Apple unveiled new 14in and 16in MacBook Pro models at an event on 18 October.
In this article we are mostly concerned with the 14in MacBook Pro, if you want to read about the 16in MacBook Pro we cover that here: 16in MacBook Pro 2021 everything you need to know.
Alongside the MacBook Pro Apple has revealed details of its new processors: the M1 Pro and M1 Max. We cover these processors in more detail here: Apple's M1 Pro and M1 Max chip, but we will discuss them at length below.
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Price and availability
The great news is that you will be able to order the 14in MacBook Pro from Monday 18 October, with shipping from Tuesday 26 October. We're also separately looking at where to buy the MacBook Pro 16 and Pro 14 (2021) in both the UK and US if you want to see which stores are selling them outside of Apple.
There are two 14in MacBook Pro models: at the entry-level is a 8-Core CPU, 14-Core GPU model with 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD.
- In the US that 14in MacBook Pro starts at $1,999, which is $200 more than the predecessor. Order one here.
- In the UK the the 14in MacBook Pro starts at £1,899, which is $100 more than the predecessor. Order one here.
There is also a 10-Core CPU, 16-Core GPU model with 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD.
- In the US that 14in MacBook Pro costs $2,499, which is $500 more than its predecessor. Order one here.
- In the UK the the 14in MacBook Pro costs at £2,399, which is £500 more than the predecessor. Order one here.
This top-of-the-range 14in MacBook Pro is the same price as the entry level 16in MacBook Pro model.
It is also possible to customise a 14in MacBook Pro with Apple's M1 Max chip. You can choose a Apple M1 Max with 10-core CPU, 24-core GPU for an extra £500/$500 or a 10-core CPU and 32-core GPU for another £700/$700 the top model.
The new 14in MacBook Pro has a brand new design that allows for the larger 14in (actually 14.2in display) while only fractionally increasing the size. The dimensions are now 1.55cm x 31.26cm x 22.12cm compared to 1.56cm x 30.41cm x 21.24cm in the M1 13in MacBook Pro. The 14in model weights a fraction more at 1.6kg rather than 1.4kg.
Other notable changes to the look of the 14in MacBook Pro include the addition of a 'Notch' at the top of the screen, this means that Apple can reduce the size of the bezel above the screen. This Notch is where the camera sits - it doesn't mean that there is Face ID capabilities though. Apple says that the menu has been built around the notch, so, hopefully, it shouldn't affect your enjoyment of the display, however we expect there to be some backlash against the notch - it's inevitable.
The keyboard also looks different because Apple has done away with the Touch Bar, which the company all but admitted didn't suit creative pros in the keynote announcing the product. Physical function keys and a wider escape key replace the Touch Bar, "bringing back the familiar, tactile feel of mechanical keys that pro users love," as Apple put it.
The other change that will be apparent if you look at the sides of the MacBook Pro is the addition of a number of ports. After years of Apple removing ports in order to slim down Macs it seems that Apple has finally realised that ports might be more important to people than a slim laptop. As a result we have three Thunderbolt 4 ports, an SDXC card slot, an HDMI port and an improved headphone jack that supports high-impedance headphones.
We also see the return of MagSafe. MagSafe 3 offers an updated design and supports more power into the system - which means that fast charge comes to the Mac for the first time. Apple says you can charge up to 50 percent in just 30 minutes.
One more thing to mention, though not ports as such: the new MacBook Pro models offer Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.
Of course we can't talk about the design of the Mac and ignore the screen, which is probably the most noticeable element of the MacBook Pro. Apple states that this is the world's best notebook display, so prepare to be impressed.
It's a Liquid Retina XDR display with an extreme dynamic range for, according to Apple: 1,000 nits brightness and 1,600 nits of peak brightness, as well as a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, thanks to which you should be able to see detail in shadows and enjoy deeper blacks and more vivid colours.
The new screen also brings ProMotion to the Mac, as seen in the iPad Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max. As with those devices, ProMotion offers an adaptive refresh rate up to 120Hz, which means it can refresh images 120 times a second, but it can also varies the refresh rate to much less than that when it isn't required, thereby saving battery life.
The screen resolution of the 14in MacBook Pro is 3,024 by 1,964, which means it offers 5.9 million pixels over the 14.2in active area. There are actually more pixels on the 2021 14in MacBook Pro than there were on the 2019 16in MacBook Pro. (The new 16in model offers 7.7 million pixels).
Returning to the notch for a minute, while it doesn't conceal a Face ID camera, the notch does now include a 1080p FaceTime HD camera - and about time too (after a year and a half of spending most of our time talking to people on video calls).
The new camera doubles the resolution and should dramatically improve low-light performance, we are pretty sure that it will as it is the same camera used on the M1 iMac that launched earlier in 2021. Like that FaceTime camera, this camera system taps into the image signal processor (ISP) and Neural Engine of M1 Pro and M1 Max to enhances video quality while maintaining natural-looking skin tones.
Every video call needs good audio, so it's good news that Apple has also improved the audio capabilities with studio-quality mics that offer a lower noise floor, which should reduce thermal noise and result in clearer calls.
Apple has also added a six-speaker, high-fidelity sound system that features two tweeters and four force-cancelling woofers. Apple states that this will result in 80 percent more bass.
The sound system also supports spatial audio for a "three-dimensional listening experience".
14in MacBook Pro Specs
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the Apple October event was that rather than calling the successor to the M1 chip the M1X as was widely thought, Apple revealed that there are two chips coming to the MacBook Pro: the M1 Pro and the M1 Max. Actually anyone reading Mark Gurman's newsletter the day the event before might not have been that shocked as he said as much: suggesting that developer logs had referred to the new chips as M1 Pro and M1 Max.
The 14in MacBook Pro ships as standard with M1 Pro chips - but for those who want the ultimate in power there is a build-to-order option to add the M1 Max chip, so we will discuss what both chips offer below.
Those picking an 14in MacBook Pro have the choice of a 8-core or 10-core CPU. This is the same 10-core CPU whether it's a M1 Pro (which it is as standard) or an M1 Max (which you can customise your Mac with). Apple claims that this CPU offers 70 percent faster CPU performance than the M1.
In the 10-core version there are eight high-performance cores and two high-efficiency cores.
Apple uses a 5-nanometer process technology, which means it can packs in 33.7 billion transistors on the M1 Pro, which is more than two times the amount in the M1.
Apple claims that compared with the latest 8-core PC laptop chip the M1 Pro delivers up to 1.7x more CPU performance and achieves the PC chip's peak performance using up to 70 percent less power.
The real difference between the M1 Pro and M1 Max is the graphics capabilities.
The M1 Pro offers a 14-core or 16-core GPU (14-cores on the entry-level). Apple says that this offers up to 2x faster GPU performance compared to the M1. The company also claims the GPU is up to 7x faster than the integrated graphics on the latest 8-core PC laptop chip.
The M1 Max GPU goes even further with 32-cores. Apple claims that the graphics performance is up to 4x faster than M1.
This is possible because Apple has packed 57 billion transistors on to the chip - 70 percent more than M1 Pro and 3.5x more than M1.
As a result the GPU can deliver performance comparable to a high-end GPU in a compact pro PC laptop, according to Apple. All while consuming "up to 40 percent less power". Apple states that the performance is "similar to that of the highest-end GPU in the largest PC laptops while using up to 100 watts less power."
Having mentioned the graphics processor it's worth noting that the M1 Pro adds a ProRes accelerator in the media engine, which should speed up video processing and make it more power efficient. It will also enable playback of multiple streams of high-quality 4K and 8K ProRes video while using very little power.
M1 Max goes a step further, offering two ProRes accelerators which help it deliver up to 2x faster video encoding than M1 Pro. As a result, Apple says, pros can edit up to 30 streams of 4K ProRes video or up to seven streams of 8K ProRes video in Final Cut Pro. That's more streams than on a 28-core Mac Pro with Afterburner. This is a MacBook Pro after all, so expect pro features.
Professional Mac users will be glad that Apple hasn't decided to release the 2021 MacBook Pro models with 8GB RAM as standard, as seen in the M1 models. The 14in MacBook Pro will ship with 16GB Unified Memory, and that is upgradable to 32GB, for an extra £400/$400, or 64GB if you opt for a M1 Max chip for an extra £800/$800. Note that only the M1 Max can support the 64GB RAM.
Apple uses fast unified memory, which is beneficial because of the way it is shared by the CPU and GPU. For the M1 Pro Apple claims to deliver up to 200GB/s of memory bandwidth, which is nearly 3x the bandwidth of M1.
The M1 Max offers an even higher-bandwidth and boasts up to 400GB/s of memory bandwidth. That is 2x that of M1 Pro and nearly 6x that of M1. That's why 64GB RAM is possible with the Max.
Apple explained that the latest PC laptops top out at 16GB of video memory and claimed: "Having this huge amount of memory available is game-changing for pro workloads."
Battery life and power efficiency
The M1 Pro and M1 Max also offer industry-leading performance per watt and incredible power efficiency, according to Apple. What this translates into is 17 hours of video playback for the 14in MacBook Pro - that's seven more hours than the predecessor. (The 16in MacBook Pro offers 21 hours - 10 hours more than the last generation).
Apple also claims that the 2021 MacBook Pro deliver "the same level of performance whether it is plugged in or using the battery."
The company also says that because power use is managed so efficiently there is less heat generated, which means the fans run quietly and less often, allowing for longer battery life.
If you want to read what we wrote about the MacBook Pro based on the rumours turn to the next page...