M1 Pro vs M1 Max for Color Grading in DaVinci Resolve

Deciding whether you want the new 14” and 16” MacBook Pros is easy – the answer is yes, obviously. The problem is deciding which configuration to get and whether you absolutely need the extra performance of the M1 Max over the M1 Pro. Then you have to consider your own budget and what may be worth investing in and what you can live without. It’s a tough call.

If you are big on color grading in DaVinci Resolve, then some good real-world testing of the new MacBooks was done by Alex Jordan from Learn Color Grading. He even includes the original 13” MacBook Pro with base M1 chip to see if that is good enough for most.

Jumping almost directly into some tests, Jordan does lay out the basic parameters of the footage. Essentially, all the clips and timeline work is in 4K with H.264 compression.

There are no optimizations at all with no render cache or proxy mode. In reality you might be using some of these options, so keep that in mind as you make a final decision and one might be borderline in the tests.

For the tests, there is the 13” MacBook Pro with M1 and 16GB memory, the entry-level 14” MacBook Pro with M1 Pro chip, and the top-of-the-line 16” MacBook Pro with M1 Max and 64GB memory.

Test #1: Film Grain

Image Credit: Learn Color Grading

Rated at the highest difficulty, the first test involves adding film grain to the footage. There are two nodes added to the clip: a color-correction node and a film grain effect node.

  • 13” MacBook Pro: No real-time playback, ~14 fps
  • 14” MacBook Pro w/ M1 Pro: Real-time playback, 23.976 fps
  • 16” MacBook Pro w/ M1 Max: Real-time playback, 23.976 fps

It is nice to see the new processors are giving a noticeable bump to video editing performance almost immediately.

Test #2: Color Grading 1

Image Credit: Learn Color Grading

For the following tests, Jordan took the same clip and applied more and more node and color grading tools in a progressive sequence. Things start off relatively basic, and easy on the computers, and get harder and harder.

The initial color grading test uses four nodes:

  • 13”, 14”, and 16” all achieve real-time playback, 23.976 fps

Test #3: Color Grading 2

Image Credit: Learn Color Grading

Moving up to a little more difficult color grading through the addition of two secondary adjustments, including one that is tracked and a vignette.

Results for this test:

  • 13”, 14”, and 16” all achieve real-time playback, 23.976 fps

Test #4: Color Grading 3

Image Credit: Learn Color Grading

To make things even harder on the machines a film grain effect was added along with a LUT and another secondary. This is getting into fairly complex grading that more serious workflows will require.

And the verdict:

  • 13” MacBook Pro: No real-time playback, 9-10 fps
  • 14” MacBook Pro w/ M1 Pro: No real-time playback, 19 fps
  • 16” MacBook Pro w/ M1 Max: Real-time playback, 23.976 fps

Test #5: Color Grading 4

Image Credit: Learn Color Grading

Now for the hardest test, which got that way by adding a dehaze effect to all of them.

  • 13” MacBook Pro: No real-time playback, 7-8 fps
  • 14” MacBook Pro w/ M1 Pro: No real-time playback, 15-16 fps
  • 16” MacBook Pro w/ M1 Max: Real-time playback, 23.976 fps

There is a lot going on by the end and that M1 Max chip powers through them all. And, you’ll get even better performance in real-world use when you turn on various optimizations. Jordan is incredibly impressed and says there is good reason to spend money on the more expensive configuration.

On the other hand, not everyone actually needs that much power realistically. If you are working on lower resolutions and don’t need instant results then the base M1 or the M1 Pro might just be good enough. If time is of the essence, then the M1 Max will be worth it.

Have you gotten to try out the latest MacBook Pros? Interested in picking one up now?

Meanwhile, if you find this video useful and want to get more valuable content at a fraction of the cost, you can also check out the Ultimate Resolve Course Bundle by Alex and his team that includes a dozen comprehensive video editing and color grading courses covering the ins and outs of video editing and color grading with the latest DaVinci Resolve.

sale ends in:

The bundle is heavily discounted right now selling for just $97. Hurry up as the sale ends November 30th at 10:00 pm PT.

[source: Learn Color Grading]

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