Apple has announced a redesigned MacBook Pro, which now includes a 14-inch screen, Apple’s new M1 Pro and Max chips, a notch, squared-off design, and a wider selection of ports in addition to the standard Thunderbolt ones — it brings back the HDMI port and SD card reader and adds a MagSafe 3 connector for charging (though you can also charge it with the Thunderbolt ports if your house is littered with USB-C power bricks). It starts at $1,999 and can be ordered “today.”
It has a 14.2-inch 120Hz ProMotion Mini LED display, which Apple is branding as “Liquid Retina Pro XDR.” It has slimmer bezels than the previous generation but also includes a notch, which houses a 1080p webcam but not Apple’s Face ID system. Resolution-wise, the 14-inch model runs at 3024 by 1964, and it can run at 1,000 nits sustained brightness and 1,600 nits peak brightness.
You can configure the 14-inch MacBook Pro with Apple’s new M1 Pro or M1 Max chips. Both can feature 10 CPU cores — the Pro can have a 14- or 16-core GPU, while the Max has 24- and 32-core GPU options. The new MacBook Pro comes with 16GB of RAM standard, and you can upgrade to 32GB with the M1 Pro or 64 GB with the M1 Max. However, the M1 Pro included with the $1,999 base model is a trimmed-down version of the CPU — it only features eight CPU cores and 14 GPU cores.
The $1,999 model has caveats
The base also comes with a weaker 67W power adapter — to upgrade to the “real” M1 Pro with 10 CPU cores and 16 GPU cores, you’re looking at spending at least $2,300 before tax (and that model will come with a 512GB SSD). There’s also the $2,499 pre-built model, which comes with the fully loaded M1 Pro, a 1TB SSD, and a 96W charger (though the upgraded charger is included in the base model if you configure a CPU upgrade).
In addition to all the new (well, returning) ports, the 14-inch MacBook Pro adds a third Thunderbolt port compared to its 13-inch counterpart. The Thunderbolt ports are now Thunderbolt 4, an upgrade from the Thunderbolt 3 ports on the previous models. The 14-inch also includes a “high-fidelity” speaker system, and a headphone jack that supports “high impedance” headphones, though Apple’s spec page doesn’t specify how many Ohms that translates to.
The redesign is the first major one in Apple’s pro laptop lineup since 2016, the year that brought ill-fated butterfly keyboards, the Touch Bar, and Thunderbolt 3 as the standard and only port type (with the exception of a headphone jack, of course). It also marks the return of the midsize 14-inch screen, which Apple hasn’t put on a laptop since the 2005 iBook G4.
The 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros are an about-face from Apple
Compared to that redesign, though, Apple’s new laptops seem to be an about-face — the 2016 redesign ditched the ports, and now they’re back. Apple also added the Touch Bar in 2016, and that’s also been replaced by a set of function keys. And the 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro had limitations that the 14-inch doesn't — it could only drive one external display, where Apple says that the M1 Pro-equipped MacBook Pro can drive two Pro Display XDRs, and the M1 Max version can drive three.
It’s nice to see Apple more clearly differentiating the smaller MacBook Pros. The lineup has been a bit confusing for the past few years — the two-port MacBook Pro and four-port 13-inch computers were awkwardly lumped together but were pretty different computers with different processors and prices. Now, the screen size difference makes the distinction clear: people looking for portability can get the Air or 13-inch Pro, and the 14-inch Pro exists for those looking for more horsepower.