M2 Max vs. M1 Max

With Apple’s updated 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro rumored to be a part of a press release on January 17, what better way to compare the two generations of portable Macs than to highlight the chipset differences? In this comparison, the company’s M1 Max takes on the upcoming M2 Max, and we will discuss the important changes and how that will matter to you as a consumer.

M2 Max vs. M1 Max – Manufacturing process

Apple was previously rumored to launch the updated MacBook Pro models in late 2022, but these got delayed. The common opinion was that TSMC was facing 3nm mass production issues, which led to Apple pushing back the launch timeline. Fortunately, with the Taiwanese manufacturer having officially started chip production earlier this year of its next-generation process, there should only be positive news from hereon.

This only means that where the M1 Max was mass produced on TSMC’s 5nm architecture, we should expect the M2 Max to be fabricated on the 3nm process, or at the very least, 4nm. While we are leaning towards 3nm, it is possible that Apple experiences unnecessary delays in shipping M2 Pro or M2 Max-configured MacBook Pro models since producing SoCs on this process is said to be extremely difficult and costly.

CPU and GPU core count of Apple’s M1 Pro and M1 Max SoCs for the 2021 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models

M2 Max vs. M1 Max – Specifications

The M1 Max can be configured with up to a 10-core CPU (eight performance cores and two energy efficiency cores) and a 32-core GPU. As is the case with successive releases, a new Apple Silicon will have a higher CPU and GPU core count. At this time, we know that the M2 Max will feature up to a 12-core CPU and 38-core GPU but the same unified RAM limit. In short, expect higher compute and graphical performance, paired with improved efficiency, thanks to an improved manufacturing process, or at least that is what we are hoping.

Do keep in mind that the 12-core and 38-core GPU is not for the base model, and consumers will likely be charged a premium to increase the total number of cores. However, when looking at Apple’s M1 Max configuration on the company’s website, we noticed that the latter was available with three varying GPU cores. All of them featured the same 10-core CPU, with the base version sporting a 16-core GPU, the one in the middle having a 24-core GPU, and the decked-out variant touting a whopping 32 cores.

Our guess is that the M2 Max will be available with a 12-core CPU in all versions, with the base one offering a 19-core GPU, and customers having the option to obtain more cores in exchange for that higher ‘Apple Tax.’ We do not know if Apple will increase the number of cores for its Neural Engine on the M2 Max, but we will find out during the official announcement.

CPU and GPU core count of Apple’s M1 Pro and M1 Max SoCs for the 2021 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models

M2 Max vs. M1 Max – Upgrades

The M2 Max is said to feature support for faster and more efficient LPDDR5X RAM that will be a part of the SoC die as Apple’s unified architecture. Improvements should include an increase in bandwidth and lower power consumption since the unified RAM on the M1 Pro and M1 Max was based on LPDDR5, making it less powerful and less efficient than LPDDR5X.

For comparison purposes, the M1 Pro topped out at 200GB/s of memory bandwidth, while the M1 Max’s limit was 400GB/s. Samsung recently announced its LPDDR5X RAM and claimed a 1.3x improvement in performance, along with a 20 percent power reduction compared to LPDDR5.

Based on these differences, a 1.3x performance improvement equals a 33 percent boost, and if our math is correct, the M2 Pro’s memory bandwidth will increase to 266GB/s, while the M2 Max could reach 532GB/s. Of course, these are just theoretical figures, and the actual performance will vary significantly on the kind of workload the M2 Max has to tackle.

Maximum memory bandwidth of the M1 Pro and M1 Max

The M2 Max is something that we are excited to see, as Apple will push the CPU and GPU core count limit, but there are other things to look forward to. For instance, the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models may adopt Wi-Fi 6E for the first time, as suggested by an unreleased version spotted in a Canadian database leak. For those who have not yet jumped ship to a high-end MacBook Pro, these ‘under the hood’ upgrades should entice you thoroughly.

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