It's been almost a year since Apple unveiled its first custom chip for Macs, the ARM-based M1. As we saw in our review of the latest MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and colorful iMac, the M1 was a marvel, proving to be both faster than Intel and AMD's x86 processors, while also drawing far less power. Now, in a follow-up move, Apple is taking a two-pronged approach with M1 Pro and M1 Max, the two chips underpinning the company's new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros.
Both chips have 5nm 10-core processors, comprised of eight high-performance cores and two high-efficiency units. What separates them are their GPU and memory capabilities: the M1 Pro has up to a 16-core GPU while the Max has tops out at 32 graphics cores. In comparison, last year's M1 was an eight-core chip that maxed out with eight GPU cores. The M1 Pro comes with up to 32GB of RAM with 200 GB/s of bandwidth, while the M1 Max doubles both of those figures, supporting up to 64GB of RAM.
Based on these specs, power users will see a much bigger performance upgrade by going for a MacBook Pro. Last year's M1-equipped 13-inch MacBook Pro wasn't much faster than the M1 Air; the Pro basically added a fan for more sustained workloads, whereas the Air was miraculously fanless. That was an odd situation for Apple: It was both a testament to the power of Apple silicon, and a sign that the company needed to devote more time to its powerful machines.
Given that the 16-inch MacBook Pro was practically forgotten over the past year, the M1 Pro and M1 Max are exactly what creative professionals have been waiting for. And that's before you get to all of the other updates coming to the new notebooks (More ports! An SD card slot!). Apple says the chips offer up to 1.7X faster performance than competing eight-core PC chips, which makes them particularly compelling for people doing heavy-duty 3D and video rendering.
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