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Should you get the new Apple MacBook Pro 14?

Apple MacBook Pro 14
Apple MacBook Pro 14
The new MacBook Pro 14 was impressive in our comprehensive review and it is certainly one of the best compact multimedia laptops you can currently get. But is the additional price over the MacBook Pro 13 or the MacBook Air justified for everyday scenarios?

Apple's new MacBook Pro left a very good impression during our review and is even the benchmark in many sections, especially in terms of performance and efficiency as well as the display. Compared to the familiar models MacBook Pro 13 and MacBook Air, which are also equipped with Apple's own M1 processor since last year, there are also some drawbacks, especially in terms of mobility and the price. The MacBook Pro 14 might not always be the best choice for everyday scenarios.

Performance - The standard M1 SoC is still convincing

The new M1 Pro in the MacBook Pro 14 offers more cores, both for the CPU as well as the GPU. The cores, however, are pretty much identical to the familiar M1 SoC, and you will not really notice a performance difference in everyday scenarios. The graphics performance of the regular M1 is also completely sufficient for many users. The M1 Pro (with 8 or 10 CPU cores) pays off when you run many demanding workloads and maybe even need more than 16 GB RAM. The additional performance is also useful when you edit videos. The fans are usually very quiet, even though the Air still has an advantage in this respect thanks to the passive cooling solution. The optional M1 Max offers even more GPU performance and only makes sense for professional content creators, which really benefit from the GPU power as well as 32 or even 64 GB in large projects.

Display - Mini-LED or IPS?

The new Mini-LED display of the MacBook Pro 14 offers excellent image quality, especially with HDR contents. However, this is one of the issues, because the high brightness levels advertised by Apple only apply for HDR content. Standard range contents on the other hand are limited to 500 nits, which is comparable to the smaller MacBook Pro 13 M1 and just slightly better than the MacBook Air. The Pro 14 obviously benefits from the extremely high contrast ratio, but the difference is not huge in everyday situations. All panels cover DCI-P3 gamut and are suitable for picture/video editing, and the two IPS screens even have an advantage in terms of PWM flickering as well as response times.

Mobility - The new MBP 14 is noticeably bulkier

Due to the new design (chassis is similarly thick almost everywhere) and the high weight of 1.6 kg, the MacBook Pro 14 appears extremely bulky, even though the footprint is not that much bigger and the height is pretty much identical to the MacBook Pro 13. Apple's MacBook Air M1 easily takes the mobility crown, and it is also the most comfortable to type on thanks to the tapered base unit. The typing experience is comparable on all three models, which also applies for the excellent keyboard illumination.

The MacBook Pro 14 also has better speakers, but both the MacBook Pro 13 and the MacBook Air are hardly bad in this respect, either.

MacBook Pro 14 or MacBook Air?

If you are not really sure whether you need the additional performance of the new M1 Pro and M1 Max processors, the answer is probably no and you will most likely be very happy with the regular Apple M1 SoC. The MacBook Pro 13 M1 is still based on the old Intel model and only has a performance advantage under sustained workloads (thanks to the active cooling) over the MacBook Air M1 and we also prefer the regular special keys over the Touch Bar in the Pro 13.

The new MacBook Pro 14 is definitely a powerful multimedia laptop, a compact workstation, even, which is primarily designed for programmers or content creators working with high-resolution files and ideally even HDR contents to utilize the potential of the new Mini-LED panel. It is also one of the most efficient devices and the competition from Intel, AMD, and Nvidia does not really have an answer right now.

If you are not in these two groups, however, you will probably be just as happy with the more compact MacBook Air M1 and you can even save a lot of money. A similarly equipped Air with 512 GB SSD storage and 16 GB RAM is $550 cheaper, and the 8 GB SKU is most likely sufficient for many daily tasks.

Please see our comprehensive reviews for more information on the three Apple MacBook models:

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Andreas Osthoff, 2021-11- 6 (Update: 2021-11- 8)