The MacBook Pro 14” M1 Pro is my very first personal Apple laptop. The MacBook Pro that I have spec’d out has a 10-core M1 Pro CPU, 16-core GPU and 16-core neural engine; 32GB of unified memory and 1 TB of SSD storage.
I was always going to go with the M1 Pro as from what I read, the M1 Max had the same CPU but a much more powerful GPU. As someone who has no real need for a more powerful GPU, the M1 Max was completely unnecessary. Plus there were several videos that I saw where benchmarks of the M1 Max GPU was not reaching its full potential and being throttled. Not to mention there was always going to be a greater chance the laptop fans would spin up and the laptop getting hotter to the touch.
The size choice was also something I agonized a little about originally. My current work laptop is a 15’’ MacBook Pro and that is a little too large to use when on the train and on the lap when on the couch. The 16’’ with the bulky design while probably having better thermal performance than the 14’’ was going to be just as annoying to use when not at table and may be a little too heavy. The 14’’ seemed like the right balance between performance and portability.
Aesthetically I like the space grey colour, with the black keycaps and black keyboard inlay. The thicker body of the laptop is also something that I like because it means the thermal performance is going to be better even if it comes at the cost of size and weight. I always prefer function over form and the last couple of Apple laptops have favoured form over function. Having a good number of ports available to me is a nice addition too. As someone who has used Windows or Unix laptops exclusively in the past, I was never short on ports.
The keyboard is one of the better keyboards I have used on a laptop and is on par with my Surface Book. My 15’’ has the butterfly key switches and they are just way too loud, have very poor key travel and is just an uncomfortable typing experience for long periods. The tactile feedback and key travel for me is also near perfect for the 14’’. Having full sized function keys is great and the touch ID button on the top right is perfect. The trackpad as usual is near perfect as with all Apple MacBook laptops. The exclusion of the touch bar is also something that pleases me.
I thought that the notch would be annoying or hard to get used to, but I barely notice it. I have not installed software to “hide” the notch and I don’t exclusively use dark mode, so it is not hidden throughout the day. The menu items for the apps that I use has also not been an issue causing odd overflow problems either. Perhaps I will find an app that will cause problems but for now the notch is a non-issue. Do I think it could have been smaller? Yes, especially because there is no FaceID built it. The notch reminds me a little of the Pixel 3 XL.
I have not really used the speakers much on this device yet as it is not primarily used to consume media, but from the videos and music/podcasts that I have listened to, it has been fine. I know the 16’’ has larger and even better speakers but the 14’’ is entirely acceptable and much better than any Windows laptop I have had in the past, including my Surface products. Apple seems to always have the best sound producing laptops on the market.
The display is also pretty good. The colours seem to be accurate enough; I don’t do any photo or video editing, so I really don’t need anything too perfect. Having a “high” refresh rate screen is also a bonus. I think that the screen is comparable to any other high priced or tiered Windows laptop though. With the M1 Pro chipset I can also have more than one external display so that is a nice addition to have.
Now on to macOS. As someone who has primarily used Windows but macOS for work, the transition has not been too difficult. I do miss not being able to natively snap windows to the left and right and a couple of other Windows nice to haves. Having Unix running under the hood instead of having to run Windows Subsystem for Linux is a bonus, especially as a developer. Regarding battery life and performance, it is impressive. I never hear the fans running, the laptop never gets hot, and I really don’t need to charge it. So, kudos to the Apple engineers to build a chip that performs so well, does not crumble and throttle under pressure and get hot to the touch (unlike my 15’’ MacBook Pro).
I have run into some small issues with macOS though. One of my biggest annoyances is updating any app from the App Store. It is painfully and confusingly slow. I have a 100 Mb/s download and when I do a speed test, I get that, however updating an app through the App Store that is several MB in size takes way too long. I am not too sure how to resolve this issue.
If you are in the market for a high priced yet very high-quality laptop then the MacBook Pro 14’’ M1 Pro is a great choice (if you can find it in stock or are willing to wait for shipping). With the performance being so good, you may not need it all and the M1 may be the better choice. So, before you commit to spending so much cash on the 14’’ consider the M1 options.