Apple revealed its M1 Pro and M1 Max chips when it unveiled the new MacBook Pro 2021 (14-inch) and MacBook Pro 2021 (16-inch) laptops during the Apple Unleashed event.
The company boasted about the power of the Apple silicon processors and made direct comparisons to PC laptops, to the extent that even non-Apple fans took notice of the raw power these new M1 processors supposedly possessed. On paper, the M1 Pro and M1 Max appear to be game-changers for the MacBook Pro line.
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We now have numbers that prove the M1 processors are as powerful as we were led to believe.
We’ve pitted the MacBook Pro 2021 14-inch (M1 Pro 10-core GPU with 32GB of RAM) and the MacBook Pro 2021 16-inch (M1 Max 32-core GPU with 64GB of RAM) against three comparable laptops: the Asus ProArt StudioBook 16, HP ZBook Fury 17.3-Inch G8, and Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio. Both the ProArt StudioBook and Surface Laptop Studio have 32GB of RAM, while the ZBook Fury has 64GB.
For good measure, we also compared it to last year's MacBook Air M1 and MacBook Pro M1 to give you a sense of how the new M1 chips stack against their predecessors.
MacBook M1 Pro and M1 Max: Performance benchmarks
On the Geekbench 5.4 multi-core test, the M1 Pro and M1 Max scored 12,477 and 12,683, respectively. These scores obliterate the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio’s 5,820 and handily surpass the Asus ProArt StudioBook 16’s score of 9,158 and the HP ZBook Fury’s 9,716. The M1 MacBook Air (5,962) and M1 MacBook Pro (5,925) can’t compete, either.
|Header Cell - Column 0||Geekbench 5.4||Handbreak video transcoding||PugetBench Photoshop|
|MacBook Pro 14-inch M1 Pro||12,477||4:51||806|
|MacBook Pro 16-inch M1 Max||12,683||4:48||877|
|Asus ProArt StudioBook 16||9,158||6:06||DNR|
|HP ZBook Fury G8||9,716||6:27||1,077|
|Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio||5,820||11:24||DNR|
|MacBook Air M1||5,962||9:15||653|
|MacBook Pro M1||5,925||7:44||649|
The new laptops nab another win on our Handbrake video transcoding test. They convert a 4K film to 1080p at 4:51 and 4:48, respectively; this is nearly half the 11:24 taken by the Surface Laptop Studio. Both the M1 Pro and M1 Max MacBooks also beat the Asus and HP laptops in this category, but not by so much. They also outshine the MacBook Air M1’s 9:15 and the MacBook Pro M1’s 7:44.
Finally, we have the sole performance category where the new M1 Pro/Max laptops lose. On the PugetBench Photoshop test, the M1 Pro (806) and M1 Max (877) scored less than the ZBook Fury (1017). However, their respective times — 4:54 for the M1 Pro and 4:44 for the M1 Max — are comparable with the ZBook Fury’s 4:56. We don’t have Photoshop numbers for the Surface Laptop Studio or Asus ProArt StudioBook 16. However, both new laptops surpass the MacBook Air M1 (653) and MacBook Pro M1 (649).
MacBook M1 Pro and M1 Max: Gaming benchmarks
Gaming is one of the areas we expected the 2021 MacBook Pros to really shine. However, our tests reveal some surprising numbers. Sid Meier’s Civilization VI runs at 46 fps on the M1 Pro (at 1512x982p resolution) and 46 fps on the M1 Max (1728x1080). These numbers are marginally better than the 37 and 38 fps reached on the M1 MacBook Air and M1 MacBook Pro, respectively.
|Header Cell - Column 0||Civilization IV: Gathering Storm (fps)||Resolution|
|MacBook Pro 14-inch M1 Pro||46||1512 x 982|
|MacBook Pro 16-inch M1 Max||46||1728 x 1080|
|Asus ProArt StudioBook 16||92||1920 x 1080|
|HP ZBook Fury G8||83||1920 x 1080|
|Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio||66||1920 x 1080|
|MacBook Air M1||37||1440 x 900|
|MacBook Pro M1||38||1440 x 900|
The new MacBooks cannot touch the whopping 92 fps achieved on the ProArt Studio Book 16 (1080p). Both the Surface Laptop Studio (66 fps) and ZBook Fury (83) also performed better. As I've said before, the MacBook Pro M1 Max is an absolute beast — and a complete waste for gamers.
MacBook M1 Pro and M1 Max: Battery life benchmarks
Battery life is jaw-dropping compared to the competition. The M1 Pro (14:08) and M1 Max (15:31) MacBooks lasted far longer than the ProArt StudioBook (6:16) and ZBook Fury (7:09). They also bested the Surface Laptop Studio’s best time of 12:03. Like the MacBook Air M1 (14:41) and MacBook Pro M1 (16:32) before them, the new 2021 M1-powered MacBook Pros have exceptional all-day battery life.
|Header Cell - Column 0||Battery life|
|MacBook Pro 14-inch M1 Pro||14:08|
|MacBook Pro 16-inch M1 Max||15:31|
|Asus ProArt StudioBook 16||6:16|
|HP ZBook Fury G8||7:09|
|Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio||10:42 (120Hz)|
|MacBook Air M1||14:41|
|MacBook Pro M1||16:32|
The M1 Pro and M1 Max-powered MacBook Pros are serious business, as revealed by our tests. Apple wasn’t joking when it said the new M1 chips are the company’s most powerful processors. Gaming performance is disappointing, but by every other measure, the new M1s outstrip the competition.
Also, in performance per/watt, which is what matters in a laptop. The M1, M1 Pro and M1 Max destroy the INTEL and AMD chips.
Also, whilst the x86 vendor PugetBench is as biased as Intel AVX2 CPU renderer Cinebench, where are these figures on their site? Why are there only Premiere figures posted? I also see that screen refresh impacts the score so can TG disclose they had the MBP screen set to 120Hz?
Can also TG disclose if they were using the VideoToolbox when encoding in Handbrake as you can't really show off a SoC if you ignore the fast bits.
The point is that these tests were run using Mac x86 games being emulated in Rosetta, something the author fails to mention. Without telling his readers this, many will conclude that the M1 not good for gaming with native software instead of in emulation. I’ve seen articles like this repeated several times and people unfamiliar with Macs and the often poor x86 ports are simply coming to the wrong conclusions.
There are at this point few native games for the M1 on sale because many developers are still transitioning from x86 Mac to M1 Mac.
But one thing is different now that was not in the Mac market before, the plethora of Native iOS games for iPhone and iPad that already run native on the M1, like Civilization IV. The problem is that the Mac version in the AppStore is x86 but the iPad/iPhone version is native M1 ARM. The iPhone/iPad native versions will run on the M1 but developers have not allowed it yet, probably because the interface is designed for touch.
The bottom line is that these gaming tests prove nothing about the capabilities of the GPU for gaming. Once the native versions come along we will see very different results.
Whilst only a few are M1 native (though I think Baldur's Gate has just converted), it's odd that so many already support the Metal API (where the graphics work is done) but haven't been recompiled for ARM. I would say ARM is an inevitability in the PC world. Maybe the M1 Pro/Max is the excuse they need whilst getting even a minimal return on their investment.
The iOS games market is huge and we will definitely see many of those native games scaled up to the desktop and the economy of scale the Mac didn’t have before will now com into play. The very game they tested here already has a native iOS version, so it won’t be long before these misguided benchmarks are history.
Second, more generally, none of his benchmarks of the Macs vs. other mfrs. tell us anything, because we have no idea what he's comparing the Macs against.
Take, for instance, the HP ZBook Fury 17 G8. That's a highly customizable workstation. Specifically, it can range from a low-end Core i5-11500H (6 cores) with Intel UHD integrated graphics, to an ultra-high-end* Xeon W-11955M (8 cores) with NVIDIA RTX A5000 GPU (16 GB DDR). Without knowing which configuration of ZBook he's using (the only spec we're given is that it has 64 GB RAM), all his comparisons relative to the ZBook tell us nothing.
*With this CPU-GPU combo, 64 GB RAM, 2 TB HD, and a 4K display, it's $7,050, which is $2,750 more than an M1 Max with the same RAM and TB size ($4,300).
And it's the exact same problem with the Asus ProArt StudioBook 16 and the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio. All he gives us is the RAM. It's so frustrating when reviews lack the basic information needed to make them meaningful.
What reviews? What are you even saying?