Apple M1 Ultra vs M1 Max: Which Chip Is For You?

Apple M1 Ultra vs M1 Max: Which Chip Is For You?

Apple revolutionized the custom silicon market with the introduction of its M1 SoC. It then introduced the M1 Pro and M1 Max SoCs, targeting power users, especially creators. However, Apple didn’t stop there! It has now released the godfather of all these SoCs, the M1 Ultra, the last chip in the M1 lineup.

The M1 Ultra is the latest and greatest addition to the M1 lineup, and while boasting two M1 Max chips, it lives up to its name! But should you really spend on the M1 ultra-powered device, or will the M1 Max (still powerful enough to get you through) be enough? Let us understand the differences between M1 Max and M1 Ultra in more depth.

M1 Max vs M1 Ultra: Specs Sheet

Since these are SoCs (System on Chip), the CPU, GPU and memory (RAM) are installed on a single chip. Here are all the specifications that you need for a better comparison.

M1 Ultra M1 Max
cpu 200 million
(16 performance + 4 efficiency)
100 million
(8 performance + 2 efficiency)
GPU 48 crore 24 crore
neural engine 32 crore 16 crore
Memory Bandwidth 800GB/s 400GB/s
RAM (integrated memory) 64GB, 128GB 32GB, 64GB
Storage 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, or 8TB 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, or 8TB
configurable up to 20-core CPU
64-core GPU
32-core neural engine
10-core CPU
32-core GPU
16-core neural engine

We have already established that the M1 Ultra is two M1 Max connected. While this is not generally preferred among chip makers because it increases latency, Apple made it possible, and the interprocessor bandwidth is 2.5TB/s, and I doubt there is any noticeable latency.

All the M1 SoCs are based on the 5nm architecture. While the M1 contains 16 billion transistors, the M1 Max has 57 billion transistors, and the M1 Ultra contains 114 billion transistors, all thanks to Apple’s UltraFusion technology.

The difference in single-core CPU performance of all the M1 chips is negligible. The difference starts to show with the multi-core performance of these chips. Take a look at the benchmark scores below.

M1 Max and Ultra Chips Benchmark Scores

Does the M1 Ultra consume ultra power?

CPU and GPU performance with power consumption

The USP of the M1 chips has been their power to performance ratio. These SoCs consume less power than their PC counterparts. The M1 Max CPU consumes 65% less power than the Intel i5-12600K while providing similar performance.

The M1 Ultra’s CPU competes directly with the Intel i9-12900K processor and delivers 90% higher performance while consuming the same amount of power.

The GPUs on both of these SoCs are incredibly power efficient as well. The M1 Max delivers the same performance as the RTX 3060 Ti while consuming a third of the power. The M1 Ultra consumes 200 watts less power than the RTX 3090 while performing similarly. Considering the size of the MAC studio, this is an impressive feat of design and engineering.

price and availability

While the M1 Max is available with the 16-inch MacBook Pro and the recently launched Mac Studio, the M1 Ultra is exclusive to Mac Studio. And it makes sense that it’s not possible to fit the M1 Ultra SoC within a MacBook.

Again, as the M1 Ultra is literally two M1 Maxes placed side by side, the price point it comes at seems reasonable. The Mac Studio with the M1 Max starts at $1,999, while the M1 Ultra Mac Studio starts at $3,999.

In addition, Mac Studio comes with a lot of ports. Both the M1 Max and M1 Ultra Mac Studio have 4 Thunderbolt 4 ports on the back.

  • Thunderbolt 4 (up to 40Gb/s)
  • DisplayPort
  • USB 4 (up to 40 Gb/s)
  • USB 3.1 Gen 2 (up to 10Gb/s)
  • Two USB-A ports (up to 5Gb/s)
  • hdmi port
  • 10 Gb Ethernet
  • 3.5mm headphone jack

in front of Mac Studio with M1 Ultra Is,

  • Two Thunderbolt 4 ports (up to 40Gb/s)
  • SDXC Card Slot (UHS-II)

And this Mac Studio with M1 Max Is,

  • Two USB-C ports (up to 10Gb/s)
  • SDXC Card Slot (UHS-II)

You can pre-order them now Apple Store, and they will be available from March 18. Note that shipping will take anywhere between 6-8 weeks.

Should you take the M1 Max or the M1 Ultra?

The million-dollar question, oh wait!, here’s the $2,000 question, which Mac studio should you get? Is the $1,999 Mac Studio with M1 Max SoC good enough for your needs? Or, do you need to put down another $2,000 and get the $3,999 M1 Ultra Mac Studio? This is a question that only you can answer.

If your work revolves around running extremely heavy tasks and multiple 4K displays, the M1 Ultra seems like the better choice. However, the M1 Max Mac Studio cannot be underestimated. Consider what your use case is and make an informed decision.

M1 chips have disrupted the custom silicon market, and the M1 Ultra continues to follow suit. While there’s a lot of power to tap with the M1 Ultra, it seems overkill for the general consumer.

If you are eyeing an upgrade, make sure you list your needs and upgrade accordingly. The M1 chip itself is powerful and efficient for day-to-day tasks, and I’m speaking from personal experience. How do you feel about the M1 Ultra? Share in the comments below.

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