Review M1 Max MacBook Pro: Truly Next Level!

so when these new macbook pros got announced my first thought was huh i wonder if we can retire the travel imac because some of you might not know this but whenever i’d go for the past couple years to a tech event that i planned on making a video at i literally packed up a maxed out imac pro put it in a huge pelican case and lugged it with me like there’s countless times y’all would catch me rolling this huge box behind me through the airport and that’s because it’s been the smallest machine that i could take with me to one of those events that could render and edit and export a video that wouldn’t take overnight now this apple silicon transition for max has been pretty impressive and i think this is the first time i can truly say something is actually next level these laptops have been next level so these are the new 14 inch and 16 inch 2021 macbook pros and they’re incredible for a number of reasons now at the end of the day they’re just tools used to get a job done and the fact is everyone has a slightly different thing that they want to get done for me it’s making these videos so we’ll get to that in a second but man they have made a big jump both on the inside and the outside of these laptops so let’s start on the outside so these laptops have a new top-notch design it still looks like a macbook pro but i like pretty much all of the changes they’ve made so the whole shape is squared off a bit and it

resembles those old aluminum power books just more modernized and just aesthetically you can see they’ve made these laptops thicker like noticeably thicker and that is totally fine with me and it has plenty of benefits and it also stands up a little bit higher on those taller feet which seemingly gives it a bit more room for those back and side vents for better ventilation although i’ve never heard the fans spin up audibly on these laptops the apple logo on the back slightly larger and there’s a little engraving at the bottom now where they carved in the macbook pro text that’s kind of nice but functionally as you’ve probably noticed yeah there’s ports now there are real ports and this really shouldn’t be a big deal but this is one of the few things that apple has actually walked back from the last few years of macbook pros that haven’t had these ports so while it feels like kind of silly to celebrate them i am happy that they’re back so on the right side that’s a full-size hdmi port welcome back then you have one of the thunderbolt 4 ports and a full size half depth sd card slot this is beautiful i use an sd card for audio every time i make a video i use them all the time and it’s been a long time since i just plugged an sd card straight into a computer so this is fun then around the left side you have two more thunderbolt 4 ports a headphone jack and the magnetic magsafe charging port has made its return so okay a couple thoughts on this port selection first of all magsafe has made its return but it’s different i’ve never used a magsafe machine full time in the past but this is a newer thinner and actually stronger magsafe

it’s got a lot more lateral strength that it takes to pull it out of the machine so the second there’s any angle on it it snaps out much easier but still feels pretty mag safe to me definitely safer than just if usb-c was plugged straight in and then you get this huge charging brick so this is the 96 watt power adapter that comes with the 14-inch macbook pro which is already an upgrade from the 67 watt of the base model and then there’s this huge rectangular 140 watt charging brick for the 16 inch macbook pro but it is pretty nice that the brick is separate from the braided usb-c cable with magsafe on the other end but i am not sure why the space gray laptop doesn’t also come with a space gray magsafe connector that would have been a nice touch 140 watts though that is a lot of power and so you can fast charge these laptops through magsafe if you want to it’s about half charge in half an hour which is pretty convenient but even if you don’t want to you can unplug and just plug in via usb c if you’re a one charger for everything kind of person like me it’ll still be about 96 watts so not as fast but still pretty good now the headphone jack you might have caught during apple’s presentation that they mentioned that the headphone jack this time would support high impedance headphones what does that mean well if you have to ask it probably doesn’t apply to you but there’s a whole

ecosystem of headphones out there with much higher levels of power required to get real volume out of them they’re known as high impedance headphones i’ve got a couple pairs here at the studio so a normal pair of wired headphones just think about like your beats or athm 50s might have 20 to 50 ohms impedance the high impedance headphones can go well over 100 ohms and so they won’t really sound like much they’ll be very low in volume if you plug them into almost anything with a headphone jack and so people who use these headphones will have to carry an external thunderbolt uh dac just a little thing to plug in and so if these headphone jacks are high powered enough in theory that’s one less dongle you have to carry right so for my audio files out there the preamps here are impressive and they are definitely pushing out more power but this isn’t some incredible super clean dac or anything crazy with the these bear dynamic dt 770 pros for example which are 250 ohm headphones macbook pro m1 at absolutely maxed out 100 volume sounded comfortable and these new macbook pros hit that same level at about 65 volume so there’s an

improvement they don’t sound better than the dedicated amp you would have to bring but in a pinch if you’ve only brought one pair of headphones you can plug them in straight and that’s kind of neat which is just saving you a dongle and that’s kind of the theme of all of these ports to be honest like the hdmi port is only actually hdmi 2.0 not 2.1 i don’t know why and it’s kind of annoying that such an expensive computer doesn’t have the latest highest end part but hdmi 2.0 still does 4k 60 so it’s great for any projector or tv it’s good in a pinch one less dongle the sd card slot is xdxc it’s only uhs two speeds so it doesn’t support the newer faster uh s3 but uh s2 is still 300 megabytes per second that’s pretty good in a pinch one less dongle so it’s an expensive computer it i could have easily had the higher end ports it’s definitely a knock on them but like i said it’s kind of just like the convenient in a pinch type thing and you know what i might as well since we’re talking ports you know what would have been cool ethernet on the power brick remember what they did with the m1 imac where they have like gigabit ethernet built into the brick i think macbook pro users would be

more likely to want ethernet without a dongle on the laptop like they did here but they didn’t but anyway there’s just something hilarious about them going backwards on the last four years of macbook pros and actually adding ports back to it it’s not something they do all the time so i’m giving a thumbs up on that speaking of going backwards though no touch bar so there’s a new keyboard on these macbook pros and it’s all buttons all real physical keys so they’ve replaced the touch bar with a full row of full height physical function keys at the top it’s really a shame the touch bar never reached its full potential and i’ll miss the like two times i thought it was useful with audio fitting shortcuts inside final cut pro or fast forwarding scrubbing through instagram videos on the desktop but these buttons really are better and the whole keyboard is an improvement from previous years too it’s backlit the keys feel good and travel decently well like their keyboards from five years ago the touch id button in the corner works super quickly and reliably and it’s subtle but the whole keyboard is inset in this black anodized rectangle and i love it it’s a nice touch black keys will

definitely still show fingerprints and a little bit of skin oils more than the lighter keyboards out there on other machines but i’m willing to deal with that the speakers absolutely incredible especially on the 16 inch still the biggest fullest best speakers i’ve ever heard in a laptop on the bigger one and the studio microphones are also now improved but that brings us to the front of this laptop so let’s talk about the front so these new displays are on paper and in real life pretty incredible they are 10 bit panels they’re mini led hdr 16 by 10 almost 4k high refresh rate displays i mean it’s just all the boxes checked and then there’s the notch up top okay so the screens are amazing it’s basically a mini pro display xdr but with even higher pixel density and higher refresh rate i mean it doesn’t look that different from previous macbook pros most of the time you’re using it but it does hit that 1600 nits max brightness while watching hdr content which is awesome and the thinner bezels all the way around were long overdue and underneath the menu bar i’m also happy that it is still it’s the taller 16 by 10 aspect ratio and then pro motion is interesting so we know this is the adaptive refresh rate it’s not always maxing out here at 120 hertz even when flying around the ui you know macs were already decently smooth at 60 but i can tell this is not going to 120 hertz all the time so like scrolling in safari

for example apparently safari still needs an update to support the highest of this adaptive frame rate but there are a couple areas where you really notice a higher refresh rate i mean moving your mouse around a lot moving a lot of bigger animations like swiping between spaces and other big flowy stuff like the genie animation for minimizing that stuff i mean it’s awesome moving around a final cut timeline that’s very smooth too that’s where the higher frame rate is noticeable and the extra smoothness is appreciated so this isn’t the first mini led display this isn’t the first hdr laptop ever it’s definitely not the first high refresh rate screen in a laptop but just combining all these things the 10-bit display the thinner bezels all of it it is a great display so let’s talk about the top-notch design shall we there’s only a few things up here in the notch it’s the new 1080p webcam which looks perfectly decent now thanks for catching up apple and there’s a little ambient light sensor and a little led light and that’s pretty much it there’s no way the notch needed to be this big for that hardware i mean i’ll wait for the ifixit teardown but there’s no way you needed this much space so it’s an odd choice and it’s really easy to complain about this when you’re not actually using the laptop but two things one i think apple is actually finding this to be like a part of their design language now like this is a recognizable laptop silhouette because of the notch however we feel about that it is

what it is but then also turns out it’s okay to put a notch right here in the part of the screen that you really don’t notice very much when you’re actually using the laptop the mouse goes underneath it for those who are wondering and the software seems to basically treat the screen like there is no notch like if you take a screenshot or do a screen recording it’s still drawing the display there with all of its pixels and anytime you go full screen with anything it just turns the entire menu bar black and it looks like the bezel at the top basically gets slightly thicker and it’s very deep black with the mini led the notch literally never cuts into any content basically think of it as cutting into the extra display that you actually didn’t have before and they’ve just shoved the menu bar up there into that extra display you know there are some weird quirks when you have an app with enough menu bar items it runs those things right underneath the notch and things clearly need to be patched up with a software update maybe making them scrollable or like adding an expansion button or something like that so at this point it’s like people are making the you know custom apps to totally black out the top part of the display to hide the notch which i mean if you hate it that much sure you have that option but like i promise you when you

actually start using the laptop and you’re in apps and things full screen and never cuts anything off like you’re paying attention to what’s on the screen it disappears even more than it did on the smaller screen of the phones but that being said if the next version of this laptop still has a notch this big and doesn’t add face id i’ll wear socks and sandals for a day like linus like they got to be planning on putting it there eventually right it almost feels useless to talk about how it feels just spinning around mac os monterey because of course it’s fine like i got the improved notification management it’s got the rounded corners up top it’s got the quick mouse over at the bottom corner to get to quick notes we get all that there’s nice features but we’re here for the performance we want to know if it’s actually as great as those graphs apple suggested at the apple event spoiler alert they’re both really that good so i’ve got a couple different specs here this is the m1 pro in the 14 inch i’ve also got a maxed out 16 inch that i’ve been testing so i’ll get to the differences between m1 max and m1 pro and all that in a second but just know that yeah they are very very good so when it comes to performance benchmarks i feel like everyone’s more or less looking for the perfect benchmark out there that will confirm to them that it will work best for their own workflow like i said these are tools and from what i’ve seen it feels like that benchmark result exists for pretty much every use case so far for these so as far as synthetic benchmarks it dropped the highest single score

geekbench cpu score i’ve ever seen from any mac and multi-core lined it up right around the maxed out 18 core imac i also ran it through cinebench and it had again very impressive single core scores and here’s how the multi-core stacks up but when i say when i tell you these laptops are next level i mean that because these the real world performance and the real world capabilities of these laptops is dramatically better than they have any business doing so obviously we know about the way higher memory bandwidth we know about the way higher number of gpu cores and i love the 10 15 25 improvements that come across the board with all that stuff the vertical integration worked right but there are parts of this chip that apple has built with specific purposes in mind and for those purposes it’s next level so these laptop chips have a media engine and there’s a prores accelerator as part of that m1 max has two of them video professionals you can see where we’re going with this working with prores at all with these laptops is dramatically better i think an example was like encoding a video with compressor is 10 times as fast as it was with the intel macbook pros that’s the next level so like i said these laptops are that’s why they got me excited i work with video 2 so let’s see how it does with final cut pro so as i mentioned i did edit the last video the entire airpods 3 review on the 16

inch m1 max macbook pro in various locations both around the studio and at home plugged in and on battery and it handled it incredibly well like shockingly well keep in mind this is 8k red code raw footage it’s a mix of low and medium compression shots from the v raptor and i’m able to bend the color and raw data and move all around the timeline and chop everything up pretty quickly and seamlessly without hiccups just like on the desktop on the mac pro so playback was in high quality instead of high performance so i’m getting a ton of resolution and really only dropping a couple of frames here and there again just like the mac pro one of my ways to measure if a machine is choking or struggling at all is like how long the delay is between pressing the play button the space bar on unrendered footage and when it actually starts to play back and this delay as you can see it’s like less than a quarter of a second that’s as good as i’ve ever seen it in final cut so the only thing that’s caused me any concern was that a couple times the audio waveform previews took longer to load when i was pinching and zooming into parts of the timeline and i suspect that’s ram related of course m1 max only has 64 gigs of ram versus the mac pro i’ve edited on has 768 gigs of ram so it makes sense that i saw a difference there but when the edit was finished and it came time to export it i of course just for fun copy the project across to multiple computers and just did the same export on all of them to see how it went so the m1 pro

macbook pro the 14 inch exported the whole thing in six minutes and 40 seconds it’s pretty good the 50 000 28 core mac pro did the same thing in five minutes and 42 seconds and then the m1 max mac pro or macbook pro did it in four minutes and six seconds so the macbook pro beat the mac pro handily at exporting the project and it’s not even like export times really matter all that much at this level four minutes five minutes whatever but the fact that it beat the mac pro already is ridiculous and i also did that while not plugged in which doesn’t lose any performance on battery and the battery dropped two percent from 96 to 94 while exporting so you might have heard there’s different performance profiles and this is true on the 16-inch macbook pro it was interesting playing with these most of the time i just left it on automatic because it would just do its thing no hiccups at all and i could edit fine but when i went to go export just for fun i turned on the 16 inches high power mode which in theory should let the chips run full throttle more often spin up the fans a little bit more etc i still never heard the fans ever but the export time was even faster 3 minutes and 49 seconds jesus and on top of all that the plug-in suite that i use motion vfx is updating steadily all their stuff to support apple silicon which is great at this point honestly i think it’s a no-brainer the travel imac is now retired i can safely edit everything on a laptop but final cut pro is just one use case

there’s plenty of other stuff if you watch the verges review they did a lot of adobe stuff you can check out their incredible findings with the newest version of after effects really finally taking advantage of multi-threaded gpu rendering they also showed it outperforming the mobile rtx 3080 when editing in premiere there are some glowing reviews from music producers and sound designers who love having a whisper silent computer that can also process way more audio effects and that they can take with them and tyler stallman did a great video reviewing the laptop for photographers where the m1 max laptop is importing and generating previews etc twice as fast as a 2018 macbook pro and he also opens up every single app at once and streams a bunch of prores videos all simultaneously next to each other and you guessed it it doesn’t even blink then there’s also a great tweet from a staff engineer at reddit the machine is cutting build times for their android app in half and a little napkin math says that buying a team of them a bunch of these laptops would end up saving them a lot more money than they’d spend basically these experiences are of course all dependent on the apps you use as a professional and how optimized they are all of apple’s apps are the first ones to be updated right out the box so final cut pro that i use is

great but over time more of them will continue to be updated and see those gains as well and i didn’t even talk about battery life but it does all this high performance stuff while also being incredibly efficient so you have the fast charging already if you want it but i found that the 16 inch with the 100 watt hour battery lasts a bit longer than the 14 inch with a 70 watt hour battery and m1 pro will last a bit longer than m1 max turns out those gpu cores do run a little bit hotter and use more power but ultimately if you want the longest possible battery life that would be 16 inch m1 pro nevertheless they all get around the same battery life i found as the m1 macbook pro which is to say all day best in class you can still kill it in like four hours if you’re just sitting on battery editing video in high power mode the whole time then yeah then you can crush it but again the fast charging turns out to be very useful so you know what here’s the recommendation if you are a professional that works on your laptop and you’re on an older version or you find yourself reaching the limits of one of these and you’re thinking maybe you should try to look at one of these new macbook pros i feel very confident saying yeah you could pick one up and be very very happy i think the real choice is between m1 pro and m1 max and 14 inch and 16 inch now for me i’m going with a 16 inch m1 max just because i take advantage of the extra gpu cores and i wish i could go with the 14 inch maxed out

which you can max out to the same exact specs as a 16 inch with maybe just small thermal differences they’ll perform about the same but i really like having the bigger screen for editing video so i’m going maxed out big laptop so then for m1 pro versus m1 max m1 max is the most powerful but it does nick a bit of your battery life so i would upgrade only if you need those extra gpu cores and you’ll know if your apps support it and i won’t even pretend to game on a mac some people do though and if you do theoretically the m1 max would also handle that better but like i said from the beginning this is a tool and it happens to be a really really good tool at what it does and it happens to be next level at a couple specific things that it’s been designed and optimized for so there’s going to be a lot of professionals like me who are really happy with these there’s also going to be a lot of people who totally don’t need this power but just have a lot of money to spend and just want to get a nice laptop and it is a nice laptop so i wouldn’t blame you that’s fine too but i’m just happy i can finally say that this is i will be editing videos on a laptop which is that’s awesome and uh yeah i haven’t been able to say something’s truly next level in a really long time but these are it’s one of my favorite products of the year to be honest i also really really can’t wait until the apple silicon mac pro desktop that thing is going to be wild either way that’s been it for the review of the laptops thanks catch you guys the next one peace

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