M1 Pro vs. M1 Max Buyer's Guide

Last year, Apple announced a major update for its high-end MacBook Pros, with the new machines featuring a complete redesign, larger mini-LED displays with ProMotion, an HDMI port and SD card slot, full-sized function keys, and more. The new machines contain one of two all-new scaled-up variants of the M1 System on Chip (SoC), the M1 Pro or the M1 Max.


When choosing your MacBook Pro configuration, should you choose the M1 Pro or M1 Max? Despite both being powerful Apple silicon chips with some overlap, they do have different capabilities. Our guide helps to answer the question of how to decide which of these two chipsets for the high-end MacBook Pro is best for you.

Comparing the M1 Pro and M1 Max

The ‌M1 Pro‌ and ‌M1 Max‌ feature the same basic architecture based on the ‌M1‌ chip, resulting in the same core functionality. Apple lists these identical features of the two SoCs:

Similarities

  • Up to 10-core CPU with eight performance cores and two efficiency cores
  • 16-core Neural Engine
  • Media engine for hardware-accelerated H.264, HEVC, ProRes, and ProRes RAW
  • Video decode engine

Apple's breakdown shows that the two chips share most of their basic features, but they have several differing capabilities.

Differences


M1 Pro

  • Up to 16-core GPU
  • 200GB/s memory bandwidth
  • Support for up to 32GB of unified memory
  • ProRes encode and decode engine
  • Video encode engine


M1 Max

  • Up to 32-core GPU
  • 400GB/s memory bandwidth
  • Support for up to 64GB of unified memory
  • Two ProRes encode and decode engines
  • Two video encode engines

Real-World Performance

Our in-depth tests of the entry-level 14-inch MacBook Pro with an ‌M1 Pro‌ chip and the high-end 16-inch MacBook Pro with an ‌M1 Max‌ chip shows what you're getting with the upgrade to the ‌M1 Max‌.

Priced at $1,999, the base 14-inch MacBook Pro features an ‌M1 Pro‌ chip with an 8-core CPU, a 14-core GPU, 16GB unified memory, and a 512GB SSD. The $3,499 high-end 16-inch MacBook Pro we compared it to has an ‌M1 Max‌ chip with 10-core CPU, 32-core GPU, 32GB unified memory, and 1TB SSD. The two machines represent the most affordable and the most expensive stock MacBook Pro models that don't take into account upgrade options.

In our testing, the ‌M1 Max‌ unsurprisingly outperformed the lower-end ‌M1 Pro‌ chip, but what was a bit of a surprise was how well even the base ‌M1 Pro‌ chip did in our tests.

In Final Cut Pro, a video export test saw the ‌M1 Max‌ machine export a 6-minute 4K video in one minute and 49 seconds, a task that took the ‌M1 Pro‌ 2 minute and 55 seconds. When it comes to 8K RAW footage, both machines were able to handle the load. The ‌M1 Max‌ MacBook Pro performed close to flawlessly, while the ‌M1 Pro‌ had a few issues with dropped frames and stuttering, but was ultimately able to keep up.

For comparison's sake, the 2017 Mac Pro that we have is not able to handle 8K footage as well as the base model 14-inch MacBook Pro with ‌M1 Pro‌ chip. The ‌M1 Max‌ ultimately did better with our Final Cut Pro testing because of the 32 GPU cores, but the ‌M1 Pro‌ machine offered impressive performance.

In a Blender test, a complicated image of a classroom was rendered in just 8 minutes and 23 seconds on the ‌M1 Max‌ MacBook Pro, a process that took the ‌M1 Pro‌ MacBook Pro 10 minutes and 58 seconds.

We tested the memory in both machines by opening up a series of apps that one might use in a video editing workflow, like Final Cut Pro, Lightroom, Chrome, Safari, Music, and a few others, and there were zero performance hiccups across either MacBook Pro model. Intel machines with 16GB RAM often see issues with this same setup, so again, even the low-end MacBook Pro is doing well here. Both the 512GB SSD in the base model and the 1TB SSD in the 16-inch MacBook Pro performed about the same, with a 128GB file transferring from an external SSD to an internal SSD in 44 and 43 seconds, respectively.

As for straight Geekbench numbers, the MacBook Pro with ‌M1 Max‌ earned a single-core score of 1781 and a multi-core score of 12785, while the MacBook Pro with base ‌M1 Pro‌ chip earned a single-core score of 1666 and a multi-core score of 9924. Metal scores came in at 38138 for the ‌M1 Pro‌ and 64134 for the ‌M1 Max‌.

All in all, real-world tests show that if you have a workflow where seconds matter, like exporting video or working with large 3D files, you're going to save time with the ‌M1 Max‌, but the ‌M1 Pro‌, even with the base model, is still a very capable machine.

Pricing

The base-level 14-inch MacBook Pro costs $1,999 as standard and starts with the ‌M1 Pro‌ with 8-core CPU and 14-core GPU. On the other hand, the base-level 16-inch MacBook Pro costs $2,499 as standard and starts with the ‌M1 Pro‌ with 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU. It is possible to upgrade the chip in both machines for an added cost:

  • Apple ‌M1 Pro‌ with 8-core CPU, 14-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine
  • Apple ‌M1 Pro‌ with 10-core CPU, 14-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine – +$200
  • Apple ‌M1 Pro‌ with 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine – +$300
  • Apple ‌M1 Max‌ with 10-core CPU, 24-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine – +$500
  • Apple ‌M1 Max‌ with 10-core CPU, 32-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine – +$700

With the 16-inch model already starting with the top-end ‌M1 Pro‌ chip, the upgrades to the two ‌M1 Max‌ options are priced at $200 and $400 respectively on that model.

It is worth noting that adding the ‌M1 Pro‌ with 10‑core CPU or better to any 14-inch MacBook Pro configuration also includes the 96W USB‑C Power Adapter, worth $20, as a free upgrade.

In addition, adding the ‌M1 Max‌ to a MacBook Pro configuration automatically adds 32GB of memory for an additional $400, making the cost of adding one of the two ‌M1 Max‌ options to the base 14-inch model $900 and $1,100 respectively in real terms.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the ‌M1 Pro‌ is a highly capable chip and the best option for most professional workflows. The ‌M1 Max‌ is not uniquely specialized toward specific tasks, so ‌M1 Pro‌ users are not missing out on any abilities. Instead, the ‌M1 Max‌ is simply a more powerful variant of the ‌M1 Pro‌ that most users will not need.

A maximum of 32GB of memory should be enough for many professional users, but if you need more than 32GB of memory, the ‌M1 Max‌ is the only Apple silicon chip to support this.

The ‌M1 Max‌ is better suited to extremely demanding GPU workflows, such as high-level graphic design, 3D modeling, and video editing. Users who often work with video may also benefit from the ‌M1 Max‌'s additional video engines. You will probably know if you fall into the bracket of users that needs this added performance.

The ‌M1 Max‌ is also likely to be a more future-proof chip in the coming years, so if you plan to keep your MacBook Pro for several years, you may consider getting a more powerful chip than you need right now.

Related Roundup: 14 & 16" MacBook Pro
Related Forum: MacBook Pro

Top Rated Comments

mendicitis Avatar
10 months ago
Honestly most people would be well served by the M1 MBA. And 99% of people would be fine with the Pro Base Model. That said, many more people will buy the Max who will never come close to needing all of that power.

I went with the M1 Pro Base model but upped the ram to 32 and storage to 1TB which is probably overkill. I keep laptops for at least 5 years and that will be just fine for 5 years and maybe even 10.
Score: 49 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Blackstick Avatar
10 months ago
As they say, "if you don't know whether you need it, you don't need it."
Score: 44 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Return Zero Avatar
10 months ago
What bothers me most is the 16 to 32 RAM upgrade price. It's the exact same as the 32 to 64 upgrade price, which hurts my brain. I know, unified architecture, not comparable with normal off-the-shelf component costs, yada yada, but still.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
QCassidy352 Avatar
10 months ago

In my experience, the top of the line models I've had over the years usually keep their resale slightly better than the other models. For that reason the Max is probably the better choice.
My experience is the opposite. The stock or lightly upgraded models resell better (as a percentage of their original cost, of course) just because the market for the maxed out models is so small. I remember a guy here selling a high end Mac pro during the pandemic and getting a pitiful return. I felt badly for him, but most people buying serious pro computers aren’t buying them second hand.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Wags Avatar
10 months ago
Max. For my mindless surfing.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Cosmosent Avatar
10 months ago
FYI ...



Attachment Image
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

m3 feature black

Apple's M3 Chip: Everything We Know

Thursday January 13, 2022 1:22 pm PST by
Apple is developing the next several iterations of its M-series Apple silicon chips, and one of those future chips coming in 2023 is expected to be called the "M3" and use updated TSMC chip manufacturing technology. This guide contains everything that we know about the M3 chip, and it will be updated over time as we learn more about it. What We Know Apple is still on the M1, M1 Pro, and...
macbook pro 14 16 2021

14-Inch MacBook Pro vs. 16-Inch MacBook Pro Buyer's Guide

Tuesday October 19, 2021 8:19 am PDT by
In late 2021, Apple announced a major update for its high-end MacBook Pro models, with the new machines featuring a complete redesign, the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, larger mini-LED displays with ProMotion, an HDMI port and SD card slot, full-sized function keys, and more. The redesigned MacBook Pro is available in all-new 14-inch and 16-inch sizes. Despite both being high-end models, the 14- ...
ipad pro m1 feature

Apple's 2022 iPad Pro: What to Expect

Wednesday February 16, 2022 1:55 pm PST by
Apple is working on a next-generation version of the iPad Pro, and while there are no major design updates that we know of, there are some new features that are worth looking forward to. This guide aggregates everything that we know about the 2022 iPad Pro so far based on the rumors that we've heard. Mini-LED Display Apple last year introduced an updated 12.9-inch iPad Pro with mini-LED...
MBA Mock White Front Blue

Apple's 2022 MacBook Air: Everything We Know

Monday November 8, 2021 2:52 pm PST by
The next-generation MacBook Air refresh coming in 2022 will see Apple introduce the biggest design update to the MacBook Air since 2010, which is when Apple introduced both 11 and 13-inch models. We're expecting a total overhaul of the look of the machine, and this guide aggregates all of the rumors that we've heard about the update so far. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more ...
Studio v Pro Feature Purple

Mac Studio vs. Mac Pro Buyer's Guide

Friday March 18, 2022 11:26 am PDT by
The all-new Mac Studio is now Apple's most powerful desktop computer, surpassing even the high-end Mac Pro. The Mac Studio also starts at $1,999, substantially less than the $5,999 starting price of the Mac Pro. So why is the more expensive Mac Pro still in the lineup and should you buy it over the new Mac Studio? Our guide helps to answer the question of how to decide which of these two...
iMac Pro 2022 27 and 24 iMac

Apple's Next iMac Pro: Everything We Know

Friday November 12, 2021 2:14 pm PST by
Rumors suggest that Apple could be working working on a redesigned version of the larger-screened iMac that could potentially bring back the "iMac Pro" name to differentiate it from the 24-inch iMac that Apple released in 2021. In March 2022, Apple discontinued the 27-inch Intel-based version of the iMac, leaving just the 24-inch iMac, but that doesn't mean a new larger-screened iMac has...
m1 max

Apple's M1 Max Chip: Everything You Need to Know

Friday October 29, 2021 1:13 pm PDT by
Apple in October 2021 introduced its second-generation Apple silicon chips, the M1 Pro and the M1 Max, which follow the M1 and are available in the 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro models. This guide focuses on the M1 Max, while we have a separate guide for the M1 Pro. M1 Max Explained The M1 Max, along with the M1 Pro, is Apple's second System on a Chip (SoC) developed for use in Macs, and it...
m1 mac mini screen

Apple's Next Mac Mini Refresh: Everything We Know

Thursday February 10, 2022 2:30 pm PST by
Apple is working on updated versions of the Mac mini, and at least one of the Mac mini machines in the works is likely to replace the Intel version of the Mac mini that Apple is still selling today. Apple replaced the entry-level Mac mini with an M1 version in 2020, and the company is ready for a refresh of the Mac mini line. In March 2022, Apple introduced the Mac Studio, which is a hybrid ...

Popular Stories

apple watch series 7 mystery

Gurman: Apple Watch 'Pro' to Offer First True Redesign Since Series 4, but No Flat Sides

Sunday July 24, 2022 6:13 am PDT by
The upcoming high-end variant of the Apple Watch Series 8 will feature the device's first redesign in years and a new titanium casing, but will not feature the long-rumored squared-off look, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. In the latest edition of his "Power On" newsletter, Gurman said that this year's high-end Apple Watch model will be "a good bit bigger" than the current Apple Watch...
airpods pro in case

AirPods Pro Now 1,000 Days Old: What to Expect From Next Model

Sunday July 24, 2022 1:00 am PDT by
The AirPods Pro launched 1,000 days ago today and are the oldest current-generation Apple device still on sale. Apple announced the AirPods Pro on Monday, October 28, 2019. The earbuds went on sale immediately and orders started arriving to customers on Thursday, October 31. Apple went on to release the AirPods Max in December 2020 and the third-generation AirPods in October 2021. After...
apple watch series 7 titanium

Titanium Apple Watch 'Pro' Could Signal the End of Apple Watch Edition

Monday July 25, 2022 8:30 am PDT by
The larger Apple Watch Series 8 model expected to arrive later this year is rumored to feature a titanium casing, raising questions about the future of the Apple Watch Edition. Yesterday, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reported that the new, larger Apple Watch model scheduled to launch this year will feature a casing made of "a more durable formulation of titanium to make it extra rugged." Apple ...
maxresdefault

Video Comparison: M1 MacBook Air vs. M2 MacBook Air

Friday July 22, 2022 1:08 pm PDT by
Apple last week launched a redesigned version of the MacBook Air that's equipped with a next-generation M2 chip. If you own the original M1 MacBook Air and have been thinking about upgrading, or if you're simply new to the MacBook Air and are trying to choose between the two machines, we've done a hands-on comparison video pitting the M2 MacBook Air against the prior-generation M1 MacBook Air. ...
iPhone 14 Pro Lineup Feature Purple

Apple Continues to Diversify Suppliers Ahead of iPhone 14 Launch

Friday July 22, 2022 3:04 am PDT by
Apple has added to its list of suppliers for the iPhone 14 series in a bid to avoid potential supply chain shortages when mass production of the devices begins, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a series of tweets, Kuo said components from SG Micro have passed quality certification for the high-end iPhone 14 models, meaning the Chinese company has been greenlighted to supply components...
Apple 2022 Sales Tax Holidays

Apple Lists Products Eligible for Upcoming Sales Tax Holidays in Nine U.S. States

Sunday July 24, 2022 5:19 pm PDT by
Apple has detailed which of its products are eligible for upcoming sales tax holidays in select U.S. states, including Arkansas, Florida, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Sales tax holidays provide a limited-time opportunity to purchase select Apple products online or in store without paying sales tax. Eligible products and price...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side by Side Black

iPhone 14 Pro Rumored to Have 6GB of Faster RAM

Monday July 25, 2022 2:43 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max will both feature 6GB of RAM and a newer and faster type of memory, according to a report today from DigiTimes. iPhone 14 Pro renders created by Ian Zelbo for Jon Prosser The report claims that the high-end models of the upcoming iPhone lineup will feature 6GB of LPDDR5 RAM, a faster and more efficient type of memory compared to older standards. Current ...