The new Apple Silicon Macs are incredibly power efficient and offer exceptional performance. However, in many ways, they represent a downgrade compared to Intel Macs.
There are limitations to Apple’s products that either most people don’t know about or choose to ignore. These limitations could be deal breakers for you. Personally, I use the 16-inch M1 Pro MacBook and I love it. It outperforms my Hackintosh in certain workflows. However, to be honest, it’s not perfect. There are some issues and limitations that you should be aware of before making a purchase decision.
1. SSD wear
One of the first issues reported by early users of M1 Macs was that the total bytes written (TBW) to and from their SSD, as reported by the Mac’s built-in SMART reporting tool, had reached a level that would hit the maximum covered by Mac’s warranty within a few months. This was attributed to the fact that the M1 makes greater use of swapping data between RAM and SSD than Intel Macs.
Some of the worst cases highlighted on Twitter and community forums indicated that some SSDs had consumed up to 13% of the maximum warrantable total bytes written (TBW). This excessive usage could mean that the lifespan of an M1 Mac would be as little as two years.
It is important to note that the more data you write to an SSD, the faster it will slow down and eventually stop working. Internal storage for M1 and M2 Macs is soldered to the logic board, meaning that a new device would be necessary if the storage fails. Recent Mac OS updates claim to fix this issue, but it remains to be seen how many Apple Silicon SSDs will fail before their time.
2. Apple M1 & M2 memory leaks
When Apple released the M1 chip, it changed the way we think about RAM on our Macs. Like the iPhone and iPad, memory was now affixed to the same package as the system-on-chip. The M1 Pro and M1 Max come with higher memory options, but the M1 tops out at 16GB. Even when users have lots of RAM, some applications like to grab much of it for themselves, causing a memory leak. The program consuming the memory cannot release it back to the OS for reallocation.
Performance gradually deteriorates until you need to either wait for the RAM to clear, force-quit the app, or restart the machine. Sometimes, a warning appears even when no single app is using that much memory, and other times apps are seemingly using more memory than is available. It’s possible that macOS isn’t managing this unified memory structure properly and will continue to allocate RAM beyond what’s available without freeing up unneeded RAM.
Like the SSD wear issue, recent macOS updates were claimed to fix this. However, in my personal experience with the M1 Pro, I didn’t see any improvement and still get those annoying warnings.
3. No Boot Camp Partition
Unfortunately, the transition from Intel to Apple Silicon has made it impossible to create a Boot Camp partition on a Mac. Boot Camp Assistant is no longer available as a result. In the past, it was easy to install Windows on an Intel Mac using Boot Camp because they used the same hardware. However, Apple Silicon is a different type of hardware platform, and Windows is not designed for it, so Boot Camp is no longer an option.
Boot Camp was previously the preferred method for playing Windows games on a Mac or running professional programs like CATIA that are not available on Mac. This is because it outperformed any virtualization software, as all of the Mac’s hardware resources could be allocated to Windows applications.
Although it is still possible to run Windows on a Mac using a virtualization tool like Parallels Desktop, this is not an ideal solution, as you will soon see.
4. Virtualization Only Run ARM Windows
The absence of Boot Camp on Apple Silicon Macs is already a disadvantage, but the fact that virtualization software can only run an ARM version of Windows 11 makes it even worse. This means that there is no way to install the x86 version of Windows or Windows apps on M1 and M2 Macs.
Currently, Parallels is the most popular virtualization program for running Windows on Apple Silicon Macs. However, it has some drawbacks:
- Parallels is more expensive than Boot Camp since you have to purchase the program.
- Some people may find that Parallels has a steeper learning curve compared to Boot Camp. Parallels is a completely different program with many more settings and preferences to learn. In contrast, Boot Camp has a more direct setup.
- Parallels puts a strain on your Mac’s processing power and memory as both operating systems work simultaneously, unlike Boot Camp.
Unfortunately, you will be limited in terms of the Windows games and applications you can use on an ARM version of Windows 11, which is disappointing considering the endless possibilities virtualization offered on Intel Macs. Not to mention the fact that you could run the full version of Windows on Intel Macs using Boot Camp!
5. Apple Silicon doesn’t Support eGPUs
Apple Silicon Macs have the CPU and GPU sharing the same memory, which is better optimized for Mac-specific applications. However, it cannot compete with a discrete GPU or even some mobile GPUs like Nvidia’s RTX lineup in terms of performance. While discrete GPUs consume more power, their performance is much better.
For casual users, there won’t be any noticeable difference, as they can edit photos and videos without any problems. But for professional 3D or VFX work, extra graphical performance may be necessary. This was not an issue with Intel Macs, since users could plug in an external GPU (eGPU) to their Thunderbolt port for the necessary performance boost.
However, this is not possible with Apple Silicon Macs due to the lack of Apple Silicon compatible AMD drivers. It is also unlikely that eGPU support will be added in the future since none of Apple’s ARM SoCs support PCI Express GPUs. There’s a chip limitation by design, and discrete GPU support has been completely removed from the ARM macOS kernel and OS frameworks.
Now that I outlined all those issues, I have to emphasize the fact that these might not be a concern for a lot of regular Mac users. It’s been reported that some of them have already been fixed by recent Mac OS updates.
To be clear I’m not saying don’t buy Apple Silicon Macs. I’m simply informing you of some of the issues and limitations so you can be [ Informed ] before spending your hard earned cash. One of the things that inspired me to make this video is the amount of people messaging on Social, asking for help with their Mac, like adding an eGPU or using Bootcamp. It’s very sad for me to have to tell them it’s not gonna work maybe ever. one specific case I know, sold his M1 Macbook and bought an Intel Mac because his Music Production peripherals were not supported by Apple Silicon.
I hope you found this article useful. But do let me know in the comments below, were you aware of these issues or not ? and which kind of Mac do you have ?