Tuesday, Oct 19, 2021, 08:35 Hardware

The MacBook Pro 2021 – Impressive Performance & Innovation

With yesterday's announcement, Apple ended the now almost 16-year long Intel era of the Mac notebook. 2021's wholly redesigned MacBook Pro has received more than just a simple facelift. The device's exterior housing differs from its predecessor, and there are several functional changes – and the performance? The new MacBook Pro may very well be the most powerful notebook in existence. Throughout the rest of this article, we will summarize the most critical information released during yesterday's "Unleashed" event concerning the new MacBook Pro and the new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips.

New Processors – The M1 Pro & M1 Max
The performance of Apple's first M1 chip was already awe-inspiring – in fact, Apple astounded the entire tech world and put the naysayers in their place). However, Cupertino's newest processors are on a different level entirely. Compared to the M1, the M1 Pro's graphical performance is up to 70% better, and the CPU performance is even 2x as good. The M1 Pro's memory bandwidth is 3x the M1's or 200 GB/s, according to Apple. The M1 Pro comes with eight performance cores and two efficiency cores.

The M1 Max is even faster than the M1 Pro – believe it or not, the M1 Max has a memory bandwidth of 400 GB/s. With 57 billion transistors and 32 graphics cores, the M1 Max's graphical performance is 4x better than the M1's – and the CPU performance is the same as the impressive M1 Pro's. Another interesting statistic is the chip's energy usage, and Apple states that the M1 Max uses 70% less energy than an eight-core processor on the PC market.



MacBook Pro Variants – 14" & 16"
As expected, there are two different display size options for the MacBook Pro 2021 – 14" and 16" models. The housing is still made of aluminum but releases 50% more heat thanks to the high-end laptop's new interior design. The device M1 Max variant supports up to three ProDisplay XDR external monitors, along with one 4K display. The M1 Pro still supports only two ProDisplay XDR external monitors.

Pixel density has also increased considerably, with the 14" variant of the new MacBook Pro delivering images in 3024x1964 pixels and 3456x2234 pixels for the 16" device. Along with supporting a billion colors, the 2021 MacBook Pro's internal monitor comes with ProMotion, which allows the monitor's refresh rate to dynamically adapt to the displayed content – all the way up to 120 Hz. As expected, MiniLED has made its arrival to the MacBook Pro, providing backlighting with "thousands of LEDs" for precise control.

Performance Compared To The Former Intel MacBook Pro
Apple has claimed that the new MacBook Pro's performance has doubled since its predecessor, the MacBook Pro with the Intel Core i9 processor. Even more impressive are the improvements to the graphics department. The M1 Pro is 2.5x faster than the MacBook Pro's previous AMD-designed Radeon 5600M. The M1 Max is 4x as fast. In comparison to the Intel MacBook Pro 13", the 2021 MacBook Pro 14" (with M1 Pro) offers 9x more performance and the MacBook Pro 16" (with M1 Max) offers 13x more.

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Battery Run Time
With only one full charge, the MacBook Pro 14" should be able to run 17 hours straight, as measured during video playback. That already impressive number of hours increases to 21 for the 16" variant with the M1 Max (10 hours more than its Intel predecessor). There's also a new "fast charging" feature, where the battery can charge up to 50% within 30 minutes.

Web Camera & Notch
Although the MacBook Pro now has a "notch" similar to the one found on recent iPhones (used to store Face ID components, although the design choice has led to some controversy), user recognition still occurs via password or Touch ID. However, the web camera now offers a resolution of 1080p and a slightly larger camera aperture.

Other Characteristics & Features
Apple finally committed to the long since desired U-turn regarding ports and connections for the new device. Whereas previous models had done away with many of the ports found on some of the first MacBook Pros, there are now ports for USB-C connections and SD cards on the MacBook Pro 2021. Equally noteworthy is the return of another frequently wished feature, MagSafe – which is making a comeback after its five-year absence and will likely save countless Macs from a plunge to the death. A set of standard keys has replaced the controversial Touch Bar. The concept never quite lived up to its expectations, interfered with use, and developers had difficulties implementing it into their software, leading to the inclusion of an overall rather useless and obstructive portion of the keyboard.

Availability & Pricing Store:
Both the 14" and 16" devices are available for purchase as of yesterday, and deliveries will start next week. The 14" laptop starts at US$1,999 and the 16" at US$2,499. The MacBook Pro 13" with M1 is still staying in the lineup and maintains the same base price of US$1,299.

However, as is often the case with Apple releases, one thing is sure – long delivery wait times. Given the massive amount of attention and hype surrounding the new MacBook Pro 14" and 16", delivery times will likely increase rapidly. Although this is normal for incredibly hyped Apple releases, delivery times will increase exponentially more than usual in the coming weeks as the entire tech branch continues to navigate the current chip shortage. Meaning that although Apple customers might be quick to throw their money at the newest MacBook Pro products, they won't necessarily be flying off the shelves towards customers as quickly as some might hope.

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