Wednesday, August 17

Apple M1 vs. M1 Pro vs. M1 Max: which one is best for you? | Digital Trends Spanish


At the Apple Unleashed event, the company announced two revisions to its chip: the Pro and the Max. And before the products with the new chips start to ship, we are here to discuss the differences between the Apple M1 vs. M1 Pro vs. M1 Max, as well as what you can expect from each chip. And beware, although they are from the same company and impress in terms of performance, there is a clear winner.

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The new designs are based on the same architecture as the first version, but increase the number of cores and RAM limits far beyond what the M1 offered. What is the best option for you? Here we explain it to you based on several parameters.

Pricing and availability

Apple doesn’t sell the M1, M1 Pro, or M1 Max processors individually, so pricing is dictated by the devices each is housed in. These are the products and base prices that have the M1 chip:

The M1 Pro and Max are newer and do not overlap with products that feature the M1 at this time. This is what is available with the newer chips:

  • 2021 14-inch MacBook Pro – $ 1,999
  • 2021 16-inch MacBook Pro – $ 2,499

The M1 Pro and Max, despite being newer, do not replace the M1 in Apple’s lineup. As we will see in the next section, all three processors are built on the same architecture, but satisfy different demands. At least until we see an Apple M2, you should expect to find M1, M1 Pro, and M1 Max products, depending on demand, of course.

specs

Apple's M1 line to compare to Apple M1 vs.  M1 Pro vs.  M1 Max.

The M1, M1 Pro, and M1 Max are built on the same underlying architecture, but the latter two boast much more power. They are all systems on chips (SoC) that combine the processor, GPU, and RAM in one package. That leads to higher overall efficiency, as well as lower latency between the RAM and the processor.

All are based on chipmaker TSMC’s N5 node, which is the smallest manufacturing process TSMC currently has available. They combine two types of processor cores: high-performance Firestorm and high-efficiency Icestorm. The main difference between them comes down to the balance of these two nuclei.

The M1 has eight cores in total, four Firestorms and four Icestorms. The M1 Pro and Max only increase the core count to a total of 10, but they feature many more Firestorms. They come with eight Firestorms and two Icestorms, making them much more robust processors overall.

Another big difference comes in the graphics. The M1 maxes out at eight cores, but the M1 Pro can go up to 16 cores, while the M1 Max features a staggering 32.

That’s a big step forward, giving newer MacBook Pros the power they need when it comes to GPU-intensive tasks like 3D modeling and rendering, as well as a boon for gaming.

The M1 Max also supports a lot more RAM. The M1 can only support up to 16GB, while the M1 Max comes in at 64GB (the M1 Pro maxes out at 32GB). That’s also not the same as 64GB of RAM you’d see on a standard computer.

Like the M1, the M1 Max features unified memory, giving the processor and GPU a single pool of memory depending on the task at hand. That means improved processor and GPU performance with more memory, rather than dividing up our specific chunks for each part of the chip.

Performance

Lifestyle image of someone using the new 2021 MacBook Pro.

Apple’s M1 processor has great performance, despite being used in both tablets and fanless laptops and only consuming 10W, the M1 destroys Intel’s latest Tiger Lake chips according to our tests.

On GeekBench 5, the M1 processor managed to be 8 percent faster in single-core performance, and that is compared to an Intel chip that consumes almost three times more power. Still, the M1 Pro and Max offer a breakthrough in performance.

Although the Pro and Max only come with two more cores, they have more than twice as many transistors as M1. Apple says that translates to a processor that’s up to 70 percent faster overall, with around twice the GPU performance in the M1 Pro compared to the M1.

Leaked benchmarks also support Apple’s claims. The M1 Max appeared on GeekBench, beating the M1 in multi-core performance by around 56 percent. Keep in mind that the M1 Max and M1 Pro have the same processor, so you can expect similar gains with both chips. The differences come in memory and graphics.

The M1 Pro basically doubles all the metrics of the M1. It comes with twice the memory bandwidth at 200 Gbps, twice the power of the GPU, and twice the transistors. Below transistor count, the M1 Max doubles the M1 Pro, with four times the GPU performance and memory bandwidth than the base M1.

The GPU seems to make the biggest difference. Although the chips are not yet available, a filtered landmark GFXBench put the M1 Max’s GPU at the level of a mobile RTX 3080 or RX 6800M graphics card.

Apple said the M1 Max could match the most powerful laptop GPUs while consuming a fraction of the power, and these results support that claim. We recommend waiting for independent testing before drawing any performance conclusions.

That said, the M1 Max and M1 Pro seem to offer a great upgrade over the base M1, with enough graphics power to make better-performing laptop graphics cards sweat.

Battery duration

The new MacBook Pro 2021 brings back the Magsafe charge.

One of the reasons the M1 is so good is that it has exceptional battery life. On the MacBook Pro 13 with M1, we achieved an impressive 16 hours of battery life, and on the MacBook Air, 15.5 hours. It’s a great performance, but Apple says the M1 Pro and M1 Max are even better.

Apple says the 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro chip can achieve up to 17 hours of video playback, seven hours longer than the previous MacBook Pro. In addition, the new devices support fast charging, allowing you to reach 50 percent of battery life with just 30 minutes of charging.

However, Apple’s claims are worth being suspicious of here. The M1 Pro and M1 Max have a much higher number of cores and memory. They are simply more powerful chips, which means they will absorb more power.

We have to wait until we can get our hands on the new MacBook Pros to test the battery life of these chips, but we suspect the base M1 will remain the battery life champion.

Ports

Connectivity in the new MacBook Pro 2021. SD reader, USB-C port, HDMI port.

The M1 is a chip that has just the basics, which means Apple had to cut a few corners. Ports are a great example of that. The M1 only has the bandwidth to support two Thunderbolt 3 ports, so a dongle or adapter for more ports is almost a necessary accessory.

That is not the case with the M1 Pro and M1 Max. These chips have a greater number of Thunderbolt ports, including four on the MacBook Pro. That allows for up to four external displays, which is a big difference from what the MacBook M1 offers.

A clear winner

An overview of the Apple M1 Max.

The M1 is a fantastic chip, but the M1 Pro is better and the M1 Max outperforms them both. After all, the M1 Max is designed to be the top version, thus far. However, that does not mean that it is the best option for you. The M1, M1 Pro and M1 Max currently coexist serving different portions of the Apple market.

If you want a high-performance Mac with longer battery life that can handle everyday tasks with ease, the M1 is a great option. If you require the best performance, stick with the M1 Pro or Max.

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