Neat Blog

Let's compare Apples to Apples

With Apple almost completing the upgrade from M1 to M2 let’s have a look at what you will be getting in terms of video editing power.

Important specs for video editing

M1 vs M2

Number of CPU cores88
Number of GPU cores7 or 810
CPU clock speed3.2GHz3.49GHz
Unified memory8GB or 16GB8GB, 16GB, or 24GB
Memory bandwidth68.25GB/s100GB/s
L2 cache12 MB16 MB
L3 cache8 MB8 MB

M1 Pro vs M2 Pro

 M1 ProM2 Pro
Number of CPU cores8 or 1010 or 12
Number of GPU cores14 or 1616 or 19
CPU clock speed3.2GHz3.4 GHz
Unified memory16GB or 32GB16 or 32 GB
Memory bandwidth200 GB/s200 GB/s
L2 cache24 MB32 MB
L3 cache24 MB24 MB

M1 Max vs M2 Max

 M1 MaxM2 Max
Number of CPU cores1012
Number of GPU cores24 or 3230 or 38
CPU clock speed3.2GHz3.4 GHz
Unified memory32 or 64 GB32, 64, or 96 GB
Memory bandwidth400 GB/s400 GB/s
L2 cache24 MB32 MB
L3 cache48 MB48 MB


On paper, the main gains in the new generation of Macs are in the number of CPU and GPU cores (M2 Pro and M2 Max), amount of memory (in some configurations) and L2 cache size.

At the same time, we note that memory bandwidth has increased only in M2 but not in M2 Pro and M2 Max. There have also been no improvements in the L3 cache. Such unbalanced advances in hardware design always make us worried. In order to accelerate a pipeline, you need to accelerate its slowest section. If only some GPU characteristics are improved but others are not, there is a risk that this slowest section has not become any faster, hence the overall performance will not increase. 

FullHD NeatBench test

We tested these 6 computers using our NeatBench test working with FullHD frame sizes to see how much better M2 computers performed than their predecessors.

 Best hardware
Best Speed
(on FullHD frame size)
Apple M1CPU+GPU15.2 FPS
Apple M1 ProCPU+GPU32.6 FPS
Apple M1 MaxGPU only36.5 FPS
Apple M2CPU+GPU18.2 FPS
Apple M2 ProCPU+GPU35.7 FPS
Apple M2 MaxGPU only42.5 FPS


If you translate those numbers into percentages, the speed increase looks like this.

performance increase  
M1 to M217%
M1 Pro to M2 Pro9%
M1 Max to M2 Max16%


Heavy tax on 4K

When you start testing the M1 and M2 Macs on 4k clips, the difference in the performance of high and low-end computers gets very funny and unexpected. Have a look at these numbers:

 Best hardware
Best Speed
(on FullHD frame size) 
Apple M1CPU+GPU3.7 FPS
Apple M1 ProCPU+GPU8.3 FPS
Apple M1 MaxCPU+GPU11.7 FPS
Apple M2CPU+GPU4.5 FPS
Apple M2 ProCPU+GPU9 FPS
Apple M2 MaxCPU+GPU12 FPS

And this is how speed increase looks like in percentage values.

 4K performance increase  
M1 to M221%
M1 Pro to M2 Pro8%
M1 Max to M2 Max2%

What? All of a sudden M2 looks like a real champ and M2 Max doesn’t impress us at all. But why?

As the best speed is achieved in CPU+GPU mode, we have to look at both devices as each plays its part.

Separate tests on CPU and GPU performance we have conducted reveal an interesting trend across all M2 computers: the CPU performance gain scales equally on both FullHD and 4K frames, while the improvements in GPU performance of new M2 Macs are almost 4 times lower when you compare FullHD with 4K.

The main culprit of such a lopsided GPU performance gain is the memory bandwidth. When you increase the frame size, the cache becomes less helpful and more data needs to be directly read from and written to GPU VRAM, so the memory bandwidth becomes more important. However, Apple didn’t improve that in their computers (apart from M2 compared to M1). That’s why even though the number of GPU cores is higher in M2, this extra computing capacity remains underutilized. Therefore when you get M2 Pro or M2 Max and start rendering 4K clips the speeds that you are going to get are going to be very similar to what you’d see on M1 Pro and M1 Max.

Final thoughts  

Overall, all M2 computers offer only moderate improvements over the M1 family. Saying that the price difference is also not that painfully noticeable and you probably will get more value out of M2, especially if you are choosing between M1 and M2. If you mainly work with FullHD clips, then M2 Pro and M2 Max could also justify the extra $ you have to spend on them.

However, if you already have one of M1 computers and are thinking to upgrade to a similar M2 model, that would probably be an unreasonable cash splash.

It’s interesting to see what M2 Ultra is going to look like. After we saw what M1 Ultra was capable of we have very high expectations from the upcoming Apple’s flagship.