It’s been a week since Apple introduced the 2021 MacBook Pro lineup, bringing with it pretty much all of the upgrades and features that we have been asking for. Not only do the new MacBook Pro’s include Apple’s incredible miniLED displays, but there’s so much more. Really, this new lineup of laptops is pretty much the 2021 version of the ultra-popular 2015 MacBook Pro with the return of ports like an SD card reader and HDMI port.
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We’re still waiting to get our hands on one of these new laptops, but Apple has sent these beasts out to a number of online publications and YouTubers. We’ve rounded up some of the first MacBook Pro reviews to hit the web, aiming to help provide a bit of a direction if you’re still on the fence
In some ways, the M1 Pro and M1 Max MacBook Pros are a repudiation of the 2016 models, walking back almost all the then-future-thinking technologies the winning group at Apple hoped would make it truly next generation. But now the Butterfly keyboard is gone. The Touch Bar is gone. The all-in on USB-C and Thunderbolt is gone. And only the Force Touch trackpad remains. And that does make it as much regression as it does correction. But in this case, for everyone who loved those original MacBook Pros, it’s a massive win. A huge win. And one entirely eclipsed by what Apple’s done beyond all that.
Inside you’ve got Apple’s new M1 Pro and M1 Max processors, which are much more powerful versions of the M1 chip that have much more serious GPU capabilities. We’re doing a lot of performance tests to see what’s what with these chips, but I can tell you right now that the 16-inch Pro with M1 Max clocked the fastest time ever in our Adobe Premiere 4K export test… by over a minute.
It’s not cheap. No, it’s not. But that’s okay. In fact, even that fact follows from one of the most important lessons Apple has learned in the last five years: The MacBook Pro is a tool for professional users, and it needs to be built with their needs in mind.
Whether you’re a photographer, video editor, developer, podcast editor, or in any other of dozens of niches that require serious computing power, your computer has arrived. I know you may have been waiting a long time. But your wait is over.
- HDMI and SD card ports return
- MagSafe power connection is back
- Bigger, better screen with slimmer bezels
- New great-looking 1080p webcam
- Huge leap in graphics performance over earlier M1 systems
- Function keys replace the Touch Bar
- Adds some weight, so not as portable
- High starting price if you just want the better screen/webcam and ports
- The screen has a notch cutout for the camera
The new 14-inch M1 Pro MacBook Pro is a truly satisfying laptop, and it can now wear the crown of the professional’s choice without hesitation.
On the whole, these computers have practically everything we’d want in a powerful notebook. If you’re a creative professional with a large budget for a new computer, and you want something that’ll genuinely speed up your workflow, the new MacBook Pros are exactly what you need.
We’d love to see a MacBook Pro with these ports at a more affordable price, but that’s not in the cards right now. Maybe in 2022, Apple will update that spot in its lineup. The MacBook Air 2022, for example, is expected to get MagSafe. All that said, the new 14-inch MacBook Pro is pretty much exactly the laptop that many have waited for, and even dreamed of. With a notch on top.
But in addition to its power, the Pro’s incredible display, useful ports, perfect keyboard, and high-definition webcam make the new MacBook a compelling package. Yes, it’s expensive. It might be more laptop than most people need. I’m eager for these features to trickle down to the cheaper MacBooks so you don’t have to pay for more performance than you require just to get an amazing screen and the webcam we all deserve.
Andrew is a freelance writer based on the East Coast of the US.
He has written for a variety of sites over the years, including iMore, Android Central, Phandroid, and a few others. Now, he spends his days working for an HVAC company, while moonlighting as a freelance writer at night.