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Apple 16 inch M1 MAX 64GB RAM MacBookPro Arrives - Finally!

I recently took delivery of my latest Mac, a 16-inch M1 MAX 64GB RAM MacBookPro in (essentially, apart from SSD capacity) the very top spec available. Here's why I splashed the cash…

Apple recently announced that the next OS (Ventura) will not be rolled out to older Intel Macs, including my 2013 (bought early 2014) Mac Pro 6.1 "Trashcan" with 2 x D700 Graphics cards and 32GB of RAM. The current Monterey (which is what I recently upgraded it to) is as high as that Trashcan will now go. They are focusing on the recently introduced "Apple silicon" Macs (M1 etc.). I believe Apple support older OS systems for things like security patches for no more than 3 versions back too.

As well as my 2010 "Classic" Mac Pro (rarely used these days - but still works perfectly) and a 2012 15-inch Retina MacBookPro (stuck at Catalina but again still perfectly fine for web surfing - but a bit too limiting/slow for serious editing work, especially in 4K) I was faced with a decision of when to jump in
to the Apple silicon world. Editing important client work on 8-10 year old Macs, whilst they are currently entirely trouble free (touch wood), was getting a bit risky! Heck, even my 15-inch 2008 MacBookPro still works perfectly with FCP6 loaded on it, although I never use that these days.

Another consideration was that,
as well as the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite, in recent years I've been using FCPX more and more, especially for simpler projects. Even on my ageing systems it's so fast - much faster than the Adobe suite. And I've read that on M1 Macs it's lightning fast.

So, I pushed the order button on the Apple UK Store website earlier this year. Finally, after months of waiting (because of the ongoing lockdowns in China) I now have this new 16 inch MBP M1 MAX with 64GB RAM. I went for space grey, a first for me in my all silver Mac world! Lovely bit of kit, gorgeous screen too and totally, yes really, silent!

When I ordered it, this was the fastest Mac computer I could buy that suited my needs. Of course, as is the nature of these things, not long after Apple then announced the MacStudio! I looked hard at the potential of that and even compared pricing like for like spec wise - but decided it did not fit my particular desire to upgrade a 10 year old MacBookPro. Portability and the lure of the gorgeous XDR screen on the new M1 MAX MacBookPros was also a big factor. Sure, in time I might also replace the Trashcan with a MacStudio - but that can wait until an M2 ULTRA version is available…or maybe an M3! (or I might not bother - it just depends on so many things).

I wanted (needed) faster, newer and quieter storage too. The Thunderbolt 2 G-Technology StudioR RAID5 systems I use (I have two identical 4 disc units) are also now 8 years old. I also have numerous other G-Tech GRAID systems (mostly RAID0 USB3, USB2 etc.) and dozens of individual Western Digital Scorpio Black spinning HDDs, plugged in when needed via USB3 docking stations. These are all used for a combination of work in progress, backing-up of work in progress (x 2…sometimes x 3, just in case) and archive (again, at least x 2). I have always implemented the concept that the 'editing in progress' project video files, indeed all media, needs to be on a different drive to the Mac's operating system for maximum editing and rendering speed. I also practice that if there are not 2 or 3 clones of digital files then it doesn't (safely) really exist - so these two cornerstones of file storage are what I've practiced ever since I started in this video production business 14 years ago. I have lost one or two drives over the years due to failure (and even had a total failure of the SSD in the Trashcan, see HERE ), but so far, never the ability to resurrect a project.

So what external drives and devices did I buy? As well as buying a Caldigit Thunderbolt 4 Element Hub, I bought the following fast external storage - more later on just how fast they are.

Firstly, a 4TB Sandisk Extreme Pro SSD USB 3.2 Version 2 (note, the original Version 1 was slower), this thing:

Secondly, a Sandisk/Western Digital 2TB Extreme Pro Thunderbolt 3 SSD - link here:

The aim is to put all media files relating to any projects in progress on these SSDs. That way I can, at least from what I've read about these new M1 MAX MacBookPro's, then edit in TOTAL silence for the first time ever, apart from listening to what I want to hear of course - no screaming fans! The G-Technology StudioR units are a bit noisy these days, especially in warm weather when their fans are constantly going full tilt!

But, because of the amount of work I sometimes have on the go, 6GB of external storage was not going to be enough.

So I also bought a G-Technology (now called Sandisk Professional as they were bought out by Western Digital) 24TB GRAID-2 Thunderbolt 3 system. Sure, it's got a fan but will only be powered up when needed. This will be more for quick/convenient/pretty fast access of media files that are not archived elsewhere - on the systems mentioned above. I bought the unit from CVP, link here:

Now, with all that lot, along with a couple of adapters, Thunderbolt 4 cables etc. and some clever choices (well, I think so!) I find can now move any file onto any of the storage drives (old and new) within and around my studio with ease, using any of my post 2012 Macs. Bliss!

So that's storage and archiving sorted, but how fast are these new drives in reality? I have yet to use the new Apple MacBookPro M1 MAX system in anger (after all, I only just got it!) but initial Write and Read speed tests (using the Blackmagic speed utility) with the drives attached was certainly interesting:

WD/Sandisk G-Drive 2TB Extreme Pro Thunderbolt 4 SSD = Write around 1,984 MB/s, Read around 2,540 MB/s (around/slightly above manufacturers published spec).

Sandisk Extreme Pro 4TB USB 3.2.2 V2 SSD = Write around 872 MB/s, Read around 833 MB/s (slightly less than half the manufacturer's published spec - but plenty fast enough for my needs). I have tried every Thunderbolt 4 port (there are 3 on the MacBookPro - and every one on the Caldigit Hub - exact same results). I do wonder why, maybe something to do with how USB 3.2.2 is implemented on the MacBookPro? Perhaps this SSD wasn't such a clever choice after all! I did get it for a significant reduction during a sale - and yes, it is the 2nd version…or at least it's supposed to be!

Sandisk Professional GRAID-2 (24TB set up as as RAID0) Thunderbolt 3 Drive Unit = Write around 454 MB/s, Read around 467 MB/s (similar to published spec).

If I do the Blackmagic speed test on a folder on the internal Mac's SSD I get over 6,000 MB/s Write and a Read speed of well over 5,300 MB/s...just wow!

So, if you really want a blazing fast system for video editing take note. If I'd have known all the above before I might have bought the otherwise maxed out spec MBP M1 MAX with a much bigger internal SSD drive - but that would have added another few thousand pounds to an already very expensive order! I splashed the cash, but I wasn't going to give Apple all of it!

Anyway, the system is all up and running and in the next few days I start a new video project which will see me put it to good use. I'm looking forward to that!