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Is M1 Max worth $400 extra?

CPotter
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HDMI 2.1 Adapters do not work because of a software limitation in MacOS. We were able to confirm the HDMI 2.1 adapters are outputting full bandwidth, but MacOS is limiting clock speed to 600MHz. This included several users testing dozens of adapters & cables.

 

Older Intel machines also limit clock speed, but if you bootcamp into Windows, the same adapters work just fine, showing it is not a hardware limitation with those models, but instead software.

 

More info on MacRumors: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/mac-mini-4k-120hz.2267035/page-10

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Yes.

Well not for me, but for someone it probably is.

If you think I'm wrong, correct me. If I've offended you in some way tell me what it is and how I can correct it. I want to learn, and along the way one can make mistakes; Being wrong helps you learn what's right.

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So the main issue with most of the metal (gaming) tests you were running is while they were using metal they were developed for Macs with TBIR GPUs as such they are not using the TBDR gpu pipeline of the M1* GPUs very well at all. 

Properly making use of the TBDR pipeline can massively improve the rendering performance, just look at the gfxbench numbers (since this was developed first and foremost for mobile GPUs they developed have put the time into optimising for apples GPUs).

 

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Been looking at one for a while now, especially since Windows managed to do what I thought was impossible before, which is somehow managing to break my productivity suite during an update, which necessitated a day's worth of nuking and a fresh reinstall to get things working again.

 

What really sold me on the M1 MacBooks is that they maintain their performance off the charger and last quite a while doing so, compared to a lot of high performance laptops where they throttle their performance significantly to save power. 

The Workhorse (AMD-powered custom desktop)

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X | GPU: MSI X Trio GeForce RTX 2070S | RAM: XPG Spectrix D60G 32GB DDR4-3200 | Storage: 512GB XPG SX8200P + 2TB 7200RPM Seagate Barracuda Compute | OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro

 

The Portable Station (Intel-powered Lenovo Yoga Slim 7i)

CPU: Intel Core i5 1135G7 | GPU: Intel Iris Xe 80CU | RAM: 16GB LPDDR4X-4267 | Storage: 512GB PCIe SSD | OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home

 

The Communicator (Apple iPhone 13 Pro)

SoC: Apple A15 Bionic | RAM: 6GB LPDDR4X | Storage: 128GB internal w/ NVMe controller | Display: 6.1" 2532x1170 "Super Retina XDR" OLED with VRR at up to 120Hz | OS: iOS 15.1

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37 minutes ago, hishnash said:

So the main issue with most of the metal (gaming) tests you were running is while they were using metal they were developed for Macs with TBIR GPUs as such they are not using the TBDR gpu pipeline of the M1* GPUs very well at all. 

Properly making use of the TBDR pipeline can massively improve the rendering performance, just look at the gfxbench numbers (since this was developed first and foremost for mobile GPUs they developed have put the time into optimising for apples GPUs).

 

That isn't really an issue with the tests though as it simply is a reflection of the current situation in regards to software support. Something Anthony also explicitly mentions a few times in the video. 

There aren't many subjects that benefit from binary takes on them in a discussion. Certainly not as the entirety of an argument.

Sure, they make things seem simple, but they rarely are. Most things we deal it are pretty complex. Even more useless are binary hot takes centered around a cherry-picked part of what someone said. 

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1 hour ago, creesch said:

That isn't really an issue with the tests though as it simply is a reflection of the current situation in regards to software support. Something Anthony also explicitly mentions a few times in the video. 

For sure, it will take a long time (if ever) for non mobile focused games to bother to optimise for TBDR pipelines. But I think it is worth pointing out that just because an app is compiled for ARM64 and uses metal does not mean it is optimised for apples GPU:

Having done this myself (for a professional application not game) the work needed to go from a TBIR pipeline to TBDR was 10x the work needed to go from VK to Metal. And we had quite as simple situation compared to a complex game engine. And when we did this we still likely left 30%+ performance on the table as we did not have the time to move to a GPU secluded runloop (that would have really improved responsiveness in our case).  

Fundamentally you need to breakdown everything your doing, go back to the white board and figure out every effect your doing how they combine, one of the big aspects is you need to rethink what goes in what render pass (you and likely massively reduce the number of render passes by using TileCompute shaders within the passes) but also consider (and this is the hardest thing to do for an existing game engine) the draw call ordering (within a given render pass you want objects that are closer to the camera to be scheduled to Redner first as doing so allows the gempu within the render pass to for free cull obscured fragments before it calls the respective fragment shaders). Figuring out this order is not trivial and in out case we used a gpu compute shader to do this but there are a collection of methods, if deployed properly you can save a massive amount of fragment function evaluation. 

 

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For this video there is another aspect that was not even mentioned at all and that is the MASSIVE VRAM this device gives your gpu, this means that for many pros you can do tasks on it that you just can't do on other laptops were your vRAM limit will be 12GB or maybe 16GB.  Talking about rendering, unless your just rendering out individual assets most professionals will find themselves with scenes that are to large for mobile RTX GPUS but the M1 Pro/Max will be able (if you configure them) to render these without issue.  Just running benchmarks that have been optimised to be small downloads over the web is not a very good real world test.  

 

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Haven't watched the video yet, but I really wanted @LinusTech to cover the M1 Pro and Max CPUs as well and get his thoughts on it as a PC user, on the existence of a 3rd industry player from what has been a monopoly/duopoly forever

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19 hours ago, hishnash said:

For this video there is another aspect that was not even mentioned at all and that is the MASSIVE VRAM this device gives your gpu, this means that for many pros you can do tasks on it that you just can't do on other laptops were your vRAM limit will be 12GB or maybe 16GB.  Talking about rendering, unless your just rendering out individual assets most professionals will find themselves with scenes that are to large for mobile RTX GPUS but the M1 Pro/Max will be able (if you configure them) to render these without issue.  Just running benchmarks that have been optimised to be small downloads over the web is not a very good real world test.  

 

This is kind of the crux of why most reviewers are bad sources of information. Outside of video editing, most tech reviewers (on youtube) don't do demanding things. Seeing someone post a video talking about how they compiled something in 9 seconds vs 10 on an Intel Mac just makes me die on the inside. I appreciate the effort - but it really doesn't tell you anything. 

 

I see videos like "is 64 GB of RAM worth it?" and think to myself "if you have to ask, then no." The problem is, it is really really worth it in cases where you need it (and generally, the people that need it know they need it). And when you don't, you won't see any difference. If the OS is optimized to handle switching between apps well, then there is no need for 64GB of RAM just because you have 20 chrome tabs, a video editor, and something else open. 

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Tried to leave this information on a YouTube comment, but you appear to be blocking my posts.

 

The latest snapshot build of Handbrake seems to fix the Media Engine access via the VideoToolbox API - try it at:

 

https://github.com/HandBrake/handbrake-snapshots/releases/tag/mac

 

My testing has shown it improves a 1080p transcode of a 1:48:09 MKV RIP to 1080p HEVC from 45 minutes to 9 minutes.

 

You make the point that putting additional silicon support of IP blocks like the Media Engine is not the way to go, but when you've already produced eight wide high performance cores, going nine wide isn't going to yield much benefit. I'm sure the Apple Silicon team raised a toast when they could get eight instructions to execute simultaneously. There is always a point of diminishing returns.

 

You have to realize that Apple is not a traditional CPU or GPU manufacturer, and their silicon design team does not follow the tried and true path of those silicon developers. Apple's Silicon team does not strive to make the fastest CPU or GPU, but rather optimization of the product pipeline and reduction of pain points for their users.

 

When one route is blocked, they'll take another to try to optimize their product's performance.

 

What is a GPU other than an IP block attempting to optimize graphical workflows?

 

Any way, the latest Handbrake snapshot build appears (at least in my testing) to produce a 5x speed improvement on the M1 Max in my 2021 MacBook Pro 16", M1 Max with 32 GPU cores, 32 GB RAM, 2 TB SSD configuration.

 

I at this time have no idea when commit ce52b4d755a2799a4801f256622b8e8191e71220 will make it into generally available versions of Handbrake.

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  • 1 month later...

Returned my Macbook Pro 14 inch M1 Pro recently. I don’t think the M1-Max is worth it :


My main usage was programming.

And early on I noticed that at random times my system froze for seconds - which I

attributed to my tools. (  nvim in iterms, VS-Code and XCode )


So I checked and decided to monitor all programs running in the background.


I quickly realised that Firefox managed to use the „window server“ at 100 % CPU on multiple cores when watching YouTube or Netflix.., which killed the battery within 2-3h. I was actually impressed that this was possible.
 

That was solved by using Safari instead, unfortunately the only useful AD-blockers come with an additional installation of some programs instead of an extension. (Turns out extensions for Safari are too restricted for any decent ad filtering) . (Could have tried Brave or Chrome but decided to go with something where I was “promised” good performance on a mac)

Next I tried some games, via gog and steam, and got actually pleasantly surprised by a decent performance (albeit only 30% of my games run effortlessly). 
 

In the end I really wanted to have a larger screen so I returned it. But I am still contemplating if tools and apps and the OS problems you will encounter are worth it. I mean i hands down never had such a great sound experience from a laptop, and for watching movies, this is great….
 

but I don’t think we a M1-MAX is worth it: given the gaming and tooling options are so limited at the moment. 

Edited by Restello
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On 1/10/2022 at 6:09 PM, Restello said:

Returned my Macbook Pro 14 inch M1 Pro recently. I don’t think the M1-Max is worth it :


My main usage was programming.

And early on I noticed that at random times my system froze for seconds - which I

attributed to my tools. (  nvim in iterms, VS-Code and XCode )


So I checked and decided to monitor all programs running in the background.


I quickly realised that Firefox managed to use the „window server“ at 100 % CPU on multiple cores when watching YouTube or Netflix.., which killed the battery within 2-3h. I was actually impressed that this was possible.
 

That was solved by using Safari instead, unfortunately the only useful AD-blockers come with an additional installation of some programs instead of an extension. (Turns out extensions for Safari are too restricted for any decent ad filtering) . (Could have tried Brave or Chrome but decided to go with something where I was “promised” good performance on a mac)

Next I tried some games, via gog and steam, and got actually pleasantly surprised by a decent performance (albeit only 30% of my games run effortlessly). 
 

In the end I really wanted to have a larger screen so I returned it. But I am still contemplating if tools and apps and the OS problems you will encounter are worth it. I mean i hands down never had such a great sound experience from a laptop, and for watching movies, this is great….
 

but I don’t think we a M1-MAX is worth it: given the gaming and tooling options are so limited at the moment. 

The M1 Max performs better in the 16" MacBook Pro - the 14" is clock locked due to thermal constraints.

 

If you must get a M1 Max with a 14", I wouldn't go for more than the 24 core GPU.

 

Firefox shouldn't have the ability to drive the CPU to 100% on multiple cores and set the machine non-dispatchable - probably a bug. I'd see if it still happens with 12.1. These machines are pretty new and they're probably still working the hairballs out of 'em. The latest release of Handbrake (1.5.1 as of this post) allows the M1 variants to use the media engine by specifying use of the VideoToolbox.

 

Remember, these puppies are using a brand new architecture and there are likely to be a few bumps in the road (though I haven't experience any beachballs). I've removed BitDefender from my Monterey Macs as there seems to be something amiss. BitDefender insisted on quarantining a bunch of Win files on my Crossover installation.

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On 1/13/2022 at 11:35 AM, Verne Arase said:

The M1 Max performs better in the 16" MacBook Pro - the 14" is clock locked due to thermal constraints.

 

If you must get a M1 Max with a 14", I wouldn't go for more than the 24 core GPU.

 

Firefox shouldn't have the ability to drive the CPU to 100% on multiple cores and set the machine non-dispatchable - probably a bug. I'd see if it still happens with 12.1. These machines are pretty new and they're probably still working the hairballs out of 'em. The latest release of Handbrake (1.5.1 as of this post) allows the M1 variants to use the media engine by specifying use of the VideoToolbox.

 

Remember, these puppies are using a brand new architecture and there are likely to be a few bumps in the road (though I haven't experience any beachballs). I've removed BitDefender from my Monterey Macs as there seems to be something amiss. BitDefender insisted on quarantining a bunch of Win files on my Crossover installation.

Agreed, on all accounts. The system is new so expect some bumps along the road.

Also I can recommend a 16 inch system if you have to go for the M1 Max.

(although I can not come up with any reason to get an M1 Max... maybe: crypto mining? 🤣😂...)

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53 minutes ago, Restello said:

Agreed, on all accounts. The system is new so expect some bumps along the road.

Also I can recommend a 16 inch system if you have to go for the M1 Max.

(although I can not come up with any reason to get an M1 Max... maybe: crypto mining? 🤣😂...)

Current and future AAA game ports and native games should make use of the GPU cores, as well as newer developments like Blender 3.1 and above.

 

For me, it's future-proofing as well as any Mac games which do get developed.

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14 minutes ago, Verne Arase said:

Current and future AAA game ports and native games should make use of the GPU cores, as well as newer developments like Blender 3.1 and above.

 

For me, it's future-proofing as well as any Mac games which do get developed.

Are you certain about that? I mean for 4k$+ you can future proof a lot .. in the future 😄

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10 minutes ago, Restello said:

Are you certain about that? I mean for 4k$+ you can future proof a lot .. in the future 😄

Well, I owned a top-of-the-line 2019 and I sold it prior to WWDC.

 

I replaced it (eventually) with the 2021 16" with an M1 Max which I consider to be the finest laptop made (so far). For around the same price as the 2019, the 2021 exceeds it in so many ways that it feels more like it's a 5-10 years further along in evolution from its two year old cousin.

 

I can make those kinds of comparisons ... prior to the 2019 16" the last MacBook Pro I purchased was the 2011 17" boat anchor - the last 17" Apple made (despite owning the 2010 - I just needed to have that quad core). BTW, the 2011 still works - I keep it around because it's the last Mac I have that supports Firewire 800, but it really became unusable because no one makes FW800, Thunderbolt 1, or ExpressCard/34 peripherals any more. In fact, the only peripherals still being made which the 2011 connects to is USB, and the 2011 only supported USB 2 which is hideously slow.

 

Apple discontinuing the 17" made me reconsider my options, and for those eight intervening years I moved on to iMac 5Ks which have the performance and screen real estate I want. I stopped using MacBooks until Apple introduced to 16" in 2019 which passed my threshold for what I consider to be the minimum usable screen real estate for a computer.

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52 minutes ago, Verne Arase said:

Well, I owned a top-of-the-line 2019 and I sold it prior to WWDC.

 

I replaced it (eventually) with the 2021 16" with an M1 Max which I consider to be the finest laptop made (so far). For around the same price as the 2019, the 2021 exceeds it in so many ways that it feels more like it's a 5-10 years further along in evolution from its two year old cousin.

 

I can make those kinds of comparisons ... prior to the 2019 16" the last MacBook Pro I purchased was the 2011 17" boat anchor - the last 17" Apple made (despite owning the 2010 - I just needed to have that quad core). BTW, the 2011 still works - I keep it around because it's the last Mac I have that supports Firewire 800, but it really became unusable because no one makes FW800, Thunderbolt 1, or ExpressCard/34 peripherals any more. In fact, the only peripherals still being made which the 2011 connects to is USB, and the 2011 only supported USB 2 which is hideously slow.

 

Apple discontinuing the 17" made me reconsider my options, and for those eight intervening years I moved on to iMac 5Ks which have the performance and screen real estate I want. I stopped using MacBooks until Apple introduced to 16" in 2019 which passed my threshold for what I consider to be the minimum usable screen real estate for a computer.

 

I used a mac-book air 2013 until quite recently; battery life is still decent, speed is still good, it has plenty of ports, it's light, handy ...

I just can not upgrade it beyond Big-Sur (which would make it very sluggish).. (So I remained on Catalan).

It's still a pretty good mileage. (8-9 Years...)

Well I also noticed my work-flow being much faster with a larger screen attached to it... 🙂

So 16 inch is maybe a nice size for a good work-flow.

Although I am not convinced that the M1 Max is worth it if you also have to upgrade to 32gb of ram, making it a bump up of 800$.

Some options for future proofing in gaming could be: something like stadia, a gaming console or a Desktop PC (granted if the GPU prices normalize again in maybe 5-10 years from now, ... maybe you are right after all.. 😉 ). :?

 

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3 hours ago, Restello said:

I used a mac-book air 2013 until quite recently; battery life is still decent, speed is still good, it has plenty of ports, it's light, handy ...

I just can not upgrade it beyond Big-Sur (which would make it very sluggish).. (So I remained on Catalan).

It's still a pretty good mileage. (8-9 Years...)

Well I also noticed my work-flow being much faster with a larger screen attached to it... 🙂

So 16 inch is maybe a nice size for a good work-flow.

Although I am not convinced that the M1 Max is worth it if you also have to upgrade to 32gb of ram, making it a bump up of 800$.

Some options for future proofing in gaming could be: something like stadia, a gaming console or a Desktop PC (granted if the GPU prices normalize again in maybe 5-10 years from now, ... maybe you are right after all.. 😉 ). :?

Having a primary driver with a supported OS is important to me - even though I'm retired now.

 

The only thing the M1 Max brings you (over the M1 Pro) is more GPU cores and double the encoding blocks in the media engine (as well as double the ProRes decoders), and double the memory bandwidth for the CPU and IP blocks.

 

If you're considering the 2021 MacBook Pro, the 16" does bring with it much better thermal headroom along with the screen real estate, better speakers, and a big gorgeous display (along with the increased weight, of course).

 

I find it easier to spring for Apple hardware since I finally put some coin into Apple stock in 2014 when I realized how much my Apple habit was costing me and the missus told me I should put my money into something I believe in - I've owned Apple continuously since then except for a brief stint where I jumped out at the start of the pandemic when Apple fell from around 210 to 150 due to production halt, with an aggregate appreciation of around 981% for a yearly appreciation of about 151% per annum. The wife gives me much less flack about buying Apple hardware nowadays 😊.

 

The 2021 MacBooks have had the best increase in performance I've ever seen over a two year period - though it looks like high end x86 is getting better too. Only difference is that on the x86 side, like always you're getting a portable desktop with a humongous power supply, whereas with the MacBooks you get performance and portability (and the ability to run for a long time on battery). With the x86 models, your performance dives off a cliff when you're running on battery - something that channels like LTT sort of gloss over.

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Max is worth it if you need it pretty much. If you don’t then don’t get it 

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