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HomeLaptops/Tablets14″ Apple MacBook Review : Only For Professionals | Tech Reviews

14″ Apple MacBook Review : Only For Professionals | Tech Reviews

14″ Apple MacBook: Only For Professionals | Tech Reviews

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Mini-LED display, M1-Pro, MagSafe, more ports – Apple has trimmed the 14″ MacBook Pro for productivity in every respect. The price for this is the loss of a style icon.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Display
  • Keyboard
  • Speaker
  • Trackpad
Cons
  • Design

The MacBook Pro’s design hasn’t changed since 2015. Back then, all ports that weren’t USB-C/Thunderbolt were dropped. From that moment on, the MacBook Pro was pure understatement and it would be years before the Windows world would see a comparable machine.

The revised 14″ version sacrifices that simple elegance in favor of a more practical approach. More ports, better cooling, prettier display, an SD card reader. But was it really worth sacrificing one of the most beautiful notebooks of all time?

For our test, we didn’t choose the 10-core version of the M1 Pro that Apple advertised, but the version one size smaller. With 8 CPU cores, this mini-LED version of the MacBook Pro has the same number of cores as the “old” MacBook Pro with M1. With graphics and neural engine, however, significantly more. Let’s hope it was worth it.

Display 14.2″(35,97 cm) Liquid Retina XDR Display (Mini-LED)
120Hz
Resolution 3024 x 1964px (254 ppi)
Processor Apple M1 Pro Chip with 16‑Core Neural Engine 

  • 8‑Core CPU – 14‑Core GPU
  • 10‑Core CPU – 14‑Core GPU
  • 10‑Core CPU – 16‑Core GPU
  • 10‑Core CPU und 24‑Core GPU (M1 Max)
  • 10‑Core CPU und 32‑Core GPU (M1 Max)
Graphics Integrated graphics processor
RAM 16GB
32GB (M1 Pro or M1 Max)
64GB (M1 Max)
Hard Disk 512 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB, 4 TB or 8 TB
Connectivity WLAN 802.11ax WLAN 6, (802.11a/b/g/n/ac)
Bluetooth 5.0
Ports
  • SDXC card reader
  • HDMI 2.0
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • MagSafe 3 connector
  • 3x Thunderbolt 4 (USB‑C) included
    • Load
    • DisplayPort
    • Thunderbolt 4 (up to 40Gbps)
    • USB 4 (up to 40Gbps)
Battery Lithium polymer battery with 70 watt hours,
charged via 67 or 96W charger
Input Devices
  • 79 (including 12 function keys) full size + 4 arrow keys
  • Touch ID
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Force Touch Trackpad
Sound 6-speaker system with force-balanced woofers
Camera 1080p FaceTime HD Camera
OS macOS 12 – Monterey
Dimensions 1.55 x 31.26 x 22.12 cm
Weight 1.6 kg

 

Design is a matter of taste

OK, honestly? The new MacBook Pro is chunkier and more Frankenstein than its predecessors. This substructure under the chassis looks like someone realized afterwards that they still need space for cooling, but the cases were already finished and so they just glued something on.

In general, the transitions on the sides have become more angular, but not enough that it corresponds to the design of the current iPhone lineup – somehow half-baked and just not sexy. I know Apple wants to pay homage to the Powerbook here, but it just isn’t sexy. In case this isn’t 100% clear by now, I’m not a fan of the new MacBook Pro design and I never thought I’d wish for Jony Ive to return.

At least the display lid can still be opened with one hand. When that is opened, the inner workings of the MacBook Pro also come to life and the display shines in all its glory and reveals the view – of the cut-out at the top edge. Oh yes, there was something. The MacBook Pro now has a notch. I think I need a drink.

I’m very forgiving when it comes to design, at least when it serves a higher purpose or enables a new feature, but this notch is a visual insult to justify a 1080p camera. It also doesn’t matter whether Face ID comes to Macs next year or not. If I buy a new MacBook Pro now, I’ll have to live with this thing on the display for years to come. After a few minutes of use, my brain will blank it out, but that doesn’t change the fact that it shouldn’t be there in the first place.

Input devices are (mostly) perfect

Let’s get to some good news – the 14-inch MacBook Pro’s trackpad is as awesome as it’s always been. It’s gigantic, precise and just a dream to use. From simple gesture controls to haptic feedback, it just works perfectly. The fact that it clicks evenly everywhere is an example of how the MacBook Pro doesn’t get in the way of you getting your work done. He just does what you want him to do.

The keyboard is still very good and provides great feedback thanks to the precise pressure point, thanks to which even long texts are very easy to read. What is new, however, is the row of function keys that replace the touch bar. I wasn’t a fan of the touch bar, but it wasn’t really annoying either. The new function keys are full-height instead of half-height like many other notebooks. This takes some getting used to at first, but serves its purpose of fast and precise control.

Since Apple really wanted to go back to the design of the PowerBook, there is also a black background for black keys and I’m not a fan of that. The lack of contrast is very irritating and so I actually had problems typing at first.

The new 1080p webcam, on the other hand, is convincing across the board. After years of muddy 720p webcams in MacBooks, the 14″ MacBook Pro finally has a very good webcam for video conferencing in Apple’s notebook lineup. The software tends to “smooth” your face, but the result is still impressive and you no longer need an external webcam for the next video call.

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Finally, a few words about the microphones – they are great. Apple says they’re the same studio mics found in the big 16-inch MacBook Pro. I wouldn’t call them really studio mics, but having a video call and being heard very well is a very easy task for the mics on the 14″ MacBook Pro. However, please do not type any notes during the meeting. This is very loud and disruptive on the other side of the call.

Connections only appear to be a further development at first glance

That was one of the big issues with the 14″ MacBook Pro – finally more connections again. Instead of four Thunderbolt ports (in the case of Intel) or two Thunderbolt ports (M1), the new MacBook Pro comes with three Thunderbolt ports, an HDMI port, a card reader and a 3.5mm jack connection.

As much as I’m happy about the HDMI port for easy presentations, it’s only HDMI 2.0. Accordingly, 3840 × 2160p at 60 Hz is the maximum. So this HDMI port is really more suitable for that – presentations. You don’t really get a 4K gaming display with a high frame rate. That’s not the end of the world, but for a notebook that can cost up to €6,700, that feels a bit “stingy”.

The return of MagSafe actually came as a surprise. As a charging port, it can pump up to 96W into the 14″ MacBook Pro. The matching power supply costs extra. From the factory it is 67 watts via MagSafe. So like the predecessor, which provided almost 70 watts via Type-C. Unlike MagSafe, however, the Type-C could also charge other devices. This is actually a big problem in my household. The M1-MacBook Pro charger is used for almost everything. My girlfriend’s Mac, PlayStation controller, power banks, headsets, smartphone and more.

Beyond the loss of everyday comfort, MagSafe works well. If you (or your pet) get caught on the MacBook Pro charging cable, it will detach from the magnetic holder on the MacBook Pro. In the best case, it doesn’t fly off the table. The more jerky the load on the cable, the better it is. If you pull the cable slowly, your new MacBook Pro can still slide off the table. So cat owners should be careful. If necessary, the MacBook can also be charged via one of the three Type-C ports.

I am actually most happy about the 3.5mm jack connection. Not because it’s still around, unlike the iPhone, but because it’s also compatible with high-impedance headphones. With headsets up to 150 ohms, the headphone jack offers up to 1.25 volts RMS. For headphones between 150 and 1000 ohms it is 3 volts RMS. So some pro users can use their high-quality headsets without a repeater – but possibly not at maximum volume.

Impedance is of course only one factor in good headphones. A precise statement on efficiency would be better. A 50 ohm headphone with a sensitivity (efficiency) of 94dB, for example, needs significantly more juice than 300 ohm headphone with a sensitivity of 98dB. Or to put it even more simply, just because something works doesn’t mean it sounds good.

The new display is fantastic – after a calibration

Mini-LED is a word that triggers very different emotions in our editorial department. Some demonize it as a marketing buzzword meant to mislead end users, while others see it as a nice advancement in LCD technology. I tend to belong to the latter group.

Thanks to many local dimming zones, images and videos appear livelier and sharper. If you have appropriate HDR content, the screen can even reach up to 1600 nits. This makes media consumption a real pleasure. In general, you can expect more mini-LED displays in notebooks and monitors in the future. Many manufacturers presented devices with corresponding panels at CES 2022.

Since the MacBook Pro has also been the preferred working device for graphic designers for years, we naturally also take a closer look at the colors, especially the color space coverage.

The display of the 14″ MacBook Pro creates up to 1600 nits of brightness when you feed it with HDR content. Under normal circumstances in closed rooms, however, it is just under 400 nits. If you point an LED spotlight at the display (or work in the sun in summer), the display can reach 500 nits. That’s good, but apart from the short boost to 1600 nits, the old IPS panel of the predecessor also manages all that. The more the display increases the brightness, the greater the deviations in the even illumination.

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Finally, a few words about the Hz number of the 14″ MacBook Pro. 120Hz is also a dream away from gaming. Without gaming, however, it is less noticeable. It’s more of a subliminal feature, as folders and files move around a little more smoothly. A feature that you only miss once you have had it.

macOS as software hardly changes anymore

The Mac computer operating system has existed since 1984 and, like Windows, has evolved over the years. Sometimes with bigger jumps and sometimes with smaller ones. In the latest version – macOS Monterey – the jumps are rather small.

After intensive use I cannot report any major problems. Of course there are always little quibbles, but in 99% of the cases the latest macOS version currently runs smoothly and without errors. The same still applies to Rosetta 2.

This little piece of magical software makes older x86 programs run on Apple Silicon’s arm architecture, and it’s still as unobtrusive as it gets. The first time you install a non-native application, you’ll be asked once if you want to install Rosetta 2, and then you’ll never see or hear it again. The emulation still costs resources, but in the case of the MacBook they are really limited. I can almost forgive that Adobe is still not completely finished with its Creative Cloud adaptation.

Only slightly better on paper, significantly better in practice

For this test, I specifically wanted the smallest version of the M1 Pro to see how it compares to the regular M1 from the 13″ MacBook Pro, and one thing is immediately clear: Apple has the 14″ MacBook Pro along with the M1 Pro for designed a clear target group – Pros.

During the presentation, Apple always spoke of the M1 Pro as a SoC with 10 CPU cores. But you also have the option of getting the M1 Pro with 8 cores. Then it has as many CPU cores as the “old” M1. The CPU is less noticeable in everyday use. The M1 is alone on the level of an 11th generation Intel i7 (Tiger Lake) and accordingly tasks such as surfing, e-mails and co are child’s play. The small M1 Pro then reveals its magic under load in the 14″ MacBook Pro.

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We have a video render of a 30 second video with various clips, effects, color correction and more. We pull that out in every notebook test. It’s always the same 4K source files and it’s always the same version of the program (DaVinci Resolve). Therefore, the results are at least comparable within the platform. The M1 needs about 1.5 minutes for this 4K render – the “small” M1 Pro only 51 seconds. From another world, an AMD Ryzen 5800H with Nvidia RTX 3070 takes 49 seconds for the same render. That’s very impressive for a SoC without a dedicated graphics card

A similar picture can also be seen in other programs that benefit greatly from many cores. Code compilation, video editing – this is where the Neural Engine of the M1 Pro shows what it can do. Now I’m curious how long the M1 Pro Max takes for our render. With standard programs such as browsers and co, you have no added value from the M1 Pro compared to the normal M1. The single core performance is identical to the M1 SoC (+0.9%). This makes the M1 Pro in the 14″ MacBook Pro a CPU for professional users and no longer for hobby photographers and copywriters. They don’t benefit from the multi-core performance of the M1 Pro in their programs.

The battery is great

I’ll just start this paragraph with a number – over 22 hours. That’s the battery life you can get out of the 14″ MacBook Pro. That’s almost ridiculously long battery life for a notebook – especially considering the sheer power of the M1 Pro processor. That number requires a few compromises, though. You have to turn the display brightness down to 1/3, don’t run any heavy applications and use a native app.

In normal everyday life with half the display brightness and a colorful mixture of two browsers, Adobe products and the usual Office programs from Microsoft, my real battery life was more in the range of 18-19 hours. Of course, if you push the hardware hard, the battery life will be reduced. But if I ever had to go back to the office, I’d probably leave the charger and new sheathed charging cable at home.

I never heard the fans

On paper, the 14″ MacBook Pro has two fans installed. I say “on paper” because I’ve only managed to get these fans to come on under the most severe conditions. It’s impressive how well the thermal management is with Apple Silicon – especially compared to Intel versions of the past.

Even when the fans do kick in, they’re little more than a whisper and you have to press your ear to the keyboard to hear it. Even a minimal background noise is louder. If you work in an office or have soft music playing, that’s enough. For people who are sensitive to noise, the 14″ MacBook Pro is a blessing. For everyone else: What’s wrong with you?

Upgrading is a thing of the past with the MacBook Pro

On the bottom of the MacBook Pro are eight of those well-known and hated pentalobe screws. Once these are loosened, the base plate can be easily removed with an old plastic card. Underneath, the inner workings of the MacBook Pro are revealed.

There’s not much you can do here other than cleaning the fans, and you should be aware of that. CPU, RAM, Neural Engine, GPU, etc. are one entity in Apple Silicon. Hence the enormous performance – no caching in the main memory. For you, this also means that you have to think very carefully before you buy what performance you need today and what you need in three years. You cannot change anything afterwards. But that’s basically been the case since the Intel days with the MacBook Pro.

When it comes to sound, nobody can beat Apple

In this area, Apple is ahead of all other manufacturers and is actually only surpassed by itself. MacBook speakers sound loud, full and big. You can fill a conference room with 10 people without any problems. That was already the case with the 13″ M1 MacBook Pro. There was practically only the 16″ MBP above it.

With the new generation, Apple is going one better. The 14″ MacBook Pro sounds even better without causing vibrations in the case because the woofers on both sides balance each other out. This makes the MacBook Pro also perfect for Netflix and other media consumption. It doesn’t replace a very good headset or sound system, but for a notebook, it’s in a class of its own.

Conclusion on the 14″ MacBook Pro: Only for pros

In the end, I have a kind of love-hate relationship with the 14″ MacBook Pro. I love that Apple is again focusing more on the “Pro” in the name and just aligning everything with it. The display is to die for after a light calibration, the SD card reader eliminates an annoying dongle, the trackpad, keyboard, microphones and speakers are in a class of their own, and the CPU speeds up work-intensive programs significantly.

On the other hand, the 14″ MacBook Pro is a notebook that I simply don’t like touching and looking at. That may not matter too much to you on a work machine, but there’s nothing wrong with mourning the death of a style icon. Anyone who misses the slim, minimalist design of the 13″ MacBook Pro should say the following: There is always a new design language – even at Apple.

If you have now decided to buy a 14″ MacBook Pro, but are struggling with the right configuration, I will give you my view of things here. 16GB RAM is probably not enough for such a machine. If you think you can get by with 16GB of RAM, the 13″ MacBook Pro might be better for you – 32GB should be it (+460€). With the SSD, you know best how much you need.

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As far as the processor is concerned, I would tend towards the 10 cores (16 GPU cores) of the M1 Pro (+270€). For the simple reason that you will probably be using this laptop for a longer period of time and then the performance should also be appropriate in three to five years. With 2TB storage (+460€) we are priced at 3,600-3,700€. For a notebook that will run under load every day for four years without any problems, €75 per month is not a bad value. Especially not when you can bill your customers indirectly for it.

Hocainehttps://fadvices.com
A full time tech enthusiast with a passion for writing. Religiously follow everything new happening in the tech world and share my two cents with my audience here.
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