Apple debuts new MacBook Pros with M1 Pro and M1 Max chips

·Technology Editor
·4-min read

Apple (AAPL) on Monday debuted its new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros packing the company's latest custom-built processors called the M1 Pro and M1 Max. Available next week starting at $1,999 for the 14-inch model and $2,499 for the 16-inch model, the MacBooks get completely new displays, more ports, and, according to Apple, a lot more horsepower than their Intel-powered predecessors.

The new Pros are designed for folks who need a lot of oomph from their machines. We're talking video and photo editors, designers, and people like me who always want the most powerful laptop on the block. And that came through loud and clear when Apple announced that the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips in the new Pros are up to twice as fast as prior Intel (INTC)-powered MacBook Pros.

New M1 chips

Apple debuted its new MacBook Pros powered by its new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. (Image: Apple)
Apple debuted its new MacBook Pros powered by its new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. (Image: Apple)

Apple's new M1 Pro is a 5-nanometer chip sporting 33.7 billion transistors, about twice those of the original M1. The company claims it offers 70% faster CPU performance than the original M1 thanks to its 16 GPU cores, and features 2 times faster graphics performance than the M1

The M1 Max, meanwhile, has 57 billion transistors, or 3.5 times the M1 has. It gets the same 10 CPU cores as the M1 Pro, but includes 32 GPU cores.

According to Apple, the M1 Pro and M1 Max beat other 8-core PC chips with 1.7 times the performance while using 70% less power.

What's more, the M1 Pro gets 7 times the performance of integrated graphics found in PCs. But more impressive is Apple's claim that the M1 Pro has the same graphics performance as a dedicated graphics card while using 70% less power.

The M1 Max, for its part, uses 40% less power than a similar high-end discreet GPU. And Apple says its chip can pump out the same level of performance whether the laptop is plugged in or using battery power. Other graphics cards throttle performance when unplugged to save on battery life. In fact, Apple says the M1 Max is 3.3 times faster than high-end discreet GPUs while using battery power.

Apple says the MacBook Pro 14-inch with either an M1 Pro or M1 Max is 3.7 times faster than an Intel Core i7-powered MacBook Pro 13-inch. 

The 16-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro and M1 Max is twice as fast as the Core i9-powered MacBook Pro 16-inch. In terms of graphics performance, the 16-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro is 2.5 times faster than the prior generation model equipped with AMD's Radeon Pro chip. The M1 Max is an incredible 4 times faster.

New Retina displays

The Pros also get new near edge-to-edge Liquid Retina XDR screens with a notch for the notebooks' FaceTime camera. With the stretched out display, the 16-inch Pro now has a 16.2-inch viewing area. The 14-inch Pro has a 14.2-inch viewing area.

Apple's new MacBooks also get new displays and plenty of ports. (Image: Apple)
Apple's new MacBooks also get new displays and plenty of ports. (Image: Apple)

Apple has also added ProMotion capabilities to the MacBook's displays, which automatically changes the refresh rate of the panels you're viewing. 

Apple says the new screens also use mini LED. Literally made of much smaller LEDs than traditional laptop displays, mini LED panels can better regulate color and light thanks to the fact that more of them can be packed behind the screen. That means the MacBook Pros will be able to produce crisper, more accurate hues than ever before. Apple says you'll get a million to 1 contrast ratio out of the screens.

The keyboard is also new and ditches the TouchBar found on the prior generation models. And MacBook Pros get more ports including HDMI, 3 Thunderbolt 4 ports, and SD card slots, as well as a MagSafe charging port.

The FaceTime camera, meanwhile, gets 2 times better low-light performance, offers 1080p resolution, and uses computational photography for sharper images. Both the 14-inch and 16-inch Pros get 6 speakers with two tweeters, and an increased range of motion on two of the woofers for deeper bass.

We'll have more on the new MacBooks when then they hit the market next week.

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