At its spring Apple Peek Performance event, the company unveiled the new M1 Ultra. Joining the family of successful M1 processors, this processor ushers in a new generation of computing performance. Let’s compare to Apple M1 Ultra vs. M1 Max vs. M1Pro to see their differences.
The M1 Ultra combines two M1 Max processors and is larger than either the M1 Max or the M1 Pro. Apple promises extreme levels of performance with the latest iteration of its chip. How does the new M1 Ultra compare to its smaller siblings?
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The M1 Ultra processor has just been announced, but we already know the device in which it will make its first appearance: the Mac Studio. Apple doesn’t sell its proprietary M1 processors, so below we’ll list the devices that work with the M1 Max, M1 Pro, and soon the M1 Ultra.
Apple M1 Max and Pro
- 2021 14-inch MacBook Pro: Starting at $1,999
- 2021 16-inch MacBook Pro – Starting at $2,499
- Upcoming Mac Studio (M1 Max) – $1,999
Apple M1 Ultra
- Upcoming Mac Studio (M1 Ultra) – $3,999
The Mac Studio is a new product that Apple announced during the spring event, and it will come in two variants: a cheap option with the M1 Max processor and an expensive one with the M1 Ultra. The Studio is essentially a larger Mac Mini, doesn’t come with a monitor, and is said to offer “outrageous performance” once it’s released.
While the 2021 MacBook Pros have been on the market for a while, the Mac Studio is a new product for Apple. Pre-orders are now open, and the desktop will be officially available on March 18.
The two current processors Apple offers, the M1 Max and M1 Pro, are certainly at the top of any list of the best chips to be found in a laptop, but the M1 Ultra has a good chance of dethroning them.
The M1 Max, M1 Pro, and M1 Ultra are so-called system-on-a-chip (SoCs) that offer the processor, GPU, and RAM in a single unit. All three are built on TSMC’s 5nm process node, but the M1 Ultra combines two processors into one.
The new M1 Ultra processor is larger than the M1 Max, which is to be expected considering it comes with two full M1 Max processors connected via die-to-die technology Apple has dubbed “UltraFusion.”
The processor is going to have the largest number of transistors offered on any personal computer chip. At 114 billion, that’s seven times more than the base M1, the Ultra is sure to be powerful and fast.
The M1 Ultra houses a 20-core processor based on a hybrid architecture, which means that 16 of the cores are high-performance and four are high-efficiency. It also has a 64-core GPU.
According to Apple, the M1 Ultra’s GPU is only going to use a third of the power of most graphics cards, which shows that Apple’s processor strikes the right balance between efficiency and raw power.
Apple claims that the processor delivers industry-leading, top-notch performance per watt on the 5nm process node.
Bandwidth is a very important issue in this new processor; in memory it is 800 Gbps, between processors it is 2.5 TB per second of low latency and it is more than four times the bandwidth of “leading multichip technology”.
It offers HEVC, ProRes encoding and decoding, ProRes RAW support with two video decoding engines, four video encoding engines, and four encoding/decoding engines, as well as hardware-accelerated H.264. The M1 Ultra supports up to 128GB of unified memory.
Considering that Apple has built the M1 Ultra on two interconnected M1 Max dies, it’s easy to declare a winner in this competition. Both the M1 Max and Pro have 10 cores each, eight of which are the high-performance Firestorm cores and two efficiency-based Icestorm cores.
Processors vary when it comes to graphics. The M1 Pro has up to 16 GPU cores, while the M1 Max bumps that number up to 32 cores. Once again, we see that the M1 Ultra doubles the specifications offered by the M1 Max processor.
The M1 Pro processor supports up to 32 GB of RAM, while the M1 Max goes up to 64 GB, which is half the RAM of the new M1 Ultra.
Although the M1 Ultra hasn’t been released yet, we’ve had plenty of time to test the performance of the M1 Max and M1 Pro processors in the latest MacBook Pro laptops.
The performance of the processors has been excellent as they have gone up against the best of Intel and AMD and have often won. Apple’s proprietary processor has proven to be very successful in terms of power efficiency, battery life and raw performance.
The processors are a visible step up from previous Intel-based Macs, and more importantly, the M1 Max and M1 Pro improve on the base M1 in every possible way.
We tested the M1 Pro processor ourselves, and then reviewed the M1 Max to compare it to the Pro. The multi-core score in Cinebench R23 was one of the best notebook scores in our database at the time.
It was second only to the Asus ROG Strix G15, which is a full-fledged gaming laptop. MacBook Pros are thin, light, and not exactly geared toward gaming, but they’re the hardest gaming out of all of Apple’s current devices.
Compared to the M1, both the Pro and Max reach new heights in benchmarks, doubling every metric offered by the M1. The M1 Max also stands out in terms of GPU performance thanks to its powerful 32-core count.
The M1 Max processor can also be found in a stripped-down version with 24 GPU cores, priced $200 less, which obviously lowers performance.
In our tests of the M1 Max, the processor was put to the test in video editing and gaming. It beat the M1 Pro by 16 percent on the overall score, meaning it also managed to outperform every other laptop we’ve tested.
It also stayed in the realm of gaming, but most people don’t buy Apple products strictly to play games. Naturally, Apple tries to make improvements with each new iteration of its processor, but the M1 Ultra could be the biggest upgrade to date.
We don’t have performance tests yet, and we’ll update this information when they come out, but considering it brings a gross hardware upgrade that delivers twice the power of the M1 Max, there’s likely to be a substantial performance boost.
The Mac Studio, which is where Apple is debuting the M1 Ultra, is going to be up to 90 percent faster than an Intel Xeon-based Mac Pro, and almost four times faster than an iMac.
Apple also promises big improvements in graphics, as the M1 Ultra will supposedly be able to match the performance of the “most powerful discrete GPU” with only a third of its power consumption.
We will have to wait to see which are the best graphics cards that are going to be surpassed by the M1 Ultra processor once the first benchmark results come out.
The M1 Max and M1 Pro processors offer up to four Thunderbolt ports on the MacBook Pro. This is the same number of external displays and is a big step up from the base version of the M1 processor. This M1 Max-based notebook also includes an HDMI port, an SD card slot, a MagSafe 3 port, and support for DisplayPort technology.
Not surprisingly, the M1 Ultra also offers improvements in this department. Apple has announced that the upcoming Mac Studio will have six Thunderbolt 4 ports, two USB Type-A connectors, an SD card reader, an HDMI port, and a 10-Gigabit Ethernet connection. However, it does not appear to have MagSafe.
Yes, it’s true that the actual performance of the staggeringly powerful M1 Ultra processor will only be judged once the Mac Studio is put through a thorough benchmark. However, it’s hard not to declare a winner here and now.
The M1 Pro is an improvement over the M1, and the M1 Max beats it in every possible way. With UltraFusion, which combines two M1 Max processors in the M1 Ultra, Apple’s new processor is likely to reach new heights in benchmarks and deliver new levels of performance.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone is going to want the $3,999 Mac Studio right away. Apple’s latest device is going to be a product for professionals, and not everyone will need to use the full power of the M1 Ultra processor.
In those cases, it’s recommended to stick with the M1 Max processor, either in the MacBook Pro or the cheaper Mac Studio. Still, in terms of sheer power, the M1 Ultra is a clear winner.