Stop Trying To Make The New MacBook Pros Be Everything To Everyone

Stop Trying To Make The New MacBook Pros Be Everything To Everyone
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Apple last week unveiled two new MacBook Pro models, promising us exceptional performance both on and off charge. The 14- and 16-inch models are touted by Apple as delivering ‘ground-breaking’ processing, graphics and machine learning performance, and many took this to mean the MacBook Pro would be your new gaming machine.

Before getting our hands on a new MacBook Pro, we broke down for you why these new machines won’t be a good gaming laptop, but perhaps what’s still getting confused in this conversation is the assumption that power for creative workloads equals gaming-quality machine.

Apple is marketing these new MacBooks at creatives – they don’t need to be everything to everyone. But, I do believe these machines are going to be everything to creatives.

There was a super quick turnaround with putting the new MacBooks through their paces before talking to you about them, so let’s start with some initial thoughts.

Apple MacBook Pro 14- and 16-inch

WHAT IS IT?

The latest MacBook Pro range from Apple

PRICE

$2,999 (14-inch) & $3,749 (16-inch)

LIKE

Battery performance, insane graphics, the return of the ports

NO LIKE

The case redesign

New MacBook Pro Look And Feel

There’s so much to unpack but I want to talk about how the new machine feels in my hands, first. Comparing the new 14-inch model to my current MacBook Pro 13-inch, the laptop is more square – it isn’t sharp, but is a very obvious block shape. The new device is thicker, substantially, and the casing doesn’t scream premium and I don’t really know why, I just like the old design better.

The larger Apple logo also adds to this juvenile feel. I also can’t help but feel the 14-inch screen size was a ‘just because’ move.

Opening the machine (it turns on so quickly – SO, so quickly, like wow), the keyboard has also changed from its predecessor, with a black background behind the keys, rather than the previous model that makes it appear your keys are floating.

This is actually pretty ugly. 1/10 for that decision, Apple. I don’t hate change, but I’m not obsessed with these changes.

But getting a 10/10 is the decision to bring back ports and a MagSafe charger. (And the notch is super cute, it’s just like a large iPhone with beast power).

Are The Chips As Good As They Say?

Yep.

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 delivers two times faster graphics processing and double the memory bandwidth of M1 Pro. And it has a dedicated media engine for decode and two for encode — with up to two times faster video encoding — and two ProRes accelerators for even higher multistream performance.

The M1 Pro and M1 Max chips give the new MacBook Pro a giant leap in performance, in a number of areas, but the incredible power efficiency of the chips allows for the same experience plugged in AND on battery. I won’t bore you with the physics behind this (not me pretending to be a Physicist) but basically there’s only so much current that a battery can emit to support the machine and so this isn’t a feature that has been top priority for many laptop-makers.

Read more about the chips here – it’s worth it!

Up to 21 hours battery life is the claim Apple makes. I tried my best to slaughter the machine – and I mean slaughter – to make the battery die in under 12 hours.

I ran an Xcode Project with eight simulators running simultaneously for about 40 minutes and there was no lag. I’m typing now on my own MacBook Pro with a lag because I have 20 Chrome tabs open and another 16 Word docs, as well as Slack pinging me every 30 seconds. The new machine would let out a loud LOL at this.

I also watched four episodes of Foundation (I was meant to have this just running for a few hours to drain the battery but got sucked in). The quality of the graphics is honestly second to none. This. Show. Looks. Absolutely. Beautiful.

That drained around 30 per cent of the battery.

After 12 hours of continual use – I still had 24 per cent left.

The last 20 per cent trickled pretty quickly with Final Cut Pro. It charged back up in basically no time, anyway.

Battery Life Is More Than Just How Long It Lasts

Obviously this is the biggest feature with the new MacBook Pros – but it’s easy to get fixated on the duration of the battery off charge. It’s a bit of a dog-chasing-its-tail situation because the splendour of these MacBook Pros is that on battery you get the same performance as you do plugged in, and THAT’S the insane advancement in this series. BUT if the battery only lasts two hours, it’s kind-of like ‘what’s the point?’.

Obviously the more you do that pulls battery life, the shorter the battery life is. But for what you get vs how long it lasts, I’m sold. 8/10 Apple (please defy physics, though, and make this last longer).

Let’s Talk MacBook Pro Graphics

The Liquid Retina XDR display features the mini-LED technology used in the iPad Pro. Apple says the Liquid Retina XDR display delivers up to 1,000 nits of sustained, full-screen brightness, 1,600 nits of peak brightness and a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio.

ProMotion technology also comes to the Mac, featuring an adaptive refresh rate up to 120Hz. (As seen with the iPhone 13 just recently, ProMotion automatically varies the refresh rate to match what you’re doing on the device).

Graphics are stunning. Absolutely stunning. The XTR display is, you guessed it, stunning. This is actually a notebook that simply has no equal.

The Verdict

These new MacBook Pros are insanely good. Insanely. But the price point makes it hard for me to tell you that you need one.

  • The 14-inch MacBook Pro model starts at RRP $2,999 (RRP $2,769 for education)
  • The 16-inch MacBook Pro model starts at RRP $3,749 (RRP $3,449 for education)

The new MacBook Pro is going to be an incredible tool for creators who want to take video editing, and special effects, to the next level. But gamers, and users that just want to do some basic laptop stuff, this machine isn’t for you, and that’s OK.