Joel Hruska over at ExtremeTech:
Apple couldn’t position the M1 this way if it wasn’t an excellent CPU in its own right. The M1’s dramatically higher efficiency and improved performance relative to x86 allowed Apple to standardize on a single CPU core across a wide range of products and price points. This is in complete opposition to the way PCs are traditionally positioned.
If you haven’t tried an M1-based Mac, it is hard to imagine precisely how good it is. But, put it this way: it can run many native “Apple Silicon” programs as well as many non-native, still targeted for Intel processor programs at least as fast as current high end MacBook Pros that are still running Intel’s processors. For example, Final Cut Pro and OBS Studio can both run at least as well on a much cheaper M1 system as they do on a $3,000 MacBook Pro; highly targeted apps that use machine learning, like Pixelmator Pro, run better on the M1.
Essentially, Apple is saying, “what you spend on a system should primarily be about what type of computer you want (laptop, desktop, all-in-one), how big of display you want, what extra features you want, not if you want a fantastically fast processor or not.” This is very similar to the approach Apple has taken on the iPhone for a number of years; the base iPhone 12 offers the same years-ahead-of-the-competition processing performance as the highest end, most souped up and most eye-wateringly expensive iPhone 12 Pro Max.