After years of waiting, Apple has finally delivered on its promise of making MacBook Pros that are actually designed with professionals in mind. The 2016 redesign of the MacBook Pros with USB-C ports, Touch Bar, and butterfly keyboards got Apple on a wrong track, but now Apple hopes to right all wrongs, and level up the pro laptop game.
There’s a lot going on behind the new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros, and once the reviews come out, we’ll know more. But for now, here’s everything that’s actually worth knowing about them.
The new MacBook Pro design (yes, there’s a notch)
Apple has redesigned the MacBook Pro inside and out, though it mostly looks the same from the outside (you still get the squared-off design, but now the edges are slightly curvier).
There’s a new keyboard design similar to the Magic Keyboard, with a full function row at the top. And yes, the Touchbar is finally no more. Apple says the keyboard provides a clicky-typing experience similar to mechanical keyboards, but we’ll have to wait for a full review to actually confirm that.
The MacBook Pros now have edge-to-edge displays, so the thick-bezels are a thing of the past. The downside though, is the notch. You can’t miss it. It houses a 1080p webcam and ambient light sensors. But there’s no Face ID in there.
Apple has increased the menu bar height just for the notch. And if an app goes full-screen, Apple will put a black bar around the notch, essentially hiding it.
The ports are back (and so is MagSafe)
MacBook Pros are for pros again: Apple has added back the HDMI port (HDMI 2.0), SD card slot, and MagSafe connector for charging. Plus, we get three USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports.
M1 goes Pro and Max
The M1 chip in the old 13-inch MacBook Pro was already pretty great, and now Apple has essentially scaled that chip up in two avatars, the M1 Pro and M1 Max.
The base model M1 Pro chip is an 8-core CPU, but all models above are 10-core. The M1 Max is a 10-core CPU (with two high-efficiency cores).
The M1 Pro is twice as fast as the M1 chip, and the M1 Max is twice as fast as the M1 Pro. And the M1 itself was already one of the fastest chips on the market. We’ll know more about the real-world performance after the reviews, but the M1 Pro and M1 Max are likely to be industry-leading when it comes to performance.
The MacBook Pros also finally get up to 64 GB unified memory. The M1 Pro only goes up to 32 GB. And here’s the kicker: You configure both the 14 and 16-inch models with the M1 Max processor.
There’s a 32-core GPU option
The one place where Apple seems to have scaled up massively is the GPU. Apple is promising on-par performance with the leading Windows laptops with dedicated GPUs, while Apple’s GPU is integrated into the processor itself.
This is thanks to the fact that GPUs are relatively easier to scale. You add more cores…and Apple has added a lot of cores. The base model M1 Pro chip gets a 14-core GPU, while the rest of them start off with a 16-core GPU option.
And you can actually get a 32-core GPU option as well. According to Apple, the 16-core GPU is twice as fast as the M1 and the 32-core GPU in M1 Max is four times faster than the M1.
The edge-to-edge screen gets ProMotion and mini-LED
The MacBook Pro also gets Apple’s Liquid Retina Display XDR. It’s a mini-LED display, with a variable refresh rate. This means the screen can refresh between 24Hz and 120 Hz. It has 1,000 nits sustained peak brightness, and it can go up to 1,600 nits for HDR content.
There’s crazy long battery life
The new MacBook Pros have fast charging, and long battery life. You can charge up to 50% in 30 minutes using a Thunderbolt 4 port. The battery life is rated at 17 hours of video playback and 11 hours of web browsing for the 14-inch model, and 21 hours of video and 14 hours of browsing for the 16-inch model.
But these MacBook Pros are expensive
The only downside to these pro machines? Their pricing. Apple is now starting the MacBook Pros at A$2,999. And for that, you get an 8-core M1 Pro CPU, 14-core GPU, 16GB memory, and 512GB storage.
The 16-inch model with a 10-core M1 Pro CPU, 16GB memory, 16-core GPU, and 512GB storage starts at A$3,449.
These prices are expensive, and that’s because Apple has essentially removed the entry-level models that we hope will come in the next update. For example, there’s no way to get a base 14-inch MacBook Pro with 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, 8GB memory, and 256GB storage for A$1,499/1,849. Right now, that market belongs to the 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro.
While they’re expensive, you do get a lot for your money, as Apple has specially designed these machines for the pro users. If you’re looking for something cheaper, take a look at the M1 MacBook Air, or wait for the new MacBook Air update next year.
So what did you think of the new MacBook Pros? Are they everything you hoped they would be? And is the notch going to stop you from buying one?