Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro (M1 Max, late 2021) review: Apple supercharges its flagship laptop


The 2021 sixteen-inch MacBook Pro operates on 2nd-generation Apple Silicon chips: M1 Pro (ten-core CPU, sixteen-core GPU) or M1 Max (ten-core CPU, 32-core GPU).

Image: Apple

Apple’s final decision to abandon Intel processors and move the Mac system to its dwelling-grown Apple Silicon was greeted with some worry by lots of Mac end users — worry that was allayed by the initial generation of Macs using Apple’s M1 chip, which merged robust overall performance and extraordinary battery daily life.  

Nevertheless, it was clear that these initial-generation M1 Macs, introduced in late 2020, were being aimed at mainstream end users, and Apple ongoing to provide Intel-dependent MacBook Pro and Mac Pro versions for its more demanding qualified end users. The arrival of the 2nd wave of M1 Macs is, hence, a essential obstacle for Apple, as it requires to prove that its new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips can deliver the overall performance that its qualified end users have to have.  

It is a obstacle that Apple appears to be to have relished, as the new 16-inch MacBook Pro provides an extraordinary — if high-priced — enhance for present owners.


  • Outstanding CPU and GPU overall performance
  • Impressive battery daily life
  • Remarkable Liquid Retina Exhibit
  • Enhanced connectivity, keyboard and webcam

Never Like

  • High-priced
  • Minimal enhance options
  • Marginally heavier than its predecessor

Design and style & features 

At initial glance, the new MacBook Pro would not search substantially distinctive from its Intel-dependent predecessor, which was previous up-to-date in late 2019. Nevertheless, nearer examination reveals some important distinctions, beginning with Apple’s final decision to abandon the unloved Contact Bar. This has been changed by a more regular row of physical perform keys (now you can find innovation for you), which include a a great deal larger sized Escape crucial, which is a welcome depth. The entire keyboard has also been up-to-date, with “mechanical keys that pro end users like” and which do, luckily, travel very well and truly feel firm when typing.  


Look, no Contact Bar. The new Magic Keyboard has a row of physical Function keys, which include an more-big Esc crucial.

Image: Apple

An additional depth, which hasn’t been a great deal commented upon, is the slight maximize in display dimensions for the Liquid Retina Exhibit, which suggests that, to be precise, this is essentially the sixteen.2-inch MacBook Pro. This does suggests that the new MacBook Pro is slightly larger sized and heavier, measuring sixteen.8mm thick, 355mm large and 248mm deep (.66in. x 14.01in. x 9.77in.), and weighing either 2.1kg (four.7lbs) with the M1 Pro chip, or 2.2kg (four.8lbs) for the M1 Max model reviewed below. That compares with sixteen.2mm thick, 350mm large and 246mm deep, and a body weight of 2.0kg for the Intel-dependent 2019 product (.64in. x 13.78in. x 9.68in., four.4lbs).  

SEE: MacBook Pro start: Items you may well have skipped

Even so, which is even now a superior body weight for this kind of a big laptop computer, and lots of qualified end users will welcome the new Liquid Retina XDR Exhibit and its maximize in resolution from 3072 by 1920 (226ppi) to 3456 by 2234 (254ppi). The display screen also supports XDR with a thousand nits sustained brightness (peak brightness of 1600 nits), a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio and Apple’s Promotion characteristic, which will allow the refresh fee to fluctuate dynamically concerning 47.95Hz and 120Hz dependent on the written content currently being displayed. 


Controls for the sixteen.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR Exhibit (3456 x 2234, 254ppi).

Photos: Cliff Joseph / ZDNet

The Liquid Retina Exhibit also supports a selection of colour expectations, which include the sRGB for world wide web graphics and style and design and DCI-P3 for video clip-editing operate, and you can find even a useful pull-down menu in the Exhibit Preferences panel that will allow you to immediately find the essential colour typical for distinctive duties. Pointless to say, the display screen is impressively vivid, sharp and vibrant when seen with the naked eye, but it is really the specialized good quality of the display screen that will have lots of qualified and artistic end users eagerly eyeing the new MacBook Pro as their foreseeable future cell workstation. 


The MagSafe three ability connector would make a welcome return.

Image: Apple

Apple is addressing the requires of pro end users in other regions too. As very well as returning to regular Function keys, the 2021 MacBook Pro sees the return of Apple’s MagSafe ability connector, with its effortlessly removable magnetic connector which is built to eliminate accidents when individuals vacation more than the ability cable.  

Apple also offers that the MacBook Pro provides “the most sophisticated connectivity at any time”. Mind you, which is not a great deal of a boast, offered Apple’s regular reliance on USB-C as the sole interface solution on the MacBook variety. In contrast, this new product is awash in ports and connectors, which include three USB-C/Thunderbolt four ports, HDMI, three.5mm headphone jack, and even a slot for SDXC cards. The FaceTime digital camera, which now lives in a notch within just the sixteen.2-inch display, will get a extensive-overdue enhance to 1080p, but you can find no physical privateness go over.

SEE: Apple lastly admits it designed a blunder and backtracks on three silly MacBook Pro style and design choices

It is about time, of system, but at minimum Apple is acknowledging that it requires to concentrate a tiny more on perform, fairly than type, for a improve. It even provides a fairly simple solution for battery substitute, as uncovered by the latest tear-down conducted by the brave souls at iFixit. 


Connectors on the 2021 sixteen-inch MacBook Pro: MagSafe three, 2x USB-C/Thunderbolt four, three.5mm headphone jack (still left aspect) SDXC reader, USB-C/Thunderbolt four, HDMI (right aspect).

Image: Apple

Selling price & options 

Pointless to say, you can find a price tag to all these new and enhanced functions. As usually, Apple provides three typical configurations in its online retailer, with the new sixteen-inch MacBook Pro beginning at $2,499 (£2,399 inc. VAT) with an M1 Pro chip that provides ten CPU cores and sixteen GPU cores, together with 16GB of ‘unified’ memory which is created into the SoC, and 512GB of strong-point out storage.  

The up coming stage up only doubles the storage to 1TB for an supplemental $200/£200, but we were being capable to evaluation the leading-of-the-variety off-the-shelf configuration with the M1 Max chip. The M1 Max has the very same ten CPU cores, but doubles the GPU to 32 cores, and features 32GB of on-chip RAM and a 1TB SSD for a complete selling price of $three,499 (£3,299 inc. VAT). 

Further enhance options make it possible for you to maximize the memory to 64GB for a significant $four hundred/£400, and increase up to 8TB of SSD storage (+$2,200/£2,200), for a leading selling price of $six,099 (£5,899 inc. VAT). To be honest, which is not out of line with similar significant-end cell workstations, this kind of as Dell’s Precision 5750, but it does suggest that a maxed-out MacBook Pro really requires to receive its retain. 

Functionality & battery life 

The unified style and design of Apple’s M1 chip — with CPU and GPU cores merged in a solitary SoC — raised concerns about its capability to compete with Intel-dependent PCs that can supply a discrete GPU to increase graphics overall performance. That question wasn’t really answered by the initial wave of M1 Macs, but it appears to be like the M1 Pro and M1 Max are capable to supply a really emphatic response. 

Benchmark testing for M1 Macs is even now a tiny tricky, as so couple of benchmark applications now supply native versions for Apple Silicon processors. Nevertheless, the Geekbench 5 suite was just one of the initial, and the M1 Max in our evaluation device scored 1790 in its solitary-core checks, and 12780 for multi-core overall performance. That compares with 1290 for solitary core and 7600 multi-core overall performance from Dell’s Core i9-run seventeen-inch Precision 5750. 


Chart: ZDNet

It is also exciting to look at the M1 Max with the initial-generation M1 employed in the lately updated 24-inch iMac, which scored 1745 (solitary core) and 7700 (multi core). Nevertheless, the iMac only scored 22000 in the Geekbench five Compute test for GPU overall performance, and is still left trailing by the M1 Max in the sixteen-inch MacBook Pro, which breezes ahead to 64950. 


Chart: ZDNet

Our usual Unigine Valley test for 3D graphics overall performance would not run reliably on the M1 chips — not even using Apple’s Rosetta engineering. Nevertheless, the iOS model of 3DMark Wildlife Extreme is now M1-appropriate, and our M1 Max chip achieved an extraordinary 121 frames per 2nd in the benchmark’s 4K ‘Extreme’ manner. 

Apple’s declare that the new MacBook Pro provides overall performance that was “beforehand unimaginable on a laptop computer” is regular hyperbole, and there are lots of sites that are now crunching the numbers to look at the M1 Pro and M1 Max to Nvidia’s most current GPUs. But the essential position for Apple is that the M1 Pro and M1 Max really do supply a robust enhance for Apple’s present foundation of qualified and artistic end users. 

There is battery daily life to contemplate too, of system, and this is progressively beginning to search like Apple’s ace-in-the-gap for laptops and cell products. Working with the MacBook’s automated ability balancing functions, and with the display brightness established to 50 %, we were being capable to stream entire-display video clip from the BBC iPlayer for 11 hours and forty two minutes. That is unheard-of from a laptop computer with this kind of a big, significant-resolution display screen, with rivals this kind of as the Dell Precision 5750 only taking care of just more than 7 hours. Of system, battery overall performance will fluctuate when managing more demanding graphics and video clip computer software, but the new MacBook Pro really does search as while it can supply workstation ranges of overall performance, merged with all-working day battery daily life. 


Image: Apple


The new sixteen-inch MacBook Pro is high-priced, but the leading-end M1 Max chip proves that Apple Silicon can truly go toe-to-toe with the most highly effective cell workstations obtainable from rival Laptop brands. It also provides these more tiny Apple touches to the desk, this kind of as the outstanding Liquid Retina XDR Exhibit for significant-end graphics and video clip operate, and the laptop’s smooth, slimline style and design. And, of system, you can find the extraordinary battery daily life, which really throws down the gauntlet for Apple’s Windows rivals. All of this indicates that Apple is lastly concentrating on the requires of its qualified end users when more. 

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