Macs in Chemistry

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Comparing Energy consumption M1 MacBook Pro Max with Intel MacBookPro (2016)

The pages comparing cheminformatics/compchem apps on the MacBook Pro M1max are proving very popular. Several readers have asked me to compare energy usage which is an excellent suggestion.

Based on a suggestion I purchased Nevsetpo Power Meter UK Plug Power Monitor Watts Meter Plug and I've used it to test a selection of tasks. Once plugged into a socket it monitors total energy consumption of anything device plugged in. Both machines were fully charged and the "Optimised battery charging" was switched off.

With just the Terminal window open the Intel MacBook Pro draws 10 W, the M1 MacBook Pro Max draws 7.6 W.

I tried a few computationally intensive tasks details of which are all on the tools tested pages.

Using Openbabel for file conversion, this uses a single core.

Vortex PAINS filter script, this uses all available cores

Using SMINA for docking, this uses all cores

A moebatch PH4 search using all cores.

Task Intel time Intel Watts M1 time M1 watts
File Conversion 6 min 19 sec 38 Watts2 min 47 sec 17 W
PAINS script 8 min 3 sec 80 Watts4 min 1 sec 55 W
SMINA 8 hours 30 mins 72 Watts2 hours and 16 mins 57 W
Moe PH4 search 31 secs 64 Watts12 secs 48 W


I suspect the energy consumption will only noticeable for tasks that run for extended periods of time.

To look a total energy consumption for the task we can calculate the number of kilowatt hours to determine energy usage (Watts/1000) * hours

For the SMINA docking run

The Intel MacBook Pro uses approximately 0.6 kW.h
The M1 MacBook Pro uses approximately 0.13 kW.h

As a rule of thumb I'd say the M1 machine draws half the number of Watts and completes task in half the time so consumes very roughly 0.25 the kW.h.

It will be interesting to make the same comparisons when the M1 MacPro desktop machines are released. Given the efficiency of the chips would these be useful to have in clusters where the heat given off can be an issue?


List of tools tested https://www.macinchem.org/reviews/MacBooks/m1macbookpromax.php

Last update 9 January 2022.