Apple really did that. It has been a long time since Apple has excited me quite this much into the event.
Yes, Apple M1 reveal was groundbreaking and a turning point for the whole computer industry.
But these chips, this is the M1 all grown up and not only that, it comes in this new package. Let me tell you why that excites me.
These are the first evolution of the M1 architecture since apple Silicon first became a thing.
These new chipsets from Apple bring a host of improvements to the table. For one, they skew towards performance with six or eight high-speed cores for heavy lifting and just two efficient cores for lightweight tasks.
In the case of the bigger chip, this doubles the performance on tap compared to M1, assuming the core clocks are the same.
M1 Pro and M1 Max technical details.
The GPU architecture of the M1 Pro and M1 Max has been improved from 8 cores on the M1 chip, to a mammoth 16 and 32 cores on the M1 pro and the M1 Max, respectively.
These upgraded chipsets are blessed with an expanded media engine that can encode and decode progress so well that it supposedly outdoes a 24 core Mac Pro with an afterburner accelerator card.
What’s more impressive than the above stats, is the memory bandwidth, which is up to 200 gigabytes per second, on the pro model and 400 for the max.
Primarily, thanks to the expanded memory capacities of these chips, M1 clocking in at about 60 gigabytes per second, this implies that, the additional memory is not only laid out to be more, but potentially clocked higher.
For reference; A conventional CPU running DDR4 memory, gets between 18 and 35 gigabytes per second, which is the memory used by recent crop of computers.
For the Apple silicon chip, the speed is 448 gigabytes per second, with such data transfer speed, the need to copy data from the CPU to the GPU has been nullified, which is the common process for Intel Macs and PCs.
No doubt, the details above will make any tech mind lose its composure trying to contain the excitement of working with such power.
When you pay attention to performance, Apple seems to have finally caved and labeled their graphs complete as against other competitors, with the M1 Pro and M1 Max.
Notwithstanding, Apple isn’t perfect, leaving details like the benchmarks used to measure their new chipsets, because other than this phrase >select industry-standard benchmarks<, there is not much to go by.
But Hey, it’s a start I guess, for now, they claim to double the CPU and GPU performance over the quad-core M1, twice the performance of the previous Gen 16” MacBook pro with a core.
The GPU options, supposedly come in between 2.5 times and four times faster than any previous MacBook with a dedicated GPU.
They didn’t specifically mention whether the neural engine was improved in any meaningful way over M1 though.
But Apple claimed that the machine learning performance is five times faster than the core i9 Macbook, make of that information what you will.
Of course, these performance numbers come attached to two completely redesigned Macbooks in 14 inches and 16 inches sizes.
Apple made a big deal about how all that extra unified memory means the GPU has way more of it to work with than any other laptop apps have dramatically more memory for the most demanding graphics tasks, no other notebook comes close.
Also, outside of external GPS, this is uncontested truth especially for the 14 inches, the best Nvidia Quadro are equipped with 24GB of Ram with most sitting at 16 or under, which makes this a very pro differentiator.
Macbook Pro 2021 Build
Both new Macbooks are a little heavier and thicker than the previous-gen, kind of reminds me of how the old polycarbonate MacBook used to look unlike those dinosaurs.
The new MacBooks featured bezels of just 3.5 millimeters, albeit marred by iPhone style notch.
It looks like it’s big enough to hold face ID sensors in the future, but for now, it’s only being used for the upgraded 1080p webcam.
The camera itself has been updated significantly from the previous 1080p models with a 4-element lens and f2.0.
Although we’ll have to see for ourselves if that’s really a big upgrade considering how well Apple’s image signal processing already works.
Apple was careful not to show off the notch too much in marketing materials though mostly because they know that outlets like us will complain about it.
But I don’t mind it that much honestly, I think it will be less annoying for a Macbook. Because that area is normally reserved for a piece of the top bar unless you’re in full-screen mode.
The slightly taller than 16 by 10 aspect ratio means that standard widescreen content has got to fit without that notch ever interfering.
Macbook Pro Display
Speaking of the display, the new liquid retina XDR is a 10bit panel capable of the 1000nits sustained brightness and 1600 peak.
All of the resolution just shies of 4k, but let’s be real, it might as well be 4k at these pixel densities.
For the backlight, Apple claims to have packed 10,000 mini LEDs into the display, which would mean 2,500 local dimming zones if it’s using the same quad led layout as the pro display XDR and 12.9-inch iPad pro.
That’s not even the best part though, the new display is also capable of 120Hz dynamic refresh rate, like the iPad.
So mac users can finally enjoy the buttery, smoothness, and improved battery life that iPad users have had for years now.
They still offer a fixed refresh rate, representing clean multiples of common fill and media, and you might end up playing back a lot of media if the upgrades to the speakers are any indication.
Aside from spatial audio, which didn’t quite live up to Apple’s virtual surround sound promises on the iMac, but provided exceptional stereo.
Both new Macbooks feature an upgraded six-speaker array that apple says displaces twice the amount of air from previous generation Macbooks.
Considering how excellent apple speakers have been over the past couple of generations, this could be a new bar for laptops and you can be sure we’re going to crab remit.
But what if you want headphones? Well, Apple’s got you covered. They proudly exclaimed that they’re adding ports to the new Mac book pro.
And not only is there a headphone Jack, but they also say it’s capable of driving high impedance headphones.
But, depending on what they mean by that, audiophiles and users of studio monitors may no longer need an external amplifier.
Do my eyes deceive me? It cannot be Magsafe back, MagSafe is back and it’s capable of fast charging up to 50% capacity in 30 minutes flat, this is jaw dropping impressive.
Given how high battery life already is, or you can charge via the Thunderbolt ports for docking to say a pro display XDR or 2 pro display XDRs or with the 16-inch three pro display XDRs and a 4k TV simultaneously. No more dongle book.
Not only that, but the new blacked-out key deck and full height function key row finally brings Apple’s magic keyboard back into the year, I want that territory.
Some people are going to miss the touch bar. And I know, and I think it was a good idea, in theory, maybe they could throw it up above the keyboard someday in the future, or maybe Apple could give us multiple touch bars down next to the trackpad.
Apple has basically taken every major complaint that their users have had about the recent MacBook pros and rectified them, with the sole exception of the glowing Apple logo.
But seriously, I can’t be the only one who desperately wants that back? Can I? I mean, they brought back the bomb, they also brought back the HDMI port and the SD card slot.
Apple even brought back MagSafe. I guess the one thing that I would trade the glowing Apple logo for would be repairability, but that ship has probably sailed for good. But at least, the aluminum is recycled.
Macbook Pro 2021 Pricing
It was a bit harder to swallow though. Starting at $2,000 for the base model with two missing CPU and GPU cores and a 512GB SSD PCI express gen 4.
But 512GB is a tough sell given how capable M1 already is. It’s an extra 300 bucks to get the standard and M1 pro SOC and 700 bucks to get the top end M1 max.
To worsen matters, the 64GB memory option is only available with M1 Max although given that option itself is $800, you probably don’t care about the cost of the laptop to begin with, I guess.
Still touching the annoyance, the base model power adapter for the 14 inch is just 67 Watts,
this is incapable of fast charging so you’re not even getting one of the advertised features if you don’t pay an extra 20 bucks. Are your margins that thin Apple?
It’s starting to feel like paid DLC over here, like a 14 inch with full-fat M1 pro 32GB of Ram, a terabyte of storage will set you back $2,900, which in my opinion, its frankly obscene, unless the performance really does beat the best windows laptops around.
A device Apple didn’t announce today is the new Pro Mac mini that we were expecting with a new SOC, a slimmer design, and more ports.