After impressing the market with the mighty first-gen M1, Apple has proven it can go even further. In October 2021, the Apple Silicon platform evolved and brought two exciting new chips: the M1 Pro and M1 Max, which power the latest MacBook Pro. As the company itself emphasized in its communications, devices equipped with these processors are designed to serve people involved in professional projects that require a lot of machine power.
Mini-LED display with 120 Hz refresh rate, 1 TB SSD, 64 GB of RAM (!) and 140 watt charger. This is just part of the specs for the 16-inch MacBook Pro M1 Max I have on hand. In Brazil, the price of this configuration is 48,552 reais (I don’t know, you can buy a car for that price). It is worth it? I’ve been using an Apple laptop for about three months now, and I’m talking about my experience with it in this review.
Design and Connectivity
At first glance at the look of the new MacBook Pro, you noticed a glaring absence: goodbye, the Touch Bar. However, it should be recognized that many people find it unnecessary to use this shortcut next to the keyboard for quick actions. Apparently, the company was well aware of the rejection when it came to designing the current laptop.
Overall, the MacBook Pro with the M1 Max looks imposing, with solid construction and details that set it apart from the Pro M1. I must admit, considering its weight of over 2kg, it’s not a smooth notebook to carry around on a daily basis. Of course it is possible, although it takes up a lot of space in your backpack.
The chassis is thicker. Maybe that’s because it now has more connections on the sides: three Thunderbolt 4’s, an HDMI port, SDXC card slot, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. There’s also the return of MagSafe, but we’ll talk about connections later. Now, why would Apple put all this in? Clearly, the company wants to beckon to professionals who need those doors every day. You did it right!
The notebook’s finish remains excellent, and the materials used still refer to previous models. Aluminum throughout the body helps to enhance the luxurious and sophisticated look, as do the available colors. There are only two: silver, the version we have access to, and a darker shade of space grey.
screen and sound
The display area (Liquid Retina XDR) has lost the classic “MacBook Pro” inscription and is now located at the bottom of the notebook. There is also a notch, which is the biggest cause of controversy in this generation. As you can imagine, this doesn’t affect the navigation much, almost nothing, in my opinion. As with the iPhone, in everyday use, I barely remember the notch there.
I’ve always been impressed with MacBook displays, and recently Samsung’s 2021 AMOLED-powered Galaxy Book Pro model had a similar impact on me. If Apple had distinguished itself for the quality of the panel since the days of Intel, the standard of excellence would be no different for this release. It’s the best screen on a laptop today, and the company has been very successful in shrinking the bezels for better usability.
The icing on the cake is the Mini-LED, which can reach 1,600 nits in HDR content, more than double that of the 2019 MacBook Pro. The resolution has also changed, which amazes me. In the 16.2-inch version we tested, it’s 3456 x 2234 pixels with 1 billion colors.
In practice, all these complicated names and numbers make the device extremely bright, with excellent color volume, very deep blacks and great contrast. For example, the whites in HDR content are so vivid it bothers my eyes. It’s all pretty intense, but it’s a great showcase, especially for those who work with images.
The system also features a variable refresh rate of up to 120 Hz (ProMotion). This is the first time this technology has appeared on a MacBook. I confess that I keep ProMotion on and I don’t feel any noticeable difference, probably because the system is already very smooth.
The speaker does a great job and, as a bonus, supports Dolby Atmos for spatial audio. Four woofers and two tweeters deliver crisp, surprisingly immersive audio. But they are not perfect and I miss more bass.
Webcam, keyboard and trackpad
The controversial notch doesn’t just host the webcam. There is still a sensor and a camera-activated LED indicator. By the way, just like the color iMac, this webcam has full HD resolution and, look, I’ve participated in many Zoom and Google Meet meetings, and I really like the quality.
The keyboard has shrunk to make more room for the speakers. Apple has added three new shortcuts for Spotlight, Dictation and Do Not Disturb. MacBook Pro keys are quiet, comfortable, and backlit for easy typing in the dark. However, the Magic Keyboard follows American standards, so there is no cedilla in Brazil. Touch ID is assigned on the far right and it worked fine during my tests.
The trackpad, in turn, is admirable for the ample space it offers without the use of a mouse, and its matte finish promotes smooth and comfortable navigation. Multi-touch gestures, smart zoom, mission control, scrolling and more all respond well. Even in more complex and detailed work, such as editing, I believe it is sufficient.
M1 Max and battery performance
Thanks to remarkable performance, combined with energy efficiency never before seen in a Mac, the ARM-based Mac caused and still causes a bit of a shock in the industry. The M1 Max manages to take this to another level, making the experience faster and more accurate for developers and professionals like editors/videographers.
Max is a powerful 5nm chip. The tested models have 10 CPU cores and a 32-core GPU, which, according to the company, promise four times the graphics performance over the M1. Offered to Tecnoblog, the device has 64 GB of unified memory and a 1 TB SSD and costs almost R$ 50 thousand. On the Apple website, you can configure an SSD of up to 8 TB for R$ 75 thousand.
Speaking of performance itself, when I’m not on Windows I use my Mac every day to write and visit web pages. But during those three months with the M1 Max, in addition to writing, I did some heavy testing to determine the limits, to no avail. The Mac M1 Max is painfully silent during CPU intensive tasks. This is especially true for those who are used to hearing the fan spin during a Zoom or Google Meet meeting on Mac Intel.
Adobe Premiere Pro 2022 opened in just 4 seconds on our test unit. For comparison, it took 7 seconds to open the same software on the MacBook Pro M1 from our audiovisual editor Raquel Igne. Other editing programs like Photoshop and Affinity Photo only take 2 seconds.
Still using Premiere Pro 2022, the Mac M1 Max took 29 minutes and 19 seconds to render a 4K video at 30 minutes at 60 fps using the Apple ProRes 422 codec. For Ari Libório, our other audiovisual editor at Tecnoblog, a Windows PC with dedicated graphics card takes the same amount of time.
It was during this test that I first noticed the fan working hard. After identifying the noise, I decided to open 10 pages in Chrome and 10 pages in Edge. Also, Notion, Discord, Typora text editor and Apple Music are open. Result: no drop in performance at any time.
If I can point out something negative, Apple has to open up its ecosystem more for games. Unfortunately, I can’t install Genshin Impact to analyze GPU power.
The hardware is also thought to provide corresponding autonomy. Screens tend to consume a lot of energy in any notebook, now imagine a model with Mini-LED and 120 Hz? This MacBook Pro doesn’t offer the range of the Mac M1, but it’s still very energy efficient.
Apple says that the version tested by Tecnoblog can play 21 hours of video on a single charge. It shares the same autonomy as the newly released Galaxy Book 2 Pro, and I’m really looking forward to learning about and comparing it to this MacBook Pro. The unit lasted an average of 6 hours and 30 minutes during the entire period I used the device, even with heavy tasks. This number can go even further, and that’s because I prefer to make the most of all the screen technology that, of course, consumes more battery.
The MagSafe 3 is an excellent connector, it’s securely connected to the Mac, and hardly anyone will be able to bump it against the braided wire. It’s worth noting that the accessories are still a mess, but that makes sense considering the 140 watts of power. All this wealth takes the machine to 50% in just 30 minutes. In fact, the feeding was so fast that I didn’t see the time pass.
We used macOS Monterey throughout the evaluation. Before him, I had Big Sur installed on another Intel MacBook Pro, which unfortunately doesn’t receive updates anymore due to age. Migrating from one to the other is not a big task because, as I always thought, Apple has a pretty solid operating system.
Another thing I always positively emphasize is the settings that are always very accessible. Unlike Windows, I don’t have to visit multiple screens to finally get to the page I want. The integration with iPhone, iPad, AirPods and Beats headphones is admirable and remains one of Apple’s great successes.
Regarding accessing apps and programs, yes, there is an annoying limitation on the App Store, Instagram, Facebook, Netflix, and other popular apps that haven’t been available on the Microsoft Store for a long time. But the M1 Max was developed for professionals, and in that sense, there’s nothing to complain about.
MacBook Pro: is it worth it?
If you use your laptop to write, stream and visit the web, the MacBook Pro M1 Max is not for you. Well, any “ordinary person” with 48,000 reais can buy this device, but it’s still not for you. I mean, the M1 Max is aimed at a specific audience that requires a lot of CPU and GPU power for extremely heavy tasks. If you are not an audiovisual editor or developer, the M1 will serve you well.
It sounds crazy to spend all your money on a laptop, but it might make sense for these target audiences. And fortification: The investment is only worth it if you have that amount available. Also, potential buyers of the M1 Max are definitely already in the Apple ecosystem, so I see this machine only for the professional who uses Apple products on a daily basis.
Knowing its proposal and analyzing its performance as a whole, we can conclude that this is an excellent device. There is adequate performance, impressive screen, good autonomy and imperfect software, but it is stable and beautiful. The MacBook Pro powered by the M1 Max is the best Apple has ever made. It is the ultimate notebook.