Apple Silicon M1 - system-on-a-chip to Rule Them All.

Yup, the rock bottom base model: 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD. Rack doesn’t really use RAM anyway.

Depends on what you really want and your wallet. If you really want a laptop the Air is great and is silent, but the Pro has a fan, which means you can push it even harder. Depends on how large patches you want to run. If you would actually like a desktop then definately grab an M1 Mini. Even more cooling and a great “little” desktop machine. Supreme value for money! But yeah, there will always be something better tomorrow :slight_smile:

Try and download the test-04 patch above. If you think “plenty for me” you’re home free with the Air for sure. But I haven’t really pushed it yet, will get to that in the next couple of days.

I agree!

Yeah the Mini looks like incredible value for the price, but I need a laptop for work/travel at the moment. And from everything I’ve seen so far the performance throttling on the Air, while present, looks fairly reasonable (beyond Rack as well). I’m really curious to see where they take these chips, especially how they implement them in iMacs/Mac Pros. Crazy to think that these are only first generation M1s…

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s&h driven modulation, looootttssss of it :wink:

I just bought a new iMac last year so I checked the trade-in value if I bought an M1 MBP now - £600 lol. I’ll be waiting until the M1 desktops come out next year I suppose.

Thanks for testing this Lars! Was watching this thread for news every day. There’s a funny app to check what apps you have installed are actually M1 compatible, that worried me haha.

( 4th app down)

But now, there seems to be sunshine.

Looking forward to new test results!


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You’re welcome Jeroen.

That app you point to, as far as I can tell it just tells you whether it’s an Intel or Arm binary and that info can just be seen in the Finder in Big Sur. But that just tells you what architecture the program is for, not whether it runs on M1 or not. Both Intel and Arm programs run on M1, but some Intel programs won’t run, or won’t work well because of various reasons, and for those the manufacturer has to update them first.

There’s a good list here of which programs do or don’t run on M1/Apple Silicon:

Maybe I should add VCV Rack to it, when I’m done with my testing :slight_smile:

Oh, and by the way, I won’t be testing all 2000+ VCV Rack modules. It’s certainly possible that some developer used some Intel specific instructions in one of their modules that will make it not run on M1, no guarantees where that’s concerned. But VCV Rack runs, that’s for sure. Maybe some enterprising soul can start a M1 certification test and try out each and every module :slight_smile:


Aha ok. I had that app running on my High Sierra Xeon machine and all apps were intel compatible only, but according to your research it is useless info then haha.

Will keep a close watch to your findings man, thanks a bunch!!


thanks a lot Lars for your time testing the M1.

Very good approach.

As you’ve proposed, I’m working with this patch and my iMAC 2017 i5 is at almost 85% and glitches appears. I had to disable some voices (hidden on the left to limit screen refresh) to save some CPU workload. If you don’t mind trying it (no worries if you can’t)

spontex-spaceship.vcv (290.5 KB)

Cheers Spontex


If it helps, this runs fine on my 2019 iMac i5 even with all the modules enabled.

Thanks a lot for your feedback. Very kind It runs but when I move the mouse over some modules or patch cable, a glitch can happen. Cheers Spontex

Sorry, but this patch has 34 plugins, some not in the library, and is not really a “limited amount of plugins”, so won’t be testing this.

Ok, so I’ve updated my testing post above, with 2 more tests, findings and conclusion, and I don’t plan on doing more testing since I feel I’ve met the objective. It might be interesting to hear from others how the Test-6 patch runs on their machine, for some anecdotal comparison. If you do, drop a note with:

  • How well it runs (not at all/barely/very well)
  • The machine (slim notebook/beefy laptop/desktop)
  • The CPU (vendor, model info with speed etc.)
  • The GPU (onboard Intel, discrete Nvidia, AMD, …)

Thanks so much Lars! This is so helpful - a really detailed and systematic overview that seems to hit on the upper limit of the Air. I think I’ll pull the trigger on an M1 purchase in the next few weeks… still hesitating between the Mini and the Air, but at least it seems like the Air won’t be any kind of major disadvantage.

I still can’t believe that this performance is possible from the entry-level M1 laptop!!

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Thanks, and you’re welcome, glad I could help!

From the reviews and tests I’ve seen, I reckon you could run about 25% more “Rack” on the Mini than the Air, but I think it mainly comes down to the choice between desktop or laptop. I need a desktop for my primary machine and if my 2013 iMac dies tomorrow I’ll have no hesitation in going out and getting the M1 Mini right now, and I would spec. it with 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD, just so I’m comfortable.

I know! Neither can I. I’m not prone to hyperbole but this is what every reviewer has said and I have to agree with them. In terms of Apple hardware it’s a quantum leap I think. From what I hear there’s no comparison what so ever, with the previous 2020 model Intel Air. Good times :slight_smile:

Thanks for the detailed overview Lars! Very interesting all. It will be very interesting to read more about Patrick’s @heapdump findings as well.

i still would love to know how these M1 machine’s perform with patches that are very heavy on multiple (lots of) switched clock distributions at various ratio’s that on their term drive various s&h , which modulate an enormous amount of CV inputs. This usually makes my laptop spin up it’s fan to 30/40% rev, with the bigger patches, and make my laptop work a little harder. Which is fine, the laptop can handle it easy, but the fan noise is starting to annoy me :smiley:

I might have to wait till i can borrow one from someone around. Thanks for testing! Have fun with it :slight_smile:

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Hello Lars,

No worries, it was just in case. Thanks again for the try.



If you can put together one of those patches, with not too many different plugins, I’ll be happy to test it on the M1 Air.

It’s my girlfriend’s, I just borrowed it from her for the testing :slight_smile:

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Thanks for the offer Lars :slight_smile: I’ll see if i can come up with something interesting, can’t promise that it will be stricted by choice of plugins. :wink:

Btw, my plugins are designed to be able to handle a lot of modulation without using too much cpu. You should use them when possible.

those running release vcvrack on M1 under Rosettla - have you noticed the zooming is very slow ?! (hits GPU ridiculously hard!) as others have pointed out, scrolling is buttery smooth, and no audio issues… just the zooming in/out.

however (good news) on @heapdump native release - smooth zooming too, and hardly touching the gpu!

(great job @heapdump!)

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