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MacBook M1 Pro or M1 Max: which one should you buy?

Apple

MacBooks with Apple Silicon technology keep getting more powerful and impressive but how much power do you really need? If you don’t know which MacBook Pro is best for you, we’ll help you make your decision a little easier.

How are the M1 Pro and M1 Max alike?

The main differences in M1 Pro and M1 Max chipsets They come down to two things: the graphics capabilities and the maximum amount of memory. If you know you need 64GB of unified memory , you can stop reading right now and go for the M1 Max as it is the only one of the two chips that supports it. (The M1 Pro can only go up to 32GB of unified memory.)

For everyone else, it’s a bit more complicated. Both the M1 Pro and M1 Max feature up to 10 CPU cores and a 16-core neural engine. Both also support hardware acceleration for media codecs, including H.264, HEVC , ProRes and ProRes RAW.

These chips are more powerful than the 2021 M1 processor, which was able to handle 4K video workflows on its own. With the added power, both the M1 Pro and M1 Max will provide more than enough power for standard video editing tasks.

How is the M1 Max different from the M1 Pro?

Not only does the M1 Max add more cores to the M1 Pro and call it a day, it increases the number significantly. The M1 Pro has an upper limit of 16 GPU cores, while the M1 Max doubles that number with up to 32 GPU cores.

Apple M1 Max chip specifications

Memory bandwidth is doubled too, with the M1 Max offering up to 400GB / s versus the M1 Pro’s 200GB / s. As memory increases, so does the cost of moving items within that memory, so this increase in memory bandwidth will be more noticeable with heavy-duty 2D or 3D video jobs.

Speaking of video, the M1 Max doubles another number here. The M1 Pro has a single encode / decode engine ProRes and another video encoding engine. The M1 Max ups this up to two ProRes encoding / decoding engines and two video encoding engines.

Who needs the M1 Max?

The way the M1 Pro and M1 Max work means there is no downside to opting for the M1 Max other than price. It won’t negatively affect battery life if you use the M1 Max for light web browsing instead of the M1 Pro. Instead, you just won’t use all the energy you paid for.

When it’s time to get started on heavy duty audio or video projects, that’s where the extra power will come in handy. Even then, the M1 Pro is likely the best option for most people.

16-inch and 14-inch MacBook Pro
Apple

If you’re editing 4K video, the M1 Pro or M1 Max will probably handle everything you need. Multiple video encoding engines are the kind of feature that most of us don’t have to worry about. These are the features that really make these laptops suitable for professional users, but they are also priced to match.

That said, if you’re dealing with motion graphics, 3D, or other heavy lifting, go for the M1 Max and rest assured that you couldn’t have a better Apple laptop, at least for the moment.

On the other hand, that 400 GB / s memory bandwidth is not far from what Sony’s PlayStation 5 offers, so we may see developers create games or applications to make use of that power in the future.

14-inch or 16-inch MacBook?

It wasn’t that long ago that the largest MacBook Pro was the “true professional” computer, while the smallest was the “lightweight” version. With the M1 Pro and M1 Max, that is no longer the case.

You can get the M1 Max and the 64GB Unified Memory in the MacBook Pro’s 14 or 16 inches , along with all the storage you want. As for pure graphics performance, you’re driving more pixels with the 16-inch screen, but these chips are capable of handling multiple 4K + displays, so that’s not a huge consideration.

Do you even need a MacBook Pro?

A MacBook ajar.
Apple

As of October 2021, you can’t go wrong buying a Mac laptop. Now that Apple is completely focused on Apple Silicon, you don’t need to worry about whether your computer will seem hopelessly out of date in a year.

One question worth asking is whether you need a MacBook Pro. Wanting one is a completely different story. Even the base model MacBook Air is a pretty capable computer at this point, especially if you’re doing typical office work on it. If you want something a bit more advanced than a MacBook Air, you can also get a 13-inch MacBook Pro less expensive with an M1 chip .

If you’re doing great video or audio editing, a MacBook Pro is a suitable tool for the job, especially if you’re using Final Cut Pro, Logic, or others. native Apple Silicon apps . One note is that you probably don’t want to go for the 13-inch model, which is dated at this time. Whether you use 14 inches or 16 inches, you are likely to be delighted with the results.

In the meantime, if you need help choosing the right Apple laptop for you, take a look at our roundup of the best MacBooks you can buy .

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