M1? Also applies to Intel Macbook's

      You know they make Bluetooth keyboards and mice, right? What is your objection to solving your problem that way instead of with a USB hub?

      1. myithingwontcharge

        Re: Why only M1? Also applies to Intel Macbook's

        "You know they make Bluetooth keyboards and mice, right? What is your objection to solving your problem that way instead of with a USB hub?"

        While they have a use case, wireless devices often cause more issues than they solve (usually due to dead batteries at a key moment). Also many people have to hotdesk and use whatever screen and keyboard is provided. If you think carrying a myriad of dongles and cables around is bad, I doubt the suggestion of a keybaord as well is going to go down well. :-)

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Why only M1? Also applies to Intel Macbook's

          Well you can certainly carry a mouse around - I carry a USB travel mouse around with my laptop because I hate touchpads.

          Not sure why one needs a separate keyboard with a laptop when every laptop has a keyboard built in, but if you are that picky about keyboards you probably wouldn't like the random keyboard the hot desk comes with either - especially since it probably never gets cleaned. Yuck!

  8. oiseau Silver badge
    WTF?

    How?

    How do you turn a new MacBook Pro into a desktop workhorse?

    How?

    You don't.

    Why on earth would you want to do that?

    It's a portable, by no means a desktop anything.

    A very expensive sow's ear to try to make a purse out of.

    And given its limitations, of any kind, silk or otherwise.

    O.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: How?

      Why?

      Because for the 5% of the time spent on the road... it's still basically a desktop 95% of the time, and it is a pretty powerful one at that. Built in UPS, decent raw compute power.

      Why wouldn't you get a USB-C dock that will let you use the machine in comfort, and will work with your next machine as well, and the loaner you get from IT for <insert reason>, and your personal machine...

      1. oiseau Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: How?

        Methinks you are rather confused.

        Because for the 5% 95% of the time spent on the road working at your desk ... it's still basically a desktop portable 95% 100% of the time ...

        There you go.

        Makes more sense now.

        O.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: How?

          Nope - no confusion at all, but a recognition that desktop class performance no longer requires a sizable power bill.

          The M1 is a very capable processor, and will burn through most tasks that your desktop workhorse accomplishes very capably.

          What it will never be is a racehorse - it's not going to replace a full tower top end, wannabe server, workstation (as opposed to a desktop), but noone has pretended it will - that's for the next couple of generations of chips if the rumours are anything close to accurate.

          95% of the time it's a computer, the remaining 5% it's a computer I can take with me and carry on working. As opposed to your approach where 95% of the time it's a computer, the other 5% of the time it's nothing, because you now can't work when you visit the office...

          That's no reason not to make it a comfortable computer for the 95%, monitors, keyboard, mouse/trackpad/trackball, external storage, high speed networking...

  9. theOtherJT

    Traditional Apple.

    They have a history of this sort of thing. They very deliberately cripple bits of their product line in order to justify the cost of the more expensive ones. We all know that the whole "It has a whole extra GPU core!" on the pro vs air thing is complete bullshit, and there's no way they couldn't find the _room_ for two more thunderbolt ports like there are on the 16" pro - they just didn't want to do it because it makes for a more delineated product line.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Traditional Apple.

      It might not be a space thing (we all know there is plenty of space) - it might be a case of limited lanes to expose.

      The Mac Mini only has two, although it does also have USB ports, HDMI and ethernet... so there really ought to be scope for adding more ports to the laptops (even if they are only USB3 over USB-C)

    2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: Traditional Apple.

      "We all know that the whole "It has a whole extra GPU core!" on the pro vs air thing is complete bullshit,"

      I'm with you on the ports, that's a deliberate drive to push people to more expensive machines. The 'extra GPU core' thing isn't though; it's supply chain optimisation. For any given silicon manufacturing process, there will always be a degree of waste; silicon wafers with defects, chips that don't work 100%. These used to be thrown away.

      What Apple and other manufacturers are now doing is looking at the TYPE of defect, and working out whether what remains of the chip can still be put to good use. In this case, the 7/8 core devices are almost certainly 8/8 core chips that were manufacturers with one defective core; because of the way they're designed it doesn't matter WHICH of the 8 is defective, the remaining 7 will work just fine. So they're being sold as 'entry-level' devices.

      1. theOtherJT

        Re: Traditional Apple.

        I know exactly why they do it. What pisses me off here is trying to pretend that the Air is a different product line rather than a slightly defective pro. It's the same reason we got those 3 core AMD chips a few years ago, but at least those were legitimately really cheap.

  10. Steve K Silver badge

    Daisy Chain monitors?

    If your monitor has a monitor out port (like with DisplayPort but Thunderbolt) then surely you don't need a separate dock but just an extra cable to daisy-chain them?

    1. John Robson Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Daisy Chain monitors?

      Yeah - except that as far as I could tell when I was trying this on my previous MBP apple just doesn't support it.

      Boot linux on the same hardware and daisy chained display port monitors worked fine, but it didn't work using MacOS.

      Stupid stupid stupid...

  11. Gecko

    eGPU maybe

    Does the M1 work with eGPUs?

    My Linux Huawei laptop uses an eGPU as my main ride.

    One usb-c connection gives me power, external NVIDIA gpu with multiple screens, network, USB ports for kbd/mouse etc.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: eGPU maybe

      Not at the moment, but I suspect it will come (maybe with the next hardware revision).

      Of course the dock will probably still work fine, it just won't be a connected GPU.

    2. gfx

      Re: eGPU maybe

      According to the interwebs the M1 GPU is reasonably fast. They did compare it to an eGPU

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: eGPU maybe

        Being fast doesn't help in terms of powering more screens.

        I have an intel MBP with an eGPU, not for the GPU horsepower, but because it can drive four external monitors, which gives me a 5 monitor setup, all on pole mounts (even the laptop is pole mounted).

    3. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: eGPU maybe

      It seems unlikely that AMD or NVidia will bother writing ARM Mac drivers for their GPUs, given that Apple will be using their own GPU across the entire line even the Mac Pro.

      Since eGPU would be the only possible market for ARM Mac GPUs, it sure sounds like too tiny of a market for them to bother.

  12. arthoss

    only 2 ports makes it not a pro

    yeah. I have 4 ports on my true mb pro 16 inch and it's almost not enough. You can't call it pro with 2 ports only.

  13. David Lawton

    You bought the wrong Mac

    Unfortunately the Mac you require has not yet transitioned to Apple Silicon and is still on Intel, that's the higher end 13" Pro which has 4 USB C ports.

    These are very very very impressive devices, I'm typing this on an M1 13" Pro my self, but this is their entry level processor aimed at the very low end products they sell. Since it's taking Apple so long to get those devices out and the A15 is now in production I'm going to guess they will skip the M1x and just have the M2x for the higher end Mac's that you actually need that will support more screens.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    fish

    Reheating in an airfryer works a lot better for those battered fish pieces. It still smells though.

  15. DS999 Silver badge

    This is the low end of the ARM Mac line

    There will be higher end ones, which will presumably have greater I/O capability, though I imagine wanting more than one external display on a laptop is a pretty niche category whether on a Mac or a PC.

  16. gnasher729 Silver badge

    It’s a low-end machine. All the M1s are low-end machines. They are bloody fast low end machines, but they are low end. Apple is still selling many mid-range and high-end Macs with Intel processors. If low-end isn’t enough for you, don’t buy it.

    I’d expect a whole range of mid-range Macs in the second half of the year, they should be much more suitable for you.

    1. gratou

      Don't make excuses. One single port available when charging is ludicrous.

      1. John Robson Silver badge
        WTF?

        Are you trolling or have you just completely missed the point - you can still use the port for literally anything else *whilst* also using it for charging.

      2. gnasher729 Silver badge

        gratou, first it's a low end machine. Second, you can get a cheap ten port hub which is plenty. Third, you can get a cheap USB-C hub which _includes_ charging. So you can charge and use two USB-C hubs. Fourth, lots of people don't use a single USB port.

  17. AMCMO

    Rubbish.

    I run an M1 MBA with a 10 port hub. $100 cost. Ok, I don’t run 2 monitors, but I’m writing using Scrivener, doing lots of screenshots, external mech keyboard, ext drives, ethernet, etc etc. You deliberately made a worst case just for clickbait.

  18. K

    Thanks... but no thanks..

    I'd rather stick with a CalDigit, its the same price but far more capable.... When that goes bang, I saw another dock with a built-in 10GbE, that will do nicely :P

  19. Barry Rueger

    The upside

    Count your blessings. Apple could have put both USB-C ports on the bottom of the Macbook, like did with their mouse.

  20. gratou

    So tired of the "premium" products getting fewer and fewer features. Likes phones ditching the earphone port after having ditched removable battery and more. On the plus side the Samsung galaxy A line is cheaper than the S line while being perfectly sufficient and featuring the beloved 3.5mm socket.

  21. Stanislav Bonita
    Paris Hilton

    Honestly can't see the point of this article

    Firstly, it's an Apple laptop. These days every Apple laptop is a bit short on ports (as are Dell and Lenovo ultrabooks) so it shouldn't be a surprise. If it's morally unacceptable to you, don't buy one.

    Secondly, as others have pointed out, ports on laptops are less vital than they used to be.

    My MacBook Air M1 has 2 USB-C/Thunderbolt ports.

    Port 1 -> Monitor with power delivery and USB hub

    Port 2 -> Intermittent use to connect phone for file transfer with OpenMTP, or to charge my external bluetooth keyboard, mouse and speakers (each of which runs for several days between charges)

    The surge-protector power strip at the side of my desk also has multiple USB charging ports - most of them do these days - just in case 2 bluetooth devices need charging at the same time.

    And I can rest easy in the knowledge that very nice hubs are available, even if I haven't needed one yet.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "you'll find a single lonely USB-A 3.0 port"

    That picture has a little "10Gbps" above it, which suggests it's a USB 3.1 (Gen 2) port...

  23. DS999 Silver badge

    I don't know why anyone should care if you need a hub on a desktop

    If you need a hub for your use case when mobile then yeah that would be highly annoying as it is one more thing to carry. But even if a laptop had only one port it would be fine the "putting it on my desk at home and treating it as a desktop" use case from the article as you could have a USB hub connected to multiple monitors, external storage, keyboard/mouse, printer, whatever else you can think of - all the wiring comes to it rather than the laptop keeping your workspace tidy.

    In fact, if I was going to use my laptop that way and especially if I would frequently be going from "work at home on a desktop with multiple monitors etc." and "work remotely just treating it as a laptop" I would DEFINITELY opt for the USB hub even if the laptop had sufficient ports. Simply because being able to plug one thing in and done (and having all the rest of the cables hidden/managed appropriately) would be superior in my mind to setting down a laptop amidst a tangle of cables and plugging in power, monitor, monitor, network, keyboard, mouse, storage, printer all separately and living with a tangle of wires on my workspace.

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