M1 Pro/Max Reviews – Thoughts and Pricing

The reviews of the new MacBook Pro laptops have started to com in now, and all looks good.  More than good.  They look really impressive.  However my final thoughts I had on my last blog on the subject are very much valid – do you need it.

While I have been singing the praises of the M1 MacBook Air, and how good it is, if I were buying today I’d look at the 14″ MacBook Pro instead, the entry level one with 16GB RAM.  If you compare that with the price of the Air with the same config (16GB RAM, 512GB SSD) there’s only around £400 difference in price, but the MacBook Pro has more ports, much better performance (roughly 2 x CPU and 3 x GPU) and as photographers it has a much better screen with really deep blacks and better around colours.  The screen alone is probably worth the price difference to us.    The reviewers (YouTube, etc) have all been impressed with the entry-level machine and these are easily out-performing the top of the range 16″ model from the last generation.  So you don’t need to go mad with the spec.

For most of us the entry-level 14″ MacBook Pro with 16GB RAM is more than enough, it’s just a question of how much storage do you need.  Where the upgrades become more interesting is if you need 32GB of RAM.  It is £400 to add 32GB ram to the base model, which is an 8-core CPU and a14-core GPU.  However for £500 you get the M1 Max, which gives you the 32GB RAM, but also includes 10 CPU cores, 24 GPU cores, an extra video encoder engine over the M1 Pro and it also doubles the memory and GPU bandwidth making it much faster for graphics tasks.  So if you need 32GB RAM it’s worth spending the extra £100 on the M1 Max and getting a much faster machine.

Overall all of the reviews are very positive and Apple have delivered what has been promised.  Now what the real-world performance is of the new MacBook Pro’s it is difficult to justify the MacBook Air unless you are going for the base spec, and there is absolutely no point going for the 13″ MacBook Pro as it is only £200 cheaper than the entry-level 14″ model. I can see the 13″ Pro been discontinued and there are already rumours of a redesigned Air for early next year.  It is rumoured to come in different colours and be much lighter, both of which will differentiate it from the Pro models.

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  1. Cheers Shaun – very useful info thank you.

  2. Thanks Shaun, glad they have seen the sense of reintroducing the various ports

  3. Thanks Shaun, I’ve read through this and your first blog (really helpful). I’m looking at the 14″ 16GB RAM with 512 GB. As you suggested, I’m going for an entry level – although I’m not exactly sure what that mean 🙁 My question is around a spec I don’t know about but suspect is irrelevant to me (I don’t do graphics or videos)
    There are two 14″ I’m trying to compare, really the only difference is either:
    10C 14C M1 or 8C 14C M1 – what do they mean? Are they relevant?
    Many thanks.

    • Mary, I’m not a Mac user so you may want to wait for someone who uses Macs, but the 8C and 10C relate to the number of ‘cores’ in the CPU (central processing unit) which does the bulk of the work. (14C relates to the cores in the graphics and is the same in both). In theory 10C might be faster but in real-life terms unless you are using very intensive applications you won’t notice any difference at all. 8C will be fine, and plenty fast.

  4. Hi Mary – one thing to consider is the size of 512GB hard drive, as if you intend to leave a bunch of raw files on your new Mac, this space will very soon get used up.

    An external drive (or several!!) is the only sensible solution, but 1TB (1024GB) is a more suitable size for an internal drive, as this drive has to accomodate your OS and all your apps, as well as any files you keep on it (or accumulate on a photo trip) before they are transferred to an external drive (plus a backup). If you buy from apple’s site, you can usually request an upgrade from 512GB to 1TB – at a cost, of course!

  5. Thanks Jon – I try not to have any photos on my laptop, transferring to hard drives (main and back up) from the card. But you are right, it’s the OS and constant updates that take all the space ;(

  6. I’m going to order a 14” MBP and a large monitor to replace my iMac so your blogs have been very useful, thanks Shaun.
    Anybody considering which to buy I found this YouTube very helpful – https://youtu.be/5ESZDAeZ9vo . He’s a photographer and is comparing the different configurations using Lightroom, Photoshop, Capture One and Final Cut and not just benchmarks.

  7. Hi Mary, I’ve only just seen this. I can reiterate what Jon has said. The 8C and 10C are the number of cores, and from what you have said you won’t need anything more than 8 cores and 16GB RAM. I would very much however recommend getting more than 512GB of SSD storage. As Jon has suggested go for 1TB. More than this would be overkill. I don’t have a lot on my laptop, but I’m using around 80% of 1TB so 512GB would definitely be too small.

    So to answer your question I would get the base 14″ MacBook Pro and increase the storage to 1TB. That should be ample for your needs for a few years, and if you find it isn’t take it back, Apple will exchange it for another one or give you a refund.

  8. Hi Shaun, thanks for all this useful information. My iMac is now very long in the tooth and extremely slow and my MacBook pro is also getting a bit past it, so I’m thinking of a new MacBook and a large monitor, like Duncan. Looks like my needs will be similar to Mary’s.

    • Hi Tom, I’m running last years MacBook Air, which is a much lower spec than the 14″ MacBook Pro, or at least performs a lot slower in review tests, and I’m happy with it’s performance. Occasionally I could do with a bit more graphics performance in Photoshop, but that’s about it. It was worth upgrading a few bits of software (Topaz DeNoise for example) to get the native versions as they are much quicker. Otherwise everything else has just worked.

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