11th November 2021

M1 Pro Vs M1 Max Processors: Which Is Best For Your Mac Needs?

We were pleasantly surprised with the announcements at the most recent Apple Special Event. The revelation of the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips in particular caught our attention. 

They’re both available in the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros. In this blog, we compare the two chips, so you can decide which is better for your needs. 

M1 Pro chip

The M1 Pro has been designed with Pro users in mind. Even though it isn’t the biggest or best, it still packs a serious punch. In all honesty, for most users it will be the go-to chip.

Its performance and GPU cores are twofold, resulting in the M1 Pro being able to boast a 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU. Its Neural Engine comes with 11 TFLOPS of performance too. There are also brand-new ProRes encoders and decoders (more on these in our analysis of the M1 Max below). This is actually a first for Apple – literally. No other machine in the world can do this, including their very own advanced Mac Pros.

Additionally, there are four devoted Thunderbolt 4 controls, Secure Enclave (for security), an image signal processor (for the webcam), and machine learning accelerators. It appears the device is also utilising twice the amount of SLC cache as the M1 chip (32GB vs 16GB).

As for RAM, the M1 Pro chip is akin to the original M1 processor in that it has what’s known as unified memory. Why is this important? Because it will cut down on latency as there’s no need for the CPU and GPU to have to copy data back and forth. It permits up to 200GB/s of memory bandwidth. Impressive, to say the least! If that wasn’t enough, the RAM works via 16 channels, which has been unheard of up until now. This boosts performance considerably – even surpassing the 12-core Intel Xeon in the Mac Pro.

M1 Max chip

The M1 Max essentially has everything the M1 Pro chip has, but magnified. This is clearly demonstrated by its size: it’s 75% larger than the M1 Pro, which makes it 3.5x the size of the original M1 chip!

As for the components? Well, these are generally double those of the Pro processor. For instance, there are twice the GPU cores (32-core GPU), the SLC cache (64MB), as well as the memory (a 512-bit memory interface, providing the processor with up to 400GB/s of memory bandwidth).If that wasn’t enough, this chip also has twice the number of memory channels. That’s a 32-channel memory, regardless of the number of RAM or GPU cores you opt for. 

In addition to this, the RAM is completely accessible via the GPU. So, if you bought your device with 64GB of RAM, then you would essentially have up to 64GB of VRAM to use. As a result, the M1 Max chip has its own world first to its name: it’s the first processor with over 48GB of accessible VRAM. This even trumps the NVIDIA Quadro RTX 8000 GPU. With the predecessor for the top model 16-inch MacBook Pro possessing only 8GB of VRAM, you can see why the fresh device is considered the best out there!

However, the biggest difference lies in the video encoders. Not only are they doubled, but they show Apple is increasingly targeting the graphics capability. The M1 chip already had leading 5K resolution video editing, and now this has been upped once again. Previously, exporting a video could take a fair amount of time too – you couldn’t get full use out of the graphics card, and would end up maxing out your CPU. That’s not the case anymore. When you consider that you can now have four rather than two displays, this allows for double the amount of encoders – and double the speed.

Choose your machine with Lease Loop

Now you know the ins and outs of both the M1 Pro and M1 Max processors, you might be wondering: which device should you pick, the 14-inch or 16-inch MacBook Pro? 

Honestly? They’re very similar, both coming with the new and advanced thermal system and boosting efficiency and performance. When you take into account the size difference, the larger 16-inch device may help with thermal throttling as this should allow for more air flow.

The reality is that most people will be fine with an entry-level device with 32GB of RAM, and whilst the M1 Max chip is better, the M1 Pro is certainly good. Ultimately, whether you opt for insane graphics capabilities or not depends on your needs and budget constraints.

Regardless of the device, Apple products naturally come at a premium price. For many, this isn’t something they can easily afford upfront – you don’t want to put your cash flow in peril, after all. That’s why leasing with Lease Loop is a fantastic alternative route. You’ll be able to spread the cost over time, whilst reaping the rewards of the Mac now.

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