MacBook Pro Reviews: Fast Performance, Added Ports, and ProMotion Displays Check All the Boxes

Apple's new MacBook Pro models, 14-inch and 16,-inch, will start arriving to customers on Tuesday, October 26th. The embargo was lifted earlier than expected for the first reviews.
Image credit: The Verge

We have gathered more video reviews for the new MacBook Pro models in another story. Highlights from written reviews are also available below.


Performance: M1 Pro & M1 Max

The M1 Pro and M1 Max chips can be used to configure the MacBook Pros, both 14-inch or 16-inch. Both have a 10-core CPU. The graphics are what makes the difference, with the M1 Pro offering a 16-core GPU, and the M1 Max with a 32-core GPU.

Geekbench 5's first benchmark results for new MacBook Pro models showed that the M1 Pro chips and M1 Max chips were over 1.5x faster than M1 chips in lower-end Macs. Apple claimed that the M1 Max chip offers up to 4x more graphics than M1 chips.

Jason Snell shared this useful chart that compares benchmark scores at Six Colors.

The 14-inch MacBook Pro with its M1 Pro chip and I experienced no slowdowns. This was even while editing photos in Lightroom and Photoshop CC and cutting video in Premiere CC when connecting to a 4K HDR external display. The laptop's fans were only activated when I exported a 4K video file.

We previously reported that 16-inch MacBook Pro models equipped with the M1 Max chip have a new High power mode. This is designed to increase performance for sustained, intensive workloads.

Design: Keyboard, Notch, and More

The new MacBook Pro models have key design changes, including a notch at top that houses an upgraded 1080p Webcam and a revamped keyboard featuring an all-black design with full-size function keys and no Touch Bar.

The Verge's Nilay Patel

Yes, there is a notch on the display, which we know will cause polarization. However, I noticed it very quickly and stopped looking at it as everyone else does. We'll see what I feel about it in a few more days.

CNBC's Todd Haselton

Apple has replaced the Touch Bar screen at the top of its MacBook Pro models with full-sized function buttons that can be tapped to adjust volume, brightness, and other settings.

Add-on Ports: HDMI, SD Card Slot and MagSafe

Apple has restored many ports to the 16-inch and 14-inch MacBook Pro models it removed in 2016, including an HDMI port and an SD card slot. MagSafe is a magnetic power cord safety feature.

CNET's Dan Ackerman

It's almost as if Apple designers took all of the feedback that they received over years and selected the top few wishlist items (with apologies for anyone who wanted mini-DisplayPort to return). People have long been asking for HDMI to be returned. While it is great to be futuristic, HDMI still remains incredibly useful, even though it is becoming more of a legacy device. This is also why laptops with VGA ports remained in use for so long after they should have disappeared. Many people have legacy devices such as printers, projectors and displays and want to be able plug them in immediately. There are enough cables that you may find one hidden under a desk drawer.

Displays: ProMotion and Mini-LED

The new MacBook Pro models feature Liquid Retina XDR screens with mini-LED backlighting that provide up to 3x more brightness for HDR content. ProMotion adds an adaptive refresh rate of between a power-saving 24Hz and a smooth-looking120Hz, depending on what content is being displayed.

Gizmodo's Caitlin Mcarry:

ProMotion, the iPad Pro's motion feature, has been added to the new Pro displays. It's so great that it's almost impossible to use a laptop with it. ProMotion is automatically turned on so that the Pro can adjust its refresh rates between 10Hz to 120Hz depending on what you are doing. If you don't want ProMotion, you can turn it off and use the Pro at a fixed rate (47.95Hz to 48Hz, 50Hz or 60Hz), but I found that the difference was too stark after using it at 120Hz for almost a week. ProMotion is much more responsive.

Battery Life

Apple claims that the new MacBook Pro models have a 10 hour longer battery life per charge than the older-generation models.

Engadget's Devindra Hardawar:

The M1 chip's ARM design is efficient, which leads to excellent battery performance. In our benchmark, the 14-inch MacBook Pro ran for 12 hours and 35 mins. The 16-inch MacBook Pro took 16 hours and 34 seconds. This is more than five hours more than the previous Intel model.

The Key Takeaways

The new MacBook Pro models are very worth the upgrade. They offer very fast performance, a return of useful ports such as HDMI and an SD card slot and better displays.

Brian Heater, TechCrunch:

The abandonment of Touch Bar, much like MagSafe's return, is an excellent example of why the MacBooks are the best they have ever seen. They draw on the technology and learns from previous generations, but also make some significant breakthroughs. And, perhaps most importantly, they listen to user feedback. This means you have to be open to learning from the past and double down on the good stuff. It also means that you must not assume that you know the best for your customers, especially in the case where creative pros are concerned. This MacBook Air is not for everyone. It costs between $1,999 to $5,899. The MacBook Air is a great choice for most people. The new Pro is the perfect marriage of all the best features in the MacBook Air.

MacRumors will be sharing its hands-on impressions on the new MacBook Pro this week.