Wednesday, November 24, 2021

MacBook Pro 2021 Reviews

Jason Snell:

The new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models usher in a new era in Apple laptops. These are the first high-end Macs to be powered by Apple-designed processors, and that’s a big deal—but they also reject the minimalist design mid-2010s Apple, which achieved design simplicity by forcing complexity and frustration on users.

These new MacBook Pros are a success story not just because of Apple’s custom-built processors, but because Apple has admitted (in deeds, if not words) that the previous generation of laptops were a misstep.


I’m happy to report, it’s true—all of it. Apple has undone its mistakes of the past few years and created a laptop that’s essentially a Mac Pro you can slide into a backpack.

John Gruber:

A few factors contribute to this sense of thickness. The first is that the new MacBook Pros are more rectilinear. We tend to think of the MacBook Air as the tapered MacBook, but MacBook Pros have been tapered for years. Looking at the new model next to last year’s M1, it’s striking just how far from flat the previous design is. The 13-inch MacBook Pro is 0.61 inches thick only in the middle. The new 14-inch MacBook Pro is 0.61 inches thick from edge to edge, front to back.


Apple’s best products have always been both tools for work and objects of art. Almost every single change with these new MacBook Pros is in the name of making them better tools for work. Conversely, the controversial decisions that went into the Touch-Bar-era MacBooks were in the name of artistic purity. Minimalism trumping practicality. They were out of balance.


That, to me, explains the entirety of this new MacBook Pro. The differences between a MacBook Pro and MacBook Air should not be subtle. Let the truck be a truck, true to its purpose. Let the MacBook Pro be unabashedly pro.

D. Hardawar (Hacker News):

But lean in a bit closer and you’ll notice some retro flourishes. They’re slightly thicker, with more bulbous edges that hearken back to Apple’s notebooks from the 2000’s. They’re also heavier than you’d expect: the 14-inch model comes in at 3.5 pounds, while the 16-inch varies between 4.7 and 4.8 pounds, depending on the chip you choose. That’s about half a pound heavier than the last 16-inch MacBook Pro.

Nilay Patel (tweet):

It’s easy to be excited about the new MacBook Pros — it feels like Apple finally listened to everyone and brought back the best parts of the beloved 2015 MacBook Pro, while pushing the display and performance to new heights.

Austin Mann:

I really wish there was a matte/non-glare screen option. Years ago, this was an option on Apple’s laptops, and with the recent Pro Display XDR “nano-etch” anti-glare option, I was crossing my fingers we might see something similar on the MacBook Pro.

Stephen Hackett:

For the nearly nine years between the two machines, the keyboard’s feel isn’t radically different. The new keys seem slightly larger, have less space between them and feel more stable, somehow. The sound is a little deeper, but I’ve gotten used to the new keyboard pretty quickly.


My new 14-inch machine packs a lot more pixels than my 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro.

Nilay Patel and Monica Chin (tweet):

So yes, the ports are definitely more convenient, and totally fine for most situations, but there are still reasons to visit dongletown. For example, macOS Monterey now supports variable refresh rate external displays using a Vesa standard called Adaptive-Sync, but Apple tells me you’ll need a Thunderbolt to DisplayPort dongle for that. I also ran into a strange bug where sending audio out over HDMI resulted in stuttering video and glitchy audio, which Apple says it is looking into.


Lastly, the speakers on these new MacBook Pros are terrific. The first thing we did with these when we got them was open up a video to check out the new displays, but the first thing we noticed was that the speakers are so good. They are clear and crisp, with some actual low-end from four woofers, and they get super loud. It’s impressive — and while the 14-inch speakers are really good, the 16-inch models in particular have the best speakers we’ve ever heard on a laptop.


A lot of you asked whether the extra money for the M1 Max is worth it, and after all that, we think the answer is: no, not for most people. Carrying around all those extra GPUs has an impact on battery life [10 hours vs. 16] whether you’re using them or not.

Jon Porter (Hacker News):

But it’s hard to ignore the broader context of these improvements, which is that they effectively bring the company’s 2021 MacBook Pros back in line with the features they were already offering from 2012 to early 2016. Arguably, the primary reason these new MacBooks are being greeted with overwhelming enthusiasm now is that Apple made the wrong bet on where laptop design was headed back then.

Juli Clover:

It’s officially MacBook Pro launch day, and customers around the world who pre-ordered after last Monday’s event are receiving their devices today. We’ve already seen reviews of the new MacBook Pro models from media sites, but now first impressions from everyday users are available.

Paul Haddad:

This is pretty hilarious. Rosetta results for the M1 Pro/Max vs my 10850k 10 core real Intel machine.

Jason Snell:

[Here’s] a pic of how deep the SD card slot is in the new MBP

It sticks out a lot more than on my 2012 MacBook Pro.

Marco Arment:

Based on this, I’m guessing the new SD slot won’t safely support those nearly-flush adapters that could hold a MicroSD card for extra semi-permanent storage.

John Gruber:

Here are the effective “looks like” resolutions for the new 14-inch MacBook Pro

Moshen Chan:

13" M1 MBP vs. 14" MBP. Mini-LED ‘Liquid Retina XDR’ showing huge contrast difference.

Saagar Jha:

Interesting, it looks like the new MacBook Pros can’t really go from black to light colors very well. There’s a fairly noticeable “ghosting” effect where it first tries to turn on the right LED regions and then gets to the right color.

Computer Clan:

I love how Apple went from removing the escape key to making the biggest escape key ever on a Mac. 😂

Paul Haddad:

I’ve not seen any performance difference in the various reviews between the 14” and 16”. I have seen several instances of the fans being significantly louder on the 14” under any kind of sustained load. Add to that longer battery life and bigger screen…

Joe Rossignol (Hacker News):

iFixit has shared a teaser of its 14-inch MacBook Pro teardown, and one noteworthy detail is the inclusion of pull tabs for the battery cells, which the repair website said will allow for easier do-it-yourself battery replacements.

Juli Clover:

In Final Cut Pro, a video export test saw the M1 Max machine export a 6-minute 4K video in one minute and 49 seconds, a task that took the M1 Pro 2 minute and 55 seconds. When it comes to 8K RAW footage, both machines were able to handle the load. The M1 Max MacBook Pro performed close to flawlessly, while the M1 Pro had a few issues with dropped frames and stuttering, but was ultimately able to keep up.

Howard Oakley (Hacker News):

The internal SSD is the fastest that I have ever tested, although as it’s the 2 TB model, it’s expected to be significantly slower than the results quoted by Apple, which are for 8 TB versions. Using my own app Stibium, it attains transfer rates of 6.7 GB/s read and 6.9 GB/s write. Maximum speeds were found between 60-400 MB transfer sizes.

I’m going to look in more detail at how the M1 Pro uses its cores in tomorrow’s sequel to this article. For the moment, though, I’ll give you a teaser that, like the M1, the M1 Pro runs lowest QoS processes on its Efficiency cores, which includes most macOS services like Time Machine. Although the M1 Pro has only two Efficiency cores, compared to the M1’s four, numerical tests run on them in the M1 Pro complete in around 67% of the time of the M1. The M1 Pro’s Performance cores are managed quite differently from those in the M1 too.

Swift Package Index:

Overall, it’s remarkable that the M1 MacBook Air already had the best performance before Apple introduced the new MacBook Pros, but the M1 Pro and Max chips take this further. They improve on the M1 Air’s best result of 47 seconds with a build time of less than 31 seconds. Those extra cores matter, and the ~35% improvement is in line with what you’d expect, going from a 4+4 performance/efficiency core setup to an 8+2 configuration.

Brian Webster:

OK, the M1 Max benchmark that matters for me: a clean build of PowerPhotos (~80,000 LOC, about 1/3 Swift, 2/3 ObjC)

2017 5K iMac: 160 seconds
2018 MacBook Pro Core i9: 159 seconds
2021 MacBook Pro M1 Max: 76 seconds

Michael Love:

Up and running with 14" M1 MacBook Pro. Thoughts so far:

- Very fast; build times roughly halved vs 2019 Intel 16"
- Android dev on M1 has a few glitches but basically OK
- Notch is fine; stupid, but ignorable
- No difficulty driving 4K@120 external monitor (Gigabyte M32U)

Marco Arment:

I’ve now had the 16” M1 Max MBP at full sustained CPU load (800%+) for 3 hours.

I do, finally, hear the fans — but just barely. It’s quieter than my iMac Pro was at full sustained CPU load.

Hard to notice above ambient noise from a few feet away. Gotta put your ear up close.

Ben Sandofsky:

Build times for @halidecamera

2019 Macbook Pro
2.4ghz, 8-Core, 32GB RAM
𝟔𝟑 𝐒𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐝𝐬

2021 MBP M1 Pro
10-Cores, 32GB RAM
𝟐𝟖 𝐒𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐝𝐬

…and the 2021 model was $300 cheaper.

See also: iFixit, MacRumors, Accidental Tech Podcast, The Talk Show.


1 Comment RSS · Twitter

And this, which is shocking:

1. M1, M1 Pro and M1 Max show lower than expected speeds with external SSD:
Has Apple FIXED USB Speeds and Bluetooth with the NEW M1 Pro & M1 Max chips?

2. M1, M1 Pro and M1 Max do not support USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 (20 Gbps = 2,000 MB/s) like Kingston XS2000 Portable SSD, which only reaches half such speed with such Macs.

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