Apple's M1 chip was introduced in November 2020 and has proven to be incredibly powerful, despite only being available on Apple's entry-level Macs: the 24in iMac, MacBook Air, Mac mini and two MacBook Pro models.
Now attention has turned to the next generation of Apple's processors. With Apple's first CPU and GPU for Macs proving that the company knows exactly what it is doing, hopes are high for the successor.
We now know that the successor to the M1 won't be the M1X as thought but the M1 Pro and the M1 Max! This follows Bloomberg's Mark Gurman's indication on the weekend before Apple's 18 October event that developer logs had referred to the new chip as M1 Pro and M1 Max.
In this article we will run thorough the details about the new Apple chips, explaining how they are different to each other and how they compare to the M1. We'll also let you know which Macs you need to buy if you want one of these brand new Apple chips - and how much it will cost you.
If you are on a smartphone you may not be viewing the most up to date version of this story: click here to see the latest version.
How to get M1 Pro and M1 Max
As expected the new chips ship with the 2021 MacBook Pro, which comes in a new 14in screen size as well as a 16in model.
The 14in MacBook Pro ships with M1 Pro chips as standard, but for those who want the ultimate in power there is a build-to-order option to add the M1 Max chip.
- In the US the entry level 8-core model is $1,999, which is $200 more than the predecessor. Order one here. In the UK the the 14in MacBook Pro starts at £1,899, which is $100 more than the predecessor. Order one here.
- There is also a 10-Core CPU, 16-Core GPU model with 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD. In the US that 14in MacBook Pro costs $2,499, which is $500 more than its predecessor. Order one here. In the UK the the 14in MacBook Pro costs at £2,399, which is £500 more than the predecessor. Order one here.
- If you want to add an M1 Max with 24-core GPU to a 14in MacBook Pro it costs from £200/$200 extra as a build to order option (it costs more to upgrade the entry-level model).
- If you want to add an M1 Max with 32-core GPU to a 14in MacBook Pro it costs from £400/$400 (again, it costs more to upgrade the entry-level model).
The 16in MacBook Pro ships with either the M1 Pro or the M1 Max.
- At the entry-level is an M1 Pro 10-Core CPU, 16-Core GPU, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD model for $2,499/£2,399. This price is also the price of the top-of-the-range 14in MacBook Pro (although the specs aren't entirely comparable). Order one here (UK) or here (US).
- There is also an M1 Pro 10-Core CPU, 16-Core GPU, 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD for £2,599/$2,699. Order one here (UK) or here (US).
- And, an M1 Max 10-Core CPU, 32-Core GPU, 32GB Unified Memory, 1TB SSD model for £3,599/$3,499. Order one here (UK) or here (US).
- There is also a M1 Max 10-Core CPU, 24-Core GPU option from an extra £200/$200 if you'd prefer to update the standard M1 Pro option.
How is the M1 Pro different to the M1 Max?
Apple uses a 5-nanometer process technology for the new chips. This means it can packs in 33.7 billion transistors on the M1 Pro (which is more than two times the amount in the M1) and 57 billion transistors on to M1 Max (70 percent more than M1 Pro and 3.5x more than M1). The M1 Max is the largest chip Apple has ever built.
There are a number of other differences, as you will see below (although not everything is different).
Both the 14in and 16in MacBook Pro ship with the same 10-core processor regardless of whether they feature an M1 Pro or M1 Max. Actually there is one exception: the entry level M1 Pro MacBook Pro has just 8-cores.
In the 10-core version there are eight high-performance cores and two high-efficiency cores. In contrast, the M1 offers four high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores.
The GPU is where we find the real difference between the M1 Pro and M1 Max.
The M1 Pro offers a 14-core GPU in the entry-level or 16-core GPU. Apple claims the GPU in the M1 Pro is 2x faster when compared to the M1. (The company also says the GPU is up to 7x faster than the integrated graphics on the latest 8-core PC laptop chip.)
The M1 Max GPU goes all the way up to 32-cores., but there is also a build-to-order 24-core option. For the 32-core option, Apple claims the graphics performance is up to 4x faster than M1.
The M1 Pro also adds a ProRes accelerator in the media engine to speed up video processing. It also means it is possible to playback multiple streams of high-quality 4K and 8K ProRes video while using very little power.
M1 Max goes even further with two ProRes accelerators. They help it deliver up to 2x faster video encoding than M1 Pro. As a result, Apple says, with the M1 Max pros can edit up to 30 streams of 4K ProRes video or up to seven streams of 8K ProRes video in Final Cut Pro. That's more streams than on a 28-core Mac Pro with Afterburner.
As a result the GPU can deliver performance comparable to a high-end GPU in a compact pro PC laptop, according to Apple. All while consuming "up to 40 percent less power". Apple states that the performance is "similar to that of the highest-end GPU in the largest PC laptops while using up to 100 watts less power."
There were concerns that there wouldn't be enough RAM but this was unfounded. The 14in and 16in MacBook Pro will ship with 16GB Unified Memory, upgradable to 32GB. If you choose the M1 Max chip 64GB RAM is supported.
For the M1 Pro Apple claims to deliver up to 200GB/s of memory bandwidth, which is nearly 3x the bandwidth of M1. In contrast the M1 Max offers up to 400GB/s of memory bandwidth. That is 2x that of M1 Pro and nearly 6x that of M1. That's why 64GB RAM is possible with the Max.
If you want to read all the rumours about the successor to the M1 - as well as some details of what's expected for the M2 - turn to the next page.