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M1 Pro vs M1 Max: which one should I get?

Should I get the M1 Pro or M1 Max for my new MacBook Pro? That’s a question many designers looking for a new laptop are asking themselves right now. We’re talking about picking a CPU and GPU for your new MacBook. Here’s our buyer’s guide.
M1 Pro vs M1 Max

Apple has announced new MacBooks at the Unleashed event in October 2021. During the event, they’ve added the M1 Pro and M1 Max to the existing line-up of Apple Silicon. Now that Intel is out of the picture, picking the best Mac for UI and UX design is easier than ever. All you have to do is choose between the different M1 options available today.

Not interested in the technical stuff? Skip down to our recommendations.

Table of Contents

M1 vs M1 Pro vs M1 Max

Let’s take a look at the different M1 versions available today. When selecting your chip, we’re going to ignore the other specs like RAM and screen size. The focus is entirely on the M1 chip.

Before we do, let’s take a look at the different variables. Apple Silicon chips are SoC. SoC stands for system-on-a-chip. In Apple’s case, such an SoC consist of three elements:

  • The CPU. The central processor for your daily tasks. It is the brain of your machine.
  • The GPU. Also known as the graphics card.
  • The Neural Engine. This engine has a machine learning focus. It takes these tasks away from the main CPU to save energy.

When comparing the M1, M1 Pro, and M1 Max chips, you’ll see that all have a version of the three components mentioned above. It’s just a question of how far you want to go and how much raw power you need for your UI and UX design work.

Let’s take a look at the base Apple Silicon chip first. The M1 has an 8-core CPU and GPU regardless of the configuration. It also has one 16-core Neural Engine. If you move one step up, you’ll see that the M1 Pro has either an 8-core CPU and a 14-core GPU or a 10-core CPU and a 16-core GPU. The strongest M1 Max has a 10-core CPU and a 32-core GPU.

Comparing the M1 Pro and M1 Max

There are already a few benchmark scores and estimations appearing online to compare the new chips better.

For example, Notebook Check has made an estimation of the graphics performance of the new chips. The base M1 chip has a 2.6 TF performance. However, the base M1 Pro (4.5 TF) and M1 Max (7.8 TF) are a lot quicker, with the M1 Pro being almost twice as fast and the M1 Max being three times as fast as the base M1 chip.

Another fun thing to mention is that the most powerful M1 Max chip is estimated to be slightly more powerful than the PS5 (10.28 vs 10.40 TF). A performance that is very impressive since the new MacBook requires less power and claims to do 21 hours on a single charge.

Finally, compared to the 2019 Intel MacBook Pro, the M1 Max is almost twice as powerful (multi-core score of 6313 vs 11542).

M1 Pro vs M1 Max. Which one should I get?

Let’s make your choice somewhat easier already. For graphic, UI, and UX design, we recommend skipping the base M1 laptop. This means that only the M1 Pro and M1 Max remain. We’ll take a closer look at actual performance and design requirements to help you pick your next laptop.

If you look at laptop requirements, there’s a difference between graphics, video, UI and UX, and product designers.

16-inch MacBook Pro M1 Pro

UI, UX, and product designers will have more than enough computing power when they pick the 16-inch MacBook Pro with the 10-core CPU. This MacBook is over 50% faster than the 2020 MacBook Pro M1 (Geekbench multi-core score of 7689 vs 11852.)

M1 Pro vs M1 Mac which one should I buy

At this moment, the MacBook Pro is $2,499.00. This is more expensive than the 14-inch version, but with extra cores and a larger screen, it is worth the extra investment. If you want, you can upgrade to have more cores for about $200 extra, but that’s optional.

As mentioned, this machine has all the benefits of the new M1 Pro chip, which includes high-speed performance and great battery life.

Get yours below.

As a graphics and video designer, you’ll need a high-performing laptop with a powerful GPU. That means your best option is the MacBook Pro with the M1 Max chip.

Further reading

These are exciting times for any UI and UX designer working on a Mac. The new MacBook Pros are great. You only have to choose between M1 Pro or M1 Max. To be honest, we think the M1 Max is too much for any designer.

Please take a look at our post on picking the best Mac for UI and UX design for our complete buyer’s guide.

Nick Groeneveld

About the author

Nick Groeneveld is a designer from the Netherlands with over 5 years of UX, visual design, and consultancy experience. He has worked in many different industries, including retail, finance, and sports.

Take a look at Nick’s LinkedIn and Medium for more.

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