Apple Unleashes MacBook Pros with New M1 Pro, M1 Max SoCs, Promises a Notch Higher Performance

  • Apple’s new M1 Pro and M1 Max SoCs offer up to 10-core CPU, 32-core GPU and 64GB unified memory.
  • Apple also announced new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros.

Apple’s October 2021 fall event saw a bunch of new hardware announcements. These include redesigned MacBook Pros, new colors for the HomePod mini smart speaker and the much-awaited TWS, AirPods 3. Apple also announced two new chipsets – M1 Pro and M1 Max – to power the new MacBook Pro notebooks. We a deep dive to talk about the Apple announcement and what it means for both, Apple and its consumers.

M1 Pro, M1 Max SoCs: Supercharged with up to 32 GPU Cores, 64GB Unified Memory

Apple’s ARM-based M1 chip that debuted last year has already proved to be powerful and efficient. Now, building on the M1 architecture, Apple has announced the new M1 Pro and M1 Max SoCs. Made on TSMC’s 5nm process, the new SoCs bring up to 70% faster CPU performance over the M1 chip. These SoCs will power the new MacBook Pro 14 and MacBook Pro 16 models. Let us dive in a little deeper to look at what these new chipsets have to offer.

counterpoint apple m1 soc family
Source – Apple

Starting with the Apple M1 Pro, it comes with up to 10-core CPU, a 16-core GPU and up to 32GB unified memory with memory bandwidth up to 200GB/s. Higher bandwidth will allow in quickly moving data to and from memory, thus also leading to overall faster performance. The SoC also features 33.7 billion transistors. Now, in the 10-core CPU, there are eight high-performance and two high-efficiency cores.

counterpoint apple m1 pro specifications
Source – Apple

Along with the 16-core GPU, there is also a media engine that accelerates video processing while consuming less power. The acceleration is also available for the ProRes codec that Apple announced with the new iPhone 13 models. The new chipsets designed for MacBook Pros are aimed at pro users from fields ranging from content, music and movies to app creation.

alex mathew

“Our marketing manager, who also creates graphics and banners, is impressed with the fast and efficient M1-based MacBooks. The new M1 MacBooks show noticeable performance gains, whether you are a normal or power user. Photoshop load times are lightning quick when compared to a PC with similar specifications. It doesn’t even break a sweat when handling heavy image files and offers a stellar battery life.”

Alex Mathew – Graphic Designer & Digital Marketer

counterpoint apple m1 max specifications
Source – Apple

The Apple M1 Max SoC builds on the M1 Pro, taking its amazing capabilities even further. While it still comes with the same 10-core CPU, the number of GPU cores is doubled to 32, offering even faster-rendering speeds for videos and other graphics-related tasks. It has four times faster GPU performance compared to the M1 SoC. The M1 Max comes with massive 57 billion transistors and also supports up to 64GB of unified memory, offering up to 400GB/s memory bandwidth. While the M1 Pro supports up to two external displays, the M1 Max chip lets you connect up to four external displays.

“Our software developer who uses an Intel-based MacBook Air says, it gets exhausted when performing CPU-intensive tasks like crunching large numbers or running multiple servers/processes together. A small CPU-heavy script test took 84 seconds to complete on Intel machine. In comparison, the M1 MacBook Air took just 45 seconds, making it better by being faster with such computations. Considering the M1 as a benchmark, the new M1 Pro and M1 Max SoCs with higher GPU cores are likely to offer even faster performance for such tasks.”

Adarsh Punj – Data Analytics & Software Developer

Redesigned MacBook Pros: 120Hz Refresh Rate Display, more Physical ports

We had been hearing about redesigned MacBook Pros for a while now, and Apple has finally refreshed the line-up. There are a bunch of new things that the new MacBook Pros bring, making them pro-grade notebooks for content creators. There are two models – a smaller MacBook Pro with a 14.2-inch screen and a bigger one with a 16.2-inch screen. Both are miniLED screens, like what we have seen in the iPad Pro line-up that Apple released earlier this year. These are Liquid Retina XDR displays with an adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz. The ProMotion technology can adjust the refresh rate between 24Hz and 120Hz depending on the screen content, while also saving energy. The screen also supports a peak brightness of 1600 nits.

counterpoint apple macbook pro m1 pro
Source – Apple

The new MacBook Pro screens have thin bezels along the top and sides and also come with a notch, just like the iPhones. The notch adds more screen real estate, while also housing a 1080p web camera with a larger image sensor that can offer better low-light performance as well. This is a good addition against the backdrop of working and learning from home, where a lot of video calls need to be taken regularly.

counterpoint apple macbook pro internals
Source – Apple

Apple has also added three mics that offer up to 60% lower floor noise. This should greatly help in recording audio or attending to voice/video calls. It doesn’t stop there as the MacBook Pros also come with two tweeters and four force-canceling woofers to offer a great multimedia experience.

Moving on, another big change in the new MacBook Pro line-up is the addition of more ports. The SD card slot is back, and it is a welcome change that photographers and videographers will appreciate. Next, Apple has also added the HDMI port back. So, now you get a total of three USB Type-C ports. The 3.5mm audio jack is still present and it now brings support for high-impedance headphones.

counterpoint apple macbook pro ports
Source – Apple

But that’s not all, Apple has brought back the MagSafe connector which now supports faster charging. The base model of the 14-inch MacBook Pro comes with a 67W charging adapter, whereas the higher models come with a 96W adapter. The 16-inch MacBook Pro models, on the other hand, come with a 140W power adapter, which is also Apple’s first GaN charger.

counterpoint apple macbook pro keyboard
Source – Apple

The new MacBooks have also done away with the Touch Bar and come with mechanical function keys. They also include shortcuts for Spotlight, Siri, Dictation and Do Not Disturb. For secure login using biometric authentication, the MacBook Pros come with a Touch ID sensor embedded in the power button.

Coming to the pricing, the new MacBook Pro models start at $1,999 for the 14-inch model. This is a watered-down variant that comes with an M1 Pro chip featuring an 8-core CPU and a 14-core GPU. But the base RAM is 16GB along with 512GB SSD. At $2,499, you can get the one with a 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU and 1TB SSD. If you want a 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Max SoC, you will have to shell out $2,899 for the 24-core GPU model and $3,099 for the 32-core GPU model.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,499 for the base model with an M1 Pro 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU. The one with the M1 Max SoC featuring a 32-core GPU costs $3,499. The top-end model with 64GB unified memory and 8TB storage will set you back by $6,099.

No doubt, the new MacBook Pros are expensive as they bring key improvements, from faster processors to better displays and higher resolution cameras among others. These notebooks are designed to attract the pro users looking to ease their workflows and, in turn, bring a better ROI in the long run.

Even for a content creator like me, who uses different programs and apps for tasks like editing podcasts and videos, a powerful notebook that can handle my workflow swiftly is important. This is especially true when editing videos shot in 4K (60fps), where trimming each clip on the timeline and adding music and voice-over along with text should be a smooth experience. Once the editing is done, rendering the video takes a considerable amount of time, and it gets a little frustrating if you want to make the smallest changes to the video and render it again.

During my brief usage, rendering a one-minute 8K video on a Windows-based laptop with the Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM and GeForce MX250 graphics card took over four minutes. The same took less than 40 seconds on a MacBook Air M1 (8K to 4K 60fps). I am looking forward to the new MacBook Pros to see how faster they get at these tasks while improving efficiency.

Key Takeaways:

  • The MacBook Pros come with “pro pricing” but promise faster performance while lowering power consumption. How well these machines help in making the workflow easier remains to be seen.
  • The M1 Pro and Max SoCs may be good for content creators and graphic designers but they don’t seem to be designed for hardcore gaming.

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Ritesh is a Global Content Manager with Counterpoint Technology Market Research. With over 10 years of experience, he is joining Counterpoint from BGR India where he was the Head of Features. At BGR, Ritesh also used to cover tech news, product launches, and review consumer tech. Ritesh is a science graduate from Mumbai University, with major in Physics. He followed his passion for tech, took up writing as a career and is also a well-known tech journalist in the industry.

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