MacBook Pro M1 Pro/Max Review: Users Asked, Apple Listened

With a redesigned keyboard and an array of ports, the company is finally giving its customers what they want.

Tech 
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Last month, Apple unveiled a completely redesigned MacBook Pro lineup alongside two new chip options at its Unleashed event. The new laptops offer incredible power efficiency and speed and have been outfitted with an array of ports — a feature Apple customers have long been asking for.

The new MacBook Pro comes in 14-inch or 16-inch models and can be further customized with either the new M1 Pro or M1 Max chip, both of which provide a massive boost in GPU, CPU and machine learning performance while preserving battery life. Both the Pro and the Max chips offer up to 10-core CPU, while the chips diverge on GPU power: the Pro offers up to 16-core GPU alongside up 32GB of unified memory, while the Max offers up to 32-core GPU and up to 64GB of unified memory. In simple terms, both chips are significantly faster than Apple’s breakthrough M1 chip and offer industry-leading performance per watt. In addition, the chips operate at top shape whether the device is plugged in or using battery power — an impressive fete for performance-focused laptops.

MacBook Pro M1 Review: Users Asked, Apple Listened

Both the Pro and the Max chips have a 16-core Neural Engine capable of computing up to 11 trillion operations per second, giving it a major boost in machine learning tasks. The media engines also now support ProRes, a highly-requested codec for professional post-production, which allows the computers to run multiple streams of 4K and 8K ProRes video. 

In addition to the impressive technical specs of the mix-and-match chips, the laptop also received a thoughtful design update to provide more screen real estate, advanced thermal architecture and user-friendly features. The new Macbook Pro has an aluminum enclosure that optimized internal space and makes room for an updated display and camera. The thermal architecture of the device has been given a boost, with fans that can move 50% more air at lower fan speeds than the previous generation, all while operating quietly.

Inspired by the brand’s own Magic Keyboard, the laptop keyboard has also been significantly improved, removing the unpopular touch bar feature and replacing the finicky butterfly keys of previous models with sturdier mechanical keys. In addition, the new models now support TouchID and keyboards are set in a double-anodized black well to aid in the backlit glyphs on the keys.

MacBook Pro M1 Review: Users Asked, Apple Listened

The borders around the screen have been reduced to create a larger screen canvas compared to previous generations. The Liquid Retina XDR display now delivers up to 1600 nits of peak brightness and features a cutting-edge two-dimensional backlit with up to 10,216 mini LEDs arranged around the screen for exceptional resolution with a 1 million-to-1 contrast ratio. The device offers the latest ProMotion technology, which enables refresh rates up to 120Hz optimized for the motion on the screen.

The smartest upgrade to the laptops are the range of connectivity ports offered: an SDX card slot, three Thunderbolt 4 ports, an HDMI port, a headphone jack and the beloved MagSafe 3 charger to support faster charging. The 14-inch model offers up to 17 hours of video playback, while the 16-inch model boasts up to 21 hours of video playback.

The device offers a new 1080p FaceTime HD camera with a 4-element lens with wider aperture to let in more light. To save on screen real estate, the devices has added in a notch at the top of the screen — a feature which some hardcore Apple fans really hate but I did not mind and it did not majorly impact my workflow or video streaming.

MacBook Pro M1 Review: Users Asked, Apple Listened

Studio-quality mics have been added in alongside a six-speaker sound system with force-canceling woofers for super crisp sound. The new MacBook Pro offers Universal Control to allow seamless integration between Mac and iPad with a single mouse and keyboard and supports Handoff between the iPhone and iPad for a continuous workflow between devices.

The 14-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,999 USD while the 16-inch starts at $2,499 USD. Both options come in silver and space gray.

Overall, the laptops offer industry-leading speed, battery optimization, the beautiful Liquid Retina XDR display, a redesigned keyboard and an array of ports for broader connectivity. This laptop is ideal for professional photographers, streamers or editors that require an ultra-high performance device and are willing to pay top price. Most importantly, it’s clear from the thoughtful updates that Apple is finally listening to its customers to deliver the products they want.

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