In this article, I give you my Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch M1 Pro vs M1 Max (2021) comparison with specs included. This is the 2021 16-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro and M1 Max processors inside.
They did gain a little weight but in fact, I like them so much I got both. I wanted to test both the pro and the mac so you could find out which one you should buy.
Do you remember when the M1 was a revolution for the MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro? Well, it’s happening again and we’re going to look at them.
Before we get to that burning question can it play crisis we’re going to talk about what’s new here well the prices are not new pretty much is the same price view apple’s been doing with the 16-inch MacBook pros starts at 2500 that gets you an m1 pro with a 10 core CPU a 16 core GPU 16 gigs of ram and a 512 gig SSD.
You can go up to a middle tier that increases your SSD capacity and then there is the max model which also you can adjust the configuration on but the starting price of the 3500 max is the same 10 core CPU a 32 core GPU 32 gigs of ram and a one terabyte SSD.
No matter which configuration you go with you can change your ram you can change your SSD and all that you’re going to get the same lovely almost but not quite (because apple) mini LED 16.2 inch almost 4k display fantastic looking display the same keyboard, the same wi-fi 6, not 6e Bluetooth 5 all those things you would expect the same keyboard okay so you’re only going to be paying for how much ram you want and how much storage capacity and which of the processors you want pro or max.
The difference between pro and max is only GPU configuration, not the CPU. So, for the 16-inch, you’re looking at a 10 core M1 CPU which is eight performance cores and two efficiency cores. Compare that to the regular m1 13-inch MacBook pro and air which had four performance and four efficiency cores you’re obviously talking a lot more performance here potentially a little bit less efficiency in terms of cores so there’s that.
The GPU is available with that 16 core option. Then if you go to the max you can get it with 24 or 32 cores and I’ll talk about who should get that and the differences and all that sort of thing.
The battery capacity is a hundred watts probably it’s 99.99 or something because airlines limit your carry capacity for lithium batteries onboard airplanes as you might guess that’s probably going to mean good battery life especially due to the efficiency of this mac.
The charger is 140 watts despite the massive horsepower inside this laptop this little thing. When we’ve been doing the benchmarking tests and comparing this to intel laptops and Intel gaming laptops we’ve been comparing it to things like the Alienware x17 and the MSI ge76 raider 17-inch gaming laptop so the RTX 38 in comparison that’s the power supply difference. So that’s going to be the theme here where I feel like Roy kent and ted lasso is going I won’t say the whole word you know what it is if you’ve ever watched that show it’s amazing what about the caveats well the caveats aren’t so much about ports because Apple listened as you probably know by now and instead of giving us only USB-C Thunderbolt ports we’ve got some legacy ports back.
We have HDMI 2.0, not 2.1 it’s not for driving an 8k tv but it’s there for those of you who when you’re traveling and you want to plug it into the tv in your hotel room so you can watch well apple tv or Netflix or whatever it is right for projectors at work for all that sort of convenient stuff for every day 4k TVs it works.
And we have a full-size sd card slot I was just like well I just stuck an sd card in my mac for the first time since like 2015. it’s an uh s2 not uh s3 so it could be even faster but nonetheless, that’s really handy because that’s the easiest dongle for me to lose.
There are still no USB-A ports there are three Thunderbolt 4 ports USB shaped connectors onboard backward compatible with thunderbolt 3 for those who have peripherals and monitors and all that stuff and the mag save charger connection is back which is awesome. So, you might say oh no the last generation had four Thunderbolt why only three well you know before one of them was always taken up by the charger so now you don’t have that problem because you’re plugging into MagSafe which is called magsafe3 which is a nice secure magnetic connection that will break away in case somebody actually kicks your laptop on the coffee table or whatever. And yeah the connector is the silver color, not space gray if you buy the space-grade laptop.
The space gray and silver are still the two colors that are available I know we have three different macs here we got the 14-inch and two 16-inch and they’re all space gray can’t show you silver but you know what silver is like it’s been around forever.
There’s one little gotcha okay so everybody was saying stop making macs so darn thin right we want better battery life we want better cooling so they did make it a little bit thicker and you can see the difference between the 2019 16 inch MacBook pro here with an intel core i9 versus the new generation it’s a little bit thicker the footprint’s about the same it’s got about a half a pound heavier. Instead of 4.3 pounds, it’s 4.8 pounds so there you go that’s the trade-off I think it’s totally worth it though.
The repairability has supposedly improved too I fixed it has already started taking it apart and it looks like the battery is relatively not too impossible to replace which is probably the thing most people replace. This is still m1 architecture which means a unified soc system on a chip so part of the reason it can be so fast is the fact that you’ve got your CPU and your GPU on the same die okay we’ve seen that AMD until they do the same thing for integrated graphics right but not for such powerful integrated graphics like we can see here with a 32 core GPU but also your storage and your ram are all on one chip.
So no PCIe bus for those who are more technical to ship your data around which slows things it gets a lot faster for the m1 pro you’re talking 200 gigabits per second data transfer 400 for the max. So that’s pretty fast but that also means you can’t upgrade your ram or your SSD after the fact because it’s a monolithic architecture one ship has all that stuff. Likewise, if any portion of that chip should fail the whole chip or really the whole logic board is apple calls motherboards would need to be replaced so that’s still the way that is.
When it comes to speakers on this you have six-speaker audio with force woofers as apple calls them they sound really good. I mean the 16-inch MacBook Pro has always sounded good if you’re coming from the 2019 model well it’s not going to sound super-duper better it’s going to sound a little bit better but compared to most other laptops on the market with the exception of surface lap studio laptop which sounds really pretty good too it’s one of the best that you’re going to find in terms of audio.
The three-and-a-half-millimeter headphone jack supports high impedance headphones so for those of you who are audiophiles you know what that means that means you don’t need an external headphone amplifier to use your really fancy pants high impedance headphones anymore.
The display on this is lovely. We saw Apple bring Mini LED display to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro recently and this one is every bit as good with a little bit less blooming which means if you’ve got a completely black background with a white text (or white anything) on, you won’t see quite as much halo around that, it’s really pretty trivial.
What’s not so trivial is the notch. I mean what Apple you know. Do you think this is branding at this point? I don’t know. My real strong guess here is that they were gonna include Face ID and supply constraints due to well we all know supply constraints for everything right now.
It is just crazy, I meant that they couldn’t do this since they’re having enough trouble fulfilling face ID parts for iPhones at this point. But anyway, it looks kind of silly.
They did add extra height. It’s still a 16 by 10 aspect ratio display so the notch is not eating into that 16 by 10 area of the display. They add a little extra display up top which is where the menu bars are and yes the cursor just swings back and forth underneath it as if it wasn’t there.
Yes, occasionally you’ll find an app that actually pushes icons out so far that you might see something look a little weird and glitchy and Apple has added a temporary they’ll eventually get rid of it when developers update a way to drop the menu bar down to take care of it anyway.
I haven’t had any functional issues with the notch, I just think it looks kind of goofy but I guess you get used to it, and given how gorgeous this display is. Otherwise, well you know in conventional brightness when you’re using it on normal laptop mode it’s 500 and it’s a brightness that has been typical of Apple. In HDR content-wise it supports up to 1600 nits so you have that great contrast Mini LED with thousands of local dimming zones and all that sort of thing. That’s how they do it.
Full p3 coverage, still a glossy display, it looks great, and the amazing thing is pretty weird. If you’re playing say HDR content in a window the desktop can stay in SDR mode while that window is in HDR mode which is pretty trippy. Anyway, it’s a gorgeous display.
One upside of that notch is the fact that you get a 1080p webcam that looks considerably better than what you’ll see on most any other laptop so hey I’ll take that. And, as usual, there are three mics for high-quality audio. So, these days when everybody’s still stuck zooming and face timing, and everything else, it’s nice.
The trackpad on this is, as always, class-leading. It really isn’t any different from the previous generation. It is still insanely huge as well but it’s the same haptic touchpad that works wonderfully.
The big news about the keyboard is that the touch bar is gone from the top. For those who always hated that and just wanted your function key back row back and dedicated escape key brightness buttons that were clicky all that sort of thing. Well, the full-size function row up top is back.