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M1 Max MacBook Pro – earning its keep! Can it get any better?

It was my largest expense so far…but it keeps ticking boxes

M1 Max MacBook
image courtesy of author

Tech keeps on moving…

The M1 Max MacBook Pro is a dream Mac!

If you happen to have read yesterday’s ramblings, then you’ll know that this week…if all the reliable sources are to be trusted, we should be getting our first sighting of the all-new M2 iPad Pro’s. Already I have seen the jokes online about it – basically, the thought right now is that the M2 chip in the iPad will mean you can open Twitter quicker! iPad has become a bit of a joke right now, but that is a story for another day. My point is, tech has this way of never standing still, and I guess that is the nature of it.

There is a downside, though, and that is, great devices are quickly forgotten. This year, we were lauding over the M2 MacBook Air, which today, sits just to one side of as I write. It’s a fantastic laptop, but already forgotten as we await the next latest and greatest. It’s human nature I guess, but not the best side of us, is it, really?

This morning, as I set my desk up, ready for the day ahead, that fact struck as I opened up my workhorse – the M1 MacBook Pro. Now, this is a Mac that should not be forgotten.

Spec’d!

I had let my Mac purchases slip over the previous few years.

Until this year, my daily Mac was a 2015 27-inch 5K iMac. It served me well, but the ‘Intel inside’ was starting to complain, and groan somewhat. My workflows tend to be creative ones, and will almost definitely find me working in Photoshop, Indesign, Premiere Pro or Audition.

As Adobe’s Creative Cloud apps got updated, they started to highlight, that the 2015 Core i7 chipset was no longer up to the task. Clearly, I’d heard all the hullabaloo about Apple silicon, but I’d not had a chance to use it in earnest – in the real world – on a day of creative output. Could Apple silicon really be that good?

I’d been looking at spec’s, and my wallet flinched every time! These M1 Max MacBook’s do not come cheap. They certainly live up to the Pro moniker, that’s for sure. No matter which way I danced around it, this next Mac purchase, was going to cost me dear.

I never find it easy spending that kind of money, which, I hope, is a good trait. But, equally, I knew that to skimp now, and save in the short term, would cost me dear eventually. One of the downsides, currently, of Apple silicon, and the SOC, is that what you get, is what you get – no user upgrades later on. So, with that in mind, I pretty much threw the kitchen sink at it. I wanted it to be lasting me for the next 3-5 years.

I had outgrown Macs before, and it stinks! Buyers remorse, it turns out, is a real thing. So, this M1 MacBook has 32GB of unified memory stuffed inside, and 4TB of storage. There is an argument that Apple storage is expensive, and there is validity to that argument. But, the peace of mind that it is in there, and also the speed and convenience of it, won out as I was ticking boxes. I went with the 16-inch model, to get as much real-estate as possible. Mostly, I work with the M1 MacBook hooked up to the Studio Display, but on those occasions I have to work remotely, the 16-inch, 120Hz panel is more than up to the task.

A reality check

I have been having to pull a few ‘late ones’ over the past month or so. This generally entails me getting the M1 MacBook out at home, and carrying on from where I had left off at the studio.

But, recently, I had a wee re-shuffle, which saw me take my iMac back home. It was languishing in the studio-space, and I figured, to have the large, 5K monitor at home would be handy. So, I made a call one night last week, to leave the M1 Max MacBook at the studio, and work that night on the iMac instead.

I hadn’t used the iMac seriously for a good few months…I’m guessing about 6 months, actually. Turns out, I had become quite accustomed to Apple silicon! Nowadays, I use either this M1 Max MacBook, or the M2 MacBook Air.

The ‘good-old-day’ turns out, are not quite all they were cracked up to be!

What’s that noise?

Honestly, not trying to flex, or sound arrogant, but I had totally forgotten about fan noise!

I was finishing up on a project in Premiere Pro, when suddenly, a fan kicked in. I have not heard one of those, well, in six months! You quickly forget that with any kind of taxing task, the Intel Macs make a stupid amount of noise. It’s loud and really distracting. How did we assume, for all those years, that was acceptable? Working creatively, being able to focus on the task in hand, is imperative.

I’m not trying to come down hard on my iMac. I probably have more love for that Mac than any of my others, since or before. We have been through a lot together, and I don’t forget! But, even with all that emotion stacked-up in its corner, the undeniable truth was, that night’s work was a struggle.

Come on…

Don’t forget, I’m speaking with love, and genuine affection here for my iMac, but boy, going back to work on it was like a throwback to the dark ages.

The noise was one thing I had forgotten about, but so too was the general lethargy and slowness of Intel Macs. Saving multi-layered Photoshop documents, adding track effects in Audition, or saving out a large Indesign file, all took so much time. That night, my workflow suffered, as I found myself just sitting, twiddling thumbs, waiting for the iMac to catch-up. Again, I used to take that as the expected way to work, until only March of this year. The 5K display is still a joy though – that has aged ever so well, with no dimmed zones or screen burn. I just wish I was able to utilise it more though.

Over the seven years I have worked on that iMac, I shudder to think how many hours we have racked together, but, like an aged, boxer, now was the right time to have retired that workhorse with grace.

The future is here

I mentioned earlier, that I had read and seen an awful lot of coverage about Apple silicon before I finally bought my M1 MacBook.

If you are in that same position I found myself in, I can tell you without any hesitation, that the hype is true. Oddly, I am glad I spent that frustrating night a few weeks back working on the iMac. It proved, as if proof were required, that I had made the correct decision.

Other Macs I’d had over the years, always played second fiddle to that iMac. I can hear myself saying now, “it will be quicker when I get back to my iMac”. That machine was my go-to, my yardstick, and the Mac I measured all others against. Yet, within the blink of an eye, it now seemed old, tired and, dated.

Being in the very fortunate position of being able to compare Intel to Apple silicon, its true – Apple silicon really is the future. Quiet, comprehensive, and efficient. I haven’t even touched on the unworldly battery life, either, as that was not really the point of this blog.

The point was, that regardless of what M2 Macs we get later this year, or next, this M1 Max MacBook Pro, is going nowhere. Whatever I ask of it, it is more than capable of doing for me. I do not need to ache and look longingly on at what Macs Apple bring out, for the foreseeable future. My workflow is not likely to intensify that much, and even if those prove to be famous last words, this M1 Max MacBook has a stack of headroom. Ticking all those boxes, back in March on order day, has given me the peace of mind I was seeking. The payback is sweet.

The money I spent on it, has proven to be worth every penny, and honestly, I have no regrets. Well, actually I do have one – that it took me so long to make the switch!

If you are still hesitating, wait not a moment longer. Turns out the future is now, and it’s fantastic.

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