The New Redesigned 14” and 16” MacBook Pros

Apple’s M1 chip, first introduced in their 13-inch MacBook Pro 2020 model, was groundbreaking. Its “system on chip” design replaced the previous models’ Intel processor and offered improved processing, speed, and general performance for graphics-heavy tasks. Its increased battery life meant users could smoothly multitask for long stretches of time. 

Since we didn’t see any updates to the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models in the 2020 lineup, rumors swirled that there would be upgrades made to the already-awesome M1 chip for the larger-sized MacBook Pros in the 2021 generation. 

And the rumors were right. Apple recently released what many are calling the most significant upgrade to the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models that we’ve seen in years. In a major one-upping of their own technology, Apple now offers the 14-inch MacBook Pro and the 16-inch MacBook Pro with what they’re calling the M1 Pro chip and the M1 Max chip. These are — you guessed it — even more powerful than the M1 chip of 2020. 

Combined with other design updates like an increased number of useful ports and display updates like the addition of the mini-LED Liquid Retina XDR display, these laptops are something to write home about. 

Read on for a general overview of the reimagined 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros, as well as a comparison between these models and those of previous generations. 

14-Inch Macbook Pro 2021 Overview

The 14-inch MacBook Pro is not much bigger than the 13-inch MacBook Pro 2020 model. But there’s clearly a need for a machine of this size. It’s obviously smaller than the 16-inch model, but it can be customized to include many of the incredible features that the top-of-the-line model houses (like the M1 Max chip). This means if you prefer a smaller, more portable or compact option, you can get that—but you don’t have to sacrifice power or speed in order to do so.

Size and Screen

The 14-inch MacBook Pro measures at 12.3 x 8.7 x .6 inches and weighs 3.5 pounds. With regard to its display, a significant change in the 2021 model is that Apple shrunk the bezel size. For comparison’s sake, the 2020 MacBook Pros feature a bezel size of half an inch on the top and .3 inches on the sides. The 2021 14-inch MacBook Pro has bezels that are roughly .1 inches. This means that the screen stretches further toward the edges of the computer so that you feel you get more display “bang for your buck.” There is a notch at the top for the FaceTime camera, but it’s not a significant distraction. 

Ports

Much has been written about the need for an update to the ports situation on the MacBook Pros of years past. Users prefer the MagSafe charging port so that you don’t risk pulling your laptop off a table if you trip over a chord or it gets accidentally pulled somehow. This year’s iteration has added that feature back along with several port options that are desirable for creators, photographers, editors, or those who use MacBook Pros for more intense workflows. 

The new ports include three Thunderbolt 4 ports, a headphone jack, the HDMI port, and an SD card reader. If you’re a photographer who relies on memory cards for storage, this is a major boon. The number of ports on this machine is a big increase over those on the 13-inch MacBook Pro 2020. That one, for example, has two Thunderbolt 4 ports and one headphone jack.  

Keyboard 

The rumor surrounding the touch bar on the MacBook Pro 2021 models was true: it’s gone from these models. While the touch bar seemed cool in theory, users never really got behind the functionality that it offered. The 2021 MacBook Pros have standard function keys that are physically clickable and simply easier to manage.

Display and Graphics

Like the latest iPhones, these computers received the mini-LED Liquid Retina XDR display. It makes contrasts between colors pop and the up-to-1,600 nits of brightness is also stunning. Plus, the 14-inch MacBook Pros feature ProMotion, which boasts a 120Hz refresh rate. This, combined with the XDR display, makes everything you see on the screen feel smoother.

More than 10,000 Universal apps and plug-ins, including Adobe Photoshop (above), are available to take advantage of the powerful M1 Pro and M1 Max.

And with either 14-core or 16-core GPU, the graphics capabilities on the MacBook Pro mean that gaming is as realistic as possible — and that this machine doesn’t even blink at multitasking. 

Processing and Performance 

The M1 Pro features up to 10-core CPU. When combined with the powerful GPU options available, the processing speed is, simply put, incredible. Apple notes that the M1 Pro “delivers up to 70 percent faster CPU performance than M1, and up to 2x faster CPU performance.” 

Another significant change is the addition of the ProRes accelerator, that Apple says delivers “unbelievably fast and efficient video processing.” 

The 14-inch MacBook Pro provides up to 16GB of unified memory and up to 1TB of SSD storage. 

Cameras + Sound

We’ve all come to know the importance of a high-quality camera on an iPhone. In this era of video conferencing and FaceTiming, a clear, bright video is expected. This iteration of the MacBook Pro includes a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, which is crisper (and just plain better) than the 720p cameras in the 2020 MacBook Pro. 

The audio aspects of the 2021 MacBook Pro didn’t see too much of an upgrade over the 2020 M1 chip, though users say the quality is better. While there are still three built-in mics, the sound quality is improved, and the speaker system includes a six-speaker array that many early reviewers also say offer an improvement over previous iterations.

MacBook Pro 16” 

You may already know that we consider the MacBook Pro 16” to be one of the best laptops on the market these days. The previous generations’ 8-core Intel Core i9 processor offered powerful processing and 2020 AMD Radeon Pro 5600M graphics card meant that editing and video playback was just about as seamless as possible. 

2021, however, has brought what Apple is calling “the most powerful Mac notebooks ever” with the new MacBook Pros. And the new M1 Max chip on the 2021 16-inch model means we’er looking at arguably the most top-of-the-line laptop option out there.   

16-Inch MacBook Pro Design

The 16-inch MacBook Pro has up to 1.7x faster 8K render in Final Cut Pro with M1 Pro, and up to 2.9x faster with M1 Max.

Size and Screen

Coming in at 14 x 9.8 x .7 inches and weighing 4.8 pounds, this laptop is the largest in the lineup. It’s still not huge — it’s certainly transportable (it is a laptop, after all), but it’s larger screen may improve tasks like editing, gaming, or video playback. 

Like the 14-inch MacBook Pro, the 16-inch model has thinner bezels so that you can enjoy more of the beautiful 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display. And like the 14-inch model, it also features the notch for the FaceTime camera, but we feel it’s a fair trade for the smaller bezels. 

Photo: ArsTechnica Samuel Axon / An SD card slot, Thunderbolt, and HDMI on the 16-inch MacBook Pro.

Ports

Like the 14-inch MacBook Pro 2021, the ports on the 16-inch MacBook Pro offer increased versatility for users. It also contains three Thunderbolt 4 ports, an HDMI port, a SDXC card slot, and a MagSafe charging port. 

Keyboard 

The keyboard on the 16-inch model is the same as the one on the 14-inch model. Since the laptop size is bigger than the 14-inch, the keyboard is also obviously a bit bigger, making it ideal for those who prefer more space and comfortability when typing. This model also doesn’t contain the unpopular touch bar, so users can enjoy the feeling of physical function keys.

Display and Graphics

Wondering where the 16-inch MacBook Pro really shines? The M1 Max chip that offers up to 10-core CPU and 32-core GPU means that the processing on this machine is true to Apple’s claim of it being “the most powerful chip for a pro notebook” ever. For comparison’s sake, the M1 chip is fast — but the M1 Max chip’s 32-core capabilities mean that it’s up to four times faster than the M1. 

And like the 14-inch MacBook Pro, the 16-inch features the ProRes accelerator (well, technically two of them), that make multitasking a breeze.  Like the smaller version (and the 2021 iPhones), it also has ProMotion, making for smooth video and general surfing.

Processing and Performance 

The 64GB of unified memory means that just about anything is possible on this laptop. Multitask to the nth degree on the 16-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Max chip — and still enjoy incredibly fast processing, speed, and overall power.

Available with 10-core CPU, up to 32-core GPU, up to 32GB of unified memory, and up to 1TB of SSD storage, you can see how this machine can handle what you throw at it. Plus, it offers up to 21 hours of battery life (without a major decrease in performance when it’s not plugged in). 

Cameras + Sound

The 16-inch MacBook Pro also features a 1080p FaceTime camera that makes for better quality picture. And the six-speaker sound system has 80% more bass than previous models, so there’s a richer sound quality overall. The three studio-quality mics were also upgraded with “directional beamforming,” which early users say really does help the sound quality (even when the sound you’re recording is at more of a distance). 

These laptops seem to be what everyone has been waiting for. Without a doubt, they’re some of the most powerful (if not the most powerful) on the market. They’re ideal for creative tasks like writing, editing video and still photography, software development…the list goes on. If you’d like to use one (and avoid the steep price tag that this kind of technology comes with), let us know. We’d be happy to discuss your needs and recommend the right machine for you. 


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