2021 MacBook Pro discussion

So they’ve been announced, what do y’all think?

  • Ports: I am thankful they have bought back MagSafe, SD Card slot and HDMI. I am a little annoyed that they cost a USB-C port, but I guess this was to avoid adding another controller.
  • TouchBar: It shoulda received some love over the last 5 years, but did not. At least it will no longer get in the way when using the laptop, on my lap.
  • Screen: I like everything, but the Notch. IMHO the Notch was a stop gap design from 2017, which most of the industry overcame in 2019. TBH: As the camera tech in Apple’s laptops is so far behind, I wouldn’t have minded if they simply didn’t include one (as an option of course).
  • Battery Life: Excellent.
  • Performance: So far it appears that single core performance is unchanged, multi-core performance is improved by more performance threads. Unless the apps you use are properly optimized for multi-core, you may not see any improvement. The rumored "High Performance’ mode will hopefully change that.
  • Memory: This is where I feel most frustrated. That 16GB of memory is unified with the GPU, which may mean you only have 8GB for OS and application usage. If you want to ensure that you have 16GB for the OS and your apps, you need to upgrade to 32 GB, which is way overpriced at $400. 64 GB is a whopping $1,200 extra. In comparison, 64GB of RAM does not even cost Apple $200.
  • Storage; Am happy with the speed, but their prices continue to be way too high.
  • Charger: Currently it appears to only come with a USB-C charger, which means you’re only left with two USB-C ports when it is plugged in. If you want MagSafe (why wouldn’t you), it’s an additional $150 on top. For a company that removed the iPhone charger to save the environment, this is a bit of a slap in the face.

So what are your thoughts?

It’s anecdotal, but my friends who have M1 processors say they’re way faster than their machines with i9 Intel processors, so I’m looking forward to some real speed improvement. I was also surprised that a machine configured similarly to my 2019 MBP is only a couple of hundred dollars more than the 2019 model. So of course I splurged on everything - M1 Max, 64gb of RAM, and 8TB of drive space. Now to find a good and cheap 8TB external drive for backup.

I hadn’t noticed the MagSafe charger issue, will check it out.

That you still have an anti-Apple bias … :wink:

The 4th Thunderbolt / USB-4 USB-C port became the MagSafe port.And since the front part of the laptop is taken over by the battery your ports will be in the back part - and I don’t see any more space there.

“64GB of RAM does not even cost Apple $200”? Says who? Is that a “apples to oranges” comparison? Because that memory is not your standard memory …

Too high for a 3500 MB/s SSD? Sure. But for one that is twice as fast?

Actually, that one I think is due to the EU which mandates that new devices MUST come with a standard USB-C charger …

… and just for the record: not a fan of the notch, but in dark mode it is at least kind of hidden.

It comes with a 140W USB-C power brick and a braided USB-C to MagSafe 3 cable. This provides the fastest charging speeds. You can bring your own USB-C to USB-C cable and charge with a Thunderbolt port at up to 100W. This is enough to run the system, but not fast charge.


The notch is an interesting beast. While it feels like we lost space, we actually gained space. The space below the notch is the same 16:10 we’re used to. This means the menubar now rests inside the newly gained space. Aside from a few apps with excessive menus, this is mostly wasted space anyway.

My issue is the lack of FaceID for such a large notch.


I just want to clarify my concern with the Memory situation.

A 2019 Machine with 16GB of RAM, on boot before loading apps has 8 GB available. It also has a dedicated GPU with 4GB of video RAM.

Once everything is running and has been running for a while, the 4GB GPU memory is close to 80% usage, while Apple shows that it still has 8GB of RAM available.

With unified memory, the GPU is now using the same memory that’s for the OS and applications. So even if it is right that opening apps has not used any memory, I’d still only have 4 GB of RAM available. If I plug in an extra display, the GPU will use even more memory. If I run an application that heavily uses the GPU… Even more memory will disappear.

I complain, because I want Apple to do better. IMHO these machines are much better than the 2016 generation, but there are still things that are unnecessarily frustrating.

Which is similar to what I was suggesting, it appears that TB3 controllers are limited to 2 ports, they must have used one for the new (old) ports and simply not added another controller. As far as port placement, they have 2.5 Trillion Dollars, I am sure if they wanted to, they could come up with a design. 2012 Model had port pushed against the back, 2019 started an inch from the back.

The chips are standard chips and if it costs you or I $200 for 64GB, it costs Apple a lot less for just the chips. Even if it were special memory, I don’t think for one moment that the price would 6x higher than the industry average.
If they labelled the machines as coming with only 12GB of RAM and the price was reasonable to upgrade to 28 GB, or even 60GB, this would NOT be a problem.

Maybe, but why not offer it as an option at purchase time for outside of the EU, or help save the environment by not including a charger, but a coupon for people to choose the one they want.

I want MagSafe, but that means I end up with a charger that I am not going to use, which is a waste. Again it is another thing that Apple could do better, if they wanted to.

note: Thom has suggested I am wrong, hopefully I am.

Unless you use an application which has enough menu items to spill over 40% of the menubar, or want to use an application fullscreen.

Are you sure, I tried to confirm that with Apple’s web site, but I got the impression that it was a USB-C to USB-C cable, with MagSafe being an optional extra (like the iPhone), I do hope that you are correct and I was wrong.

I don’t need the extra space. See the stupidity of the tabs in Safari. The menubar is already too crowded. The notch won’t make it better. For what should I use FaceID on a computer?

I’m looking at my screen as I type. (13inch MBP)
Chrome’s menus already go past the middle of the screen, and my own app has more menus that that.
I can see some posts coming up to ask how to make menus flow around the notch.

I believe that this will be done automatically.

I am sure. Look at the “In the box” section of the tech specs. The power adapter varies based on the processor, but they always have the MagSafe cable.

They aren’t exactly standard chips. They are built into the SoC. This drives up manufacturing complexity, but also means they can achieve much better memory bandwidth because they don’t need to go through another chipset. I expect even the Mac Pro won’t support removable memory unfortunately. The integrated memory is too important to their designs.

Too crowded? It’s a lot of empty space. But FaceID is pretty obvious: unlocking the computer.

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The menubar is full for some apps:

Why should I unlock my computer in the home office? And why shouldn’t I be able to type some characters into the keyboard?

This is a very weird line of thought. You can already unlock with TouchID and with a watch. Neither prevent you from entering your password with a keyboard. Why would FaceID do that? It’d just be another way to unlock your computer.

That app desperately needs to rethink its menubar. Unfortunately, it becomes more and more ignored every year. On Windows, I’m looking for ways to get rid of the menubar entirely. Users just don’t use it. It’s like they don’t see it. Often even when I tell somebody to use X menu, they ask where. It’s like they don’t see it. I’m a fan of good menus, but users just pretend they don’t exist. They don’t exist at all on immobile devices, which is driving a lot of usage habits.

So downsizing the menubar is mostly about putting the functions front-and-center in the main UI itself, where users are actually looking. I mean, this screenshot has a whole menu for Preferences. That surely can be done better.

I’m certain there will be issues with apps running out of menubar space, and I’m not sure how this will work. We’ll find out next week.


Yup, though I expect a Mac Pro to have more than one M processor, and a possible solution might be to make the whole chip exchangable (eg swap a 32 GB one against a 64 GB one).

It might also just have 16 or 32 GB “on board” as a giant cache (similar to fusion drives) but a very fast connection to extra RAM …

New API for getting the “Safe Area”. Apple Developer Documentation

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It has 8 top level entries. Whats wrong with that?
Chrome has 10. Safari has 8.
Numbers has 12.

Thats a bit like saying a car with 4 wheels is suddenly a bad design because Ford decided to stick a coffee table where the driver side front tyre used to be.

I hope - as Sam suggests- that OSX will make menus flow around the notch.
I suspect that people who use apps in full screen mode will be unhappy, because it feels like intentional ‘dead pixels’

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@Sam_Rowlands : didn’t I read somewhere that in full screen mode the app will be below the notch and not flow around it?

Photoshop looks like it will be fun with the notch on a smaller computer like my Air.

To be fair, while I suspect that the Mac OS will “adapt” for the Notch, I’ve seen others saying the same thing. A good question I saw is will the cursor flow around the Notch, or vanish within it?

Like @Beatrix_Willius suggests, it appears that when an application enters full screen, it no longer uses the space where the menubar is. I’m guessing the windowManager will use the new API to offset it. So in fullscreen, you’ll have a thick artificial border at the top. I wonder if they’ll allow that for regular use too?

I have tried to order one, but it’s not available for sale in Taiwan at the moment, they’ll knock a grand off the price (US dollars) for the current 2020 16" MacBook Pro I’m using.

What if you have a lot op status icons? Will they popup on the other side of the notch?

For me the biggest disappointment is the thickness of the MBP. On top it is not very nice looking either.
But I was surprised of the nice pricing. It’s for sure cheaper than before (except the full blown 64GB M1 Max which is +6000usd). :slight_smile:

Hm… can the developer decide what to do for the notch?

See Apple Developer Documentation

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This actually made me happy!
In that we may finally have a MacBook Pro that doesn’t need to throttle. I am very interested in the rumored High Performance Mode, which if true should allow for more single-core performance from the M1 series processor! Which would make it even faster than the current Air, Mini, iMac or 13" Pro for everything, not just correctly multi-threaded apps.

One thing for sure is that multi-core processing really is key to getting most performance, but it has to be done right.

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