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14″ MacBook Pro (2021) vs 13″ M1 MacBook Pro: Which One to Buy?

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Image: Apple

During the ‘Unleashed’ special event earlier today, Apple unveiled all-new 14.2″ and 16.2″ MacBook Pro models with a lot more processing power than the previous generation, high refresh rate displays, upgraded I/O, and more.

How do this year’s notebooks stack up against the original 13.3″ M1 MacBook Pro from last year that redefined the product line? Let’s compare the 14.2-incher against its predecessor and find out:

CPU

The 2020 MacBook Pro is powered by Apple’s M1 processor, the company’s first in-house chipset, with 8 CPU cores.

With this year’s 14″ MacBook Pro, you get the next generation of Apple Silicon, and a choice between the M1 Pro and M1 Max processors with up to 10 CPU cores.

Both the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips deliver up to 70% faster CPU performance than last year’s M1, according to Apple. No wonder Apple called this year’s MacBook Pro models the “most powerful Mac notebooks ever” in their announcement.

GPU

Last year’s M1 MacBook Pro came with a respectable 8-core GPU under the hood, but the 14″ 2021 MacBook Pro can be configured with up to 16 GPU cores if you opt for the M1 Pro, and up to 32 GPU cores if you spring for the M1 Max.

In terms of graphics processing, the M1 Pro boasts twice the performance of the original M1 chip, and the M1 Max promises a whopping 4x performance buff over the M1.

Display

The M1 MacBook Pro features a 13.3-inch LED-backlit IPS Retina display with a 2560×1600 resolution and 500 nits brightness.

This year’s 14″ MacBook Pro, on the other hand, makes massive leaps in display technology with a new 14.2-inch mini-LED backlit Liquid Retina XDR display. The panel supports Apple’s ProMotion technology and a 120Hz refresh rate, along with a sustained, full-screen brightness of 1,000 nits and a peak brightness of 1,600 nits.

While both of the new 2021 MacBook Pro models do have a notch at the top of the display, the bezels are significantly thinner (by 60%, to be precise) than on last year’s M1 MacBook Pro.

Memory

The M1 MacBook Pro is available with up to 16GB of unified memory (for both the system and graphics processing), whereas the new 14″ MacBook Pro is configurable with up to 64GB of unified memory.

Storage

Where its predecessor maxes out at 2TB of high-speed, built-in storage, the 14″ 2021 MacBook Pro offers up to 8TB.

Battery

This year’s 14″ MacBook Pro is good for up to 11 hours of web browsing over a wireless network, or up to 17 hours of movie playback on the Apple TV app. The M1 MacBook Pro, however, manages up to 17 hours of web browsing over a wireless network, or up to 20 hours of Apple TV playback.

With how power-hungry Apple’s new high-performance chips are, the 14″ 2021 MacBook Pro’s 70Wh battery won’t last you as long as the M1 MacBook Pro’s 58.2Wh pack, but that’s to be expected with a notebook that’s packing this much heat.

As for charging, the M1 MacBook Pro supports 61W charging over a USB-C connection. Its successor, on the other hand, can go all the way up to 96W on a supported USB-C power adapter.

Camera

This year’s MacBook Pro models also come with an upgraded 1080p FaceTime HD camera, as opposed to the 720p snapper on last year’s iteration.

Weight

The M1 MacBook Pro weighs 1.4 kg (3.0 lbs). The 14″ MacBook Pro weighs a little more than its predecessor at 1.6 kg (3.5 lbs).

Sound

While the M1 MacBook Pro features a rather simple stereo speaker setup, the new 14″ MacBook Pro has a flashy new high-fidelity, six-speaker sound system with force-cancelling woofers that will supposedly knock your socks off.

The speaker setup on the new MacBook Pro also comes with support for spatial audio when playing music or video with Dolby Atmos on built-in speakers.

Both MacBook models are fitted with a 3.5 mm headphone jack, but the one on this year’s model ups the ante with advanced support for high-impedance headphones.

I/O

Last year’s M1 MacBook Pro kept it pretty simple, with two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports. The new 14″ model goes all out with three Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports, an HDMI port, an SDXC card slot, and a MagSafe 3.0 charging port.

Both models have Touch ID, but the new MacBook Pro does away with the Touch Bar.

Pricing

The 13″ M1 MacBook Pro starts at $1,299 USD ($1,699 CAD), and tops out at $2,299 USD ($2,949 CAD).

The new 14″ 2021 MacBook Pro starts at $1,999 USD ($2,499 CAD), and goes all the way up to a whopping $5,899 USD ($7,399 CAD) for the absolute maxed out configuration.

14″ MacBook Pro (2021) vs 13″ M1 MacBook Pro: Which One to Buy?

The M1 was Apple’s first crack at a full-scale computer processor. The M1 Pro and M1 Max, on the other hand, are refined, powerful behemoths that demonstrate what Apple’s ARM-based chipsets are truly capable of.

Not only does the new 14″ MacBook Pro pack enough firepower to tackle even the most resource-intensive workflows, it also has a slimmer, gorgeous new display that you can even accurately colour grade on, more storage, and more I/O to boot. However, it also costs $700 USD ($800 CAD) more than the M1 MacBook Pro for the base version.

The M1 MacBook Pro ain’t no slowpoke either, though — it spearheaded Apple’s transition to its proprietary chips, is quite the capable performer, and was certainly built to impress.

Essentially, which MacBook Pro model you should go for boils down to the kind of workflow you need a notebook for, what you’re looking for (and willing to settle for) in terms of display, storage, and battery, and most importantly, what you’re willing to pay for it all.

$7,399 CAD for a completely decked out 14″ 2021 MacBook Pro, though? The new MacBook Pro truly embodies the most a MacBook has ever been geared towards professionals.

Click here to order your 14-inch or 16-inch MacBook Pro today — both models launch October 26, 2021.

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