MacBook Pro 14 Review: Testing Apple M1 Pro Performance Claims


angle 1 apple macbook pro 14 inch 2021

Round this time final 12 months, there was a lot hoopla over Apple’s first Macs with the corporate’s home-grown Apple Silicon, dubbed the M1. Nearly instantly, rumors swirled about what the follow-up, rumored to be known as the M1X, would have in retailer. By no means thoughts that on the time, Apple launched a power-efficient champion with 4 high-performance cores that would tear by means of nearly any workload, whereas concurrently rewriting the e book on built-in graphics efficiency. No, the 2020 Mac mini was outdated information; we simply needed to know what was subsequent. 

After which 2021 kicked off and it appeared nothing would change. Positive, the 24″ iMac received a redesign, but it surely had the identical M1 silicon because the smaller MacBooks and the Mac mini on the time, which was nothing new. With every passing month, there have been rumors, however no new product bulletins. Would Apple’s deliberate obsolescence of its Intel-based x86 Macs be delayed? It took a full 12 months, however we lastly received there. Now Apple’s new 14″ and 16″ MacBook Professionals can be found, and so they’re bearing presents for the vacations with new M1 Professional and M1 Max energy vegetation beneath their hoods.

We received our palms on Apple’s base 14-inch mannequin, which we concede may not be as fascinating as the 2 quicker choices, however lo and behold, it’s right here for a run across the take a look at monitor. Let’s meet the 2021 Apple MacBook Professional 14… 

MacBook Professional 14″ (2021) Specs

chart specs apple macbook pro 14 inch 2021

Discover The New MacBook Professional 14 On Amazon, Beginning $1999

First up, on board this laptop computer is the eight-core model of Apple’s M1 Professional SoC. That is only a single step up from the common M1 discovered within the 2020 Mac mini, but it surely’s a fairly large step. Our MacBook’s M1 Professional has six high-performance cores which appear to be clocked on the identical 3.2 GHz of the M1, together with two effectivity cores. If our expertise with the 2020 Mac mini is something to go by, we anticipate huge single-threaded numbers and a few fairly strong multi-threaded scores as effectively. It is price noting that there is additionally a 10-core model of this chip in an 8+2 configuration, so multi-threaded efficiency right here is not essentially the very best that Apple can muster. There’s additionally a 16-core Neural Engine aboard to speed up machine studying duties. 

The 14″ and 16″ MacBook Professionals have a handful of various GPU choices out there. Being the bottom mannequin, we get the GPU with 14 cores, up from 8 on the Mac mini and 13″ MacBooks. There are additionally 16, 24, and 32-core choices out there. Seeing as now we have lower than half the assets of the top-of-the-line M1 Max, we do not anticipate wonderful outcomes from this technique in gaming situations. Then once more, the Mac is not a gaming platform and arguments on the contrary are usually primarily based on some cherry-picked triple-A titles. This GPU is best suited to Last Reduce Professional X and Movement, not Shadow of the Tomb Raider or Baldur’s Gate III (which simply received M1 native binaries, by the way in which). That is not going to cease us from testing video games although, in fact. 

apple m1 pro max family
Up shut and private with the Apple Silicon household.

The massive distinction between the M1 and the newer M1 Professional/Max structure is the kind of reminiscence being employed. Fairly than LPDDR4X, this pocket book has LPDDR5 reminiscence with 200 GB per second of bandwidth. That is greater than twice the bandwidth within the Mac mini, and we’re at a determine right here that is in all probability extra useful for the onboard graphics than the CPU itself. 16GB is the usual configuration, although there may be an improve for 32 GB out there on M1 Professional fashions as effectively. In case you want greater than that, it’s important to transfer as much as the M1 Max, which might have as much as 64 GB of reminiscence on its multi-chip module. The pricing for a MacBook Professional configuration with this setup will make your eyes water, although; 32 GB is a $400 upcharge, whereas 64 GB is one other $800 on high of that. Howdy, Apple Tax.

After all, the system’s RAM can be soldered to its motherboard identical to nearly each skinny and lightweight pocket book on the planet lately, as is its 512GB of SSD Flash reminiscence, so make sure to get sufficient of every when ordering. The soldered SSD is main a departure from most Home windows PC laptops, one thing Apple says is critical for its T2 safety chip to work its magic. We would moderately go for a M.2 PCIe 4.0 SSD as an alternative, although. Stepping up from 512GB to 1TB is a $200 upcharge, 2TB is $600, and every step up additional doubles in value. The excellent news is that this machine’s storage is extremely quick, however the dangerous information is that when it wears out, these MacBook Professional chariots will flip right into a pumpkin (or a brick, because the case could also be). 

lid open apple macbook pro 14 inch 2021

Networking is completely of the wi-fi selection, however a minimum of it is as much as snuff. Apple tries very onerous to cover that the MacBook Professional’s wi-fi is supplied by a USI 339S00912, however digging round in driver .plist information helped. This controller handles 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity. Subjectively, the protection and efficiency we expertise with it was greater than fantastic. 20 ft away from the router we might simply max out our 400/100 Web connection, identical to another laptop computer we have examined during the last 6 months. Those that want wired Ethernet can be residing the dongle life right here, however because the ThinkPad X1 Excessive demonstrated for us, that is not all that unusual lately. 

MacBook Professional 14 Design Language and Exterior Options

Apple’s design language hasn’t actually modified all that a lot for the reason that CNC milled unibody MacBooks popped up in 2008. The show bezels have gotten thinner, chassis are much less beefy, and the Apple brand would not mild up lately, however these modifications are evolutionary, not revolutionary. That mentioned, comparatively few corporations make an all-aluminum laptop computer; even the Dell XPS 13 goes for fiber palm rests, and Lenovo’s high finish ThinkPads are all polycarbonate and carbon fiber. HP does make all aluminum Zbooks, although. Regardless, on this case we opted for the Silver end because it was out there with out ready for inventory, though there is a darker House Grey choice as effectively. 

display apple macbook pro 14 inch 2021
The MacBook Professional has a phenomenal show, however there is a catch…

The 2021 MacBook Professional 14’s show panel is great, however there’s simply this…factor about it. In case you’ve seen our protection on the subject, you may know there’s this monumental blemish on the high of the display — a notch. Sure, Apple put a notch on a pocket book. There isn’t any good purpose for this design choice. To make up for the sheer vertical girth of the chew taken out of the show, Apple needed to make the system-wide menu bar taller particularly on these machines. In any other case the notch would eat into the highest of an app window. Full-screen apps fully keep away from utilizing the highest of the show, too, which simply proves what a nasty thought this was.

Additionally, watch out in case you use a number of standing bar widgets, as a result of the icons will truly disappear behind the digital camera. Dell managed to suit a webcam right into a super-tiny high bezel on the Tiger Lake XPS 13 2-in-1, and we do not see any good purpose that Apple could not do the identical. Particularly on a $2,000 laptop computer. We’ll cease for now, however you’ll be able to relaxation assured we’ll gripe about it some extra afterward. 

notch apple macbook pro 14 inch 2021
There is a System Monitor widget hiding behind the webcam. What dope greenlit this design?

The show itself is great, although. The 14.2″ 16:10 side ratio has a 3,024 x 1,964 decision that works out to 264 dpi. By default, macOS Monterey scales as much as what Home windows customers would consider as 200%, successfully 1,512 x 982. The OS has a complete of 5 scaling choices, however textual content is sharp and readable simply because it comes out of the field. The XDR Liquid Retina show has a mini LED backlight and a most sustained 1,000 nit brightness when HDR is enabled, and 1,600 nits is feasible briefly bursts. Watching HDR video on Apple TV is a fairly wonderful expertise. The show panel additionally resolves 10 bits of coloration knowledge, helps the DCI-P3 coloration house, and has an adaptive refresh price of as much as 120 Hz. The $300 value hole between this and a similarly-configured 13.3″ mannequin is worth it for the higher show alone; the Contact Bar on the older mannequin is lifeless tech anyway. 

system monitor warning
Fashionable {hardware} utility System Monitor warns that widgets is perhaps hidden by the notch. It is true.

Apple ditched the butterfly keyboard greater than a 12 months in the past, but it surely’s nonetheless the topic of memes across the web. Let’s put it to relaxation: the keyboard on the MacBook Professional 14″ is fairly nice, and the keys even have some journey. We would not put it in the identical class as our favourite keyboards; the ThinkPad X1 collection continues to be tops in our e book, however the MacBook would not really feel all that completely different than the MagLev keyboards discovered within the XPS 13. The generously proportioned monitor pad, alternatively, is nearly as good as any monitor pad on another pocket book we have examined these days. Apple’s monitor pads do not have precise buttons, however as an alternative use a haptic system to really feel like clicking. There is a distinction in really feel, but it surely’s fairly slight. 

ports left apple macbook pro 14 inch 2021
The MacBook Professional can cost by way of Thunderbolt 4, however the included charger makes use of MagSafe.

The opposite lifeless meme with the brand new MacBooks is the shortage of ports. The 13.3″ M1 fashions had two (M1) or 4 (Intel) Thunderbolt ports and a headphone jack; that was it. Particularly contemplating that is how the system expenses, that is fairly limiting except you are dropping some bucks on a good docking station. This time round, Apple introduced again a number of the ports that its customers have been clamoring for. On the left facet we nonetheless have a pair of Thunderbolt 4 ports with USB-C connectors, however there’s additionally a MagSafe charging port. The 97 watt AC adapter included within the MacBook Professional’s field features a MagSafe to USB-C cable, so that you now not lose a giant chunk of connectivity simply to cost. 

ports right apple macbook pro 14 inch 2021

Round the proper facet, there’s one other Thunderbolt 4 port, however then some further issues that we have taken without any consideration over time. First up is an honest-to-goodness HDMI 2.0 port, one thing that is been customary on each PC pocket book within the final decade. There’s additionally a full-sized SDXC card reader in order that photographers and videographers on the go have a solution to learn their digital camera’s media with out carrying round one other adapter. 

The Mac Software program Expertise

Like each different Apple Silicon Mac, the MacBook Professional boots into one working system: macOS 12 Monterey. Positive, there are experiments to get Linux working on these machines, however with out GPU acceleration it appears like battery life and efficiency will endure a good bit within the course of. Linux nerds will really feel kind of at dwelling, nonetheless, for the reason that underlying Darwin working system is Apple’s fork of Free BSD, a taste of Unix that Linux initially got down to imitate. The UI is full Apple, nonetheless, with its brightly-colored summary icons, the Mac finder, and its omnipresent dock. The UI is unquestionably an evolution on the Mac Means of Doing Issues, a lot of which traces its lineage again to the unique Macintosh that launched greater than 37 years in the past.

macos monterey apple macbook pro 14 inch 2021
The MacBook Professional comes out of the field with macOS 12 Monterey pre-installed

After all, the Mac expertise is not full with out Apple’s apps to enrich it. GarageBand, iMovie, Numbers, Pages, and Keynote are preinstalled out of the field, though within the case of GarageBand, the sound library must be downloaded after the very fact. Let’s be trustworthy: that is why individuals purchase Macs. The everyday Mac purchaser is both artistic or likes to assume they’re, and so they’re able to edit films and write music in Apple’s best-in-class free functions. GarageBand is a fairly darn highly effective digital audio workstation for zero {dollars}. iMovie is unquestionably a serviceable non-linear video enhancing instrument with a lot of pre-packaged templates, too. When it is time to improve, Apple is completely satisfied to promote Logic Professional X, Last Reduce Professional X, Movement, and Compressor for a one-time payment moderately than yearly subscriptions like Avid and Adobe are so desperate to cost. 

logic pro x apple macbook pro 14 inch 2021
Logic Professional X is without doubt one of the Mac-only apps that attract artistic sorts

The opposite huge draw of the Mac is all of the factors of integration. I’ve received an iPhone 13 Professional, and it seamlessly shares cellphone calls and textual content messages with not solely this MacBook Professional, but in addition an iPad Air 4 as a result of they’re all on the identical iCloud account. The Contact ID sensor is a method to make use of biometrics to unlock the Mac, however an unlocked Apple Watch on my wrist can do it with out even touching the machine too. That iPad may also act as a helpful secondary show because of Facet Automobile. The combination simply goes on and on, one thing Microsoft has tried endlessly to copy on Home windows utilizing secondary apps like Your Cellphone, but it surely’s simply not fairly as seamless because it must be to hit vital mass.

diablo iii apple macbook pro 14 inch 2021
In case you do not thoughts older titles, there’s a lot to play on macOS (Diablo III runs at 100+ fps at native decision)

None of this sits significantly effectively with many tech fans as a result of the costs on the {hardware} are comparatively excessive, Apple loves its walled backyard, and the the very fact that there’s a dearth of recent video games for the platform. As we talked about, it is time to dispense with any notion that the Mac is a platform for high-budget gaming. Blizzard gave up on it with Overwatch so Diablo II Resurrected and Diablo IV are out, though World of WarCraft is Apple Silicon native. Indie titles like Supergiant’s Hades and Amplitude Studios’ Humankind are wonderful and run nice on the Mac, however you may must play Name of Obligation and Battlefield elsewhere. Additionally, in case you have not heard, there is a big freaking notch in the course of the display, which might certainly minimize off some HUD parts in a number of video games, anyway. 

That is the 14″ MacBook Professional in a nutshell. Subsequent up it is time to discover artistic methods to place it to work. There are a couple of video games, and another benchmarks we’ll use to check efficiency so keep tuned…



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