By Dan Moren
October 18, 2021 12:14 PM PT
The MacBook Pro and macOS details Apple didn’t talk about
Apple’s Unleashed event wrapped up in under an hour on Monday, and it wasn’t short on news: new MacBook Pros, brand new Apple silicon processors, new colors of HomePods, and, uh, some music announcements.
But for all of that news, there were still a few things here and there that the company didn’t talk about in its 50-minute spiel, which some perusing of the Apple website—and some eagle-eyed readers—picked out. Let’s run through a few.
With the M1 processor, Apple provided a single choice across all the various models: there were versions with 7 cores of GPU, and versions with 8. Every single model had the same 8 cores of CPU.
With the M1 Pro and M1 Max, those options have changed a bit. Every model of the new MacBook Pro has the option to customize your choice of processors, which seem to be available in five configurations.
|Processor||CPU cores||GPU cores|
*Available on the low-end 14-inch MacBook Pro only.
It seems likely that both the 8-core CPU option and the 14-core GPU options are binned1 versions of the “standard” M1 Pro configuration: 10 CPU cores and 16 GPU cores.
The costs to upgrade to the better processors vary across the lineup: for example, upgrading to that top of the line 10/32 M1 Max chip in the base 14-inch MacBook Pro will set you back $700; on the mid-range 16-inch MacBook Pro, it’s $400.
You got the option
All MacBook Pro configurations start at 16GB of RAM, with a 32GB upgrade costing $400 and a 64GB upgrade $800—but the latter will require an M1 Max processor, since the Pro doesn’t support more than 32GB of RAM.
There are a variety of storage options; the base models for both the 14-inch and 16-inch start with 512GB SSDs, while the higher end versions are 1TB. But you can upgrade to 2TB, 4TB, or 8TB for varying costs, with that 8TB upgrade costing at least $2200.
The power, the power!
Apple has offered different power adapters with different wattages before, but there’s a lot going on here.
Most 14-inch MacBook Pros ship with a hefty 96W power adapter—however, if you opt for that low-end M1 Pro 8/14 configuration, it defaults to a more compact 67W adapter, slightly more powerful than the 61W version that ships with the 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro. (It’s also available on its own for $59.) The 96W version is also available for purchase, for $79.
And the 16-inch MacBook Pro includes a 140W power adapter, which is also available for purchase for $99.
All the power adapters have a USB-C plug on the brick2, and if you buy them by themselves they do not include a charging cable. However, you can opt for either a standard USB-C cable, plugging into the MacBook’s Thunderbolt 4 ports, or Apple’s new MagSafe-to-USB-C cable, which does come with the new MacBook Pros, or is available for purchase for $49.
Also worth noting: that impressive 21-hour battery time that Apple cited in the keynote is specifically for the 16-inch MacBook Pro and its beefy battery, while the 14-inch clocks in at a still impressive 17 hours. However, the quoted times are for “Apple TV app movie playback,” which is usually a strong point for Macs. “Wireless web” performance, by contrast, comes in at 11 hours for the 14-inch MacBook Pro and 14 hours for the 16-inch model, both of which fall short of the 17 hours of wireless web offered by the 13-inch model.
The full-size function keys on the MacBook Pro are the first to appear since…well, actually I don’t remember if a Mac laptop has had full-size function keys in the modern era. Even my PowerBook G3 had half-height versions. The keys replace Apple’s foray into touch controls with the Touch Bar; doubtlessly, some will be sad to it go, but many if not most users will suggest it not let the door hit it on the way out.
In addition, there’s also a Touch ID button, as on the M1 iMac’s Magic Keyboard, and—unlike the Magic Keyboard—an inverted-T arrow key layout. (This makes the iMac’s Magic Keyboard the only one in Apple’s line-up not to feature that layout, which is just odd.)
Though not mentioned during the presentation, macOS Monterey ships next Monday, October 25th as a free download. The release candidates have appeared already, and as developer Steve Troughton-Smith pointed out, images on Apple’s site point to the return of the classic tab appearance, prompting sighs of relief from around the world.
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at @firstname.lastname@example.org or reach him by email at email@example.com. His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is now available for pre-order.]
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