The new MacBook Pro 14 only manages 500 nits with SDR contents
After the Mini-LED panel debuted in the bigger iPad Pro, Apple now also equips the two new MacBook Pro models (14 & 16) with these panels. The manufacturer advertises a maximum peak brightness of 1600 nits and a sustained brightness of 1000 nits. So far we thought that the peak brightness is for HDR contents and the 1000 nits is the default value for all contents since we already know 1000 nits panel from HP, for example. After we got our own MacBook Pro 14, the results are a bit sobering since the brightness seems to be capped at 500 nits for standard SDR contents.
Our analysis with the professional CalMAN software and the X-Rite i1 Pro 2 colorimeter determines an average brightness of around 480 nits, so the new MacBook Pro 14 is comparable to the MacBook Pro 13. This is hardly a bad result, but we are still far away from the advertised 1000 nits. Apple offers two display profiles (P3 1600 nits & P3 500 nits), but we get the same results with the two.
Still, the pure picture quality of the new Mini-LED screen is simple stunning. The black value ist extremely low at 0.01 cd/m² and therefore basically on par with OLED screens, which results in the extremely high contrast ratio. The subjective impression is great and the panel calibration is already excellent out of the box, so there are no further actions necessary and you can just start to edit pictures/videos in the P3 reference color space, which is covered completely.
Like on the iPad pro with the Mini-LED panel, we can also determine PWM flickering on all brightness levels. The frequency is very high at almost 15 kHz and should not cause problems for the majority of users, but the display of the new MacBook Pro 14 might not be the right choice if you are very sensitive to PWM flickering.
We will talk about all the other topics like the ProMotion technology, response times, and the outdoor capabilities in our comprehensive review of the new MacBook Pro 14, which will be published in a couple of days.
Update: HDR brightness up to 1607 nits
We now tested the brightness in HDR mode and can confirm that more than 500 nits are only possible with HDR contents. We can confirm Apple statements in general and the peak brightness was 1607 up to an APL of 50 (50% white/50% black) and dropped to 1163 nits with 100% white (on a 16:9 video).
However, we believe Apple should communicate that the maximum brightness for SDR contents (which will be displayed for the majority of the time) is limited to 500 nits.