Image of an M1 processor chip that processes data on Mac

How to Choose a Mac – Part 2

June 14, 2022 9:03 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

In Part 1 of How to Choose a Mac, we gave you a basic overview of the M1, M1 Pro, and the M1 Max. In Part 2, we will speak about standard Apple M1 configurations.

We will discuss the original M1, the M1 Pro, and the M1 Max. All three are identical in their standard configuration. The original M1 comes with eight CPU cores, four efficient and four oriented towards performance. The M1 is quicker than any of the earlier Intel Macs. It has eight GPU cores by default which should be more than enough for most people. 16 gigabytes is a significant performance boost.

What uses SSD?

Remember that everything on the M1 chip uses that same memory. So, if you don’t have enough, the system will start using the internal SSD swapping memory from the memory banks to the internal storage. Because the SSD is so quick, you probably won’t notice that this is happening. And that’s fine for occasional use, but it’s not desirable long term, as it will shorten the lifespan of your non-replaceable SSD.

The original M1 chip is available in the Mac Mini, the 24-inch iMac, the MacBook Air, and the MacBook Pro 13 inch with touch. And if you choose the entry specification of the 24-inch iMac or the MacBook Air, you get what is known as a “binned chip.” That means it has seven graphics cores rather than eight. So, you get slightly fewer graphics performance but still enough for most casual users.

Let’s start our comparison with M1 Pro

To begin with, the M1 Pro has 10 CPU cores. Just two of those are efficiency cores. The rest are eight performance cores. The individual cores are precisely the same as those in the original M1. There are just more of them and in a different combination. And this results in considerably more multi-threaded performance, but single-threaded performance remains the same.

To explain this, many common apps on your computer will be single-threaded. In other words, the instructions from the AP 100 go to a single processor core. The other apps can spread their tasks across multiple processors to get the job done quicker. If you go by the benchmark numbers, you might assume that the M1 Pro is always faster than the M1. But in the real world, it isn’t.

M1 Pro is great for graphics.

The M1 Pro really steps things up in graphics performance and memory bandwidth. It has 16 graphics cores, which is double what the M1 has. And this really makes a difference in professional graphics applications and gaming. And it’s also worth knowing that it’s not possible to code every app so that it uses all the available processor cores.

The overall memory bandwidth is almost three times that of the original M1. Faster memory access can make a big difference in some applications. In fairness, you probably won’t see much difference over the original M1 in general-purpose computing applications like Office Web, browsing, and email. The M1 Pro has the same neural engine and accelerators as the original one. But it also gets hardware acceleration for ProRes and Pro Res RAW video.

Let’s talk briefly about Apple ProRes

Apple says, “ProRes is popular for a video format in professional video production and post-production. It’s designed with codec technology by Apple for high-quality, high-performance editing. ProRes RAW products use ProRes compression technology to RAW image data from the camera sensor.”

If you work with either of those formats, you’ll see a significant performance uplift from M1 Pro. The M1 Pro memory is 16 gigabytes as standard, but you can upgrade it to 32 gigabytes. The question is whether 16 gigs is enough for the majority of tasks. It’s enough if the computer won’t often need to resort to that memory swapping. Now there may be specific workloads where the additional RAM is desirable, but for most computer users, 16 gigabytes on an M1 Pro is perfect.

M1 Max

Next up is the M1 Max, which is identical to the M1 Pro when it comes to CPU. It does boast double the memory bandwidth of the M1 Pro. But in recent testing, we didn’t see that materialize into real-world computing performance gains for most tasks.

The M1 Max is all about the graphics. There are two options for this chip. One has 24 graphics cores, and the other has 32. And these are the most powerful GPUs that have ever been available in Apple notebook computers. You can happily game on these chips, and they are monsters for video editing work on the go. It also has twice the number of video encoders and decoders for H 264 and 265. In addition, the M1 Max also has ProRes and ProRes RAW.

With these computers, you shouldn’t assume that more is always better. Again, recent testing found that the 24 GPU core model with 32 gigs of RAM performed at the same level as the 32 GPU core model with 64 gigs of RAM. So, if your workflow doesn’t rely on RAW graphics, computational performance, or things like 3d rendering, for example, or playing games, you might not see the benefit in the real world for the additional GPU cores on that top chip.

Battery Life

Regarding battery life, the M1 Max models deplete their battery noticeably quicker than the M1 Pro, but battery life is still good.

Standard Apple M1 configuration comparison continues.

Another essential difference between the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips is the number of displays they can drive. The original M1 can only handle one additional display. That can be a 6K display running at 60Hz. The Mac Mini, of course, doesn’t have an internal display so it can drive to one at 6K and 60Hz. It also has an HDMI port, which can cause a 4K display to 60Hz. M1 Pro machines take this further. They can drive two external displays at 6K, and the M1 Max machines can drive three external displays at 6K and another one at 4K.


In Part 1 of How to Choose a Mac, we gave you a basic overview of the M1, M1 Pro, and the M1 Max. In Part 2, we spoke about standard Apple M1 configurations. We will do one more part to complete our series of articles about how to buy a Mac. We’ll discuss form factors and compare the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro 13-inch touch bar.

Contact us if you have any questions about what we have discussed so far. You can also call us at 904-430-0350.

Tags: , ,

Categorised in:

This post was written by Pam Lokker

Leave a Reply

Contact Us

  • 816 Sadler Road, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
  • 904-430-0350
  • top icon