Apple has officially announced the latest MacBook Pro. The unveiling took place during the “Unleashed” event on October 18, 2021. The new MacBook Pro 2021 is available in two sizes and will be powered by new versions of the Apple M1 chip. The MacBook Pro 2020 is also sticking around to fill out the overall MacBook Pro lineup, so keep reading to learn more about the differences between each of these models.
MacBook Pro display and sizes
The MacBook Pro 2021 is available with either a 14” or a 16” display. Or more specifically, they will feature 14.2” and 16.2” display sizes. Each model features a Liquid Retina XDR display with mini-LED backlight. As a result, you get thousands of local dimming zones and a near-perfect 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. The 14” model has a resolution of 3024 x 1964 resolution, and the 16” model has a resolution of 3546 x 2234. Otherwise, the display specs are the same on both sizes.
- ProMotion technology with up to a 120Hz refresh rate
- True Tone
- Wide color (P3)
- Up to 1000 nits sustained brightness
- Up to 1600 nits max brightness
Shifting from the size of the display to the size (and weight) of the MacBook Pro itself — and the first point we take in is the weight. The 14” 2021 MacBook Pro weighs 3.5 pounds, and the 16” 2021 MacBook Pro weighs 4.7 pounds. In comparison, the 2020 13” MacBook Pro weighs 3.0 pounds. The previous 16” MacBook Pro was an Intel version released in 2019, and it weighs in at 4.3 pounds. The bottom line here is that these new 2021 MacBook Pro models are significantly heavier.
- 2021 MacBook 14” measurements: 0.61 (H) x 12.31 (W) x 8.71 (D) inches
- 2021 MacBook 16” measurements: 0.66 (H) x 14.01 (W) x 9.77 (D) inches
MacBook Pro colors and specs
As lots of people have come to expect from the Apple “Pro” lines — the colors are on the basic side. The new 2021 models of the MacBook Pro are available in two colors: Space Gray and Silver. But while the colors may not be fun or exciting, the specs are improved across the board (as compared to the previous MacBook Pro models).
- 14.2” or 16.2” Liquid Retina XDR display with True Tone and ProMotion technology
- M1 Pro chip or M1 Max chip
- 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB RAM memory
- 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB SSD storage
- 1080p FaceTime HD camera
- High-fidelity six-speaker sound with force-cancelling woofers
- Wide stereo sound, Support for spatial audio
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- Three-mic array
- Backlit Magic Keyboard with Touch ID
- WiFi 6 (802.11ax)
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Three Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports
- HDMI port
- SDXC memory card slot
MacBook Pro features
The MacBook Pro has always been the more powerful model in the Mac notebook lineup, though Apple seems to have stepped things up in 2021. The new 14” and 16” MacBook Pro is now much higher spec’d as compared to the MacBook Air. And, it also has a much higher price as compared to the MacBook Air. Essentially, the 2021 MacBook Pro lineup appears to be a true “Pro” notebook.
- Liquid Retina XDR display: The Liquid Retina XDR display is a significant upgrade coming from the previous years Retina display. The XDR display is mini-LED backlit with full-array local dimming (FALD), and it offers key features such as True Tone and ProMotion technology with adaptive refresh rates of up to 120Hz.
- M1 Pro and M1 Max chips: The 2021 MacBook Pro lineup offers options for the M1 Pro and M1 Max chip, depending on the configuration you choose. The M1 Max features up to double the performance cores (8 performance cores), and double the GPU cores (16-core GPU) as compared to the M1. The M1 Pro features up to double the performance cores (8 performance cores), and up to 4 times the GPU cores (32-core GPU) as compared to the M1.
- 1080p FaceTime HD camera: Up from a 720p FaceTime HD camera in the previous MacBook Pro models, Apple has said the new camera doubles the resolution and low-light performance. The new camera also takes advantage of the image signal processor (ISP) and Neural Engine of the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips (this means you will get sharper images and more natural-looking skin tones).
- More ports: Previous years models were limited on ports, but Apple brought back what users were asking for. The new 2021 MacBook Pro lineup features an HDMI port and SDXC memory card slot, as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack and three Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports.
- Recycled aluminum enclosure: The 2021 MacBook Pro enclosure is made with 100% recycled aluminum, and also uses 100% recycled tin in the main logic board solder, and 100% recycled rare earth elements in all the magnets.
Read more: Do I need to upgrade to an M1-based Mac?
Apple also made some changes to the keyboard, most notably the Touch Bar has gone away in favor of more traditional function keys. The keyboard now also sits in a double-anodized black well, which gives the overall keyboard area a darker look. In previous years, Apple has had the black keys sitting in a well that matched the color of the notebook itself.
Another area worth mentioning is the battery life. These new MacBook Pro models feature a battery life of up to 11 hours of wireless web and up to 17 hours of video playback on the 14” model, and up to 14 hours of wireless web and up to 21 hours of video playback on the 16” model. The 14” model has a 70-watt lithium-polymer battery and ships with a 67W USB-C power adapter, and the 16” model has a 100-watt lithium-polymer battery and ships with a 140W USB-C power adapter.
MacBook Pro: 2021 M1 Max/Pro vs 2020 M1 vs 2020 Intel vs 2019 Intel
The 2021 MacBook Pro is available in two sizes, and with two processor chip options. And, as we’ve noted here in this post, the new 2021 MacBook Pro lineup has significant upgrades compared to previous models — even when compared to the 2020 M1-powered model which brought a big performance boost as compared to the previous generation Intel-powered models.
The table below compares the key hardware specs of the 2021 models versus the 2020 13.3” M1, 2020 13.3” Intel, and 2019 16” Intel.
|2021 M1 Pro / M1 Max||2020 M1||2020 Intel (13.3″)||2019 Intel (16″)|
|Display||Liquid Retina XDR display (14.2″ or 16.2″)||Retina display (13.3″)||Retina display (13.3″)||Retina display (16″)|
|Processor||Apple M1 Pro or Apple M1 Max||Apple M1||Intel Core i5, or Intel Core i7 with Intel Iris Plus graphics||Intel Core i7, or Intel Core i9 with Intel UHD Graphics 630|
|RAM||16GB, 32GB, or 64GB||8GB, or 16GB||Up to 32GB||Up to 64GB|
|Storage||512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB SSD||256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, SSD||Up to 4TB SSD||Up to 8TB SSD|
|Battery Life||Up to 17 hours (14.2″)|
Up to 21 hours (16.2″)
|Up to 20 hours||Up to 10 hours||Up to 11 hours|
|Ports||Three Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C), HDMI, SDXC memory card, MagSafe 3||Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports||Two (or Four) Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports||Four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports|
|Camera||1080p FaceTime HD camera||720p FaceTime HD camera||720p FaceTime HD camera||720p FaceTime HD camera|
|Size / Weight||14.2″: 0.61″ (H) x 12.31″ (W) x 8.71″ (D) and 3.5 pounds|
16.2″: 0.66″ (H) x 14.01″ (W) x 9.77″ (D) and 4.7 pounds
|0.61″ (H) x 11.97″ (W) x 8.36″ (D) and 3.0 pounds||0.61″ (H) x 11.97″ (W) x 8.36″ (D) and 3.1 pounds||0.64″ (H) x 14.09″ (W) x 9.68″ (D) and 4.3 pounds|
If you are just looking at the specs in the table — you might want to run out and grab a 2021 MacBook Pro as quickly as possible. But as you’ll soon read, these new models come with new (read: higher) starting retail prices. Essentially, the 2021 MacBook Pro may not be the best computer for you, unless you have a specific need that justifies the performance and price.
Read more: MacBook Buyer’s Guide
MacBook Pro pricing
Apple is offering the 2021 MacBook Pro in a 14” and a 16” variety. The 14” model has two base configurations and the 16” model has three base configurations. The retail price for the 14” model starts at $1,999, and the retail price for the 16” model starts at $2,499.
- $1,999: M1 Pro (8-core CPU, 14-core GPU), 16GB Unified Memory, 512GB SSD Storage
- $2,499: M1 Pro (10-core CPU, 16-core GPU), 16GB Unified Memory, 1TB SSD Storage
- $2,499: M1 Pro (10-core CPU, 16-core GPU), 16GB Unified Memory, 512GB SSD Storage
- $2,699: M1 Pro (10-core CPU, 16-core GPU), 16GB Unified Memory, 1TB SSD Storage
- $3,499: M1 Max (10-core CPU, 32-core GPU), 32GB Unified Memory, 1TB SSD Storage
In previous years, the starting prices for a MacBook Air (from $999) and MacBook Pro (from $1,299) were much closer, and one could have justified spending a few hundred dollars more to get the more powerful MacBook in an attempt to future-proof it a bit. But with retail prices now starting at $2,000 for the 14” MacBook Pro — this new Pro notebook lineup is not going to be for everyone. The 2021 MacBook Pro lineup is more of a notebook designed for a true pro user.
That being said, these new prices present a great opportunity for someone to get a deal on a 2020 M1 MacBook Pro. Prices for a gently used 2020 M1 MacBook Pro now start at under $1,000 on Swappa. You can start browsing for your M1-powered MacBook Pro by tapping the green button below.
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