First look: Apple MacBook Pro (14-inch, 2021)

I only got the review unit of Apple’s latest M1 Pro MacBook Pro three days ago. So, this is just my first look of Apple’s new laptop. The review unit that rolled into my desk is the “entry-level” off-the-shelf space-grey (also available in silver) 14-inch MacBook Pro model (available in Lazada and Shopee) with a S$2,999 price tag.

The new 14-inch MacBook Pro. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

For that amount of moolah, you are getting a newly-designed chassis that seems to pay homage to Apple’s old titanium and aluminium PowerBook series. It has that same blocky design with flat sides and curved corners.

The new MacBook Pro is still a beauty. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Yet, it is actually 0.1mm thinner than the M1 13-inch MacBook Pro. But at 1.6kg, the 14-inch model weighs 200g heavier.

At the 14-inch MacBook Pro’s bottom, you will find four raised and rather-big rubber feet at four corners and two air vents – each on one side – that are reminiscent of the Titanium PowerBook. Here, you can also find the “MacBook Pro” name being coolly engraved in the middle. This is so much more subtle than the name below the display in current MacBook Pro models.

You will find the “MacBook Pro” engraved on the bottom of the laptop. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

And yes, Apple has heard you. This M1 Pro laptop sees the return of the ports you have been crying for. On the left side of the chassis, there is a MagSafe power port, two Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack. And on the right side, you will find a HDMI 2.0 port, a SD card (UHS-II) card reader and a Thunderbolt 4 port. Fret not, you can use charge the MacBook Pro using any of the USB-C ports.

These are ports found on the sides of the MacBook Pro users have been wanting. (Photos: Trevor Tan)

While the chassis itself is smooth and cool, the lid has a large and glossy Apple logo in the middle that will attract your fingerprints like a magnet. Open the lid, a 14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display with a front-facing 1080p FaceTime HD camera notch welcomes you.

The display of the new MacBook Pro is just gorgeous. Can you see the notch? (Photo: Trevor Tan)

As you might have come to expect from MacBook Pros, the display is gorgeous with a P3 wide colour gamut, up to 1,000 nits full-screen brightness and supports 1 billion colours. Not to mention, this display also features ProMotion technology for adaptive refresh rates of up to 120Hz for smooth browsing.

You will also realise the much-maligned Touch Bar is gone and replaced by a row of function keys and a Touch ID button. Apple says this new keyboard will give you “tactile feel of the mechanical keys and a spacious full-height function row to register each keystroke”. Initial impressions are that typing on this keyboard feels like typing on an iMac’s Magic Keyboard.

No more Touch bar! You have to use the physical function keys. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

In the inside, it is packed with the latest Apple M1 Pro (8-core CPU, 16-core GPU) processor and 16-core neural engine, 16GB unified memory and 512GB SSD storage.

There are some demo content that came with this review unit. They are essentially very high-resolution video files, high-fidelity music files and even 3D files to showcase the M1 Pro’s computing prowess.

However, I have experienced a little slowdown when I have many of these files and their memory-intensive applications running at the same time. It is a tad unfair though, as no one will really run Adobe Premiere Pro, Affinity Photo, Cinema4D, Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro and other applications like Safari and Xcode all at the same time. So, this “entry-level” model is actually faring pretty well.

We will know more when we put this laptop through the paces over the coming weeks. But my initial impressions are that this is probably the laptop to get if you are in the market for a Mac laptop. Stay tuned for the full review!

Trevor Tan

Started out with dreams to become a street photographer, Trevor Tan somehow became a tech journalist with over 16 years of consumer tech experience. Maybe he plays too much video games and buys too many new gadgets.
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