M1 Max video editing is a breeze, but everyday use wows too

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I said last time that I hadn’t used my new MacBook Pro for anything too taxing in the first couple of days, but I did have the chance to try some M1 Max video editing last night. Nothing extensive – just a short casual video – but it provided my first opportunity to see the machine in action while performing the kind of task it was designed for.

I was very happy indeed with the performance – but actually, the everyday use impresses me just as much.

M1 Max video editing

I recently abseiled from the helipad of London’s Air Ambulance at the Royal London Hospital, and used the Insta360 Go 2 action cam to provide point-of-view footage – review to follow – while my girlfriend used my iPhone 13 Pro Max to provide some ground-based video to intercut. I have been known on previous occasions to zip down at some speed, but the guy belaying the safety rope wasn’t having any of that – still, it let me enjoy the view on the way down!

If you want to see the footage, you can watch it below, and if you feel inclined to throw a few dollars their way, it will be put to very good use – on average, they provide help to five critically injured casualties every day. We live very close to the helipad so see the helicopter come and go multiple times a day.

Incidentally, I did have a couple of learning experiences from this video. First, the stray frame! Second, that no video edit – even a very casual one like this – takes as little time as I think it will…

As you’d expect, my MacBook Pro didn’t break a sweat. The edit process (with 4K dual-camera source footage) was buttery smooth; the render of the 3m 11s video to H.264 HD format took exactly 19 seconds; and the Mac remained completely cool, with zero fan usage.

I’ve noted before that I’m not attempting to do anything scientific in my diary pieces. If you want benchmarks and comparisons and deep dives into the chips, there’s no shortage of those around. Likewise, if you want to know chapter-and-verse on video editing performance, there are way, way more qualified people than me to provide it.

For example, check out the comparisons carried out by Marques Brownlee and the Verge.

But everyday use is equally impressive

Most of my everyday usage isn’t very demanding. My work involves a few browser windows, WordPress, Photoshop, TweetDeck, and a handful of other apps, albeit driving a 49-inch display.

Leisure use (aside from a bit of video editing) is Lightroom, browsing, Netflix, and so on.

But even so, my Intel machine would get uncomfortably warm when used as a laptop, and the fans would kick in quite regularly, even in everyday use. Battery life was also around five hours.

In everyday use as a laptop, it’s a night-and-day experience. The machine doesn’t ever get warm. The fans never come on. And battery life is now exceeding 10 hours of real-life use, including a decent chunk of that on full brightness for photo editing and Netflix.

The first weekend, I happened to be having a very lazy weekend after two solid weeks of being out every night, so I didn’t leave the apartment and scarcely moved from my chair! Steph was away, so I used the Mac a lot, all the more so as I wanted to have enough experience of it for a first-impressions piece. With the Intel machine, at some point I’d have to plug it in to power; with this, I never did.

It’s currently overkill, but even now I appreciate it

For the vast majority of my usage, the M1 Max MacBook Pro is overkill. Indeed, if it weren’t for the fact that I like a large screen and a large SSD, the M1 MacBook Air would do the job just fine most of the time.

I bought it because I expect to keep it for years, and for my more serious video editing endeavors, I will appreciate the speed and effortlessness of working on this machine.

But even now, in perfectly everyday tasks, I do appreciate it. The heat of the Intel model was a real problem for actual laptop use; the fans could be annoying; and the battery life wasn’t good enough for all my usage. This machine solves all of these issues.

Please share your own experiences with the 2021 MacBook Pros in the comments.

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