We’ve been waiting for Apple’s MacBook Pros to get some truly pro updates—i.e. ports that are actually useful and upgraded performance—and the new versions look to fit the bill. Apple on Monday took the wraps off completely overhauled 14- and 16-inch versions of its popular Pro laptops, which ditch the (useful for some, useless for most) Touch Bar, sport the ports creative pros need, and offer miniLED screens. In addition to all of that, the Pros are powered by the new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, which promise to kick Intel’s ass. Of course, we’ll be putting those claims to the test, but on paper at least, we’re seriously impressed.
Powerful New Chips: M1 Pro and M1 Max
First thing’s first: The MacBook Pros run on Apple’s newest chips, the M1 Pro and M1 Max. Both new chips sport up to 10 CPU cores (eight high-performance and two efficient), delivering 70% faster performance than M1, according to Apple.
Here’s where they differ: The M1 Pro has a 16-core GPU, which Apple says promises up to two times faster graphics performance than M1, with up to 200 GB/s of memory bandwidth, nearly three times M1, and 32GB of RAM. The M1 Pro, which is based on 5-nanometer architecture, has 33.7 billion transistors, more than twice that of M1. According to Apple, the M1 Pro’s graphics performance is up to 7 times faster than the integrated graphics on MSI’s GP66 Leopard.
The M1 Max is even more pro than M1 Pro, with up to 400 GB/s of memory bandwidth, twice that of M1 Pro and six times that of M1. The M1 Max can be configured with up to 64GB of RAM and has 57 billion transistors. The 10-core CPU is the same as M1 Pro, but the 32-core GPU delivers four times faster GPU performance than M1. Apple said the M1 Max delivers the same graphics performance as the Razer Blade 15 Advance but with 40% less power.
Apple pointed out how this performance will play out in real-world use cases. In Final Cut Pro, video analysis for object-tracking is up to five times faster than with M1, and ProRes video transcode is 10 times faster.
Incredible Display, Notch Included
OK, now that you know how impressive the new MacBook chips are, it’s time to talk design. The overhauled MacBook Pro, which comes in a 16-inch and more compact 14-inch model, is beefier than the 13-inch model from last year. The 16-inch MacBook is 16.8mm thin and 4.7 pounds, and the 14-inch model is 15.5mm thin and 3.5 pounds. You’ll notice the keyboard lacks a Touch Bar, which Apple really tried to make a thing. Instead, the Pro keyboard has a row of physical function keys as the universe intended. The new keyboard is set in a black well, surrounded by silver aluminum with a giant trackpad.
Apple brought miniLED to the MacBook Pro screen, just like on the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The MacBook Pros also get the iPad Pro’s ProMotion display, with an adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz. Surrounding the screen are side bezels that are 3.5mm thin (24% thinner) and a 3.5mm top bezel that is 60% thinner. Yes, there is a notch where the webcam sits, which will almost certainly be polarizing. But that webcam is now 1080p, just like on the new iMac, which will make your video calls look much better than before.
The 16-inch Pro sports a six-speaker sound system with two tweeters and four noise-canceling woofers, delivering 80% more bass, if that’s something you’re into.
And, perhaps most importantly for pros, the new MacBooks have ports—all the ports. Instead of being limited to USB-C, the Pros sport an HDMI port, a Thunderbolt 4 port, and an SD card slot on the right, with a headphone jack and two additional Thunderbolt 4 ports on the left side. MagSafe is making a return for a truly satisfying charging experience, but you can still charge using USB-C. Apple seemingly patted itself on the back during the Mac event for eliminating the need for adapters, which, OK. Using an M1 Pro-equipped MacBook, you can connect up to two Pro Display XDRs, and with an M1 Max MBP, you can connect up to three Pro Display XDRs and a 4K TV.
Apple is also promising the longest battery life ever on a MacBook, up to 17 hours on the 14-inch model and up to 21 hours on the 16-inch. You can charge up to 50% in 30 minutes.
The good news is you can choose your own adventure when it comes to the new MacBook Pro chips. Both the 14-inch and 16-inch Pros will be available with either the M1 Pro or M1 Max.
When Can You Buy?
You can order the new MacBook Pro today, and it starts shipping Oct. 26.
Here’s the important part: The Pro starts at $1,999 for the 14-inch version and $2,499 for the 16-inch model. Those are tough prices to stomach, although not totally out of the ordinary for top-of-the-line laptops, and the performance gains might be impressive enough to warrant them.
Last year’s M1 MacBook Pro made PC laptop users’ eyes widen a bit. Will the M1 Pro and M1 Max blow PCs away? Intel and AMD are surely awaiting benchmarks nervously—the market is about to become more competitive than ever.