MacBook Pro M1 Pro 2021 review – Ultimate performance

The MacBook Pro with M1 (starting at $1,299) is one of the greatest computers you can buy right now, with an unequaled combination of power and endurance.

And I know this because I’ve been using this system for months to get through my workload, and no matter what I throw at it, it rarely stutters.

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2021 Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, Apple M1 Pro chip with 10‑core CPU and 16‑core GPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD) - Space Gray
999 Reviews
2021 Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, Apple M1 Pro chip with 10‑core CPU and 16‑core GPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD) - Space Gray
  • Apple M1 Pro or M1 Max chip for a massive leap in CPU, GPU, and machine learning performance
  • Up to 10-core CPU delivers up to 2x faster performance to fly through pro workflows quicker than ever
  • Up to 32-core GPU with up to 4x faster performance for graphics-intensive apps and games
  • 16-core Neural Engine for up to 5x faster machine learning performance
  • Longer battery life, up to 21 hours

The Apple Silicon within this 3-pound beast, thanks to the M1 chip, outperforms most Windows laptops in terms of raw performance.

Moreover, the new MacBook Pro M1 outlasts the competition in terms of battery life — by a long shot. We’re talking about a 16-hour endurance test. My only criticism is that Apple hasn’t made any changes to the design.

Some people might prefer the newer MacBook Pro 14-inch, which has a more powerful M1 Pro or M1 Max processor, a larger display, more ports, and a crisper 1080p webcam. However, that model costs $1,999. 

For more information, see our MacBook Pro 14-inch vs MacBook Pro 13-inch comparison. Keep a watch out for the predicted MacBook Pro 2022, which is believed to come with an even more powerful M2 CPU, though it isn’t expected to be released until later this year.

The $999 MacBook Air M1, which has a dimmer display and shorter (but still excellent) battery life, as well as a somewhat inferior 7-core GPU for its starting configuration, is the 13-inch MacBook Pro’s main competition.

Review of the MacBook Pro M1: Release Date and Price

MacBook Pro M1 Pro

The MacBook Pro M1 was released on November 17 and has a starting price of $1,299. Apple’s powerful M1 chip with an 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU, as well as 8GB of unified memory, are included in this configuration (RAM). The MacBook Pro M1 comes with 256GB of storage by default, but the $1,499 variant contains 512GB.

There are a variety of upgrades available for the MacBook Pro M1 if you wish to customize it yourself. Upgrading from 8GB to 16GB of memory costs $200. If you need more than 512GB of storage, 1TB will set you back $400, and 2TB will set you back $800.

The MacBook Pro 2021, on the other hand, appears to be a significant upgrade over the present model. Apple is rumored to be bringing back MagSafe charging and the SD card reader while dropping the Touch Bar. All while incorporating speedier processors and following the iPhone 12 and iPad Pro’s flat-edge design language.

Performance

The best way to describe the MacBook Pro M1’s performance is that it dissolves the boundaries that stand in your way of getting things done. It’s almost as though the laptop has vanished.

When I have a lot of tabs open in Google Chrome, one of my main issues with my older Core i5 MacBook from 2019 is that it gets bogged down easily. While writing this review, I loaded up the MacBook Pro M1 with 61 tabs and the performance was flawless, even when I was juggling multiple Slack conversations and streaming Spotify. I didn’t notice stuttering until I started adding iOS apps to the mix.

I also use Photoshop Elements for work to edit photographs, and I have a template that has a lot of layers that I use. The template loaded in 22 seconds on my old MacBook Pro, while it only took 13.29 seconds on the new MacBook Pro M1.

Although this may not appear to be a significant difference, when you add it all up, the M1 chip will save you a significant amount of time in circumstances like this.

On our Handbrake video editing test, which entails transcoding a 4K clip to 1080p, the MacBook Pro M1 outperformed all of its competitors. The application has been tailored for Apple Silicon for this test.

The MacBook Pro M1 completed this exercise in 7 minutes and 46 seconds, compared to 18:22 for the XPS 13 and 17:51 for the ZenBook 13. At 9:15, the MacBook Air completed a little later than the Pro.

Sale
2021 Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, Apple M1 Pro chip with 10‑core CPU and 16‑core GPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD) - Space Gray
999 Reviews
2021 Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, Apple M1 Pro chip with 10‑core CPU and 16‑core GPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD) - Space Gray
  • Apple M1 Pro or M1 Max chip for a massive leap in CPU, GPU, and machine learning performance
  • Up to 10-core CPU delivers up to 2x faster performance to fly through pro workflows quicker than ever
  • Up to 32-core GPU with up to 4x faster performance for graphics-intensive apps and games
  • 16-core Neural Engine for up to 5x faster machine learning performance
  • Longer battery life, up to 21 hours

Battery Life

This is the second half of the one-two punch that makes the MacBook Pro M1 one of the greatest computers available.

The MacBook Pro M1 lasted an incredible 16 hours and 25 minutes on the battery test, which entails continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of screen brightness. The Intel-based MacBook Pro 2020 lasted 10:21, a difference of more than 6 hours.

Graphics and gameplay on the MacBook Pro M1

The MacBook Pro has the processing power to run most mainstream games at high frame rates. The MacBook Pro, for example, achieved 38 frames per second in Civilization VI: Gathering Storm, which is more than double the ZenBook 13.

keyboard, touchpad, and Touch Bar

I’m envious of the new MacBook Pro M1’s Magic Keyboard as someone who is still using a Butterfly keyboard. It’s not that I’m any faster on this layout; my typing speed on the 10fastfingers.com typing test was 72 words per minute, which is within my normal range. 

However, I made fewer mistakes than usual. More importantly, compared to the older Butterfly layout I’m used to, typing on the Magic Keyboard feels pillowy soft.

Overall Review of the MacBook Pro M1

The MacBook Pro M1 is without a doubt one of the best 13-inch laptops available. For $1,299, you get blistering performance and incredible battery life.

Despite this, the speed difference between the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air with M1 isn’t significant.

See:

Conclusion

However, there are several compelling reasons to upgrade to the MacBook Pro with M1. Because the MacBook Pro includes a fan while the Air does not, you receive greater sustained performance for heavier tasks.

I also like that the MacBook Pro has a brighter display and a more powerful GPU for its starting price. I believe the Pro would be more appealing if Apple included two more Thunderbolt ports.

The MacBook Pro 14-inch, which has a larger 14-inch mini-LED display, a more powerful M1 Pro CPU, and more ports, may be preferred by some. That laptop, on the other hand, starts at $1,999. According to reports, a new entry-level MacBook Pro 2022 with an improved M2 chip will be released later this year, but we doubt it will be available anytime soon.

Overall, I enjoy the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 and think it’s a great option for power users. However, I believe that for the time being, the MacBook Air M1 is “Pro” adequate for the vast majority of consumers.