Apple’s Impressive M1 Pro & M1 Max Chips for the MacBook Pro

Apple's new silicon chips expand the family of in-house processors and increase performance and power efficiency.

On October 18, in its second event of the fall, Apple announced the new generation of its own in-house processing chips: the M1 Pro and the M1 Max. The chips build on the already impressive M1 processor released last year, which was the first to feature System-on-Chip (SoC) architecture, meaning all the different processing parts of a computer is included on one chip. This leads to faster processing, more efficiency, and reduced space taken up. The M1 Pro and M1 Max both feature many improvements over the original chip, which all mean good things for processing power. Let's take a look at what exciting improvements we'll be seeing.

Apple Silicon Comes to the MacBook Pro... Again

The new M1 Pro and M1 Max are an important step in Apple switching entirely to Apple Silicon chips. Both feature System-on-Chip (SoC) architecture, which basically means all the processing happens in the same place. Besides being space efficient, the fact that all the processing parts of the computer are moved to the one chip is very good for a computer's efficiency, which we saw with the initial launch of the M1 chip. In this announcement, Apple claimed this is the first time SoC architecture has been introduced to Pro systems, but this appears to be not quite accurate. SoC architecture was introduced with the M1 chip, which was included in the 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro. 

The M1 Pro & M1 Max at a Glance

These new chips are faster and stronger than the original M1. Both feature many more transistors, the fundamental building blocks of computing, than the original M1 chip—the M1 Pro has twice as many, the M1 Max has three times as many—which means good things for processing power. They also offer up to 32 GB (Pro) and 64 GB (Max) of unified memory, compared with the 16 GB of unified memory on the M1. The M1 Pro has a 10-core CPU compared with the M1's 8-core, and 16-core GPU compared with the M1's 8-core.

The M1 Max has the same 10-core CPU as the M1 Pro but a 32-core GPU, which means its graphics are doubly as good. And this is just compared to the Pro, and doesn't take into account the 8-core GPU of the M1. It's also the biggest chip Apple has ever made, so combined with the space-efficiency of SoC, we can expect a lot out of this guy.

How Do the New Chips Stack Up?

Since graphics and CPU share the memory in the M1 chip line, there is a lot more potential for graphics processing, which is exciting for gamers, graphic designers, and video editors. Many of the stats Apple brags about with the M1 Pro and M1 Pro Max are compared with the MSI GP66 Leopard, a gaming laptop released this year that has gotten very good reviews in terms of performance. The pull stat is more performance for 70 percent less power, so power efficiency is clearly a big part of these new chips. Apple says computers powered with these two new chips will have the same performance whether the computer is plugged in or running on battery.

Made for the Video Makers

More and more, the MacBook Pro line seems to be targeting video makers. The chips also feature new ProRes accelerators, offering new levels of support for video processing. Along with the faster video processing, we'll also see longer battery life in computers powered by these chips, as mentioned above. 

The Most Powerful Chip in a Laptop

Apple is calling the M1 Max "The World’s Most Powerful Chip for a Pro Notebook." Of course, we won't have a better idea of how accurate this statement is until we can actually test out the computers powered with the M1 Max, but all-in-all, we're going to see exciting and noticeable improvements in the MacBook Pro line performance.

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Author Details

Amy Spitzfaden–Both's picture

Author Details

Amy Spitzfaden–Both

Amy Spitzfaden Both is a Feature Writer at iPhone Life, an award-winning novelist, and an iPhone enthusiast. Over the past decade, her work in the publishing industry has included live coverage of industry events including the Yale Publishing Course and Magazine Innovation’s ACT 9 Experience, providing editing services for several start-up publishing houses, and acting as newsstand consultant for magazines such as The Old Farmer’s Almanac and The New York Review of Books. She graduated from M.I.U. with a Bachelor’s in Literature and Writing, and has gone on to publish two novels and two short stories. Her debut novel Untold won the 2014 Chelson Award for Fiction.
Writing everything from book reviews to skincare tips, Amy discovered a passion for bringing exciting and useful information to even the most casual researcher. The mix of usability and endless possibilities is what drew her to Apple products originally, and the more she learns, the more she loves.
Amy lives in New Hampshire with her husband and daughter. When she’s not writing or glued to her iPhone, she enjoys hiking, traveling, and creating her own tea blends.

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