The most powerful MacBook Pro ever has been recently announced and is now available for us. With scary-fast M1 Pro or M1 Max chips, groundbreaking performance and amazing battery life, these are aimed at the pros. Although, these new MacBook Pros come with a somewhat controversial feature, a notch at the top of the screen. And that single detail could be a huge social divisor in the upcoming days.


Nevertheless, we can't deny that these are insanely powerful, and thanks to a humble look at the past, Apple has returned some nice features like pro-usage ports and finally got rid of the Touch Bar and got replaced with a more useful set of traditional keys. Apple created something wild, and they are well aware of it. The new MacBook Pro line-up is supercharged for the pros, and we want to know all about it. "With a fire in its belly", or shall we say "defying the limits of thermodynamics" we hope the heat-exhausting chunked within these beasts match such blazing power built-in.


And before diving into these monsters, something great has to be said, with some slight differences, both the 14" and 16" versions are capable of having almost the same specs inside. Perhaps the main differences are these: both sizes can get the exact configurations with the only difference of size (of course) and battery life. And the 8 core CPU is only available on the 14" one.


Now let's see what Apple has done!


What Apple has to Say


In a nutshell, these MacBook Pros are so powerful that we even dare to say that they have swiped out the purpose of currently available Mac minis and even Mac Pros… That's a bold statement for sure, so we are certain these two will get some pretty awesome upgrades in the not-so-far future as well. Groundbreaking performance with up to 13x faster graphics performance, 3.7x faster CPU performance, 11x faster machine learning and 21 hours battery life. On top of that, a stunning Liquid Retina XDR display, the best camera and audio ever in a Mac notebook, and all the ports you need. The first notebook of its kind, this MacBook Pro is a beast.


And what we infer from those last statements is that Apple finally accepted that pro-usage requires certain things beyond a minimal style. Also, we've spotted some hard-to-ignore feet at the bottom of the body, which makes sense with so much power to cool down. Everything helps, and lifting the body a couple of millimeters from the table does make a substantial cooling difference for sure.


Let Us Introduce "Scary-fast" and "Scary-faster"


With the M1 Pro chip (aka "Scary-fast) we get up to 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU, 32GB of unified memory and 200GB/s memory bandwidth. And with the M1 Max (aka "Scary-faster") we get up to 10-core CPU, 32-core GPU, 64GB of unified memory and 400GB/s memory bandwidth. Both chips scale the amazing M1 architecture to a new level of insanity, and if that wasn't yet enough, they are bringing a system on a chip (SoC) architecture to a pro notebook. Both have more CPU and GPU cores as more unified memory than M1. Along with a powerful Neural Engine for supercharged machine learning and upgraded media engines with ProRes support, M1 Pro and M1 Max allow pros to do things they never could before.


Some needed side notes on them:


  • M1 Pro takes the outstanding performance of the M1 legacy to a whole new level for pro usages. Even the most aggressive projects are easily handled with up to 10 CPU cores, up to 16 GPU cores, a 16‑core Neural Engine, and dedicated encode and decode media engines that support H.264, HEVC, and ProRes codecs.
  • M1 Max is the most powerful chip ever created for a pro notebook, with 10 CPU cores, up to 32 GPU cores, and a 16-core Neural Engine. It gives us two times faster graphics processing and double the memory bandwidth of M1 Pro. And last but not least, a dedicated media engine for decode and two for encoding (with up to two times faster video encode) and two ProRes accelerators for even more powerful multi-stream performance.


What About Imagery Performance?


Both 14" and 16" models can be set up with the M1 Pro or M1 Max chip, offering unparalleled levels of high-level performance. Now, we can finally handle millions of polygons in Cinema 4D, edit up to seven streams of 8K ProRes video in Final Cut Pro, or grade color in HDR on 8K 4x4 ProRes video.


And for us the photographers, a game‑changing battery life. A single charge lets us compile up to four times as much code in Xcode19 or edit images for up to twice as long in Lightroom Classic. And if that isn't a game-changer for you, unlike other notebooks, these beasts keep the same performance whether plugged in or not.


And yes, we also are worried about how much heat such power could create; and of course, Apple has considered such infernal manners. A state of the art thermal system capable of moving 50% more air, even at lower fan speeds. And thanks to Apple's efficiency, these fans won't let you down no matter how many tasks you do every day. Fast and vast jaw-dropping read speeds from the up to 8TB SSD (up to 7.4GB/s) or x2 times from the previous generation MacBook Pros. Now, we can open 8K videos in a blink of an eye and store hundreds of thousands of raw photos at once.

Behold, Extreme Dynamic Range!


Liquid Retina XDR, or simply the best display ever in a notebook, features an extreme dynamic range with a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. Or what matters the most, HDR content comes to life in photos, videos, and games. Refined spectacular highlights, gorgeous detail in deepest shadows, and vibrant true-to-life colors. Apple promises that every single display is fully calibrated, featuring pro reference modes for HDR color grading, photography, design, and print production. Meaning you can start working right away from the box.


Beyond that insane ratio of 1M:1, the mini LED screen comes with a standard brightness of 1,000 nits and a maximum brightness of 1,600 nits. That means that even when being reflective screens, it will be very possible to use them outdoors without too much trouble.


ProMotion comes to Mac for the first time, making everything (from web-scrolling to gaming) beautifully fluid and responsive while keeping power consumption efficient. With up to 120Hz refresh rates, the adaptive technology automatically adjusts to match the movement of the content. ProMotion video editors can select a fixed refresh rate that precisely aligns with their footage, which is something worth thanking.


And On the Outside: Sound, Feel & Optics!


Despite the atrocious scenarios 2020 left us with, one positive thing came out of it, staying connected is now more possible than ever before. Ergo, more important too! Hence the new camera with double the resolution from before. And like it or not, within the notch resides a 1080p resolution 4 element f/2.0 aperture lens. Coped with a larger image sensor that has more efficient pixels, the built-in camera delivers two times better low-light performance.


Studio-quality microphones (three actually) deliver up to 60% lower noise floor. MacBook Pro captures even the subtlest of sounds! And the three-mic array uses directional beamforming so your voice always comes through loud and clear. A Six-speaker sound system with four force-cancelling woofers reveal notes up to a half-octave deeper and fill the room with up to 80% more bass. And the high‑performance tweeters project clearer, fuller vocals.


Although, the sound is all about physics, so we encourage you to have some good headphones or speakers for a richer sound experience. And thanks to the room-filling six-speaker system and advanced algorithms, these MacBook Pros support spatial audio when playing music or video with Dolby Atmos, giving us a sophisticated, three‑dimensional soundstage. So, together with that awesome Liquid Retina XDR display, it is like having a theater always with you.


And for those pro users that have been missing some ports (and even MagSafe) now, you can work in peace. Transfer your visual files with an SDXC (presumably UHS-I Standard) card reader. Connect to TVs or displays with a full HDMI output and listen to your favorite stuff with a 3.5mm headphone jack that picks up and immediately adjusts for high‑impedance headphones. Connect to high-speed peripherals or displays with three Thunderbolt 4 ports. And fast-charge using the quick-releasing MagSafe 3 port. And speaking of which, the previous M1 chip only supported 1 external monitor, and the new M1 Pro supports up to 2 external monitors, and the M1 Max supports up to 4 external monitors… (three 6K and one 4K) That's huge!


Bye-bye touch bar, Magic Keyboard now brings a full-height function key row with the unbeatable tactile feel of mechanical keys. New keyboard shortcuts for Spotlight, Siri, Dictation, and more. And for your protection, Touch ID has a new, tactile ring that guides your finger for a fast, easy, secure way to unlock your precious MacBook.


If anything has to be attributed to Apple, it is the fact that they know how to impose their will on us. But despite their long stubbornness in qualifying certain things as "ugly" or at least non-aesthetic, they finally accepted that some things are essential in a professional work environment. And even when the optical illusion of thinness has been changed back to something "ticker", both MacBook Pros are quite thin and lightweight. Weights are 1.61 kg for the 14" model, resulting in 15.5 mm thick, and 2.17 kg for the 16" model, with a somewhat greater but equally decent thickness of 16.8 mm.


One last thing on those screens:


  • 14": 3024 x 1964 resolution
  • 16": 3456 x 2234 resolution


We don't know if these figures have been calculated with or without counting the notch, but they give us a pretty awesome idea of how sharp these screens are. Designed for all types of creatives, these systems provide needed performance for handling professional workflows for sure. Packed with 33.7 billion transistors, the Apple M1 Pro integrates the CPU, GPU, Neural Engine, I/O, and more into a single system on a chip (SoC).


Our Impressions on such Magnificent Beasts


Positive we are about how much these technological solutions will change content creation from here on, but honestly, who will need such blazing power? We all would benefit from more speed and that's true, but we share the following idea when it comes to the latest and greatest in the tech-life: if your income will get a substantial benefit (in a period no bigger than 2 years), then you should consider buying it. But if your workflow demands won't sustainably squeeze all these potentials, then you should consider it twice before ordering one.


For several purposes here at MegaGear, we will be needing at least two of these. But our requirements are not that insane, to be honest. Beyond CPU and GPU power, we benefit more from having storage capacity for our raw photographic files and some other business-related stuff. Our upgrade comes after 2018 gear, so you can get a better idea of our modest needs.


But we couldn't help to have fun while ordering them, so these are the results:


Starting at $1,999.00, you get a 14" model with 8-Core CPU, 14-Core GPU, 16GB Unified Memory and 512GB SSD Storage. A bit expensive for those specs but the 14-Core GPU might be worth the price. And starting at $2,499.00 we get a 10-Core CPU, 16-Core GPU, 16GB Unified Memory and 1TB SSD Storage.

Now, pushed into insanity (which means $5,899.00) we get a 14" laptop with:


  • Apple M1 Max with 10-core CPU, 32-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine
  • 64GB unified memory
  • 8TB SSD storage


And for the 16" (the ones we ordered), we get the following baselines:


  • For $2,499.00: 10-Core CPU, 16-Core GPU, 16GB Unified Memory and 512GB SSD.
  • For $2,699.00: 10-Core CPU, 16-Core GPU, 16GB Unified Memory and 1TB SSD.
  • For $3,499.00: 10-Core CPU, 32-Core GPU, 32GB Unified Memory and 1TB SSD.


That last one is M1 Max, while the first two are M1 Pro. Now, for theoretical and fun purposes, let's chunk everything inside the latter one! Although it didn't skyrocket as we expected, it is still pretty expensive for sure. For $6,099.00 you get a nice 16" screen MacBook Pro filled with 64GB unified memory and 8TB SSD storage.


We have to admit it, Apple surprised us, and we expect nothing but higher specs for what could be the next-generation Mac Mini and Mac Pro. And before buying any of these, we highly suggest you look deeper into those specs until you find the sweet spot for your technological needs.

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