Apple M1 Max, M1 Pro and M1 chips : Which One Is For You?

Apple recently unveiled its two new M1 chips at the Unleashed event on Monday. Not only do we have the M1 chip but we now have the Apple M1 Pro and the M1 Max, two more M1 chips to add to Apple’s arsenal of superior processors. In this guide, we’ll take a look at the three different M1 chips so you can decide which one is best for you. We’ll go over the most obvious differences and also take a look at how each of them scores. It can be a little confusing to know what the difference is because each of these chips can be configured on your system, allowing you to essentially convert them into different versions due to the different CPU and GPUs that fall under the same name.

Whilst most other processors on the market clearly mark their different hardware with different names, Apple has made it harder to understand what’s included when you’re choosing an M1 chip. Let’s clear that up below;

 M1 chipM1 Pro chipM1 Max chip
CPU cores88/1010
Performance cores46/88
Efficiency cores422
GPU cores7/814/1624/32
Neural engine cores161616
Memory supported163264
Peak bandwidth performanceN/A200400
ProRes accelerators012
Available onMacBook Air, iPad Pro (5th gen), iMac 24 (2021), Mac MiniMacBook Pro 14, MacBook Pro 16 (2021)MacBook Pro 14, MacBook Pro 16 (2021)

M1 Pro chip Overview

The M1 Pro chip is the next level up from the original M1 chip we’ve all come to love and admire. Where the M1 chip threatened to dethrone Intel’s long run of having the world’s most powerful processors, the new Pro and Max M1 chips are surely about to make Intel completely irrelevant. It’s like comparing Danny Devito to Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson! The M1 Pro chip has 33.7 billion transistors, the core circuitry element fundamental to all chips and it boasts up to 32GB of memory compared to the original M1 chip’s 16GB. That’s a tonne more video files and music. The M1 Pro has 10 CPU cores and 16 GPU cores, though lower-end MacBook Pros come only with eight CPU cores and 14 GPU cores.

The M1 chips have eight performance cores and two efficiency cores that deal with background systems. Because the M1 Pro chips have twice as many performance cores, you’re going to notice an impressive increase in your Mac’s speed, not to mention graphics thanks to having up to 16 GPU cores. Apple doesn’t tend to boast too much about its graphics capabilities when it comes to the new M1 chips but it’s safe to say that all of this increase in computing power will only make things crisper when you use your most demanding programs or run your favorite video games.

In terms of battery life, the M1 Pro chip is said to have 17 hours of juice with reasonably intense use before you have to plug it back in again to charge. This is similar to the original M1’s battery of around 16 hours. So, there’s not a huge jump here but it will of course depend on what programs you use and for how long you use them.

M1 Pro chip

M1 Max Chip Overview

The new big daddy in the M1 chip world, the M1 Max chip, has 57 billion transistors and takes all the Pro does so well and then amplifies everything to make it the most elite home computer processor the world has ever seen.

The M1 Max chip boasts up to 64GB of memory which is simply insane, especially when we were impressed with the original M1 chip last year. With all that memory, there will be next to no need to ever purchase a portable hard drive. The M1 Max chip comes with 10 CPU cores and up to 32 GPU cores. Some might find that to be overkill but if you’re a programmer that uses a lot of processing power, the M1 Max looks as if it could completely change the game and speed up your work tenfold.

If you’re a gamer that wants to crack your settings up to the highest degree, you should be confident that you can do so with the M1 Max chip and it seems reasonable to think you won’t experience any crashing, especially when the new M1 chips become more refined over time.

The M1 Max’s chip is going to get you further with an impressive battery life of 21 hours which is very encouraging as it adds on 4 or 5 hours compared to the other two M1 chips. This could be one of the main factors that will push you into buying a Mac with the M1 Max chip over the others.

M1 chip key selling points

  • AI. Apple claims that the M1 chips are five times faster than the Intel i9 machine when it comes to AI systems like face recognition or converting speech to text. AI is going to be a key focus for computer manufacturers in the coming decades and so if you rely on AI on a daily basis you may want to look at picking up a Mac with an M1 chip. It makes sense to look at a Mac with the elite Max M1 chip because this is going to be at the forefront of handling at-home AI systems.
  • Speed. Compared to the original M1 chip, the M1 Pro’s CPU performance is 70% faster and GPU performance is 100% faster. The M1 Max, which has a faster internal data transfer system and memory interface.
  • Overall efficiency. The M1 chips are arguably the ‘best processors’ because the workload put on them is spread out across multiple cores. Many high-end processors do incredibly well at performance-related tasks but they can pay the price in other areas like battery life. Apple seems to be creating an ‘all-round chip’ for all-around performance of their machines. The M1 Max chip pushes this the furthest.

M1, M1 Pro & M1 Max Geekbench scores

When reviewing the different performance aspects of the M1 chips, it’s important to look at their benchmarks. Here are each M1 chip’s Geekbench scores for more context.

 Single-coreMulti-core
M1 chip15947534
M1 Pro chip16879954
M1 Max chip174911542

As you can see, the Geekbench scores above demonstrate what we have discussed in this article. The more you spend, the better performance you’re going to get.

Most casual users who just want to have a great feeling and great-looking Mac will be happy with the standard M1 chip that’s built into the 13-inch Macbook Air. For video editors and graphic artists, the M1 Pro chip might be the best choice and for those who use multiple, energy-intensive programs for work, the M1 Max chip will be the one to look at.

Pricing

The cheapest Mac with an M1 chip is the 13-inch Macbook Air, still coming in at $999. The cheapest Mac with the M1 Pro chip is the 14-inch Macbook Pro with an 8-core CPU and 14-Core GPU. This model starts at $1999. If you want to jump straight for the M1 Max chip, you’ll need to pay Apple $3499 for the 16-inch Macbook Pro with a 10-core CPU and 24-core GPU.

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