Computers

Apple does the unthinkable with new MacBook Pro 14 and 16

Apple does the unthinkable wit...
The new MacBook Pro comes in 14- and 16-inch versions
The new MacBook Pro comes in 14- and 16-inch versions
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The new MacBook Pro comes in 14- and 16-inch versions
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The new MacBook Pro comes in 14- and 16-inch versions
This is the new Liquid Retina XDR ProMotion screen. If it doesn't look all that good, it's because you're looking at it on your inferior screen
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This is the new Liquid Retina XDR ProMotion screen. If it doesn't look all that good, it's because you're looking at it on your inferior screen
Factory-calibrated screen for pro color grading and print tuning
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Factory-calibrated screen for pro color grading and print tuning
Graphical performance will be epic
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Graphical performance will be epic
The touchbar's gone, replaced by a mechanical keyboard
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The touchbar's gone, replaced by a mechanical keyboard
MagSafe is back!
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MagSafe is back!
Apple has listened to its pro-level users and brought back the HDMI port and SD card slot
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Apple has listened to its pro-level users and brought back the HDMI port and SD card slot
Yes, there are three Thunderbolt 4 ports, but some old friends are back and we're ecstatic to see them
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Yes, there are three Thunderbolt 4 ports, but some old friends are back and we're ecstatic to see them
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Apple has unveiled its new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros, taking some huge steps forward as well as some very welcome steps back. It seems this US$2 trillion behemoth has done the last thing anyone expected – and actually listened to its customers.

Often in the past, it's been a story of Apple giveth, then Apple taketh away. Headphone jacks, MagSafe chargers, HDMI ports, SD card readers ... Apple has frequently leveraged its market dominance in brutal ways, yanking useful features away and turning a deaf ear to the plaintive cries of its customers. Apple believed it was dragging its market kicking and screaming into a better future, but users bristled as features they used daily were removed and sold back to them in an endless array of annoying dongles.

In 2021's new MacBook Pro range, Apple giveth back again, and the creatives that formed the backbone of the company's early support are going to be delighted.

Yes, there are three Thunderbolt 4 ports, but some old friends are back and we're ecstatic to see them
Yes, there are three Thunderbolt 4 ports, but some old friends are back and we're ecstatic to see them

The new MacBook Pros ditch the largely uninspiring touchbar over the keyboard, and bring back a proper HDMI port and an SD card reader. You can still charge them through their three USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports if you like, but the much-loved MagSafe charger is back as well, in a new third-generation form that can push more power. Better still, the MagSafe charge cable plugs into the power brick, so you can replace the cord without needing a whole new charger. That's about as close as Apple comes to a repair-friendly device these days, and it's cause for celebration.

The welcome return of usable ports might be the first thing that jumps out to us, but the new laptops take many steps forward where you'd expect them to as well. The new Pro books are massively more powerful than anything Apple's made in the past, rocking your choice of brand-new M1 Pro or M1 Max chips with up to 10 cores, up to 64GB of RAM, up to 8 TB of onboard storage, a brand new "Liquid Retina" XDR display, upgraded audio and up to a monster 21 hours of battery life.

The new chips look seriously impressive. Available in both 14 and 16-inch laptops, the M1 Pro and Max SoCs put a focus on intelligent accelerated performance and energy saving, combining the CPU, GPU, input/output and neural engine into a single system with unified memory. That means the central and graphics processors, for example, share the same "pool" of memory, eliminating the need to copy information between separate RAM structures.

Graphical performance will be epic
Graphical performance will be epic

This is key to both speed and efficiency, and Apple says the chips will be so miserly with power that the new fan systems "never turn on for many tasks you do every day." When it does, it'll push 50 percent more air than the outgoing model.

The M1 Pro supports up to 32GB of RAM, transferring data in and out of memory at a huge 200 GB per second. The M1 Max doubles that to 64 GB and 400 GB/sec bandwidth. Both have up to 10 processor cores, including two high-efficiency cores that draw one-tenth the power. Both have a 16-core neural engine, while the Pro offers up to a 16-core GPU and the Max offers up to a 32-core GPU. The end result, says Apple, offers 1.7 times the performance of "the latest 8-core PC laptop chip" at 70 percent less power, with graphics capabilities very close to a high-end PC laptop graphics card while using about a third of the power.

To give you some idea of the performance here, the M1 Max claims to be able to support four external displays, while playing seven simultaneous streams of 8K video. It'll render 4K video some 13.4 ties faster than the outgoing 13-inch MacBook Pro, while the M1 Pro will do it just 9.2 times faster. Even the hard drives are speed demons – including a top-of-the-line 8 TB solid state drive that transfers data at up to 7.4 GB/sec.

This is the new Liquid Retina XDR ProMotion screen. If it doesn't look all that good, it's because you're looking at it on your inferior screen
This is the new Liquid Retina XDR ProMotion screen. If it doesn't look all that good, it's because you're looking at it on your inferior screen

The new "Liquid Retina XDR" screens, says Apple, are the best ever to grace a laptop, with million-to-one contrast ratios, "extreme dynamic range," factory-calibrated pro reference modes for HDR color grading, photography, design and print, and super-fluid 120 Hz refresh rates with "ProMotion" adaptive frame rate technology. This, of course, can be locked into fixed refresh rates for video editing. Resolution for the 16-inch MBP will be 3456 x 2234, and the 14-inch will be 3024 x 1964.

The in-built camera gets double the resolution at 1080p, and performs twice as well in poor light. The in-built mics drop the noise floor by 60 percent and use beamforming technology to capture your voice more clearly than ever. The six-speaker in-built sound system delivers 80 percent more bass and pushes notes half an octave lower than before, while cleaning up the high end with new high-performance tweeters – and it's capable of delivering spatial 3D audio, compatible with Dolby Atmos.

These laptops are absolute beasts, and Apple sure knows how to charge for 'em. The 14-inch starts at US$1,999, the 16-inch starts at $2,499, a 16-inch with an M1 Max chip starts at $3,499, and if you bump the memory up to 64 GB and option up the 8 TB hard drive, you're looking at a $6,099 laptop. They're available for order now, with deliveries starting within a week.

Check out a video below.

The new MacBook Pro | Supercharged for pros | Apple

Product page: Apple MacBook Pro

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10 comments
10 comments
Brian M
Wonder what software apps are available for it given the new processor - Is the loss of being able to run native Windows in a separate partition going to be a major issue for some?
Mike Vidal
Brian, you can use parallels and run widows in a window if you will. I use parallels now and have no regrets about not needing a boot partition or wasting space.
DavidB
@Brian M, assuming the new laptops can run VMware or Parallels, they won’t need to be able to run Windows directly, as both those programs perform quite well enough for most folks’ purposes (extreme gaming often excepted).
Nibblonian
On Apple Silicon (M1) Macs, Windows support using Parallels VM software is limited to ARM version of Windows. So if your Windows software is not natively ARM, there will be complications... I've read that the ARM versions of Windows will run old 32-bit apps in emulation, with 64-bit emulation a work-in-progress. Not sure what happens if you run ARM Windows in a VM then standard apps in emulation. If anybody out there has experience with this, I'd like to hear about it. (BTW, so far, VMWare has a "Public Tech Preview" of Fusion for M1 Macs that only supports Linux and BSD aarch64 operating systems).
Aloysius
Apple finally shaking off some of Ive’s extravagances 😀
nick101
Actually worth buying (first time I've said that about an Apple product) IF you have deep pockets and need to get stuff done while on the road. Most people think of 'a computer' as being a laptop now anyway so you may-as-well get something capable. I like that they have renewed useful features, a first for them.
Daishi
Depending on your setup, hardware, and need the Synergy software may also be a viable option for running Windows. Windows will run on a different PC but you can move seamlessly between monitors using the same mouse and keyboard. Longer term Windows will probably improve support for ARM.
clay
Uhmmm.. Marketing Lemonade (made from the lemons of *SHARED* memory):

"central and graphics processors, for example, share the same "pool" of memory, eliminating the need to copy information between separate RAM structures."

Shared mem is not a step forward...it's a step backward, in the name of economics rather than performance.
CAVUMark
Sure is a lot different than my Kaypro....
ljaques
Who needs a car/truck/bike? I think I'll buy an Apple laptop instead...NOT.