Apple’s new MacBook Pros are ridiculously powerful (and ridiculously expensive)

For anybody who felt last year’s M1 powered MacBook Pro wasn’t ‘Pro’ enough, Apple has well and truly answered the critics with the new 14- and 16in models, announced today at the company’s latest streaming event.

In an event delivered at the kind of breakneck speed designed to destroy journalists’ keyboards, necessitating an upgrade, Apple fired key stats left, right and centre. Powered by two new chips — the M1 Pro or M1 Max — the new laptops will deliver at least 70% faster day-to-day performance, and two (Pro) to four times’ (Max) the graphical performance. 

The chips support up to 32GB (Pro) or 64GB (Max) unified memory, and battery life also sounds pretty phenomenal, with 17 hours of video playback for the 14in model, rising to 21 hours for the 16in version.  

And it’s not just performance where pros will get their kicks. There’s also a whole lot more ports to play with: three Thunderbolt ports, one HDMI, one 3.5mm headphone jack, an SD card slot and the return of the MagSafe charging port, where the cable sticks in magnetically, preventing nasty unexpected falls (and even nastier trips to the Apple Store for replacement screen surgery.)

Said screen is also massively improved in every way. The new MacBook Pros inherit the mini-LED panels debuted on the 12.9in iPad Pros, which means local dimming zones for deeper blacks and incredible contrast (1,000,000:1 according to Apple). The screens will be adaptive, meaning they can go from super-smooth 120Hz all the way down to the battery saving 10Hz depending on what you’re up to.

There’s also more screen to look at with bezels that are reduced by 24% on the sides and a whopping 60% on the top. That sounds great, but it does come at a cost: the divisive iPhone notch is now part of your laptop, too — though it’s actually less objectionable here, given macOS has a permanent menu bar along the top of the screen. Enable dark mode, and it’ll be practically invisible.

The notch is surprisingly big for a device that doesn’t include the fancy Face ID tech that’s a staple of the flagship iPhones, but Apple has baked in a big 1080p upgrade, and it’s apparently also twice as good at capturing low-light action too. This’ll be great for those forced to work remotely for the foreseeable future, as will the ‘studio quality’ microphones, and improved sound. The built-in woofers apparently offer 80% more bass, just to annoy anybody with the misfortune to share a desk with you.

Notch aside, it’s hard to find any fault at all with the new MacBook Pros… until you get to the prices which are certainly daunting. Prices start at NZ$3,399 for the 14in model and NZ$4,299 for the 16in model, and Macs being Macs, that’s just the start. Just for fun, I started building a fully maxed out 16in MacBook Pro model, complete with 64GB RAM, an 8TB SSD and copies of Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro. It comes to NZ$7,598.98.

If that hasn’t put you off, the new MacBook Pros are available to pre-order today, with shipping set for next week. That’ll give your wallet a little time to prepare for the rapid, unexpected weight loss at least. 

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