M1 Pro vs M1 Max: which one to get in 2022

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. The choice is easier than it was in Apple’s Intel era. However, with the M1 line still being new, it can be confusing to make the right pick. Here’s my M1 Pro vs M1 Max buyer’s guide.

M1 Pro vs M1 Max

Apple announced new MacBooks at the Unleashed event. During the event, Apple added the M1 Pro and M1 Max to its line-up of Apple Silicon Macs. 

Now that Apple is almost done phasing out Intel, its CPU manufacturer, picking the best Mac for UX design is easier than ever. For MacBook Pros, you don’t have to choose between Intel and Apple Silicon anymore.

MacBook Pro M1 Pro for UX design

In a rush? Get the MacBook Pro with M1 Pro 👇

For UX designers, the M1 Pro is more than powerful enough to get the job done.

Table of Contents

Just last year, you could still choose a MacBook Pro with an Intel i7 or i9 and a MacBook Pro with the new M1 chip. All you have to do today is choose between different M1 options. These are the M1, M1 Pro, and M1 Max for laptops. If you’re thinking about getting a Mac Studio, the M1 Ultra is also an option.

However, I’m mainly doing an M1 Pro vs M1 Max comparison in this post. That’s because the base M1 chip isn’t powerful enough for heavy-duty design work. The M1 Ultra, on the other hand, is way too powerful. As a result, you don’t need to spend that much on a computer for UX design.

That leaves me with the M1 Pro and M1 Max. For both chips, I’ll compare the following.

  • Benchmarks for gaming, video editing, and rendering.
  • Battery life.
  • M1 Pro vs M1 Max differences.

M1 vs M1 Pro vs M1 Max vs M1 Ultra

This table shows a comparison of M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M1 Ultra chips.
Chip CPU cores GPU cores Neural Engine
M1 8-core 8-core 16-core
M1 Pro 8 or 10-core 14 or 16-core 16-core
M1 Max 10-core 16, 24, or 32-core 16-core
M1 Ultra 20-core 48 or 64-core 32-core

Let’s take a look at the different M1 versions available today. When comparing the chips, I will ignore the other specs that would normally be important in buying a new laptop, like RAM, storage, and screen size. Instead, the focus is entirely on the M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M1 Ultra.

Before I do, let’s take a look at the different variables. Apple Silicon chips are called SoC. SoC stands for system-on-a-chip. There are multiple computer components on one chip instead of each component having its spot on the motherboard, like in the old days. In Apple’s case, all versions of the M1 consist of three elements:

  • The CPU. The central processor for your daily tasks. It is the brain of your machine.
  • The GPU. It is also known as the graphics card, responsible for any visual calculations in design tools.
  • The Neural Engine. This engine has a machine learning focus within MacOS. It takes tasks away from the main CPU to save energy.

When comparing the M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M1 Ultra chips, you’ll notice that they all have several cores available for each of the three components mentioned above. Let’s take a look at the base M1 as an example. It 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 two variations. It 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.

Picking the best chip out of the M1 Pro and M1 Max is 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 not even discuss the M1 Ultra that can more than double the number of GPU cores compared to the M1 Pro and M1 Max.

Comparing the M1 Pro and M1 Max

Let’s do the M1 Pro vs M1 Max comparison! 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 very impressive performance 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).

Benchmark

The above comparison is based on floating-point operations per second (flops). One teraflops (TF) equals 100.000.000.000 FLOPS.

However, to do a better M1 Pro vs M1 Max comparison, we have to benchmark the two of them based on a multiscore. Whenever you’re looking for a benchmark in tech, chances are you’ll end up at GeekBench. So let’s pull up some of the scores in the table below.

This table shows a comparison of M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M1 Ultra benchmarks found on GeekBench.
Chip Score
Intel i9-9880H (MacBook Pro 2019) 6313
M1 (MacBook Pro 2020) 4403
M1 Pro (MacBook Pro 2022) 9413
M1 Max (MacBook Pro 2022) 12703
M1 Ultra 22681

Only the M1 is scoring lower than the latest MacBook Pro featuring an Intel chip. However, it is far more efficient with a better battery life and a lower price tag. The M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M1 Ultra all beat the i9 without any issues.

Battery life

Up next is the battery life comparison of both M1 chips. In theory, you’d expect the M1 Pro to have slightly better battery life. It is less powerful and therefore uses less power. If you look at test results on websites like MacRumors and Reddit, you’ll see that it is accurate. The M1 Pro has a slightly better battery life than the M1 Max.

After using the M1 Pro for work, I still had about 20% of battery left after 9 hours of sharing my screen, video calls, and working on my design prototype. That’s better than any other Mac I’ve ever had.

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

Let’s make your choice somewhat easier already. For UI and UX design, I recommend skipping the base M1 laptop. It means only the M1 Pro and M1 Max remain. Go for the M1 Pro. It is more than powerful enough and has better battery life. You don’t need the M1 Max to run Figma.

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. In addition, this MacBook is twice as fast as the 2020 MacBook Pro M1 (Geekbench multi-core score of 9413 vs 4403.)

The MacBook Pro M1 Pro for UX design

The MacBook Pro 16-inch is more expensive than the 14-inch version, but with extra cores and a larger screen, it is worth the additional investment. You can upgrade to have more cores if you want, but that’s optional. You don’t need it per se.

Both versions of this machine have all the benefits of the new M1 Pro chip, including high-speed performance and excellent battery life.

Get yours below.

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, I think the M1 Max is too much for any designer. You can save a lot of money by going for the M1 Pro Mac.

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

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Profile picture of author Nick Groeneveld, a senior UX designer and mentor for The Designer's Toolbox

About the author

Hi! I'm Nick Groeneveld, a senior designer from the Netherlands with experience in UX, visual design, and research. I have completed a wide range of projects in finance, tech, and the public sector.

Take a look at my LinkedIn and Medium for more.