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Apple M2 Professional vs. M2 Max

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I lately revealed my evaluate of the MacBook Pro 16 with M2 Max, which Apple launched originally of 2023. Now I’ve lastly gotten my arms on the much less highly effective (and cheaper) MacBook Professional 16 powered by Apple’s M2 Professional chip. I’ve run the varied benchmarks and finished the varied duties, and I’ve even (lastly) run the battery into the bottom. Right now, I’m right here to speak to you about how these chips stack up to one another that can assist you resolve which MacBook Pro mannequin is best for you.

Behold, the benchmarks (scroll to the suitable to see extra):

M2 Professional vs. M2 Max: worth

Sixteen-inch M2 Professional fashions start at $2,499, whereas M2 Max fashions begin at $3,099. The bottom M2 Professional mannequin has 16GB of reminiscence and 512TB of storage, whereas the bottom M2 Max has 32GB of reminiscence. Bumping that M2 Professional mannequin as much as 32GB of reminiscence places it at $2,899, giving the M2 Max a couple of $200 premium over the M2 Professional for similar specs. That’s a constant differential no matter the way you tweak the specs.

If you wish to bounce as much as the M2 Max with 38 GPU cores (which is the one I examined), nevertheless, that’s going to be an extra $200 premium. That is the one CPU that may be paired with 96GB of RAM — the 30-core M2 Max mannequin maxes out at 64GB.

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Right here’s the M2 Max mannequin of the MacBook Professional 16.
Photograph by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

M2 Professional vs. M2 Max: Battery Life

I averaged near 14 hours of nonstop use on the M2 Max mannequin with my workload. I can’t assure everybody will get that period of time, particularly since my workload largely entails Chrome tabs, Google docs, and a few streaming, however I do suppose most individuals will get extra out of the M2 Max than they might out of the overwhelming majority of 16-inch laptops available on the market.

I averaged nearer to 17 nonstop hours on the M2 Professional mannequin. In follow, this implies I can apply it to battery for 2 to a few days at a time, plugging it in like occasionally. Whereas the M2 chips don’t have as huge of a battery life delta that their M1 predecessors did, the M2 Professional — for my private workload — had round 20 % extra juice to a cost than the M2 Max.

For me, this battery life differential wouldn’t be a dealbreaker. At a sure level, lengthy battery is lengthy battery. I typically use a MacBook Air as my private laptop, which averages me round 13 hours between prices, and I don’t really feel that I want extra. That stated, in the event you’re actually looking for a tool that by no means dies, the M2 Professional could also be barely extra engaging to you. For everybody else, it must be one other a part of the calculus: along with paying further {dollars} for the M2 Max over the M2 Professional, you’re paying some hours of battery life.

M2 Professional vs. M2 Max: CPU

The distinction in CPU energy between the M2 Professional and M2 Max is determined by which mannequin you go for. All 16-inch M2 Professional fashions have 12 CPU cores. If you happen to go for a 14-inch MacBook Pro, you will get an M2 Professional with 10 CPU cores, however the 16-inch fashions all have 12 CPU cores, no matter whether or not you go for the Professional or the Max.

We had the 16-inch mannequin in each {cases}, so each of those units had 12-core CPUs. These chips have the identical structure — so in the event you’re doing primarily CPU-heavy work throughout your day, you’ll get little or no profit from the Max over the Professional.

Don’t consider me? Try the Cinebench and Geekbench ends in the chart above, that are fairly shut collectively (and similar in some {cases}).

Now, there’s one caveat right here. The M2 Professional fashions max out at 32GB of reminiscence, whereas the M2 Max can deal with as a lot as 96GB. People who have to spend extra on a 64GB or 96GB mannequin most likely know who you might be: individuals who work with large datasets, for instance, and are persistently dealing with massive quantities of data might have a greater time with a kind of (very costly) M2 Max fashions.

The MacBook Pro 14 and MacBook Pro 16 side-by-side on a table, both displaying The Verge homepage.

Listed here are the MacBook Professional 14 and MacBook Professional 16 with the M1 Professional inside. Externally, they’re similar to the M2 fashions.
Photograph by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

M2 Professional vs. M2 Max: GPU

The extra important distinction between these two chips lies in GPU energy. You possibly can principally consider the M2 Max because the M2 Professional with some further graphic chops.

All 16-inch M2 Professional models have 19 GPU cores, whereas M2 Max patrons have a selection of 30 or 38 cores. (Our check unit has 38.)

In Geekbench Compute, which checks GPU energy, we are able to see over a 55 % improve in graphics energy, which tracks with the near 50 % improve in GPU core rely. On Shadow of the Tomb Raider, a GPU-heavy recreation benchmark, the M2 Max did near 80 % higher than the M2 Professional. That’s a really seen distinction on the 120Hz screens these MacBooks have.

There’s one different main distinction between these chips that solely a few of you’ll care about, which is that the M2 Max has two video encode engines and two ProRes engines, whereas the M2 Professional solely has one among every. Which means video editors particularly can count on quicker encoding and playback speeds from the M2 Max. (Precisely how a lot quicker may be inconsistent — extra on that in a minute.)

So these are the uncooked numbers. How does this all shake out throughout a workday?

Various Apple products lined up

With an M2 household this massive, there’s one thing for everybody.
Photograph by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

M2 Professional vs. M2 Max: real-world duties

The M2 Max is noticeably quicker in video work. It beat the M2 Professional in PugetBench for Premiere Professional. My expertise utilizing it to edit was extremely speedy. It flew via playback and exports. If I had been a video editor (assuming my employer was footing the invoice), I’d completely need one among these items.

The M2 Professional was not fairly as constant. I exported the identical five-minute 4K video numerous instances on it and will see a time wherever from across the two-and-a-half minute mark to over six minutes. The method didn’t get persistently quicker or persistently slower as I went on testing; there was no rhyme or motive for the various instances. What I did discover was that the M2 Professional usually obtained hung up on graphics that the M2 Max was in a position to breeze proper via. Becca Farsace, our senior video producer, had the identical expertise exporting a distinct video file.

With that stated, the M2 Professional is hardly a sluggish chip. Adobe Premiere Professional work on it was nonetheless fairly easy. The M2 Max was each a bit louder and warmer than the M2 Professional throughout Premiere work (it has a Excessive Energy Mode particularly meant to maximise efficiency throughout sustained workloads, which the M2 Professional doesn’t have). Becca’s suggestion in our latest guide to the M2 line was that folk who work with 3D, animation, 8K content material, and 4K content material over an hour lengthy ought to significantly contemplate the M2 Max mannequin. The M2 Professional must be positive for everybody else (until cash is absolutely no object).

The distinction was not as stark in Xcode efficiency. The M2 Max accomplished the Xcode Benchmark simply over three seconds quicker than the M2 Professional. That’s a distinction, certain, nevertheless it’s not almost as vast as, say, the hole between the M2 Professional and the M1 Max. I’d not count on the M2 Max to be a necessity for lighter duties like net design.

I do know there are a lot of, many duties individuals may need to use these MacBooks for that aren’t coated right here. Usually, the easiest way to strategy this resolution is to determine: A. how a lot of your workload leverages heavy graphics and B. whether or not you have to get that work finished with each ounce of velocity you will get.

Oh, and I don’t think about that any of you had been contemplating this, however simply in case you had been — no, it doesn’t make a ton of sense to improve to those M2 fashions from the M1 line. The M1 and M2 MacBook Professionals had been costly and quick machines, and they need to nonetheless have fairly a little bit of life in them. However if you’re nonetheless on an Intel MacBook Pro and didn’t spring for the M1 collection final time round, both the M2 Professional or Max MacBook Professional will present a substantial bounce up in efficiency, thermals, and battery life.

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