Is Going MAX on the 2021 M1 Max MacBook Pro Worth It? 🤔: Full Review After 2 Weeks

Since I did the unboxing and my first impressions video of this 14-inch variant of the M1 Max MacBook Pro several weeks ago, if you haven’t seen it be sure to check it out here.

I have been using the laptop every single day without fail, as a heavy video editing machine, and also for my live streams both on hosting Shopee Live sessions and of course my video conferences as well. So in this video, I will give my overall in-depth experience using this new laptop daily.

 

 

Specs

So before anything, in terms of the specs that I went with, to get the best performance out of this new generation MacBook Pro, I decided to go MAX on everything, except for the screen size, where the variant that I have is the 14-inch variant as mentioned, and it has:

  • the M1 Max Chipset with 10-core CPU,
  • 32-core GPU
  • 16-core Neural Engine
  • 64 gigabytes of unified memory, and;
  • 8 terabytes of storage

Now, if you are wondering: “Why in the world would you need an 8TB SSD man? Just get an external drive!” Well, here is why.

First of all, all of my video footage is at a 6k resolution ProRes file format, hence my overall video project files on Final Cut Pro average about 500 to 800 gigabytes of storage and sometimes it can even go more, no kidding.

And oftentimes there are situations where I will need to delete my A Roll footage in order to save space and that also means that I don’t get to back up every file for all of my projects.

Yes, I could always copy the files to an external hard drive and then copied back to the internal storage again, but that would take a lot of time as the read and write speed for the external hard drive for a bigger storage volume is no way as close to what the internal storage speeds.

And speaking of which, that is the second reason why I went with the maxed out disk space as the internal SSD speed was WAAAAAAAAAY faster, at an average of 6 to 7 thousand of average write speed and about 5 thousand plus read speeds.

Now, for many years now, I have been editing off all of my videos on a custom made Thunderbolt 3 enclosure which has 2TB of NVME storage, and while it was decently fast at about 1000 to 1800 MB per second write and about 2400 MB per second read, it was totally incomparable to the crazy fast SSD’s in this new MacBook Pro.

So there is no point in having all these amazing speeds on the processor by being very limited on the speed of your external SSD speeds, so keep that in mind.

 

Design & Build

So one of the first things other people kept saying is about how heavy the laptop was.

Now, for me, I wouldn’t call it heavy but based on me using it daily I would say that it was solid as hell, there is that sort of confidence that I had when I was just carrying the laptop around and setting it up for work, whether or not I am on the go or even in the studio.

So Apple really went with function over form, which I absolutely loved.

Coming from the 15-inch 2017 MacBook Pro, while it may be a tad bit bigger than the overall form factor, I am super glad that I went with this 14-inch variant instead of the bigger 16-inch, it was indeed the best of both worlds having a very powerful machine with portability in mind.

As predicted, using the laptop’s keyboard daily, when I am on the go felt very much at home to me, since I’ve always preferred the scissor-switch style of keys compared to the butterfly switches on the previous 2017 MacBook Pro that I was using, and no I didn’t not miss the touch bar at all as predicted.

Then the trackpad’s responsiveness was also really, nice, where not only it was extremely responsive, but the overall gestures and navigation using the trackpad felt very nice indeed, especially for video editing, moving forward and backward on the video timeline on Final Cut Pro X since I don’t use a mouse when I am editing on the go.

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Connectivity

Next, let’s talk about the return of the ports and whether or not I really used every port daily.

Starting from the Thunderbolt 4 ports which have transfer speeds up to 40 Gbps, I loved how there is a total of 3 ports which is always readily available, because of the reintroduction of the MagSafe 3 charging, hence you don’t have to “sacrifice” one of those ports for charging like how it was on the previous generation.

In terms of how I use each port for my everyday work, when I am on a mobile or on the go situations, besides having the MagSafe when I need it, I usually use one of the ports to copy my video files from the SSD, since my Blackmagic 6k camera records directly to an SSD, so it was an easy plug and transfer the files on the laptop.

Then, I will use the SD card reader to copy my voice over audio from my SD Card, since I record all of my voiceovers separately on an SD Card and then sync it up on Final Cut Pro X with a simple click of a button, and it’s all synced.

And while there is a headphones jack, since I have the AirPods Max, check out my review if you haven’t seen that, I will usually use that, since it has a great passive and active Noise Cancellation to block out the surroundings when I am in a public area. So yes, no more “dongle life”!

AirPods Max Review > https://youtu.be/dOTTbgPSG2I

Then when I am at the studio, for editing videos daily, I will use one of the Thunderbolt 4 port to connect to an external monitor, and since USB-C monitors can charge the laptop at the same time while it has the display turned on, it means that I don’t even use the MagSafe charger.

Similar to my on the go situation, I will use one of the ports to transfer the footage from my camera and the SD Card reader, depending on if I need the extra volume I will use the headphones jack to connect to a speaker. I will also sometimes use the speaker on the laptop, which sounds really great. 

Then finally, when it came to Livestream on Shopee Live, other than having the external display connected, I have one Thunderbolt 4 connected to my Blackmagic Atem Mini switcher to switch between two camera angles, and it is video conferences or meetings, I will just use the new and improved 1080p camera on the MacBook Pro .

So yes, I have yet to use the HDMI port, but I am very sure it will come in the clutch very soon, probably when I have a physical presentation for clients or when I probably add an additional monitor to my overall setup since it does support displays up to 4k 60 frames per second.

And speaking of these setups, I am planning on doing a new 2022 desk setup tour with this MacBook Pro, so subscribe to Adam Lobo TV if you haven’t done so and if you would like to see my Livestream setup too, do let me know at the comments section below.

 

Display

Next, let’s talk about the display. This 14-inch variant has a 14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display with a resolution of 3024 x 1964 pixels. So yes, you are looking at a gorgeous and sharp display, which has a 16:10 aspect ratio

As mentioned in my first impressions video, this is the same Mini LED display technology, which you would see it in the iPad Pro and the HDR capabilities are the same with the Pro Display XDR, where there is up to 1,600 nits of peak brightness for HDR content and a million to one contrast ratio.

Now, as a person who really appreciates a very good display, for the first time ever, I never did need to color calibrate my laptop’s screen because out of the box, the colors were really accurate to a point I had to recalibrate my external monitor to make sure it matched the laptop’s screen.

Prior to using this MacBook Pro, I always used a closed MacBook Pro setup, but because the screen is so freaking gorgeous, I always prop the laptop on a stand to be my additional display and usually have that as playback for my videos when I am editing on Final Cut Pro X because of how amazing the videos look on it.

I also love watching YouTube videos on it, especially together with the speakers. And while I don’t really have the time to watch lots of Netflix on the laptop, there are times when I do watch an episode or two.

And with the ProMotion adaptive refresh rate up to 120 hertz, and this high refresh rate could really be felt during moving about the screen and navigation through the software on the Mac where it was extremely snappy, where you surely can see and feel the difference when navigating the timeline on Final Cut Pro X.

And if you are someone who loves to watch high refresh rate videos on YouTube, you will surely see and appreciate it more over here.

Although there is an adjustment to keep it at a certain value of refresh rate, I just kept it at the adaptive ProMotion settings, and since color accuracy is very important for me, I toggled the True Tone off only during video editing on the laptop’s screen.

Now if you were wondering if the notch above disrupts my viewing experience, the short answer is NO it doesn’t, as it was a similar experience on having a phone with a notch where it will just disappear from your vision within minutes, especially since there is no content that goes over there as well.

Some may complain about how it doesn’t have Face ID, I humbly believe that it might be coming, who knows, I might be right or I might be wrong, but in the meantime, you can use the Touch ID or if you have an Apple Watch, unlock it with that then.

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Speakers

So before giving you an audio test of the speakers on the MacBook Pro, let’s talk about the hardware specs of the speakers.

As a quick recap, there are a total of six speakers, which are two large tweeters and four force canceling woofers, where this force canceling means that it will bring out more bass in their speakers.

And yes, Apple was not kidding when they said they brought in some bass improvements on the speakers, because one might think that there might be some level of sacrifice on the 14-inch compared to the 16-inch when it comes to the speaker quality, but the good news is that there isn’t.

The overall sound quality has to be the best that I have heard on a laptop of its size, vocal clarity on watching movies or even editing videos was really nice.

The support for Spatial Audio came in extra sweet for listening to music too and one thing that really stood out to me was the bass, which was really amazing, and as mentioned, it was great for editing when I was in the studio or even at home.

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Software

Alright, let’s talk about my overall software experience using the laptop daily, especially with this new macOS Monterey version 12.1 

Among all of the new features available on this new OS update, the feature that I was anticipating the most was of course SharePlay, which shares your MacBook Pro screen through FaceTime and of course, watching content together with anyone around the world. And what’s sweet is that it syncs perfectly, and if anyone moves the playback and pauses the playback, it will be indicated on SharePlay.

And yes, I shall break down the main apps that I have been using and I am going to give you my real-time experience results instead of synthetic benchmarks which I always never liked as a real-time situation would be way better to gauge the overall performance.

 

Final Cut Pro X

As mentioned in my first impressions video, this is now my primary device for all of my video editing jobs, so obviously the main app that I use is Final Cut Pro X, where the version is the latest 10.6.1 and editing on it was buttery smooth, even faster than I ever expected.

I tested both 8k and 6k ProRes footage on it and there was absolutely no drop of frames, where the playback was set at Better Quality instead of Better Performance, and I could see all the footage at both the 8k and 6k footage at its full glory.

And while there are tons of new updates on the software, my favorite latest feature that I have been using is the tracking feature, which allows me to track ANYTHING on the screen, so I don’t have to buy those typical expensive plugins to do object tracking in the future anymore.

In terms of the render times, with the double ProRes acceleration on the M1 Max, I got a crazy 4 minutes plus of export for a video close to 9 and half minutes of a mix of both 8k and 6k footage, with lots of color grading and text callouts in the project file.

 

DaVinci Resolve

Then, the second software that I use a lot is Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve, which was used to convert my BRAW files to ProRes, and here is where not only the playback was extremely smooth on a 6144 x 3456 resolution timeline. 

which is something that I NEVER experienced before, and when I converted a 28-minute BRAW file to a 6k ProRes 422 format, it took me about 10 minutes and 23 seconds to do so, which is really mind-blowing!

 

Keynote

Then the other two more software that I use on a daily basis is Keynote, which I have been using to create and update my portfolios, profile, and create presentation documents as well. 

And with the latest 11.2 update, I absolutely love the new Live Video on Slides features, where you can use the MacBook Pro’s front camera to have a picture in picture mode while doing a video presentation live. So this comes in super handy during live video presentations, webinars and even conducting meetings online.

And what’s sweet is that you can not only adjust the position of the live video feed according to where exactly you want to place it, but you can also customize further like adding borders and even editing the source of the video feed to other devices like your iPhone through a cable connection.

Then there is also the Multi-Presenter Slideshows, which allows more than one participant to control the slide instead of switching screens back and forth.

 

Numbers

And finally, the software that I use for all of my quotations and invoice has always been Number, where there are many templates to choose from over there from Basic, Personal Finance, Business, and many more.

And with these new 11.2 updates on Numbers, features like the powerful pivot table are available and it is also now fully optimized to use on the iPad and iPhone as well, which was really sweet!

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Battery

Next, let’s talk about battery life. Now, this was also something that really surprised me because if you are the kind of person who doesn’t do heavy video editing or heavy usage when you are out on the go, I don’t even think you will even need to bring along the charger.

From a battery life’s perspective, I got an average of 13 to 14 hours of battery life, and what’s extra sweet is that I didn’t see a huge drop in battery life, even when I was constantly doing video rendering and conversion for Apple ProRes files, because previously I had to make sure that my laptop was charged otherwise it will just drain the battery like mad, and it feels absolutely amazing that I can do all of this heavy task without even being plugged in.

The new MagSafe 3 does come in extremely handy since not only it was built to ensure that in case there are any accidental tipping over the charging cable that your MacBook Pro doesn’t go flying, but who would have thought that Apple would have brought fast charging for the MacBook Pro as well, where it charges from empty battery to 50% in just 28 minutes for me.

Then there was NEVER a point of time where the laptop was hot at all, and the fan ONLY came on usually towards the end of a heavy conversion of large video files especially when I was converting 8k files, but that’s only for about 1 minute and that’s it!

The thermals on the laptop just were magical and simply unbelievable even when I really am pushing the laptop at the edge of every heavy task that I put it through.

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Conclusion

So in conclusion, should you get this new M1 Max MacBook Pro series, and how about the M1 Pro then?

Well, to answer the first question, I would say, yes, yes and yes, because the laptop is indeed next level, and if you don’t do extremely heavy video editing like how I do, like working with 8k and 6k files always, then you will find that the M1 Pro to be very sufficient, even if you are dealing with 4k H.264 files.

However, whether or not you choose the M1 Pro or the M1 Max, I would still recommend going with the higher RAM option that you can afford to go with, and if you don’t have a crazy file size like me, whether it’s your documents and media files, then I would recommend just upgrading to at least 1TB instead, as the M1 Pro or the M1 Max processor still has an amazing processing speed.

Get the M1 Max MacBook Pro at the link below:-
https://www.apple.com/my/shop/buy-mac/macbook-pro/14-inch

 

Aside from that, thank you so much for reading. Hope this review helped you in making a purchase decision. Like, share and subscribe to Adam Lobo TV if you haven’t done so. See you in my next review!

 

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