What is the difference between the Apple M1 Pro and M1 Max?

The regular M1 chip for everyday consumers, the beefier M1 Pro for professionals, and supercharged M1 Max for extreme performance

Ion Utale
4 min readNov 20, 2021

I will skip the differences in benchmark scores and all the technical mumbo jumbo that is rather difficult to comprehend or appreciate, unless you’re a pro.

But then you ask someone, and the meme bellow pictures pretty well how to geeks explain the difference:

If the meme was not clear enough 😁, then let me explain a bit better.

Let’s just focus on one easy-to-understand, but nonetheless important real-world performance variable: the time taken for the M1 Pro to run tasks versus the M1 Max.

For many professionals in the tech and creative industries, time is money. The higher the productivity, the more the output, the greater the profits.

When utilised to its full potential, the M1 Max enables its user to get more work done within a shorter period of time, compared to the M1 Pro.

As an example, MacRumors ran a 6-minute long, 4K video export test in Final Cut Pro. The M1 Max‌ completed in 1 minute and 49 seconds, while the ‌M1 Pro‌ took 2 minute and 55 seconds.

While this difference of about one minute seems inconsequential, it is only done for one test. Over the roughly 3–4 year typical lifespan of a pro computer, through hundreds of video exports and other projects, the difference will accumulate and have a real impact on the growth and profitability of a business.

The M1 Pro chip serves professional users whose job and livelihood depends on their computer and its performance.

The M1 Max chip appeals to high-end pros whose work are time sensitive and demand the highest performance possible for maximum productivity.

These people are very often on time crunches to meet project deadlines, so any lag or delays, such as slow rendering speeds, will be detrimental to the progress and success of their work.

The M1 Pro is limited in its GPU, up to 16 cores, and its RAM, up to 32GB. Whereas M1 Max can be configured with up to a 32-core GPU and 64GB of RAM.

More GPU cores = the sooner a graphically intensive task can be completed, under ideal conditions.

More RAM = more applications can run at once.

This is all about enabling the most productive and efficient workflow for the users, within the time constraints.

In truth, many (but not all) things that the M1 Max can do, the M1 Pro can likely do it to — albeit slower.

Even certain strenuous tasks like exporting 8K video are theoretically possible on a consumer-level chip such as M1, but immensely slow and inefficient, to the point where it simply isn’t practical and worth the time to do it professionally.

M1 Pro is great for pro users and does things fast; M1 Max is perfect for pro users in a hurry, and does things faster.

Have a look at those 2 in images

This is the architecture of M1 Pro

And this is the architecture for the M1 Max

Like you can see the M1 MAX is much bigger, and the “components” are just differently organised.

The M1 Pro has 200GB/sec bandwidth to main memory, the M1 Max has 400GB/sec. Note the CPUs don’t push much past 200 so it is a very modest speedup unless your GPUs need a lot of memory bandwidth. The M1 Pro can have up to 32G of RAM & the M1 Max can have up to 64G.

The M1 Pro has a 24Mb system level cache & the Max doubles that to 48Mb.

The M1 Pro has up to 10 CPU cores (the fewer core versions may have had cores fail tests, or merely been binned to a lower CPU count to make some lower price points), the M1 Max always has 10.

The M1 Pro has 16 GPUs . The M1 Max has 16, 24, or 32 .

The lowest M1 Max and highest M1 Pro configurations, same system RAM, number of CPUs and GPUs. I’m not sure if the extra SLC will be useful to most workloads (maybe?). The extra memory bandwidth however isn’t as universally applicable as it might appear. The CPUs can only push about 243GB/sec, so you would need something that pushes the GPUs and other parts of the SOC to use memory bandwidth in order to see a difference.

The higher configurations of the M1 Max can be a win if say you need more than 32G of RAM, or benefit from more than 16 CPUs.

Thank you for reading! 🙏

And if you like-it please leave some “claps”, it really helps me a lot.
Have a nice day!