Are You Confused About The New MacBook Pro Models? Let Me Help You With That….

Yesterday, Apple released new 14 and 16 inch MacBook Pros. But I’ve been flooded with questions as to which one people should get. Well, the answer is really simpler than you think. Let’s start with the processor. Both of them come with M1 Pro processors with the option of the M1 Max processor. Here’s the differences between the two:

M1 Pro chip

  • Up to 10-core CPU with 8 performance cores and 2 efficiency cores
  • Up to 16-core GPU
  • 16-core Neural Engine
  • 200GB/s memory bandwidth
  • Hardware-accelerated H.264, HEVC, ProRes and ProRes RAW
  • Video decode engine 
  • Video encode engine 
  • ProRes encode and decode engine

M1 Max chip

  • 10-core CPU with 8 performance cores and 2 efficiency cores
  • Up to 32-core GPU
  • 16-core Neural Engine
  • 400GB/s memory bandwidth
  • Hardware-accelerated H.264, HEVC, ProRes and ProRes RAW
  • Video decode engine
  • Two video encode engines
  • Two ProRes encode and decode engines

Now you will note in the M1 Pro chip, it says “Up to 10-core CPU” and “Up to 16-core GPU”. That’s because apple has a 14″ model that has a 8-core CPU and a 14-core GPU. So if you’re in the market for a 14″ model, and if you aren’t a power user, or you need to save some cash, that’s the one you should get. Otherwise, I would suggest that you skip that model and go straight to the 10-core CPU model with 16-GPU cores.

Another thing to point out is that these new MacBook Pros max out at 64 GB of RAM. But only if you go with the M1 Max processor. For most people 16GB or 32GB of RAM will do you fine. One thing that is super important to point out is that you cannot upgrade the RAM later. So if you think you need 16GB of RAM, consider getting 32GB. If you think you need 32GB, consider getting 64GB. It’s better to have too much RAM rather than outgrow the machine because you don’t have enough RAM.

Finally, the M1 Max processor is clearly aimed at people who edit video or do GPU intensive tasks. I say that because it has the following:

  • Up to 32-core GPU
  • Two video encode engines
  • Two ProRes encode and decode engines

That will make editing ProRes video in an app like Final Cut insanely fast. If that’s not you, stick with the M1 Pro processor.

Other than that, the rest of it is the same. Mostly. Here’s what is the same, starting with the display:

  • mini-LED backlit display with ProMotion 120Hz and HDR support
  • Up to 1000 nits sustained (full-screen) brightness, 1600 nits peak brightness
  • Wide colour (P3)
  • True Tone
  • 1080p FaceTime HD camera with advanced image signal processor with computational video

So when it comes to the display, you’re really only choosing between 14″ and 16″ screen sizes. You get the same speakers, ports, speakers, 802.11 ax/WiFi-6, and the rest of it. Where you start to see a difference is the battery and power adapters. For the 14″:

  • 70-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
  • 67W USB-C Power Adapter (included with M1 Pro with 8-core CPU) 
  • 96W USB-C Power Adapter (included with M1 Pro with 10-core CPU or M1 Max, configurable with M1 Pro with 8-core CPU)

For the 16″:

  • 100-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
  • 140W USB-C Power Adapter

You can’t really do much of anything in terms of configuring what power adapter and battery you get. The choice of CPU governs what battery and power adapter that you get.

Now let’s talk about storage. You can configure these MacBook Pros with up to 8TB of storage. That’s total overkill. Most people don’t need anything more than 2TB, typically 1TB.

Apple included an HDMI port. But it is an HDMI 2.0 port instead of an HDMI 2.1 port. Why does that matter? The HDMI 2.0 port supports a single 4K display with a resolution of up to 60Hz. HDMI 2.1 technology would have allowed the port to run a 4K display with a 120Hz refresh rate. But Apple didn’t go there for reasons I don’t understand. Also you should note the display connectivity options depending on which processor you go with:

  • You can connect up to three Pro Display XDRs and a 4K TV with the M1 Max.
  • You can connect up to two Pro Display XDRs with the M1 Pro.

If you need the ability to connect a lot of monitors, choose accordingly. And plan on using Thunderbolt for your advanced display needs.

Finally, if you look at the weight of the 16″ MacBook Pro, the weight of the M1 Pro model is 0.1 Kg lighter than the weight of the M1 Max model. No clue why that is. I am guessing that it is related to thermals in the form of different fans for the M1 Max model. But I guess I’ll have to wait until iFixit takes them apart to find out.

So, I did order a MacBook Pro seconds after the Apple Event ended on Monday. Here’s what I got:

  • 16” MacBook Pro
  • M1 Pro with 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine
  • 1TB storage
  • 32GB of RAM

Why did I go with this configuration? There’s a handful of reasons:

  • Both the M1 Pro and the M1 Max utterly destroy almost anything with an Intel processor when it comes to speed while sucking less power. But I don’t have a reason to use the power that the M1 Max is capable of. So I went with the M1 Pro as it will run circles around the Intel based MacBook Pro that I presently own.
  • I have 512 GB of storage in my current MacBook Pro. And I have only filled 55% of it. So 1TB is more than enough for me.
  • I have 16GB of RAM in my current MacBook Pro. Thus 32GB of RAM is more than enough for me.
  • I only connect one display/projector to my MacBook.

In short, it’s still a significant jump in performance despite the fact that I didn’t get the fully spec’ed model.

Hopefully this article helps you out. If you still need help choosing a new MacBook Pro, drop me a note or leave a comment and I will help you out as best as I can.

UPDATE: Reading the fine print some more, I noted that to use the fast charge feature that charges the battery to 50% in 30 minutes REQUIRES a 96W or higher charger. So if you want that feature on the 14″ MacBook Pro, you either need to upgrade to the 96W charger, or you need to not buy the base model, or you need to upgrade the RAM, CPU, or SSD and you will get the 96W charger thrown into the deal.

One Response to “Are You Confused About The New MacBook Pro Models? Let Me Help You With That….”

  1. […] two processors. The M1 Pro and the M1 Max. I explain the differences between the two processors here. But with that framing the discussion, here’s what I ordered less than ten minutes after the […]

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