Is the M1 Max is worth the $400 upgrade in the MacBook Pro?

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The latest MacBook Pros make some ambitious claims about performance, especially in the graphics department.

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Your options are 16-core, 24-core or 32-core GPU. I thoroughly tested the 16-core option known as the “M1 Pro” in my MacBook Pro review, but I recently got the chance to put the 32-core M1 Max through its paces. met. It represents the most powerful graphics ever in a MacBook Pro, but is it really worth the extra $400 it costs to configure? Here’s what happens when you compare the M1 Max vs. M1 Pro in real-life testing.

How powerful is M1 Max?

The MacBook Pro comes with the default wallpaper, which hides the notch.

From the start, Apple claimed that the M1 Max was twice as powerful in the graphics department as the M1 Pro. There’s a caveat there, of course, as the M1 Max has two configurations. You can choose the 24-core option for $200 on the base configuration, or opt for 12 cores with twice the GPU power.

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All seem to be priced right – as long as you scale the graphics up toward that top configuration, performance remains the same. In other words, is the 32-core M1 Max really twice as powerful as the M1 Pro?

In terms of pure graphics performance, it gets close. The problem is that not many workflows or applications rely solely on graphics. If you’re comparing apples to apples in terms of processors, you won’t see double the performance when you upgrade your graphics.

M1 Max. video editing with

MacBook Pro display showing video editing software.
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Video editing is a good example of a workflow that relies equally on both CPU and GPU power, depending on the specific task you’re testing. The Adobe Premiere PugetBench test benchmarks several functions to show how the system balances performance between the two components. Both systems were tested with 32GB of Apple’s integrated memory.

In terms of its overall score, the M1 Max was only 16% higher than the M1 Pro. That may not sound like much, but the score of 1,167, which the M1 Max MacBook Pro achieved, is still the highest score ever recorded on a laptop by a mile in this test. To put that in context, it’s a 58% higher score than the M1 Mac Mini.

When you dig into the individual functions that Pugetbench tests, however, you can see where the M1 Max’s strengths lie. It scores 40% higher in applying GPU-based effects than the M1 Pro – 58 versus 35. This GPU score beats out the RTX 3060 in the Dell XPS 17 and MSI Creator Z16, as well as the RTX 3070 in the Razer Blade 14. The M1 Max was the only competing laptop to beat the MacBook Pro in the RTX 3070 GPU score in the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro.

It’s 12% faster in video playback, and 21% faster in timeline export. Video playback is by far the biggest video editing strength of Apple’s M1 Pro and M1 Max, thanks to the superiority of its media playback engine. This is one area where the options on the windows side of the fence struggle to compete.

While its export speed is still record-breaking for a laptop, its edge over other powerful laptops is only marginal. That’s an impressive display for Apple’s tiny SoC, but other powerful laptops aren’t as far behind as others in this category.

So no, we’re not seeing twice the score across the board in video editing. Still, a 21% faster export is nothing to sneeze at.

Gaming with M1 Max

Shadow of the Tomb Raider on MacBook Pro.

Very few people are buying MacBook Pro for its gaming capabilities. And yet, gaming is a great way to test out the M1 Max’s raw graphics capabilities. It’s hardly a legitimate gaming laptop, but it’s here where the M1 Max comes close to delivering on Apple’s promise of twice the graphics performance.

In shadow of the tomb raider Benchmarked, the M1 Max delivers 84 fps (frames per second) at the highest graphics settings in 1900 x 1200 resolution. This is impressively smooth gaming on the MacBook Pro. More importantly, it’s more than twice the frame rate of the M1 Pro, which averages just 40 fps. The game played quite smoothly even at a maximum resolution of 3,000 x 2,000 at 43 fps on the highest settings. It’s not something that any MacBook Pro of the past was able to pull off.

This is a much better performance than the Surface Laptop Studio with the RTX 3050 Ti. That device averaged 44 fps in a single game at the highest settings.

While this is far from a definitive statement on the MacBook Pro’s gaming performance, it should give you an idea of ​​what to expect.

It should also be noted that you will see better performance from more powerful gaming laptops, especially the one that comes with the new Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti. Nvidia recently claimed that RTX Studio laptops with the RTX 3080 Ti were up to seven times faster than the M1 Max at 3D rendering. Clearly, if you want the most powerful mobile GPU for raw graphics performance, a Windows laptop with a high-end discrete graphics card is still the way to go.

Is the M1 Max worth it?

For most people, no. Unless you plan on using the graphics capability of the M1 Max, it won’t do much well in your day-to-day work activities. If your workflow doesn’t extend beyond your web browser and a few basic applications, the MacBook Pro is likely to be more in general. In that case, the M1 MacBook Air would be a better value.

However, if you’re considering choosing between the M1 Pro MacBook Pro and the M1 Max MacBook Pro, you’re talking about adding an extra $400 to an already very expensive laptop. However, it’s not unheard of to charge $400 for a more powerful graphics card in a laptop. Razer charges $400 to upgrade from the RTX 3060 to the RTX 3070 on its Razer Blade 15, though Dell only charges $250 for the same upgrade in its Alienware M15.

Moving from M1 Pro to M1 Max doesn’t make any sense. If you are a video editor, you will get to see a decent performance with the M1 Max, but it may not As Worth noticing as you expected. The M1 Pro is already a great chip for video editing, and the benefits from the M1 Max are mainly around export speed.

However, if you use any type of 3D application, the M1 Max is a must have. A significant increase in GPU cores can make a huge difference in how capable the MacBook Pro is at 3D modeling, rendering, animating, and even gaming.




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