MacBook Pro Overview Updated November 16, 2021

MacBook Pro: The biggest and baddest Mac laptops

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August 2010 - December 2021

MacBook Pro has been the product name for Apple’s high-end laptop since early 2006 when the transition to Intel processors began. Now, that Pro naming has carried forth as Apple has moved to its own silicon. The latest fourth and fifth-generation Pro Apple notebooks bring dramatically more power with lower heat generation and better battery life thanks to the ARM-based Apple silicon. Keep reading for a brief history of the line and a breakdown of the current lineup.

MacBook Pro history

The first generation MacBook Pro followed in the style of the PowerBook G4 that came before it, but used Intel processors rather than PowerPC chips.

The second generation of the MacBook Pro was the first to really separate itself from the products before, with a unibody enclosure. The third-generation MacBook Pro introduced the retina display as well as MagSafe 2.

Perhaps the most controversial version of the MacBook Pro is the fourth generation. While the third generation received some backlash for the removal of ethernet and the optical drive, the fourth generation was a complete rethinking of the device peripherals. No more MagSafe, no more USB-A ports, and only the 13-inch model kept the function keys. Instead, this redesigned MacBook Pro opted for all Thunderbolt 3 ports and headphone jack. In place of function keys, the MacBook Pro gained an OLED Touch Bar. In late-2020, Apple introduced the M1 chip and updated the 13-inch MacBook Pro. The ARM-based processor brought down power consumption and increased performance.

In October of 2021, Apple introduced the fifth-generation MacBook Pro with not one but two updated versions of the M1 chip, the M1 Pro and M1 Max. The move walked back some of the decisions from the previous generation, adding back an HDMI Port, MagSafe charger, and SD card reader while removing the Touch Bar.

The 2020 13-Inch MacBook Pro

In late 2020, Apple introduced the 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro as the latest update to the fourth-generation MacBook. The MacBook features the same look as previous MacBooks, but like the MacBook Air and Mac Mini, switched to Apple silicon.

Apple’s M1 chip brought ARM architecture to the MacBook line, and this was the first MacBook without an Intel processor.

The M1 chip is a unified design with an 8-core CPU and an 8-core CPU. The processor integrated memory on board, limiting the device to either 8GB or 16GB of unified memory. The 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro is configurable with between 256GB and 2TB of storage and features a Magic Keyboard, rather than the problematic butterfly keyboard.

13-inch MacBook Pro specs

Base Configuration$1,299.00

  • Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU, 8‑core GPU, and 16‑core Neural Engine
  • 8GB unified memory
  • 256GB SSD storage
  • 13-inch Retina display with True Tone
  • Backlit Magic Keyboard – US English
  • Touch Bar and Touch ID
  • Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports

Max Configuration$2,299.00

  • Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU, 8‑core GPU, and 16‑core Neural Engine
  • 16GB unified memory
  • 2TB SSD storage
  • 13-inch Retina display with True Tone
  • Backlit Magic Keyboard – US English
  • Touch Bar and Touch ID
  • Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports

13-inch MacBook Pro pricing

The price for the 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro starts at $1,299. Upgrading this base configuration to 16GB of memory adds $200 to the price. Likewise, each step above 256GB of storage – 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB – will add $200 to the price. A fully specced out 13-inch MacBook Pro will run you $2,299.

You can configure your own 13-inch MacBook Pro on Apple’s website.

Current 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro

In October 2021, Apple brought a brand new design to the MacBook Pro line. Apple increased the screen size on the 13-inch, making it a 14-inch, and shrunk the bezels on the 16-inch. This fifth-generation notebook addressed many complaints of the last generation. MagSafe returned, in the form of an improved MagSafe 3, while the MacBook also regained an HDMI port and an SD-card slot.

Also gone is the Touch Bar. Instead, the standard row of function keys return. The latest MacBooks also bring a ProMotion display that was first introduced on the iPad Pro, with a variable refresh rate and mini-LED backlight.

The 2021 MacBooks aren’t without a controversial feature, as while the display has been made larger there is now a large notch for the 1080P FaceTime camera. While FaceID would have been a nice addition in exchange for this small chunk of the screen, there are some reasons this is not totally practical.

14-inch MacBook Pro specs

Base Configuration$1,999.00

  • Apple M1 Pro with 8-core CPU, 14-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine
  • 16GB unified memory
  • 512GB SSD storage
  • 67W USB-C Power Adapter
  • 14-inch Liquid Retina XDR display
  • Three Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI port, SDXC card slot, MagSafe 3 port
  • Backlit Magic Keyboard with Touch ID – US English

Maximum Configuration$5,899.00

  • Apple M1 Max with 10-core CPU, 32-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine
  • 64GB unified memory
  • 8TB SSD storage
  • 96W USB-C Power Adapter
  • 14-inch Liquid Retina XDR display
  • Three Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI port, SDXC card slot, MagSafe 3 port
  • Backlit Magic Keyboard with Touch ID – US English

14-inch MacBook Pro pricing

The 14-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,999. The base model includes 16GB of memory, 512GB of storage, and an M1 Pro processor with an 8-core CPU and 14-core GPU. There are multiple versions of the M1 Pro processor available, while jumping to an M1 Max processor will cost $500 more, and requires you to jump up to 32GB of memory – a $400 upgrade. Going with the M1 Max processor means you can configure up to the full 64GB of memory, an $800 upgrade.

You can configure up to 8TB of storage in the 2021 14-inch MacBook Pro. Upgrade costs are as follows:

  • 1TB SSD Storage – $200
  • 2TB SSD Storage – $600
  • 4TB SSD Storage – $1,200
  • 8TB SSD Storage – $2,400

You can configure your own 14-inch MacBook Pro on Apple’s website.

16-inch MacBook Pro specs

Base Configuration$2,499.00

  • Apple M1 Pro with 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine
  • 16GB unified memory
  • 512GB SSD storage
  • 16-inch Liquid Retina XDR display
  • Three Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI port, SDXC card slot, MagSafe 3 port
  • 140W USB-C Power Adapter
  • Backlit Magic Keyboard with Touch ID – US English

Maximum Configuration$6,099.00

  • Apple M1 Max with 10-core CPU, 32-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine
  • 64GB unified memory
  • 8TB SSD storage
  • 16-inch Liquid Retina XDR display
  • Three Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI port, SDXC card slot, MagSafe 3 port
  • 140W USB-C Power Adapter
  • Backlit Magic Keyboard with Touch ID – US English

16-inch MacBook Pro pricing

The 16-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,499. There is only one M1 Pro processor available on the 16-inch MacBook, and that’s the highest version 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU version of the M1 Pro processor that is a $300 upgrade on the 14-inch MacBook Pro. Of course, you can also step up to the M1 Max processor with either a 24-core or 32-core GPU, a $200 and $400 upgrade respectively (which also requires the $400 upgrade to 32GB of memory). The memory and storage options are all the same as the 14-inch MacBook Pro.

You can configure your own 16-inch MacBook Pro on Apple’s website.

Differences between 13-inch,14-inch, and 16-inch models

The 2021 MacBook Pro lineup is a refreshing change. The return of ports and physical keys make the laptops more versatile, while additions like an XDR display and hardware acceleration for ProRes improves the experience but is harder to quantify for the average user.

13-inch 14-inch 16-inch
Processor M1 M1 Pro / M1 Max M1 Pro / M1 Max
Memory 8GB / 16GB 16GB / 32GB / 64GB 16GB / 32GB / 64GB
Storage 512GB, 1TB, 2TB 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB
Screen 2560×1600 pixels 3024×1964 pixels; ProMotion 3456×2234 pixels; ProMotion
Weight 3.0 pounds (1.4 kg) 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg) M1 Pro: 4.7 pounds (2.1 kg)
M1 Max: 4.8 pounds (2.2 kg)
Size (Width x Depth) 11.97 x 8.36 inches (30.41 x 21.24 cm) 12.31 x 8.71 inches (31.26 x 22.12 cm) 14.01 x 9.77 inches (35.57 x 24.81 cm)
Height 0.61 inch (1.56 cm) 0.61 inch (1.55 cm) 0.66 inch (1.68 cm)
Base Price $1,299.00 $1,999.00 $2,499.00

The $1,999 starting price for Apple latest computer is a harder pill to swallow than the $1,300 13-inch Pro from last year. For an average user, the superb M1 MacBook Air will likely suffice (and that sub-$1,000 price is hard to pass up).

But the 2021 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro are exactly what they need to be, a return to function-over-form that will truly meet the needs of professional users.

MacBook Pro Stories Yesterday

One of the main highlights of the new 2021 MacBook Pro is the comeback of the SD card slot. Unfortunately, it seems that some users are having issues with the SD card reader on these new machines, as they have been reporting slow transfer speeds or even inaccessible files when trying to use an SD card on the new MacBook Pro.

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MacBook Pro Stories November 30

Although the new M1 Max MacBook Pro has been really well-praised by the Apple community, one month after it was unveiled, some users are now starting to report an issue when trying to charge the computer when it’s completely shut down.

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MacBook Pro Stories November 26

Following the announcement of the new M1 Pro and M1 Max-powered MacBook Pros last month, a trend quickly emerged with multiple big tech companies rolling out the new machines to their engineering teams. At the time, companies making the upgrade included Uber, Twitter, and Reddit.

Now, Reddit staff engineer Jameson Williams has shared a detailed breakdown of the improvements the company expects to see with the new MacBook Pro models.

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I continue to love my M1 Max MacBook Pro in the main – especially the cool and silent running, and the impressive real-world battery-life – but three (or possibly four) annoying macOS Monterey bugs are somewhat spoiling the experience.

Two of the issues have been ongoing almost from the start, and they are now getting old.

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MacBook Pro Stories November 22

Celebrate the new MacBook Pro with Brian Tong’s clever ‘Return of the Mac’ parody [Video]

The all-new MacBook Pro notebooks have been out in the wild for a bit now and pro users are loving the new machines. In a funny and very well-done parody, Brian Tong has remade Mark Morrison’s 90s hit, “Return of the Mack” in honor of the new hardware.

My shiny new 16-inch Apple Silicon MacBook Pro claims two big advantages over its Intel predecessor. First, the performance of the M1 Max. Second, power efficiency, aka battery life.

For my personal usage patterns, the two are quite distinct. The time when I want power is for video editing, when I’ll almost always be sat at my desk hooked up to a large monitor. When I want battery life, my typical usage is very different…

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MacBook Pro Stories November 19

While Apple’s M1 Max chip is touted as being twice as fast as the M1 Pro, a series of MacBook Pro creative pro tests suggest that the real-life benefit of the top-tier chip may be far more limited than it appears for even relatively demanding use.

There are specific tasks that see a significant difference. If you’re editing ProRes video or working with Apple’s Metal graphics API, there is a clear benefit to the more powerful chip. But that isn’t the case for many creative tasks…

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MacBook Pro Stories November 17

How to factory reset your MacBook before selling or giving it away

If you’re ready to sell, trade-in, or give away your Mac or wipe it for another reason there are different steps to the process depending on what Mac you have and what version of macOS it’s running. Notably, macOS Monterey includes a handy new erase option like we’ve had on iOS for years. Read along for how to factory reset your MacBook and other Macs.

MacBook Pro Stories November 15

Apple on Monday released a Safari Technology Preview update with a nice addition for 2021 MacBook Pro users, as the new version enables 120Hz scrolling for ProMotion displays. This comes after users complained that scrolling webpages in Safari didn’t look smooth even with a high refresh rate display.

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MacBook Pro Stories November 11

PSA: If Apple Pay doesn’t work on your Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, here’s why

Some of us with shiny new M1-powered MacBook Pros have been finding that Apple Pay doesn’t work when trying to use Touch ID on the Magic Keyboard

MacBook Pro Stories November 10

The new M1 MacBook Pros are finally here. And while the fully specced M1 Max model may be dominating the headlines; I think it’s arguably a lot more important to see how the base level MacBook Pro performs. If you spend the least amount of money you can on a new MacBook Pro, what’s the experience going to be like?

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M1 Pro MacBook Pro cryptocurrency mining ‘insanely efficient’ and profitable, but not worth it

With the new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips offering huge performance increases, a question occurred to me: Might MacBook Pro cryptocurrency mining be feasible? …

The all-new 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro brings back a range of I/O after years of featuring only USB-C/Thunderbolt connectivity. However, there are a few ports still missing and Satechi is offering them in a compact and convenient design with its new Pro Hub Mini.

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MacBook Pro Stories November 9

I said last time that I hadn’t used my new MacBook Pro for anything too taxing in the first couple of days, but I did have the chance to try some M1 Max video editing last night. Nothing extensive – just a short casual video – but it provided my first opportunity to see the machine in action while performing the kind of task it was designed for.

I was very happy indeed with the performance – but actually, the everyday use impresses me just as much.

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An alleged member of the REvil ransom group has been charged, with $6.1M in funds seized from another suspect, according to the US Department of Justice.

Back in April, we learned that the REvil group accessed systems belonging to Mac assembler Quanta and obtained schematics of the upcoming MacBook Pro models, which accurately revealed the HDMI, MagSafe, and SD card slot …

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MacBook Pro Stories November 8

Apple introduced the new line of MacBook Pro last October during its “Unleashed” event. With impressive improvements over the most recent Intel chips and even the M1 processor, the company has been very successful with the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips.

With that in mind, lots of tech companies are upgrading their staffs’ Macs with the incredibly powerful M1 Max MacBook Pro with 64 GB of RAM.

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MacBook Pro Stories November 5

A British singer-songwriter has recorded a unique MacBook Pro music video. Using her new M1 Max model, she recorded it using the machine’s built-in microphones and webcam!

Mary Spender used Logic Pro, which is a pretty demanding app, yet was able to do all the work on battery power – while screen recording at the same time – without the fans kicking in …

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MacBook Pro Stories November 4

Apple released macOS Monterey last week, one month after iOS 15, iPadOS 15, tvOS 15, and watchOS 8. Even though the operating system took a bit longer to arrive for general users, the company still had to postpone some features for this release, such as SharePlay and Universal Control.

Apart from all of that and the release of the powerful new MacBook Pro last month, I must say that I’m relieved by macOS Monterey, which has my 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro running faster while improving battery life.

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USB-C/Thunderbolt display options have really grown over the last couple of years. While Apple is making its own monitor again with the Pro Display XDR, it’s not the best fit for the majority of Mac users with a starting price of $5,000 (without a stand). Let’s take a look at some of the best USB-C/Thunderbolt displays available in the $400-$1,500 range.

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MacBook Pro Stories November 3

Early today, a report by The Elec suggested that the first OLED MacBook has been delayed while there isn’t a sign of a product with a micro-LED display, the successor of miniLED. Now, a story from Nikkei Asia says that Apple is in an “active development program” of new products with this technology.

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The first OLED MacBook screen has been delayed, claims a supply chain report. It says that Apple was originally planning to bring the display tech to MacBooks in 2025, a year after the rumored introduction in iPads.

However, the more complicated display tech needed in a laptop is causing problems, says the report, as Apple struggles to contain costs …

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MacBook Pro Stories November 2

Apple execs go in-depth on new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips in ‘Upgrade’ podcast interview

The new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips inside the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models have proven to impress reviewers and consumers alike. Apple executives Tim Millet and Tom Boger recently joined Relay FM’s Upgrade podcast to talk in-depth about the new chips, the state of the Apple SIlicon transition, and more.

MacBook Pro Stories November 1

Apple’s MacBook lineup offers impressive performance and at first glance, the 2020 MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro seem quite similar. They have the same CPU/GPU, same ports, same FaceTime camera, and more. However, let’s take a closer look at the MacBook Air vs Pro to see what differentiates the two and help you decide which to buy.

Update 11/1/21: The all-new 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro notebooks are here. Beyond the larger screens, they feature a refreshed design, mini-LED display backlighting, the return of I/O including HDMI, SD card slot, and MagSafe, and the removal of the Touch Bar.

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My shiny new Mac arrived on Friday, so after a couple of days of fairly extensive use, it’s time to give my M1 Max 16-inch MacBook Pro first impressions.

I haven’t used it for anything too taxing as yet, so this piece covers what I think of the design, the screen – including that infamous notch – the heat management, and an early look at real-world battery life …

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