MacBook M1 Max users: what are intending to use this powerful chip for?

Hello :wave:

I got carried away with the hype this morning and preordered the MacBook 16inch M1 Max 32gb 1TB

I am keen to hear views of others as to how they will utilise and/or benefit from this performance of the Max chip specifically

For me personally, I wanted to try the 16inch model for the first time and really got carried away. I do not regret it and looking forward to it. With that said, if I find the 16inch model not suitable for me, I will return it and get the 14inch with M1 16gb with 1TB

Slinging code :rofl:

My 2016 MacBook Pro wheezes when I play around with Rust. Very excited to not even hear the fans compiling.

Also getting 1TB storage. Sick and tired of getting low storage warnings on my 512gb

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Can’t really help you with the Max specifically. I got the M1 Pro (and the binned version with 14 GPU cores at that) because I decided the additional performance advantage of the Max was really in areas like graphics and media where I didn’t need the additional capacity.

While I could probably get by with the vanilla M1, I do have some big data workloads where the CPU is the bottleneck. The way Apple has set up the M1 Pro/Max line actually works out fairly well for me. All but the very lowest spec have the same CPU, roughly twice as powerful as the M1. Spending more on the M1 Max doesn’t provide any improvement on the CPU side of things.

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Is there a downside (apart from cost) to getting the Max though?

I’m especially interested to hear real “fingers on the keyboard” comparisons between the new bigger pro machines and the “old” M1 MacBook Air!

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I was really looking forward to Monday’s event, ready to replace my 2016 15" with the awful keyboard and failing battery, going into an almost panic when they announced two new chips requiring yet another decision.

I’m a portrait photographer so I spend a lot of time grinding through Lightroom and Photoshop, dabbling in Premiere Pro so I ordered the 14" M1 Max 24 core GPU, 32 GB memory and 2TB SSD. The trade in estimate is $720 so including tax it’s right at $3k. I went back and forth over the 64GB memory vs 2TB SSD decision, both at $400, deciding that I would probably never notice the memory I don’t have but would definitely miss an extra 1TB storage.

Delivery is in three weeks so something else to look forward to.

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My most critical use when traveling is to access a large Devonthink database synced to my Synology NAS. That includes Devonthink’s OCR of newly imported documents.

Finally being able to run Numbers at a decent speed…

Nah; i have any compile environments (often run xcode, python and an IDE for embedded stuff) running side by side. Particularly XCode is slow going on my MbPro-16.

Then there are SDR (Software Define Radio) apps such as GNUradio which really kick out the dust and a variety of other stuff which i hope will just be running more smoothly on a fast machine with lots of RAM.

There are two reasons to get a laptop as powerful as an M1 Max machine:

The first is because of an obvious, well-defined use case. Video editing is obvious. People who spend their days in Photoshop will probably chime in here.

If you don’t have an obvious use case, the best reason to buy it is so you can grow into it. In 2012, when Apple put out the first 15" MacBook Pro with a Retina display, I bought it on day one. I was a university student, so it was basically all my cash. (I literally paid in cash. $4,000 in 20 dollar bills. There were four Apple Store employees counting my money on a table.) But I’d just started freelancing as a writer and was trying my hand at a few things. I wanted the sharp text on screen, and knew that the computer would support me in whatever creative endeavours I wanted to try next. That was the perfect computer for everything I ended up doing in the next few years: wedding photography, learning Photoshop, and eventually becoming a graphic / web designer and front-end developer. The laptop had lots of headroom for everything I wanted to experiment with, and without it, I don’t think I’d do what I’m doing today.

For me, the computers unveiled yesterday are the first laptops since that era that have that sort of headroom and encourage that sort of spontaneous playfulness.

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Agree

Even more interesting - what is the remaining use case for a current Mac Pro over an M1Max?

M1Max has amazing support for graphics and external monitors. It has a couple less Thunderbolt ports but a dock or two can probably fix that. Mac Pro can handle a lot more internal strorage but M1Max can do pretty well via Thunderbolt or USB to support external peripherals. M1Max can handle more RAM but there probably isn’t much that cannot be done with 64Gb on an M1Max.

So what can a current Mac Pro do that an M1Max MBP cannot? (I say this as someone who uses a Mac Pro daily - there was no comparison 2 years ago but it may have shifted.)

We’ll see once benchmarks start coming out, but my guess is the higher core count Xeons will still have an advantage in multicore workloads. Even if the M1 cores are faster, a 28 core Xeon will probably outrun a 10 core M1 Pro/Max. The multiple discrete GPU configurations will likely maintain a similar advantage. Apple’s graphics are great, but I doubt even the 32 GPU core M1 Max will beat two WX6800X Duos. The biggest remaining advantage of the Mac Pro is probably in memory. 64GB is a lot in a laptop, but it’s a long way from the 1.5TB that the Mac Pro maxes out at. Of course, if you need video capture cards, big spinning disks, or other stuff like that the Mac Pro has the advantage of being able to do that sort of thing internally.

All that said, I’d bet that a maxed out M1 Max MacBook will be able to outperform the base level Mac Pro at a lot of things. The Mac Pro’s remaining advantage is that you can spec it up to ridiculous levels if you have a workload that requires it.

Fair enough - except I suspect that multi-cores is one of the biggest ways Apple over-sells specs.

No doubt there are a few apps - particularly in video processing - specialized to take advantage of multiple cores well. But I also suspect that overall even most power users rarely use software that meaningfully benefits from multiple cores.

For average users, maybe. Many pros, especially the kind of pros buying the Mac Pro, have workloads that can really take advantage of lots of cores.

Yeah, I think Mac Pro users are a self-selecting niche, usually. Apple’s been in a weird place with bad laptops for pros, pushing many of us into desktops we may not otherwise have needed. Now the pendulum can shift back. There are definitely high-end Mac Pro users remaining, but I think they are very high-end compared to who could likely benefit from these laptops.

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A handful of things for me:

  • The RAM will be useful for running VM’s. I can do this on a 16GB M1 machine, but I am somewhat limited in how many and what kinds of apps I can run while running VM’s. This includes things like Docker (which takes up over 2GB without even running any containers) for various databases and services, as well as things like Windows VM’s for testing.
  • Faster compile times in Xcode are always welcome.
  • Resolve is crazy fast on the vanilla M1 with 4k footage until you start applying complex things like denoising or FilmConvert. I’m expecting I’ll be able to do a lot more to footage and maintain real time playback.
  • The GPU will also be really useful for 3d rendering. I use Blender with Cycles, and now that Apple has committed to get GPU rendering with Metal working on Blender, I’m excited to get my hands on one and try the Blender 3.1 alpha when it’s available. Eevee getting to consume gobs and gobs of RAM should also be great.
  • I do a lot of different things and sometimes have to switch activities multiple times throughout the day. With 64GB or RAM, I’ll be able (in most cases) to leave more applications running and spend less time quitting and relaunching.

The thread is about the chip, but it’s worth noting these are the only mobile computers Apple makes that support a true HDR workflow. I don’t grade in HDR, but I’m sure some people will be buying it just for that.

I’m honestly pretty shocked, because these MBP’s find seem to squeeze their way into the middle to bottom-middle of the Mac Pro line up. I think the main reasons for still getting a Mac Pro would be:

  • Putting multiple GPU’s in it. Putting just one high end card would only net you a relatively marginal improvement given the price. But, as mentioned, you can’t get anywhere near the the performance of a multiple WX6800X Duo’s from a laptop (although depending on what you’re doing, the M1 Max will have more VRAM available :rofl:). This may go away if/when we get eGPU’s.
  • RAM, as already mentioned. This is needful for some kinds of databases and might be used for doing things like physics simulations (and probably lots of other things I’m not privy to).
  • ECC RAM: I don’t believe the MacBook’s Pro have error correcting RAM, which is a requirement in some production environments.
  • Tons of PCI-E storage. If you need a lot of high speed storage, whether for RAID redundancy or just because you have a lot of stuff you need to be able to read and write to very quickly, the Mac Pro with its M2 slots and PCI-E slots is the only real way to go.
  • Running under load constantly. It sounds like these things have great cooling, but whether you could use one in a render farm continuously using CPU and GPU at full power constantly without rapid hardware degradation is unproven.
  • There aren’t currently $400 wheels available for the MacBooks Pro.
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Literally laughed out loud! Well done!

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I think stories like these are reasons people in arguing that these are overkill for your average user are missing. It gives a user the headroom to experiment and also have a powerful computer that can be used for a long time.

Too often its like why do you need this much headroom to do basic computer tasks such as documents, communication, and web browsing but I guarantee that in 3-5 years those tasks will be more computationally intensive as these applications take advantage of hardware advances. It can be better value in the long run even if it seems like overkill today.

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Agreed. Here’s a simple example: I’m not in the market at this very moment for a new laptop (as tempted as I am), but getting the M1 Max would give me the ProRes encoders for experimenting with ProRes video shot on an iPhone 13 Pro (or later model, presumably). Is it impossible to edit ProRes without the encoders? Nope. Would it be easier? Heck yes.

If you have any inkling that you might like to try more “pro creative” things in the future, or more “pro development” things in the future, you are exactly the target market for the periphery of the high-end stuff.

That’s an interesting example.

I suspect machine learning might be another area where people experiment.

Do you know if the machine learning features of the M1Max will be accessible through some app that can be used by a data scientist without dealing with code? Or will it require experience in Swift to utilize it?

That’s a good question, but I unfortunately don’t have the answer for you at all. I’d suspect that there will eventually be a GUI app for machine learning for data scientists, but it probably depends on the sort of data and the sort of science. (I know literally nothing about what I’m talking about in that field, so I’m sorry if nothing I just said makes sense.)