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My 1st 48 hours in M1 Max chip territory…Great to finally join the Apple Silicon party!

…the transition from Intel to Apple Silicon and the M1 Max chip

M1 Max chip
image courtesy of author

It was March 2021, I seem to recall, that working on a Mac changed forever, for everyone, as Apple Silicon was introduced to us. I watched on, as did many, and marvelled at what we were witnessing. Well, wind it on, just over a year, and I am now the proud owner of a slice of Apple Silicon myself. Here are my impressions two days in.

M1 max chip
image courtesy of author

My choice

It was on my birthday this year, back in March, that I took the plunge and finally ordered a new Mac. I had been pouring over the permutations and choices for, what seemed like months. M1 Pro, M1 Max or M1 Ultra? 24” iMac, Mac Studio or MacBook Pro? 8, 16, 32 or 64GB of unified memory? There was a lot to consider. It was never going to be a walk in the park or cheap! This was an investment in me and my business, that would see me through the next 5 or 6 years of my working life.

Pre-pandemic, I had always been very office focused and based. I had offices close to where I live, and for all my adult life, have headed out the door every morning. But times have changed, and so have I. The lockdowns taught me the many benefits of working from home. The flexibility it brings, the creativity, and the productivity too. I mention all this as it has had great bearing on the choices I was about to make on my Mac purchase.

image courtesy of author

Focus on the future

It was time to be realistic as to what I thought the future may hold and the way I am going to work. I had always ignored laptops as a serious workstation, it had to be desktops, and big ones at that. 27” iMacs were for me. I even have a 21.5” iMac just as an email screen! It had always been size first & foremost. With no 27” iMac currently to choose, for the first time ever, I considered a MacBook Pro as my daily workhorse. Just as I was about to make the choice, things were made a little tougher as the Mac Studio was launched. Having considered it, I knew it was too much of a beast for me. It was too powerful, would tether me to a desk and prove more expensive. Nope, my mind was set, I was going MacBook. I ended up picking a 16” M1 Max, with 32GB of unified memory and, as it turns out, 4TB of storage.

I say, as it turns out, as initially, I had ordered a 2TB MBP. That all changed when last week, Apple emailed me to say that my order had been pushed back until July, due to the chip shortage. After a few days of phone calls, I got lucky and found one machine in the UK, the only difference being this one had twice the storage. I bit the bullet, paid the price, and here I am working on my MacBook Pro.

image courtesy of author

The set-up

It had been a few years since I had set up a new Mac, and every time I do so, it gets easier. I spent all day Sunday just sitting on the sofa and slowly adding things to the Mac to make it not only mine, but a working machine too. It needed to start earning me money as quickly as possible. My viewers on my YouTube channel have been great as I had talked to them about setting up a Mac. With their input, I decided that rather than installing from one of my other Macs, that I would take my time, and do a clean installation. I am already glad I did. Likewise, I now have peace of mind that everything on here, is here for a reason. First on was the Creative Cloud desktop app, then InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Audition, Premiere Pro and, Acrobat. The app I write all these blogs in was next, Ulysses, and thereafter, my Waves plug-ins. Slowly, but surely, it was feeling like mine. I spent some time logging in to various sites etc, and glad I had used Keychain for password management all these years! It made things a total breeze.

image courtesy of author

The first working day

Yesterday was my first full day on the new rig. I had heard so much about the battery life, and I am not yet sure what my take on it is. I think it is as good as I had heard, but I did have to charge it by late afternoon. That said, I had been working with InDesign & Photoshop all morning and then some Premier Pro work as well. Bear in mind, when I say “had to charge”, it was far from being on it’s last legs….old habits, I guess! I own a two-year-old Intel MacBook and I know that would have been dead after only a few hours, if that. And the fans would have been whirring away the whole time too. This thing is silent, and cool. Even on video exports, the fans only briefly, and very gently, kicked in. Even then, the fans were barely audible and the Mac itself, hardly warm to the touch.

Apart from there being a slight issue with Premiere Pro, the first day was all I had hoped. I haven’t fully appreciated how good the screen is. All Macs have great displays. The colour accuracy seems improved, but I have not yet had a chance to fully appreciate Pro Motion, the benefits of mini LED, and the 120Hz refresh rate.

I am not a typer! I’m proficient at best, but still bang away with two, fairly fast, fingers! But, even I noticed how good this keyboard really is. It is beautifully balanced and responsive.

For an audio man, it was actually quite late in the day before I had even tried the speakers. OK, I come from a studio with monitors, but even so, these little speakers in this laptop are mighty. Would I want to edit a podcast on them? No, but for a decent quality audio consumption, you really would not need desk speakers. Reasonable bass, and fairly crisp mids. You’d not find these painful to listen to all day.

image courtesy of author

Does size matter?

This has been my first full day of working, creatively, on a laptop. The screen does not feel small. Somehow, that has not been an issue yet. Later today, or tomorrow, I will be fully editing my first video on here, so then I will get a feel of how the timeline flows in Premiere Pro. I put an old project on the new Mac, and it was stutter-free in playback, even with colour grading, audio plug-in’s and effects running on it, and at full resolution. I still have one more bit of kit due, and that is a Studio Display. The global panel shortage has caught me out, and I have about a month still to wait on that. In a way, that’s a good thing, though. If I’m happy working purely on the MacBook, I will know that I am truly mobile now, and can work at full steam anywhere. With 4TB of storage, and the powerful M1 Max in my corner, I can work on any project at any desk, office, or location. No dongles, no external storage, now power brick, not even a mouse! I will have moved forward and taken a step toward the next era of my life. Blogger and ‘Tuber from anywhere. Then, if I do happen to be in the studio for the day, I can hook up my MacBook to the Studio Display and work with dual monitors. I think I have the best of both worlds.

image courtesy of author

Concluding

I feel a certain sense of anti-climax, and I don’t know why? Actually, scrub that, I do know why….it has all been so easy, seamless and quick. Before, switching Mac’s had been a proper pain. Installing all that I needed to work, just seemed a hideous mountain to summit! This time around, it took one quiet Sunday, and I am pretty much there! The fact it did everything so well on day one, on reflection, was surprising. It has been stress-free. The power this Mac has, is oddly what has underwhelmed me! By that, I mean, it did everything I asked of it without breaking sweat, and, no trauma. So, I didn’t ever fully appreciate just how hard, or efficiently it is working. It was just doing its thing.

I have written before about anything from now on being a diminishing return as far as power goes. This MacBook is doing all I can throw at it and begging for more. Yes, it was expensive, but if this is the future, bring it on…

One final note….three hours in to my day, and the battery has not even budged…just thought I’d mention it…

Getting involved

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