Apple will give PC makers sleepless nights with MacBooks’ next direction

For the first time, the MacBook line-up has two options that offer exactly the same series of features and specs. Both will get the M1 Pro and the M1 Max chips.
The Touch Bar, something that the MacBooks have experimented with for the past few generations, has finally made way for the return of the conventional functional key row at the top of the keyboard (Image: Apple)
The Touch Bar, something that the MacBooks have experimented with for the past few generations, has finally made way for the return of the conventional functional key row at the top of the keyboard (Image: Apple)
Published on Oct 19, 2021 01:41 AM IST
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ByVishal Mathur

Apple has, for the second successive month, updated more product lines. With the Apple iPhone and a part of the iPad series updated last month, now it was the turn of the Apple Mac computing line as well as the audio products. At the Unleashed themed keynote, Apple has not only launched the new Apple MacBook Pro 14, but also updated the MacBook Pro 16 after quite a gap. Yet, the entire Mac line-up stands to benefit in the coming months, with the launch of the Apple M1 Pro and Apple M1 Max processors, which succeed the Apple M1 from last year.

Alongside the focus on power, battery life and performance for the Mac computing devices, Apple has also added to the AirPods line-up with the new Apple AirPods with Spatial Audio. These will fill the gap between the existing AirPods and the AirPods Pro lines. And the HomePods Mini smart speaker gets new colours. And for those who don’t own an Apple iPhone, iPad or Mac, there is the new Apple Music voice plan which suddenly makes the HomePod a lot more relevant, and enticing too.

Apple M1 Pro chip

MacBooks and iMacs will take another leap forward. The extremely fast Apple M1 processor has evolved into the Apple M1 Pro, and things have become even more serious. The Apple M1, released last year with the MacBook Pro 13, the MacBook Air as well as the Mac Mini, and subsequently joined by the iMac 24, has now been succeeded by an even more powerful iteration. If Intel and AMD were already worried, they’d probably have some sleepless nights now. The M1 Pro has a 10-core CPU, the 16-core graphics and works with up to 32GB RAM.

“With massive gains in CPU and GPU performance, up to six times the memory bandwidth, a new media engine with ProRes accelerators, and other advanced technologies, M1 Pro and M1 Max take Apple silicon even further, and are unlike anything else in a pro notebook,” says Johny Srouji, senior vice president of Hardware Technologies at Apple. The M1 Pro has an up-to-16-core GPU that is up to 2x faster than M1 and up to 7x faster than the integrated graphics on the latest 8-core PC laptop chip in the Windows ecosystem, claims Apple.

Apple M1 Max chip

And this is yet another leap forward, without a pause. The Apple M1 Max chip, with 57 billion transistors, is the largest that Apple has created by far. That’s 10-core CPU with a 32-core graphics and works with up to 64GB RAM. Apple claims that the performance-per-watt is unmatched by any graphics and processor combinations in the world of PCs powered by Intel processors. Also, the graphics on this chip are 4x faster than the M1 from last year, which already was ahead by far and away, leaving Intel and AMD rivals far behind in terms of processor and graphics performance. The Apple M1 Max will be the most powerful processors for computing devices, across the canvas.

Apple MacBook Pro 16 and MacBook Pro 14

For the first time, the MacBook line-up has two options that offer exactly the same series of features and specs. Both will get the M1 Pro and the M1 Max chips. The only difference being the screen size. You take your pick on what works best for you, and the smaller display wouldn’t mean a comprise in terms of specs. The MacBook Pro 16-inch and an all new 14-inch, with the MacBook Pro 16 getting an update after a while, join the existing MacBook line-up. The 16-inch variant is 16.8mm thick while the 14-inch option is 15.5mm, and the new design language adds rounded edges. Less reliance on dongles too, with the HDMI port, an SD card slot, headphone jack with Hi-Fi audio support and and more Thunderbolt ports.

The MagSafe charger is back, with faster power delivery as well, to provide juice for the more powerful new processors. It is interesting that the flat design of the MagSafe is largely the same as it was when the standard was used till a few years ago — if it isn’t broken, it probably doesn’t need to be fixed.

This also gets the Liquid Retina XDR display with the mini LED technology, much like some of the pro-focused displays as well as the recent iPad Pro series. The incredibly thin mini LED display chassis gets much slimmer bezels on all sides as you look at the laptop, as well as a notch on the top of the screen — this is where the camera sits, and allows the display on either side to show content instead of a thick bezel. A bezel on a laptop screen; this is the first we have ever seen that. These displays will also have the ProMotion refresh rate technology working to alter the screen’s refresh rate between 10Hz and 120Hz, depending on what’s on the screen, to balance between smoother visuals and better battery life.

The Touch Bar, something that the MacBooks have experimented with for the past few generations, has finally made way for the return of the conventional functional key row at the top of the keyboard. MacBooks also get a 1080p FaceTime camera for the first time, and the MacBook Pro 16 as well as the MacBook Pro 14 will also have a new image signal processor to make you look better in video calls.

Apple has made serious claims about the battery life of the new MacBooks. They claim up to 17-hours of continuous video playback on the MacBook Pro 14 and up to 21 hours of video playback on the MacBook Pro 16. Yet, having experienced the extensive power gains that Apple made last year with the M1, these claims don’t sound surprising or out of place.

The MacBook Pro 14 and the MacBook Pro 16, undoubtedly the most powerful portable computing devices that you can buy, carry stiff price tags too. The MacBook Pro 14 is priced at 194,900 onwards while the MacBook Pro 16 will cost 2,39,900 onwards. Both laptops will also get special education pricing.

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