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Review MacBook Pro 14 with M1 Max Performance Gains are Nuanced..


hey everybody it’s lon seidman and every five years i buy a new macbook pro to be my daily driver and i just got in my new one the other day this is the macbook pro 14 and i deck this one out with the new m1 max processor and we’re going to take a closer look at this and what it’s going to do for me in just a second but i do want to let you know in the interest of full disclosure that i paid for this with my own funds all the opinions you’re about to hear are my own no one is paying for this review nor is anyone reviewed or approved what you’re about to see before it was uploaded so let’s get into it now and see what this new macbook is all about now the price point on this starts at around two thousand dollars and goes up from there this one has an m1 max processor with 10 cpu cores and 32 gpu cores and they have a bunch of different processor options to choose from so there’s an m1 pro tier that you can get with 8 or 10 cpu cores and then less gpu cores and then there’s the max tier that has greater gpu power and i went with the higher end gpu power because video editing makes use of those gpus especially when you’re working with 4k video and that’s the direction i would like to take in the next couple of years so i figured if it’s going to be a five-year purchase we’re gonna go to the max here although i think a pro would have been fine for my current situation now i configured mine with 32 gigabytes of ram and a one terabyte ssd this being an apple device means that you cannot upgrade it so whatever configuration options you choose is what you’re going to be stuck with for the life of the device

and with this being a five year purchase for me i figured to go with the highest amount of ram i could afford was the way to go this ended up costing me about thirty two hundred dollars but i am getting rid of some other stuff to supplement that cost but still it’s a pricey device and although it performs nicely you can certainly get into a pc that will deliver similar performance in a heavier package for far less money now the reason why i went with the 14 over the 16 is that i really like things that are not that heavy and are compact enough to travel with me and there does not appear to be a significant performance disadvantage for going with the smaller footprint here so i didn’t see any need to get something larger especially because i usually bring my macbook pro with me when i travel so i can edit video on the road so the 14 inch here kind of fit all of the different parameters that i was looking for and i’m quite happy overall with what it looks like and feels like this is about three and a half pounds or 1.6 kilograms if i went with the bigger one it was going to be 4.8 pounds or 2.2 kilograms so a much heavier device without any real performance advantages so i was very pleased with what they were able to pack into this thing now the feature that stands out for me the most on the new macbook is its display this is running with apple’s liquid retina xdr technology and it looks pretty close to what you would get with an oled panel without it actually being an oled the secret sauce here is that they’ve got a lot of individual backlights that they can turn on or off depending on the content that’s on screen and the result is that you get super deep black levels that you would normally only see on an oled panel and i’m really impressed with what they’ve been able to do here the display is running at a 3024 by 1964 resolution it is a p3 wide color panel and your aspect ratio here is 1.54 to 1.

this model has the ability to go up to 120 hertz they’ve got a variable refresh rate on it you can lock in the refresh rate but the most you can lock in is 60 hertz so if you want to go higher than 60 you have to have it be variable as you’ll hear throughout this video this is not a gamer’s device and this is one of the areas where of course gamers would want to lock in the highest refresh rate possible and you just can’t do that here you have to rely on the computer to decide when to provide that faster refresh rate now the brightness on the display is 1 000 nits and it has a peak brightness of 1600 nits when you’re viewing hdr contents let me show you what that looks like here i’m just going to turn down the display a little bit so it doesn’t blow out my camera and i’ve got an hdr video i shot with my iphone a little bit earlier and you can see here it is bringing out additional levels of brightness and that will continue even at the highest brightness setting of the display so it has a really nice hdr component to it as well to bring out a little bit more brightness when your hdr videos call for that all right so now we have to talk about the elephant in the room which is the notch at the top of the display panel here this notch is not a barrier so your mouse can go right underneath it and a lot of folks who are running a lot of things in the background that put icons up here on the menu bar have found that those apps will be sitting underneath the notch and you can’t see them so that’s an issue that apple and developers have to work out together i think for me i haven’t

noticed it that much because i spend most of my time focused on the middle of the display and i’ve been using this now for the better part of a week and the notch really is not something i have focused on or looked at even when i’ve got brighter wallpapers going if the notch is a distraction i would pick a darker wallpaper like this one which will get rid of the notch completely as far as your eyes can see and that’s thanks to the fact that this display has such a great contrast ratio it just blends right in with the top so that’s something i would suggest if it’s really an issue for you but for me it’s been fine so far one thing that has been bugging me a bit though is the fact that although we got a thinner bezel on this the menu bar on this model is a lot thicker and if you take a look at what that menu bar looks like you can see just how much thicker it is to accommodate that notch and that’s what’s been bugging me more than the notch itself is the fact that this thing is so thick and my menus look different the mac has always had the menus kind of look like this where you pull down the menu and it’s just right on the border there but now it looks a lot different and that takes a little bit of getting used to another thing that i noticed with let me pull up final cut pro here for you is that when you take a an app like this one full screen it doesn’t actually nudge upward to go full screen so check it out i’m going to hit the green button here to go full screen and you can see although it gave me more room on the bottom the top did not give me any more room and if i go to the macbook air that i’ve got sitting in the other side of the room here

when i go full screen it will give me that extra screen real estate at the top and then when i mouse over the top it’ll nudge things down a bit to give me the menu bar so i get every inch of the screen on the old max on the new one here the menu is up there but the app can’t use that new real estate because the notch is in the way so what do we get in exchange for this big notch at the top of the display well we do get a better webcam it’s a 1080p webcam that can shoot 30 frames per second it looks pretty good under my studio lights here and it also does really well in low light so this is just at night in my kitchen when i turned off the lights here you can see it does a pretty good job of de-noising everything you don’t get a very grainy image so the camera looks nice but there are nicer webcams out there these days and i was expecting a little bit more out of it than what we ended up with but still it is a much nicer webcam than we’ve seen on some of the prior macbooks that would max out at around 720p now this new macbook is a lot thicker than the old one you can see my 14 inch on the left and my wife’s 13 inch on the right it is noticeably chunkier but that’s a good thing because we get all of the things fixed that we didn’t like about that prior generation machine so what has returned is the magsafe power connector here and this was something people really liked because if you happen to trip over the cable it just pops out very easily the new cable though has

nylon braiding to it so it won’t tangle up as easily and it terminates to a usb type-c connector and it will work with any usbc power supply mine with the max processor came with a 96 watt power supply the same one prior macbook pros came with and as you’ll see in a little bit the performance on this one rivals that of machines that use three to four times the amount of power it’s pretty remarkable what apple’s packed into these m1 processors we also have two thunderbolt 4 ports here now the cool thing about the thunderbolt ports is that they still support power delivery so if you’re using a thunderbolt dock you can plug it right in and have it work like it did before and you can leave the magsafe cable in your bags you have a choice as to whether or not to power with the magsafe connector or one of the thunderbolt ports on here you’ve got two of those ports on the left hand side here and additionally these can do display output and unlike the other m1 macs that are out there this one will power two displays through a single cable and i did that a little bit earlier where i was able to get two 4k 60 displays going out through a single thunderbolt port on my docking station over there i was also able to get power in and of course use usb data devices all through that single port so you’ve got pretty much the same functionality now on the thunderbolt ports that you had on the prior intel devices you have your headphone jack over here on the other side we have a card reader so you can plug in your camera cards here they do stick out a little bit though so you can’t leave them in you got another thunderbolt port here and then you’ve got an hdmi output as well now if you have the m1 max processor you can run three displays in addition to the internal display

the m1 pro will support only two external displays now the keyboard is remarkably better than the prior generation macbook pro that this one is replacing the thicker case here gives you more key travel the keys have a nice amount of firmness to them and a really good tactile feel and i think this keyboard should last longer and i’ll let you know if it doesn’t the keys of course are backlit they got rid of the touch bar so you do have much larger function keys now whereas before you had none you even put a big escape key over there the power switch is also a fingerprint reader so this works similar to some of the other macs that have integrated the touch id sensor it unlocks very quickly as you can see there the track pad feels pretty much the same as the prior generation and that’s not a bad thing apple really perfected this trackpad a number of years ago and there really isn’t a reason in my opinion to try to mess around with it because it is great there are no moving parts to it but they have a haptic motor that makes you feel like you’re actually pushing something it’s a really neat effect now the audio quality out of this is also remarkably better than the prior edition the best way to describe the sound is rich it’s got a nice bass to it but high frequency sounds are also very crisp and clear it is of course stereo i think the fact that you’ve got this thicker case gives it more room for those speakers to breathe so you do get much nicer audio here probably the best sounding laptop i’ve reviewed in quite some time and i would imagine the 16 inch might even sound a little better because it does have a larger case for those speakers but they really did a nice job here improving just about everything across the board and some of those improvements were fixing things that were broken in the past generation but a lot of new things like to display in the audio are really nice surprises to see added to the mix battery life on this is excellent this is an arm-based processor so it consumes far

less power than comparably equipped intel machines do at the moment so you’ll get easily a full day out of this thing i have yet to really find the end of the battery doing the day-to-day tasks that i do on it i’ve owned a macbook air m1 for the last year and i’ve never seen a low battery warning on that thing and this one is feeling pretty similar to that if you start doing higher end tasks like video editing and other stuff that will certainly eat into the battery a bit more however doing those same tasks on this machine versus an intel based macbook pro will be night and day when it comes to battery life i think you could probably get maybe four or five hours of decent video editing work time out of this one whereas maybe you would get an hour or two on the intel version because this consumes so much less power all right let’s take a look now at performance and i’m going to start off with web browsing here which is not something this machine was really optimized for but i think it’s an important point to make last year when i looked at the macbook air everything i did on that surprised me from a performance standpoint web browsing was better video editing was completely surprising to me by how well it could handle even 4k video it was just amazing across the board especially given how little its power consumption was now the jump from m1 to the m1 pro or max is going to be a bit more nuanced because you really have to be running applications that tax the cpu and gpu to see a huge performance gain the single core performance out of this machine is identical to that of the macbook air in my testing i’m going to show you two benchmarks now the first is the browserbench.org speedometer test on the 14 inch here we got a score of 247 on the

macbook air we got a score of 224 pretty close take a look at geekbench 5 on the macbook air we got a single core score of 1735 on the macbook pro 14 we got 1776 so for basic tasks these are not going to feel all that different to you and if you’re on an m1 now when you make the jump to the max or the pro you’re not going to feel it right away but there are areas where the difference is substantial let’s take a look at some video editing now so let’s take a look at a 4k 60 video project that i’ve got running here this is something i did on the youtube channel a few weeks ago this is running without proxy files this is full quality here as we’re jumping around the timeline and i was very pleased by just how quick and responsive everything felt versus my macbook air or one of my intel macs that really struggles with uh doing video editing at this level of quality without a proxy or without turning down the viewport to a lower quality image so that was noticeable right away additionally when you start messing around with color grading and exposure everything just happens quickly here and you can immediately in real time just see everything running and make adjustments as you go there’s really no lag or delay here as i’m messing around with stuff and perhaps on a mac pro or something or a more recent intel macbook you might have a similar experience but for me i was very impressed by how quickly everything felt on this as i was editing video with it now one way we can quantify the performance gains is through a benchmark that i’ve been running for many years when i review max it is called the bruce x final cut pro benchmark and that test renders out a relatively short file here that has a ton of layers at a 5k resolution and this chokes even this machine if you try to play it back in real time now on that test the macbook pro 14 here rendered that out in 11 and a half seconds compare that to the macbook air from last year that did it in 18 and it doesn’t seem like a big jump but when you scale that out across a very

large project you can imagine how much time you’ll pick up rendering with the macbook pro over a regular m1 now the m1 from last year was faster than any of the other macs that i had owned and tested here on the channel before that take a look at the mac mini with a external gpu plugged into it with that rx 580 installed it was rendering out in 20.5 seconds and this thing is consuming a fraction of the power that that external gpu and the mac mini was consuming with the intel processor on board so it’s through these benchmarks that you can see where the power lies with this machine the challenge is that there’s not many ways that i can demonstrate it and that is especially true when it comes to gaming because macs are notoriously not a gaming device and this one really is no exception to that because there are not many games you can download that really take advantage of this processor and even though it can run windows as you’ll see in a few minutes it’s not all that great of an experience trying to get windows games to run on this mac that said there is a benchmark we can run to see how well it might do playing games if it had more available and that benchmark is called the 3d mark wildlife extreme test we got a score of 18 487 and a frame rate of 110.7 and compare that to a gaming laptop right below this one on the chart the hp victus 16.

You can see that decently spec’d out gaming laptop was easily bested by this single chip computer that consumes far less power and you can see the potential that this has to be a real game changer for gamers unfortunately there’s not going to be a lot of games available for this one if at all there are games that run on it through apple arcade there are some steam games that are compatible with the mac but none are really optimized for this processor and nothing out there right now takes advantage from a gaming standpoint at least of what this computer is capable of the pro apps will certainly perform quite well you get a feel for what potential there is here but a lot of that potential is going to be locked into certain applications that really tie into the strengths of this processor now you can run windows on these m1 macs and that functionality is improving day by day right now parallel seems to be the best way to get it working and you have to do that through virtualization you can’t boot up into windows like you could on the prior generation hardware we’re running windows 11 here and i’ve been able to run some basic apps without any real issues you can also coax a couple of games into running so this is grand theft auto 5 and this is running at 1900 by 1200 at the lowest settings and i’m getting anywhere from like 30 to 40 frames per second it’s kind of all over the place and that’s because this is an intel game that has to be converted to arm on the

windows side there’s a lot of emulation and translation going on here that results in very shaky performance so if we were running this game natively with the power of this hardware it would be a very different story but here it’s not been running all that great but if you do have windows apps to run it’s getting more and more capable of doing that but again you do have to install an armed version of windows through parallels in virtualization and that’s where you’re definitely going to want to have some extra ram but it’s not as good as the windows experience was on the intel max now as far as fan noise is concerned you have to really work hard to get the fan to turn on on this machine rarely do you ever hear it when you do hear it it is quite subdued it is not very loud at all easily the quietest fan i have ever tested on any computer and it’s only when it’s really getting pushed like when we were running gta 5 there a few minutes ago for the most part this will remain completely silent it gets a little warm but not hot to the touch at all and again if that fan does have to kick on you’re rarely going to hear any noise out of this machine so overall i’m very pleased with my decision here although i think in hindsight i probably would have been fine with the m1 pro in a 10 core configuration the reason is is that a lot of the work that i’m doing currently is not really taking advantage of what the m1 max has to offer the reason why i went with the max over the pro is that my hope is that at some point in the very near future we’ll see some live video production software like vmix be written for an m1 device it’s probably not going to come from vmix but i know there are similar mac apps out there on the intel side that i’m sure will get the m1 treatment soon and those types of apps really need powerful gpus to get the job done effectively in the field and the efficiency of these m1 chips is very attractive to me for that reason so i have some aspirations that in the next five years something will be written that will do live production that will allow me to make full use of what i have purchased here but in the meantime for the most part for what’s available software wise the m1 pro for me probably would have been more than

adequate what was interesting was that when i exported that 4k 60 video that we were looking at earlier this one exported that video only about five minutes faster than my macbook air with the m1 and the reason is they have the same video encoding hardware built into those chips so it’s really not that much faster on the export at least in so far as video compression is concerned but there will be areas where i’m doing maybe color correction or maybe some special effects or filters where that m1 chip will certainly render those things out a lot quicker and as the machine is doing background rendering in final cut pro those are areas where i am seeing slight bumps in performance but it wasn’t as dramatic as the jump from an intel device to an m1 device was a year ago again more nuanced here on the m1 max and pro but still a great piece of hardware and something that i am very happy with and i’m sure we’ll be seeing this thing on my table for many occasions in the next couple of years that’s going to do it for now until next time this is lon simon thanks for watching this channel is brought to you by the london tv supporters including gold level supporters hot sauce and video games brian parker chris allegretta tom albrecht thomas anfang jim tannis and handheld obsession if you want to help the channel you can by contributing as little as a dollar a month head over to lawn dot tv support to learn more and don’t forget to subscribe

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