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Macbook pro M1 Pro vs Max

J. Wallace

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Hello everyone

There has been some discussion both on this forum and on many Youtube channels about the differences between the M1 Pro and Max chips.

We are needing to replace one of our workstations, a 2012 Mac Pro, that has served us very well over the past decade. We are considering a Macbook Pro and find it difficult to determine how important the Pro vs Max chip upgrade would be to our workflow using VW and Twinmotion. We would be purchasing the maximum amount of RAM available in each case, either 32 GB for the Pro and 64 GB for the Max chip.

We seem to be getting into much larger land design projects, the latest using an 800+ acre site model.

I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has made the leap to the new M1 Macbook pro, what configuration they decided on, and how they find the performance. One video which has caused some doubt in my mind regarding the Max chip set is shown below. Saying that the stress test used is most likely not going to be replicated in our day to day workflow.

My gut instinct is that the Pro chip with 32 GB of unified memory would be more than enough.

Thank you in advance for any comments or feedback.


Edited by J. Wallace
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Even Real World Tests seem to be difficult as we don't know how far

native Apps are already optimized.


Looks like the 14" is a bit power limited,

for less heat and because of smaller battery,

so won't profit as much from  highest specs as the 16" can.


It's not worth to buy the M1 Max, ONLY to get double memory bandwith.

M1 Pro has 200 GB/s, M1 Max has 400 GB/s theoretically by the double

amount of lanes - but no one could get more than 250 GB/s in stress test.

Maybe the SoC is limiting here.

But the M1 Max is mandatory, IF you want 64 GB of shared Memory !

(And I would want that in any case)


And it looks like the M1 Max 32 core GPU does not really scale that often

as expected vs the binned 24 core GPU. But that could potentially change

in the future with better Apps M1 optimization.



I think for Blender users, as for today, there is already a common sense of

a sweet spot :

- 14" vs 16" depending on priority of mobility needs

(or better waiting for the desktops)

- 32 GB vs 64 GB on Memory requirements and budget

(expected requirements in 2024-2030)

- 24 core GPU


If you are often also doing video editing with Final Cut, Coding in XCode or

2D in Infinity products, you can safely go for the maxed out 16" M1 Max.


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Thank you very much for your valued feedback @zoomer
Our timing to purchase a new unit is not great given the lack of testing as you noted.

I agree that 64 gb for ram on a long term machine is a good idea.

Years ago I purchased an Imac and with the lower cost chip, at the time I believe it was an i5, big mistake.

Thank you again, we shall see where this journey takes us.

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My 2007 Mac Pro 2.1 was also in use for 8 years.

Just because nothing noticeably better available from Apple at that time.

But during that time I had 3 RAM upgrades/replacements and 2 GPU upgrades.


As this is no more possible with M1 devices, at least for now,

I would either max RAM out .... or go generally cheaper, to allow to replace

the whole machine earlier.

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I acted on a weird thought about this. It's the old waiting for better specs story.  For some reason, I seem to be on Apple's 1st gen schedule.  (Bondi Blue iMac, 16" lamp base iMac, 1st gen 17" MBP, etc).  My 2014 MBP is showing limitations and might not pass the near future vwx releases.


I ordered a 16"MBPmax (32 ram).   Although my expected use is with small to medium files and only some rendering, I want to stay within base requirements for next few vwx and apple releases..


Buuut, this is another 1st gen product. New chips, new battery, etc may bring some recalls.  All those other 1st gens were quickly followed by BIG improvements at similar pricing. The candy iMacs starting following year were much higher spec than the Bondi, the #2 lamp base had larger screen - blah blah blah. 3rd and 4th gens were typically smaller steps.


Soooo, here's the weird part.  Resale after 1st year of my 1st gen max might contribute 50% or more toward purchase of much better 2nd gen. I could upgrade right away if I really need it - not so much after couple years.



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  • 3 weeks later...

we went m1 Max 64GB across the board in our office. We've played this game before, and when you project the cost across the projected viability for your work, I would be surprised if you don't land on the same conclusion. It's particularly important now that EVERYthing is integrated to the chip. I projected about 3 good years of usability with the m1 pro (~$75/mo/lifespan), and 5.5years with m1 max ($56/mo/lifespan). 

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Update: After much research and debate we purchased a M1 Max with 32 GB Ram and a 2TB drive.

Part of our decision was based on the fact that Apple was showing a 6-8 week delivery wait for the 64 GB unit, as well some of the tests we watched on Youtube showed very little performance difference between the 32 and 64 GB models when under stress. 

We will be putting it through some workflow stress tests in the coming days and if needed we'll return the 32 GB unit and upgrade to the 64 GB.

Our first interesting note, on my old Imac Pro 10 core 64 GB ram, VW start up was 32 seconds. On the Macbook pro it was 13 seconds...


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I think we have to wait for a M1 Max/Pro Desktop and some years of App adaption

until we really know if 16/24/32 are really different or not, similar for the RAM and its

memory bandwidth.


There are still so many contradicting benchmarks appearing.

Like why is 14" faster than 16" here and there vs 14" noticeably throttled

against 16", 64GB not faster than swapping, is this App already optimized

enough to use it or not and so on.


I am even not sure about M1 Mini Limits vs PC.

There are clear observations that if the Activity Monitor shows brown memory

pressure, working will not be fun and that this is too much for my M1 Mini.

On the other hand it is also no fun on the non-Hardware-limited PC either, but got

better with later AMD GPU drivers for me ....


I see that VW works really well on the M1. Bricscad just ok on M1 via Rosetta but

not perfect on Windows with my AMD GPU either - in some cases (?)

C4D R21 seems to not work very well for me on M1.

My personal Benchmark will be Blender.

Currently in early-pre-Alpha for Apple ARM support. But helped/done by Apple.

So once optimized and final, I will trust it as a real Benchmark for Apple ARM

hardware estimation - on "optimized" Apps.


VW runs really well for me on Apple ARM and X86 PC.

But I am still not sure if everything is optimized to the max or if there is still some

room for improvements.



Edited by zoomer
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