It’s been almost a year since Apple unveiled its first custom chip for Macs, the ARM-based M1. As we saw in our review of the latest MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and colorful iMac, the M1 was a marvel, proving to be both faster than Intel and AMD’s x86 processors, while also drawing far less power. Now to follow up, Apple is taking a two-pronged approach with M1 Pro and M1 Max, two chips that’ll power the company’s new MacBook Pro models.
Both chips are 10-core processors, a combination of eight high performance cores and two high efficiency units. What separates them are their GPU capabilities: the M1 Pro has up to a 16-core GPU while the Max has tops out with 32 graphics cores. In comparison, last year’s M1 was an eight-core chip that maxed out with eight GPU cores.
Based on these specs, power users will see a much bigger performance upgrade by going for a MacBook Pro. Last year’s M1-equipped 13-inch MacBook Pro wasn’t much faster than the M1 Air—the Pro basically added a fan for more sustained workloads, whereas the Air was miraculously fan-less. That was an odd situation for Apple; it was both a testament to the power of Apple Silicon, and a sign that the company needed to devote more time to its powerful machines. (Don’t forget, the 16-inch MacBook Pro was practically forgotten over the past year.)
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