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Apple’s MacBook Pro M1 Max chip trounces Mac Pro’s $6,000 AMD GPU

M1 Max at Apple Event
(Image credit: Apple via YouTube)

Apple says the M1 Max is the most powerful chip available for its new 2021 MacBook Pros, and this is something our own benchmarks corroborated. With its 57 billion transistors, 32-core CPU, 64GB of RAM and 400GB/second memory bandwidth, the M1 Max is capable of delivering phenomenal graphical processing power. A 16-inch MacBook Pro 2021 packing an M1 Max processor is tailor-made for professional creatives. It also seems to surpass the AMD-powered Mac Pro in terms of performance.

As reported by TechRadar, UK-based Affinity released the first benchmark of its photo editor, Affinity Photo, running on the M1 Max. The results revealed that Apple’s boasts of the M1 Max’s power were anything but empty.

Affinity Photo’s lead developer, Andy Somerfield, took to Twitter to present his company’s benchmark results. He revealed that the M1 Max’s 32-core GPU outperforms AMD’s W6900X, a graphics card costing $6,000. According to the Affinity Photo benchmark, the AMD Radeon W6900X scored 32,580. The M1 Max GPU scored 32,891. That doesn’t seem like much of a difference, but it is a higher number regardless.

“The #M1Max is the fastest GPU we have ever measured in the @affinitybyserif Photo benchmark,” said Somerfield on Twitter. “It outperforms the W6900X - a $6000, 300W desktop part - because it has immense compute performance, immense on-chip bandwidth and immediate transfer of data on and off the GPU (UMA).”

Related to this, in a recent appearance on the “Same Brain” podcast, Pro Mac Product Line Manager Shruti Haldea directly compared the M1 Max chip to the Mac Pro.

"One thing that is true about this architecture is that it delivers extraordinary performance, and so there are cases in which the M1 Max chip outdoes what Mac Pro can do," said Haldrea (via Apple Insider).

"One example of that is, thanks to the ProRes accelerators that are built into the Media Engine, M1 Max has two of those engines for hardware-accelerated encode and decode, so as a result, you can run seven streams of 8K ProRes in Final Cut Pro on a 16-inch MacBook Pro with M1 Max. That's more streams than on a 28-core Mac Pro with an Afterburner Card, so you're literally out-doing a workstation."

Given these results, we have to wonder if Apple will soon replace the existing Mac Pro with a model sporting the M1 Max GPU. That seems like a logical step, especially if Apple wants to have all of its future hardware running on the company's own silicon. Whatever ends up happening, it’s clear that the M1 Max processor is serious business.

Tony Polanco

Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.