Monday, October 18, 2021

MacBook Pro 2021

Apple (video, Hacker News, MacRumors, Stephen Hackett, Jesper, The Verge, Slashdot):

Apple today unveiled the completely reimagined MacBook Pro powered by the all-new M1 Pro and M1 Max — the first pro chips designed for the Mac. Available in 14- and 16-inch models, MacBook Pro delivers groundbreaking processing, graphics, and machine learning (ML) performance whether running on battery or plugged in, as well as amazing battery life — enabling workflows previously unimaginable on a notebook. The new MacBook Pro also features a stunning Liquid Retina XDR display, a wide range of ports for advanced connectivity, a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, and the best audio system in a notebook.


Up to 2.1x faster project builds in Xcode [compared with i9].


Unlike other pro notebooks that lose performance when they are not plugged in, MacBook Pro delivers the same level of performance whether it is plugged in or using the battery. This unprecedented combination of system performance, on-battery performance, and battery life sets MacBook Pro apart from every other notebook.


Physical function keys — including a wider escape key — replace the Touch Bar, bringing back the familiar, tactile feel of mechanical keys that pro users love.


ProMotion technology also comes to the Mac on this new display, featuring an adaptive refresh rate up to 120Hz.


Both models feature three Thunderbolt 4 ports to connect high-speed peripherals, an SDXC card slot for fast access to media, an HDMI port for conveniently connecting to displays and TVs, and an improved headphone jack that supports high-impedance headphones. MagSafe returns to MacBook Pro with MagSafe 3, featuring an updated design and supporting more power into the system than ever before. MagSafe 3 makes connecting a charge cable quick and easy while protecting MacBook Pro. Additionally, fast charge comes to the Mac for the first time, charging up to 50 percent in just 30 minutes.

This looks really great, advancing the state of the art as well as righting lots of wrongs. It’s even slightly thicker, at 0.66 vs. 0.64 inches, which is probably inconsequential in feel but speaks to a more sensible balance of design priorities.

The remaining problems carried over from the 2016 design: the huge trackpad that gets lots of accidental input, the keyboard feel, and the glossy display.

Only the M1 Max supports more than 32 GB of RAM, and then the only option is 64 GB. My iMac has 40 GB, which is perhaps the equivalent of 48 GB since none is reserved for video, and I still see a significant amount of paging. So, for a primary Mac, I’d want more than 32 GB, but 64 GB is more than I need and costs $800 extra (including extra GPU cores that I don’t need).

However, that doesn’t yet appear to be a decision that I need to make because, with no external Retina 5K display, I’m going to wait for the forthcoming large-screen iMac.

John Gruber:

People want standalone displays for their MacBooks and Mac Minis. People don’t want to spend $5,000 on a Pro Display XDR. Third-party display makers clearly are not capable or willing of serving the Mac market. So why not get back in the prosumer display game with a $1,500 iMac-quality standalone display?

Marco Arment:

For the first time in five years, the MacBook Pro looks like it was designed by and for people who love computers.

Rich Siegel:

This is the first laptop in 5 years where I don’t feel like I’ve had to settle for stuff I didn’t really want (constrained memory, touch bar) in order to get something I really did (13-inch machine, touch ID).


Apple flexing so hard about how they gave back ports that they took away is just poetry.

Matt Birchler:

They basically said “using dongles sucks” and I lost it.

But you’ll still need to carry extra cables for Lightning and USB-A devices, and perhaps for Ethernet.

Paul Graham:

Apple got rid of the touch bar! Finally I can buy a new laptop.

Marco Arment:

This turned out less funny than I expected

Well, even Apple’s logo has a notch.

James Thomson:

Menus to the left of me, icons to the right, here I am stuck in the notch with you.

If your menus are short enough.

Joe Groff:

Loving the squared edges, tiny bezels, assortment of ports, and dark keyboard on the new MacBook Pro design


Update (2021-10-19): Jason Snell:

Here’s a quirk of the new MacBook Pros. On the 14-inch models, the larger 96W USB-C power adapter is required for fast charging. You can fast charge either via MagSafe or via a standard USB-C cable attached to that adapter. However, on the 16-inch models—all of which come with a 140W adapter—you can only do ultra-fast charging via MagSafe. While there’s a new specification that allows for much higher power delivery levels over USB ports, the Thunderbolt 4/USB 3 ports on the MacBook Pro don’t support it. You can still charge via those ports, of course—just not at the ultra-fastest speed.


Apple’s argument for getting rid of the SD slot was that the future would be wireless, and we wouldn’t need to use cards to transfer data anymore. It wasn’t true back in 2016, and it’s still not true.


When the Touch Bar arrived, I thought it had a lot of potential. Unfortunately, there were two big problems: a lack of tactile feedback and software support. […] As for the lack of software support, that comes from the top: After the launch of the Touch Bar, Apple did almost zero to help the hardware fulfill its potential.


I can’t remember the last time this was true, but both models of MacBook Pro can be configured to the same heights if you want to—every single built-to-order option from the more expensive, larger model is also available in the smaller one.

Matt Birchler:

The SD card reader alone made me want to buy this computer to replace my Air immediately. This is what my computer looks like when I need to import images/video from my modern Canon camera[…]

Matt Birchler:

Most high end cameras can wirelessly connect to your computer (or phone for that matter), but they often transfer super slowly, and sometimes even convert your RAW images to JPG in the process (presumably to improve the transfer speed). Wired connections work, but often transfer speeds are still very slow due to slower USB tech in the device. Using my Canon EOS RP as an example, I can plug in via a USB-C cable, but photos and video transfer at about 1/3 the speed I get from just plugging the SD card into Apple’s SD-to-USB-C adapter.

Another issue is that many photographers shoot with multiple SD cards. If they have a big job, they’re going to have several SD cards with them, and they’ll swap between them as they fill up each card. Needing to use their camera as a several thousand dollar dongle to offload these photos/video to their computer is a pain (and has slower speeds).

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Notch avoidance

See also: Pinboard.

8 Comments RSS · Twitter

Great laptops. I wish they had subtracted the price of the touch bar from the computer :D

Really just annoyed by the notch. Though thinking more about it, since Apple's frameworks manage the menu bar, I suppose it should work out of the box for almost all apps without any changes, in that the menu will be automatically be split as needed? Except in full-screen mode? Unless they simply remove that top band in full-screen mode? Will there be an API for that? Ugh, I am really not convinced the added vertical space is worth the notch here. It's a small annoyance, but still...

@charles There’s a beta API, and it seems to be automatic for full-screen. I don’t expect many problems for apps, except that it will look funny if there are lots of menus to have some on the right side of the notch. Reserving judgement until I see it, but my guess is that the extra vertical space is worth it.

Kevin Schumacher

I'd like to know on what planet anybody is asking for a $1,500 monitor for any word ending in "-sumer". I outfitted our house with Dell UltraSharps for $400 a pop on Black Friday sale and that hurt enough. I realize you get what you pay for with a $150 monitor (I've made that mistake before) but there is a world of room between $150 and $1500.

@Kevin For reference, the LG one that Apple sells is $1,300. That may be the only one that’s 5K and the right DPI. Presumably an Apple one would be a little nicer and have Apple’s traditional markup. But I think Apple should make a 4K retina one, too, and that could have more of a consumer price.


Re: “$1500 monitors”, I recently spent nearly this much for a 32” 4K LG Thunderbolt Display. Worth every penny for the size, resolution, and the convenience of connecting to my MacBook with a single cable.

Do they support USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 (20 Gbps) to reach 2,000 MB/s with external disks, like Kingston XS2000 Portable SSD?

The notch is terrible. What were they thinking? Its bad enough on the iPhone, its horrendous on a laptop!

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