Apple

Mac Processor Differences: M1, M1 Pro, and M1 Max

Mac where they are installed

One of the big differences that can occur is that not all chips are in all Macs. That is why this compatibility must be taken into account, starting with the M1 chip that is in the following Macs:

  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)
  • MacBook Air 2020
  • Mac mini 2020

If of the M1 Pro and Max chip they can be found in the MacBook Pros that were presented together in 2021. In this way, there was a truly professional generation with all these chips that we are going to compare next.

The main differences in M1 chips

As you might expect, each of the chips that Apple has designed has differences of relevance. But we must divide all these into each of its components. In a traditional way the hardware of a computer can be divided into GPU, CPU, memory and other relevant components. In this case, Apple is committed to grouping all the components in a single chip that fall within the M range. Next, we are going to break down all the differences that can be found in all the parts of the chip.

On your CPU

The CPU is the main part of the chip. It can be said that it acts like the brain of the computer itself by integrating all the orders that are coming to it. Its main mission will be to execute the sequence of instructions and process all the information that is received. These instructions are received for example from the different programs that are installed, whether native or third-party. This means at all times that if you use a program that requires a high consumption of resources when encoding the information, you should look for a processor that is always up to the task.

M1 chip M1 Pro chip Chip M1 Max
Architecture 5 nm 5 nm 5 nm
Transistors 16 billion 33.7 billion 57 billion
Number of cores 8 8 or 10 10
Frequency 3.2 GHz
TDP 20 to 24W 60W 60W

Once this data has been seen, it can be concluded that Apple opted for the M1 for 8 cores, while in the Pro and Max range it has opted for a maximum of 10 cores, an 8-core variation can be found though. If we talk about the construction in all three cases we still have a 5 mm architecture, although there are differences in the transistors. The base M1 has 16 billion, the M1 Pro 34 billion, and the M1 Max 57 billion. In this case, an important difference can be seen, especially in the M1 Max, which has three times as many transistors as the base M1. This will allow much more information to be processed simultaneously and more efficiently.

M1-Pro

In general we can see how a conservative design has been opted for, but with the differences in transistors and cores. Now more performance cores have been integrated to deliver higher performance as seen below.

On the GPU

Another key component in any hardware is the GPU. This is translated into the integrated graphics card that exists in the M1 chip and that encodes the graphic information. In this way you will have all the processing of the images that appear on the screen and also to carry out the processing of the different videos or images that you are going to edit. In this case, differences of relevance can also be found, as can be seen in the following table.

M1 M1 Pro M1 Max
Nuclei 7 or 8 16 32
Dedicated media engine? No Yes Yes

Apple with the basic M1 chip stood out for the quality of its GPU, but it has gotten better in these new generations. As we see in the previous table, the necessary components have been integrated to be able to compete against large companies such as Nvidia or AMD. In this case we see incredible improvements with the arrival of 16 cores to the M1 Pro chip and 32 cores if we talk about the M1 Max.

It is in these cores where the most intensive graphics processing takes place. And having more cores obviously translates into higher graphics performance. It should also be noted as an important difference that the M1 Pro has a dedicated decoding and accelerated encoding engine. This is ideal for moving ProRes files and even handling multiple 4K or 8K video streams without being a real problem. That is why we see important improvements with respect to the base M1 chip that does not have a great graphic capacity thinking in the professional field.

M1 Pro Max

It should also be noted as a differential point the presence of two hardware accelerators in the M1 Max. These two engines are also suitable for encoding and decoding ProRes files. It also gives the option of connecting up to four external monitors, something that cannot be given in the base range.

In your RAM and the rest of the features

Beyond the CPU and GPU you can also find other relevant components. Specifically, we are talking about RAM memory and the neural chip that also make up the architecture of the M-class chip. RAM memory is capable of temporarily storing some relevant data that you are using at that moment. In this way, tasks can exist in the background or multitasking. In addition, it will also speed up the opening of different programs by saving data constantly. In the event that there is not enough RAM, some professional programs may not work properly on your Mac.

In the case of the base M1 chip, it has up to 16 GB of RAM in all its variants of the LPDDR4X type. But in the case of M1 Pro chip can be configured with up to 32GB and the M1 Max 64GB memory. In all these cases there is talk of a type of RAM LPDDR5. It is clear that there is a notable difference in this case, both in the amount of RAM with which the configuration can be made and the type that also denotes its quality.

chip m1 apple

Another important aspect that we have previously discussed is that of the Neural Engine. In this case, the three chips have a 16-core chip and 11 TOPS. That is why when it comes to artificial intelligence applied to these chips they are exactly the same. Where if we see differences is in the bandwidth, since in the M1 chip a width of 68.25 Gbps was integrated, the M1 Pro of 200 Gbps and the M1 Max 400 Gbps.

Benchamarks also show differences

One of the tests that can have the most value when comparing are the benchmarks that in the end are tests that perform a stress test especially on the CPU. It’s an indication of how well it can perform under full power conditions. If it is true that real performance is difficult to quantify with a number. You will finally be able to appreciate this yourself in the use that you give it daily by opening different programs. But in general, we can see the benchmark results from the following table.

M1 M1 Pro M1 Max
Single-Core 1748 1738 1738
Multi-Core 7725 12447 12447

It is important to note that the result applies to the M1 Pro and Max equally as they are the same processor and the same number of cores. In a curious way, it can be noted that if we look at single-core the results are the same in all processors. This is because the SoC is almost identical in all these situations and that is why it is logical that a fairly similar score is offered.

benchamrark

But this changes when we talk about multi-core results. Because Apple has changed the architecture of the core and the greater number of units that exist in the CPU it is logical that both the M1 Pro and the Max offer a much higher result. It is here that the importance of the increase in the high-performance cores and also of the micro-transistors can be appreciated. As we have commented previously, this is not totally accurate, but it ultimately gives an insight into how the processor has improved in the most modern M1 processors.

What use can be given to each one?

Once all the technical specifications of the processors have been detailed, the differences that exist in the use that can be given to this type of processors should also be highlighted. Next we are going to detail in both cases to whom this processor can be directed.

The M1 processor will hardly go ‘out of style’

Although we have clearly seen how the M1 Pro and Max chips are much superior to the basic generation, the latter is by no means at a disadvantage. It should be noted that this is a processor that we venture to say is valid for 90% of users. It has 8 GB of RAM and 8 CPU cores, which is more than good power to do basic tasks. And also if you need to do some editing task you can not find any problem.

If we move to the experience that can be given at the user level, the M1 chips have a performance that is quite good. In addition, in no case is it noticed that they overheat, so the fact of having a very good performance stands out. In this way it seems that you will be facing a processor that is designed for professionals, and that it will not go out of style even if there are other options that are much superior and that are clearly not indicated for a ‘basic’ user.

Macbook pro

The M1 Pro and Max chip designed for professionals

These two chips, as we have previously commented, are designed for professionals due to the characteristics that it integrates. Having up to 32 GPU cores or 64 GB of memory is always suitable for video or image editing programs to function properly. This will reduce processing times significantly thanks to top hardware.

This can also be seen with extra encoding components for different multimedia files. Above all we are talking about ProRaw files, which in this case is only used by professionals in the sector. This encoding makes the GPU not look so overloaded when working with these files, being able to use up to 4 monitors simultaneously with these processors. So in this way we are facing a hardware focused for professionals and not for basic users who are looking for something much simpler.

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