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Apple is finally restoring balance to its portable lineup with the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros. If you wanted a big-screen Mac notebook for video editing over the past year, you were stuck paying a premium for outdated Intel and AMD hardware. So, we've been eagerly awaiting an M1 upgrade for the 16-inch MacBook Pro, a machine I called Apple's best laptop ever when it debuted two years ago.
But it's worth remembering that, for all the hype around Apple's M1 chip last year, it was a let down for creative professionals. It just couldn’t handle the kinds of heavy duty video editing and 3D rendering that they demanded, in part due to being capped at 16GB of RAM. That made the 13-inch MacBook Pro a bit of an odd duck, since the Air was nearly as fast.
Apple's redesigned MacBook Pros, powered by its new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, are exactly what media professionals have been waiting for. The processors are far faster than last year's M1, they support up to 64GB of RAM, and both laptops feature XDR display technology borrowed from the iPad Pro. But Apple also looked backwards as it stepped forward, restoring ports and adopting a design that resembles many of its older machines. Just call them PowerBooks, reborn.
Apple isn’t currently planning to replace the 13-inch model with the MacBook Pro 14. It’s more an expansion of the highest-end model. It can do almost everything the 16-inch model can, it’s just smaller. (The only exception is "High Power Mode," which gives the 16-inch M1 Max version a temporary speed boost.) That's one way I've come to terms with the high $1,999 starting price. The bigger model now starts at $2,499, $100 more than the Intel version.
Both notebooks still look like MacBook Pros, with sleek unibody aluminum cases. But lean in a bit closer and you'll notice some retro flourishes. They're slightly thicker, with more bulbous edges that hearken back to Apple's notebooks from the 2000's. They're also heavier than you'd expect: the 14-inch model comes in at 3.5 pounds, while the 16-inch varies between 4.7 and 4.8 pounds, depending on the chip you choose. That's about half a pound heavier than the last 16-inch MacBook Pro.
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