Just as the two Steves (Jobs and Wozniak) did more than four decades ago, Apple opened the curtain on its Unleashed event by returning to a garage full of Macs to step back into the past before fast-forwarding to a future where the M1 Pro and M1 Max awaited us.

These are the new chips manufactured by the apple company for its own machines. In this case, for the new MacBook Pro. They come with the clear promise of bringing a performance never seen before in portable Macs to professional users.

They come less than a year after the firm made official its intention to abandon Intel SoCs with the presentation of the M1. And if the results of this chip were already far superior to those of its most direct competition, the MacBook Pro M1 Pro and M1 Max are expected to do the same.

Apple has redoubled its efforts this year to offer a version of its SoCs that would appropriately accompany the generational leap that these new MacBook Pros are intended to represent. Thus, these ARM architecture chips are cataloged by the firm itself as a “savagery”.

It is for that, if we take into account that under its 5 nanometer manufacturing process there are 33.7 billion transistors. This is more than twice as many as the M1.

If the previous M1 already left a tasty taste of new, this is intensified with the M1 Pro and M1 Max. The new CPUs integrate, in their top configuration, eight performance cores and two efficiency cores, a leap from the 4/4 parity of the M1. This, coupled with the work of the GPU, serves to deliver great results in the consumption section, which is of paramount importance for Apple.

Apple M1 Pro Apple M1 Max
8/10-core CPU CPU with up to 10 cores
14/16-core GPUs 16/32-core CPUs
Up to 32 GB of unified memory Up to 64 GB of unified memory
Up to 400 GB/s memory bandwidth Up to 400 GB/s memory bandwidth Up to 400 GB/s memory bandwidth Up to 400 GB/s memory bandwidth

The firm claims that both the M1 Pro and M1 Max give 1.7 times the performance of a competing eight-core chip PC. If we look in detail at the explanations of the company’s tests, we see that the comparison has been made with a GP66 Leopard from MSI (11UG-018).

Power management, a key point

One of the vital aspects in laptops is power management. It will depend on how many hours our laptop will be, just that, portable.

And this is where Apple knows how to make its work shine in a very special, almost insulting way. It did it with the iPhone and iPad in the past; it did it with the M1 in 2020; and it does it again now with the new chips.

The energy efficiency that they are capable of achieving compared to competing terminals -sometimes true mamotretos due to the number of dedicated components that they bring together inside them-. And again, the firm exemplifies it with different comparisons in which it gives name and surname.

In the case of the M1 Pro chip, for example, it was able to use 70% less energy in the tests carried out. On this occasion, the PC against which it is measured is a Lenovo Legion 5, with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics card.

For its part, if we jump to the M1 Max, Apple claims that performance is 40% lower compared to MSI’s GE76 Raider (high-end compact with NVIDIA GeForce RTX3080) and that it achieves 100 watts less power consumption than the Razer Blade 15 Advanced (high-end notebook PC, also with NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 and priced at around $3,400).

Overall, Apple claims that the efficiency that the whole system manages to bring translates into about 17 hours in video playback for the 14-inch model and about 21h in the case of the 16″ model. This is 7 and 11 hours more than the previous generation MacBook Pro.

However, we are talking about the one with Intel Core i7 chip with Iris Plus Graphics 645 GPU (discontinued, as of today) and not the MacBook Pro M1. The latter, in fact, has a longer battery life than the 14″ MacBook Pro – 20 hours compared to 17 hours for video playback.

MacBook Pro i7 (2020) MacBook Pro M1 (2020) MacBook Pro 14″ (2021) MacBook Pro 16″ (2021)
Wireless web browsing 10 hours 17 hours 11 hours 14 hours
Video playback 10 hours 20 hours 17 hours 21 hours

It is with the i7 and Iris Plus model that Apple also compares various activities to compare performance. Thus, in renderings with Final Cut Pro (complex 2-minute project with Apple ProRes 422 4K content), for example, the M1 Max (32-core GPU) completes the process 13.4 times faster than the aforementioned Intel. The M1 Pro, 9.2 times, in both cases in the 14″ model.

An increase that is also seen, in another example, when compiling Xcode projects. The 14″ model manages to complete the process (open source project created with the preliminary version of Xcode 13.0 with Apple Clang 13.0.0.0, Ninja 1.10.0.git and CMake 3.16.5) 3.7 times faster than the MacBook Pro with 4-core i7. The 16″, meanwhile, 2.1 times faster than the Macbook Pro with 8-core Intel Core i9.

M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max… what’s next?

These new M1 Pro and M1 Max are positioned to be the SoCs that will really leverage a profound generational change in the field of computing for compact notebooks.

A first test on the Geekbench 5 test tool that appeared after the presentation of the new MacBook Pro offers a first look at single and multi-core. It reveals a notable jump over the results obtained by the M1 last year in peak performance.

And barely a year has passed since then. That is why in the not-too-distant future we can expect versions for iMac Pro and Mac Pro. The firm’s desktop machines for professionals do not yet incorporate chips designed in Cupertino, but it is a logical step that will eventually happen.

When the great and final leap will be made is still an unknown. What seems clearer than ever is that the technology company, if not now, will soon be able to complete a historic transition.

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