- Apr 24, 2016
The Apple Silicon MacBook Pro refresh has arrived, and it’s given many people cause for celebration. Not only are the new laptops incredibly powerful, but the revision points to a new direction for professional MacBooks at Apple.
Apple Finally Listened
If there’s one firm take-away from the 2021 MacBook Pro refresh it’s that Apple is finally taking on board many of the criticisms that the company has received over the past five or so years. This isn’t just good for MacBook Pro users, but for anyone immersed in the Apple ecosystem in general.
Few companies can get away with being bullish like Apple can. They were the first major vendor to ditch the CD drive, the iPhone has never had a removable battery or storage option, and the “courage” the company displayed by removing the iPhone’s headphone jack is still scoffed at by many.
But the 2021 MacBook Pro refresh demonstrates that the company can walk back some of its more controversial design statements. Apple has added features that it took away years ago and back-pedaled on its vision of how its products should be used.
It feels like the company is now listening to users and taking on board how customers want to use their products. And it’s not even as if this is a forced hand, since the advances made with 2020’s M1 chip have put the company in a very strong position when it comes to raw performance.
That’s not to say everything is hunky-dory. The MacBook Air still has too few ports and Apple neglected to add a USB-C port to 2021’s iPhone 13. That’s before you even consider how poorly Apple products rank in terms of repairability. It’s still a confident stride in the right direction, though.
Industry-Leading Power and Performance-to-Watt
The M1 is a beast of a chip that even impresses when running 64-bit x86 apps in compatibility mode. Software that has been optimized for Apple’s ARM-based architecture not only performs better than its Intel-based equivalents, but it also does so far more efficiently.
The M1 Max builds upon this strength, turbo-charging the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with up to 10 CPU cores, 32 GPU cores, 64GB of unified memory, and a memory bandwidth of up to 400GB/sec.
If you don’t need quite that much power you can settle for 16 GPU cores, 32GB of RAM, and a memory bandwidth of 200GB/sec with the slightly less performant M1 Pro “binned” chip.
The 16-inch models deliver this performance with up to 21 hours of battery life (down to 17 hours on the 14-inch version). Apple claims it can almost double the performance-per-watt efficiency of a comparable 8-core laptop chip. While these numbers are to be taken with a grain of salt given the source, the M1 chip’s real-world performance speaks for itself.
And while we’re talking about power, the SSD read speed has been upped to 7.4GB/second, which blows even Sony’s industry-leading PlayStation 5 read speed (5.5GB/sec) out of the water.
Finally, if you like to sequester yourself behind a wall of monitors you’ll be pleased to hear that the M1 Max supports up to four external displays, three at 6K resolution and one at 4K (with just two 6K displays supported on the M1 Pro).
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