What’s All the Fuss About Apple’s M1X MacBook Pro?

It’s going to be really, really fast

Key Takeaways

  • On Monday, Apple is expected to announce the new Apple Silicon-based MacBook Pro.
  • It will have a new look, like the iPhones 12 and 13 and the iPad Pro. 
  • The chip might not be called the M1X, but it will be based on the M1.
A conceptual mockup of the Apple M1X MacBook Pro.

Apple Tomorrow / #HereFromTomorrow

On Monday, Apple will show the next step in the evolution of its Apple Silicon Macs with the "M1X" MacBook Pro. What does it all mean, and will you want one?

Although nothing is yet official, we expect Apple to launch its widely rumored 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros at Monday's Unleashed event, along with (possibly) an upgraded Mac mini and a big-screen iMac Pro. Many—perhaps all—details of the MacBook already have leaked, as we shall see in a moment, but one detail remains a mystery: What is the M1X?

"I'm very excited about the rumors that there will be two versions of the new M1X chip. One with a 16 core GPU and one with a 32 core GPU," Dan Alder, editor-in-chief at gaming PC site Levvvel, told Lifewire via email.

The Deets

Based on countless rumors and leaks, we have a pretty good idea about the design of the new MacBook Pros. They will be the first laptops Apple has designed from scratch for the Apple Silicon chips, which means they can take advantage of the low power and cooling requirements. The current M1 MacBooks Air and Pro are pretty much just the old Intel-based designs with new innards. 

The case will likely follow the slab-like, flat-edged convention of the iPad Pro, the iPhones 12 and 13, and the M1 iMac. And that case also will sport more varied ports than the current USB-C-only MacBooks.

The smart money says that we'll see an SD card slot, an HDMI port for projectors, and even a MagSafe charging port—although presumably, you'll still be able to charge via the USB-C ports and perhaps send data through the MagSafe charger like you can on the iMac. 

And about those USB-C ports. Some of the current M1 Macs have four USB ports, but they sprout from two Thunderbolt busses inside. Ideally, a pro machine should have one dedicated Thunderbolt bus per port for maximum data transfer. But there's more.

"Personally, I'm looking forward to the 1080p webcam because I do a lot of video chats and remote conferencing. Having a better webcam will aid my professional life and allow me to better adapt to the remote working environment," MacBook Pro user, tech enthusiast, and software blogger Jessica Carrell told Lifewire via email. 

The M1 iMac got a much-improved webcam, but it was the same hardware unit, enhanced with the image processing tools Apple uses for the iPhone. 

"I'm also happy to see that the MagSafe charging system is back in action. I wasn't a fan of the USB-C style charging point and think that mag-safe design is much better. The removal of the touch bar is also a welcomed change as I never used or enjoyed that feature," says Carrell.

"I'm very excited about the rumors that there will be two versions of the new M1X chip. One with a 16 core GPU and one with a 32 core GPU."


The real mystery here, though, and the reason people are excited about these new MacBooks Pro, is the M1X system-on-a-chip (SoC) that powers them. It's expected to be fast—even the event's name implies speed—and offer a lot more memory than the maximum 16GB RAM in the current M1 lineup. 

But what does M1X mean, exactly?

First, M1X is just a made-up term, not ever used by Apple in (public at least). Previously., Apple has used an X to denote a more powerful version of its A-series iPhone chips.

The A12X Bionic SoC in the 2018 iPad Pro was a variant on that year's A12 iPhone chip. It packed in billions more transistors and had more CPU and GPU cores than the simpler A12. 

In practice, that chip was so absurdly powerful that Apple used it in the next iPad Pro two years later (only adding one GPU core and calling it the A12Z instead).

So, the M1X label assumes that Apple will take the M1 and add extra CPU and GPU cores and more RAM capacity.

A conceptual mockup of the Apple M1X MacBook Pro.

Apple Tomorrow / #HereFromTomorrow

But there are some logical problems here. One is that the chip that Apple calls the M1 also could have been called the A14X. It is, after all, the 2020 A14 chip with added cores, etc., which would make the M1X the M1XX. 

The M1X label also assumes that Apple will use that 2020 chip architecture and not move to this year's A15. That could happen, but so far, the rumors and supply-chain analysis point to an M1-based system.

We'll only know for sure on Monday morning when Apple announces the lineup. It's a pretty exciting time to be a Mac user.

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