by Jerry ElengicalSep 18, 2021
Powered by the groundbreaking processing of Apple’s new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, the recently unveiled 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro 2021 models exhibit vastly improved performance and cutting-edge features, including a Liquid Retina XDR display, the return of integrated ports for connectivity, and a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, that together create a user experience that is said to far exceed the capabilities of previous versions. As stated by the California-based tech giant in a press release, the new MacBook Pro is “designed for developers, photographers, filmmakers, 3D artists, scientists, music producers, and anyone who wants the world’s best notebook.” Available for online orders and from retailers starting October 26, the new MacBook Pro also boasts of latest macOS - Monterey, catering to professionals yearning for high-end processing capabilities, combined with Apple’s distinctively minimalist trademark design.
“We set out to create the world’s best pro notebook, and today we are excited to introduce the all-new MacBook Pro with M1 Pro and M1 Max - a game-changing combination of phenomenal performance, unrivalled battery life, and groundbreaking features,” Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, discusses in an official statement. He adds, “The all-new MacBook Pro adds a breathtaking XDR display, a number of previously missing ports, an advanced 1080p camera, and a sensational six-speaker sound system, all in a stunning new design.”
Encased within a new aluminium enclosure, the new MacBook’s machinic product design is optimised to limit overheating, possessing a sophisticated thermal system that can move larger quantities of air at lower fan speeds while generating minimal noise. The revamped body design is a return to its classic shape and form that references the sensibility of earlier MacBook Pro models, as opposed to the sleeker profiles of newer editions, featuring fewer ports. Apple’s Magic Keyboard is also set into a double anodised black well above the Force Touch trackpad along the notebook’s body, to highlight the backlit glyphs on the keys. Furthermore, the Touch Bar has been replaced by a physical function key row, reintegrating the tactile quality of mechanical keys to this section of the physical interface.
Among the most talked-about features are the reintegration of ports to the notebook’s body. The new MacBook Pro hosts three Thunderbolt 4 ports, an SDXC card slot, and an HDMI port, alongside an improved audio jack optimised for high-impedance headphones. Moreover, Apple has also brought back its MagSafe 3 power adapters, with fast charging that can power up to 50 per cent charge in half an hour. Both size models are Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 enabled for wireless connectivity, and deliver equivalent levels of performance when charging and unplugged. While the 14-inch model offers 17 hours of video playback, this number rises to 21 hours for the 16-inch MacBook.
Fuelling all the hype surrounding the new release is the reveal of two new M1 processor chips - the first 'pro' chips designed for the Mac, representing a significant step forward in the company’s transition to Apple Silicon for its entire product range. Following the breakthrough releases of the new M1-enabled iMac and iPad Pro six months earlier, as well as the recent development of portable versions of Linux for M1-enabled Macs, the new MacBook Pro introduces system-on-a-chip (SoC) architecture to Pro systems for the first time. A marked upgrade from the older generation Intel chips that had powered earlier models of the MacBook Pro, the M1 Pro and Max are equipped with lightning quick unified memory architecture and increased bandwidth for significantly improved operating efficiency.
Described as delivering remarkably faster performance than the earlier M1, the M1 Pro features an up-to-10-core CPU and an up-to-16-core GPU with 200 GB/s of memory bandwidth, while supporting 32GB of fast unified memory, and a ProRes accelerator in the media engine that streamlines video workflows. In a similar vein, the M1 Max - said to be the “world’s most powerful chip for a pro notebook” - takes the capabilities of the M1 Pro to a whole new level with a similar 10-core CPU containing eight high-performance cores and two high-efficiency cores, backed by a monstrous 32-core GPU. As a result, the M1 Max enabled versions of the new MacBook Pro feature 400 GB/s of memory bandwidth, and an upper limit of 64 GB of unified memory. Armed with two ProRes media accelerators, the M1 Max 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro models can perform tasks that extend far beyond the capacities of earlier models, such as editing up to 30 streams of 4K ProRes video or up to seven streams of 8K ProRes video in Final Cut Pro.
Both the M1 Pro and Max possess immensely heightened processing capabilities while enabling rendering, application development, visual effects, video, photo, and sound editing tasks in programs such as Logic Pro, Maxon Cinema 4D with Redshift, Xcode, Adobe Creative Cloud applications, NASA TetrUSS, Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Studio, Affinity Photo, and Final Cut Pro. The 16-core Neural Engine on both varieties of M1 chips markedly speeds up machine learning tasks. According to Apple, “3D artists using the new MacBook Pro can now easily work with extreme geometry and textures in scenes that pro PC laptops can’t even run.”
Said to feature the best camera yet for a MacBook, the new MacBook Pro has a 1080p FaceTime HD Camera for sharper rendering of a user’s skin tones while doubling resolution and performance in low illumination environments. On the audio front, the notebook is fitted with a high-fidelity six-speaker sound system comprising two tweeters and four force-cancelling woofers. This arrangement also supports spatial audio, generating an immersive three-dimensional listening experience. Apple has also integrated a Liquid Retina XDR display with the same mini-LED technology employed in the iPad Pro, with 1,000 nits of sustained brightness, ramping up to 1,600 nits at its peak. Thinner screen borders and expanded real estate around the camera are also inherent design elements of both screen sizes while ProMotion technology safeguards battery life by altering refresh rates to cater to the motion in a user’s content.
Honouring Apple’s pledge towards sustainable design as seen in recently released products such as the Apple Watch Series 7 and iPhone 13, the new MacBook Pro is also manufactured with 100 per cent recycled aluminium, tin, and rare earth elements for its enclosure, main logic board board solder, and magnets respectively. At least 35 per cent recycled plastic is used in seven components while the product packaging is made from responsibly sourced wood fibres. Reflecting on the company’s latest revolutionary achievement, Greg Joswiak shares, “The new MacBook Pro simply has no equal and is by far the best pro notebook we have ever built.”