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What I’m finding particularly appealing is that all this power fits into the 14-inch chassis. Previously, I was carrying a 16-inch MacBook Pro, with a high-end Intel processor. The big screen was nice, but it was heavy and battery life would drop precipitously if challenged with anything more serious than casual browsing and typing up documents.
This time around, Apple is offering parity between both the 14-inch and 16-inch versions. You can, if your pockets are deep enough and your ambitions sufficiently grand, have either screen size with the top-tier M1 Max chip. Both can be outfitted with up to 64GB of memory, too: it’s the same unified memory approach that we saw with the MacBook Air M1 and Mac mini M1, where CPU and GPU flexibly share the same pool of RAM.
What lingers after several months on the road and at home is how reliable this new MacBook Pro is. Yes, there’s a whole architectural change inside, but most of the time the user-experience is “it just works.” The fact that the battery life is not only long but reliably so has left me confident enough to leave the charger at my desk when I’ve been out at events, something I’d never have dared do with the last-gen machine. Meanwhile the little usability improvements – a broader array of ports, speakers that punch above their weight, a surprisingly capable triple microphone array with beamforming, and the rarity with which the fans make themselves known – are niceties that simply elevate the overall experience.
Look, I liked my old MacBook Pro. It felt fast, and capable, and overall I judged the advantages to be worth the compromises. This new MacBook Pro M1 Max, though, is just plain easier to live with. It feels less like Apple is defining how you should use, and interact with, your laptop, and more like it was designed with the breadth of professionals out there in mind. Yes, it’s expensive, and yes, there are still some growing pains with the Apple Silicon transition, but none of that changes the fact that – if you truly need what it can do – this is Apple’s best computer in a decade.