Do You Really Need the New MacBook Pro?

Probably not, but don’t let that stop you

Key Takeaways

  • The new MacBook Pro is like a Mac nerd’s wishlist.
  • The chips are impressive, but the rest of the machine is even better. 
  • At $2,000, the entry-level 14-inch model is a bargain.
MacBook Pro 16-inch

Apple

Apple’s new MacBook Pro is—as Apple’s keynote speakers on Monday never tired of repeating—the best MacBook ever. But is it right for you?

The new MacBook Pro is just incredible. Over the past year, rumors about the pro Apple Silicon laptop have seemed more like wishcasting than credible leaks. And yet they all came true. From the slim-bezel, micro-LED-backed screen, to an HDMI port and SD card slot, a massive 64GB RAM capacity, and the triumphant return of the MagSafe charger—it seems like Apple has shaken off its obsession with minimalism. The computer is impressive. But is it right for you?

“For the first time in five years, the MacBook Pro looks like it was designed by and for people who love computers,” says Apple-centric app developer Marco Arment on Twitter

The Price is… Right?

MacBook Pro 16-inch keyboard

Apple

Though $2,000 for a laptop is steep, if you consider what you’re getting, it’s a pretty good price. This article isn’t going to focus on the details of the specs, but if you’re looking for a Windows laptop that has this kind of power, battery life, and slim body, with this quality of display, for $2,000, then good luck.

Even the basic model looks useful. Usually Apple’s entry-level devices are lacking in storage or RAM, or both. The cheapest 14-inch MacBook Pro comes with 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD for storage. That’s passable, although 1TB is probably more realistic for most pro users. 

Even the top-of-the-line version, the 16-inch model with every option maxed out, is just over $6,000. Crazy money for you and me perhaps, but for people who really need the power, that’s more than acceptable.

But the big question is, do you need all that power?

What About The Air?

MacBook Pro ports - SD, Thunderbolt, HDMI

Apple

In Apple-speak, “pro” just means fancy and expensive. Except now, the new MacBook Pro is actually pro. Most people, even those of us who do fairly intensive video editing, music production, or coding, can do it on the MacBook Air. The M1 Max and M1 Pro chips in the MacBooks Pro are way more powerful that most of us need. 

And yet the Pros are so much more. They now have SD card slots for camera or audio files, or for adding extra storage space. The HDMI port means one less dongle for the office projector. And the MagSafe, with its colored LED status light, is just great. 

And then there’s the screen, super bright and great for everything including watching Netflix with 120Hz Pro Motion. The speaker system in the old 16-inch MacBook Pro was impressive, so the new one should be excellent. 

The thing is, once you start to customize the MacBook Air to reach the basic specs of the Pro—storage and RAM—the prices are temptingly close. Probably by design. A 16GB, 1TB Air costs $1,649. That’s close enough to the $1,999 MacBook Pro to make one think twice. 

Downsides?

Macbook Pro with notch

Apple

There’s not much not to like about the new machines, although there’s always something.

“It’s funny that the marketing page doesn’t show the notch at all until halfway down,” iOS app developer and designer Graham Bower told Lifewire via direct message. “Which is very telling considering how they’d normally want to show off how thin that top bezel is.”

In practice, the notch won’t be any more annoying than it is on the iPhone, especially as it’s up in the menu bar. But there are some other considerations that might make you pick the MacBook Air instead. 

One is weight. The Pro is heavier and thicker than the Air (3.5 pounds or 4.7 pounds to the Air’s 2.8 pounds). Another is battery life. The Air bests the smaller Pro with 18 hours against 17 hours (although the giant 16-incher manages 21 hours). 

But really, there are very few downsides. It might have been nice to have a cellular option like the iPad, or a wide FaceTime camera with Center Stage, but really, almost everything here is outstanding. 

The only question is, how long will it take for all these new features to come to the MacBook Air?

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