2021 MacBook Pro M1 Max vs $10,000 Desktop PC for Video Editing

The M1 Pro and M1 Max chips from Apple are changing the conversation when it comes to powerful laptops for video editing. The new 14” and 16” MacBook Pros – when set up with optimized software – are a huge leap forward for mobile creative workflows.

It is still very early days for these new chips and with plenty of editors invested in pricey desktop workstations, there is a lot of questions about just how good the new M1 chips are. Filmmaker Armando Ferreira went hands on with a powerful 16” MacBook Pro with M1 Max and put it up against his $10,000 desktop PC from Puget for Premiere Pro CC.

Starting off with an easier test is a timeline-based around 6K ProRes 422 from the DJI Ronin 4D. No frames dropped when scrubbing through the timeline or adding a few more options. Exporting the 4 minute 38 second project took just 3 minutes 39 seconds on the MacBook. The Puget PC did it in just 2 minutes 20 seconds. This isn’t a perfect comparison still, but it does show that some PCs are still a better option.

Going to a more direct comparison with a short film running 11:39 Armando has a ton of additional data points. The 2019 Mac Pro costing more than $20,000 exported it in 10:06 while the original 13” MacBook Pro with M1 did it in 24:21. With the Gigabyte Aero 15, a somewhat equivalent laptop, that time drops down to 6:38. The 16” MacBook Pro with M1 Max basically matched that at 6:39. Finally, the Puget PC reduced export times to just 4:08.

It’s interesting to see and both exciting and as expected. The MacBook Pro does change the game for Apple users, though it seems like there are plenty of more powerful options if you stick with PC. It isn’t quite as simple as that though, as things like screens, software, future potential, and more may make the MacBook Pro a better option.

Image Credit: Apple

With the last test there was a more mixed set of files from a range of different camera systems. This included the Blackmagic 12K, BMPCC6K, RED KOMODO, C70, R5, and FX3. Coming in at around 28:27 this is a hefty project. The 16” MacBook Pro exported it in 16:06, which is very respectable. Now, the Puget PC did the same project in 12:33, which is a nice bump up from the MacBook.

Keep in mind, this was all done in Premiere Pro. If you were to perform all your tests in a super optimized software like Final Cut or even DaVinci Resolve you might actually see the MacBook beat out all these other machines. So, if you are a Final Cut user then the M1 Max might be the best choice no matter what.

In Premiere Pro, the MacBook Pro does seem to clock in at the same performance as many competitive PC laptops. Where it does succeed is in efficiency and battery life. If those are important considerations for your laptop then the Apple optimizations are going to be important. Plus, you will get all the other benefits (and drawbacks) of the Apple ecosystem.

The summary is that there are a lot of great options for video editing and each is very different from the next. For Apple users the MacBook Pro seems like the best choice.

Are you looking at picking up a new MacBook Pro?

[source: Armando Ferreira]

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