With the first orders for Apple’s new 2021 MacBook Pro models with next-generation M1 Pro and M1 Max chips going out on Monday and the notebooks becoming available in stores on Tuesday, we’re starting to see detailed reviews of Apple’s latest offering for creators and professionals.
The Verge has finally published their in-depth review and impressions of the 2021 MacBook Pro models, after playing around with a 16″ model with a kitted-out M1 Max, a 16″ model with an M1 Pro under the hood, and an M1 Pro-powered 14-incher as well.
One of the first things you’d notice about the 2021 MacBook Pro is that its chunkier than previous generations — and for a laptop geared towards performance, that’s not a bad thing.
It looks like Apple has finally given up on unnecessary thinness in favour of adequate cooling, ports, like the full-sized HDMI 2.0 and the SD card slot, that professionals actually need, and a higher quality display.
Speaking of the display, it is absolutely beautiful. The mini-LED display makes for OLED-like accurate blacks, and HDR support works well. The Verge‘s Nilay Patel even went as far as to say that the MacBook Pro’s display “looks better than Apple’s Pro Display XDR, which costs $5,000 USD.”
Of course, the display does have the dreaded notch, but the screen offers a 16:10 display and the portion occupied by the notch and the top macOS menu bar is just excess — that’s Apple’s “smart way” of giving users more screen real estate. It will take some time for apps and software to figure out how best to interact with the notch, but if it really bothers you. you can use an app like Forehead to hide it for the time being.
Audio quality on both size variants is impeccable, with a DAC and support for high-impedance headphones built-in. The Verge ceded that, by virtue of its larger size, the speakers on the 16″ MacBook Pro outperform the ones on the 14″ model, which are spectacular in their own right.
But the new MacBook Pro is built primarily for performance, and geared chiefly towards professionals. So how does it fair in professional workflows and benchmarks?
Monica Chin, The Verge‘s resident laptop reviewer, called the new MacBook Pro models “the most powerful laptops [they’ve] ever seen” for content creation and creative work.
In The Verge‘s custom 4K video export test on Adobe Premiere, the 2021 MacBook Pros outperformed every single competing laptop, including the 16″ Intel MacBook Pro from 2019. The 16″ MacBook Pro with an M1 Max chip had the most impressive results of the bunch, exporting the 5 minutes and 33 seconds 4K video in just 1 minute and 46 seconds.
The new MacBook Pro performs unimaginably well in Final Cut, boasting performance that’s around 10X faster than any Intel-powered Mac that came before it.
As for synthetic benchmarks like Pugetbench for Premiere Pro, a 30-minute Cinebench R23 multi-core loop, and Geekbench 3.5 Compute, all three 2021 MacBook Pro models posted numbers that blow every single other laptop right out of the water, and are only dwarfed by those of high-end desktop computers and workstations.
The M1 Pro-powered 14″ MacBook Pro and the 16-incher with the same chip furnished very similar results, and there isn’t much of a difference between performance on battery and performance plugged in on any model.
Video editing experience on the notebooks is unlike anything seen before in a chassis this small. The M1 Pro’s performance in this area is comparable to that offered by a top-of-the-line desktop Intel iMac, while the M1 Max, with its 32 dedicated GPU cores, handily exceeds it.
Even though the 2021 MacBook Pro models manage solid gaming performance, the notebooks are tuned for professional workflows and most games aren’t optimized for macOS anyway. A much better experience can be had for a lot less moolah with the hordes of gaming laptops out there.
“Apple’s not only back in the game, it’s already winning parts of it,” said Patel.
Battery life on the new notebooks is also something to gawk at. “The 16″ MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro is the longest lasting laptop I’ve ever tested in my career as a hardware reviewer,” said Chin. a whopping 16.5 hours of
The 14″ M1 Pro MacBook Pro and the 16″ M1 Max MacBook Pro didn’t deliver quite as much battery life, lasting 10.5 hours and 10 hours of continuous use respectively, but their stats are more than respectable.
Under a sustained heavy workload which included video editing in Adobe Premiere and After Effects, Zoom calls, downloading apps, and more, the M1 Max-powered 16″ MacBook Pro went from 100% to 10% in 4 hours. A slump in performance wasn’t noticed until 3.5 hours in.
“The new MacBook Pros are excellent,” Patel noted in conclusion.
Watch The Verge‘s full video review of the new MacBook Pro models above.