Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch M1 Pro review: productivity on the go

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Aina Martin
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Apple completes its range of MacBook Pro with an unprecedented 14-inch version equipped with the M1 Pro processor. A double advantage for this laptop which will take advantage of Apple's CPU to grant performance and autonomy at the top.

Presentation



First apparent sign of the MacBook Pro 14, its black keyboard. © TechnologiesTips


The MacBook Pro 14 completes the range of laptops dedicated to professionals and creatives, which now ranges from 13 to 16 inches. Apple segments its offer not only according to the size of the screen, but also from now on the integrated Silicon processor. Thus, the original M1 is reserved for the 13-inch version, while the new M1 Pro and M1 Max can be chosen on the 14 and 16-inch versions. We invite you to discover the test of the MacBook Pro 14 and its M1 Pro in its most muscular version, equipped with 10 CPU cores and 16 GPU cores.



Construction

Apple has not revolutionized the chassis of its MacBook Pro, now well identified and statutory. It's still a large paver with rounded corners and smooth edges, now made from XNUMX% recycled aluminum. The most knowledgeable will notice the disappearance of the backlit apple for a simple mirror logo, as well as the appearance of a large MacBook Pro inscription under the chassis.


The MacBook Pro 14's cover is totally flat. © TechnologiesTips


The opening is always done with one finger thanks to the notch placed in front of the trackpad. Again, the interior design is unchanged except for the keys, which are now black on a black background. We also find the large centered touchpad and two punch bars on each side of the keyboard for sound.



© TechnologiesTips

The great absence of this MacBook Pro 14 is the Touch Bar, which has simply disappeared in favor of the function keys. The keyboard takes up the design of the Magic Keyboard introduced with the iMac 24, with the only difference that the arrow keys are arranged in an inverted T. The Touch ID key is strictly identical, acting as a power button and fingerprint reader to unlock the laptop, among other things.


The keyboard piano is now black. © TechnologiesTips

The typing offered by this backlit Magic Keyboard does not suffer from any defect. The stroke of the keys is long enough and the activation well marked. The trackpad is of the same ilk with an irreproachable glide and (adjustable) gestures perfectly taken into account.


The connectivity available on the MacBook Pro 14 M1 Pro marks a real return to basics. The Cupertino company has tended in recent years to offer two USB-C ports, enough to see the proliferation of USB hubs of all kinds to respond to this lack of connectivity. Three Thunderbolt 4 ports are therefore distributed on either side of the chassis, accompanied by an HDMI 2.0 port (4K at 60 Hz) and a UHS-II SD reader that can theoretically reach a speed of 312 MB/s. -jack and a MagSafe 3 power port complete this set.


A more than welcome connection, therefore, but we would have liked Apple to push its effort even further by offering an HDMI 2.1 port (4K 120 Hz) compatible VRR / ProMotion.


Connectivity is matter of satisfaction. © TechnologiesTips

Wireless connectivity is not forgotten with wifi 6 (802.11ax) that can reach 1200 Mb/s and Bluetooth 5.0. The webcam has a definition of 1080p with a higher rendering than what we are used to finding on laptops, but the image suffers in low light from a strong smoothing which blurs the details.

Under the lights of the photo lab.

Dark environment.
enlarge

Cooling is provided by two fans on each side of the M1 Pro. A single heat pipe connects the radiators passing just above the SoC. In use, the two fans only trigger when the processor is under heavy and continuous demand. Thus, after 15 min of encoding under HandBrake, the temperature measured at the level of the air outlets under the screen does not exceed 47°C. The entire keyboard remains relatively cool since it does not exceed 34°C.


Heat release is particularly well controlled. © TechnologiesTips

Still under HandBrake, the MacBook Pro 14 M1 Pro does not exceed 40 dB, which corresponds to a slight hiss, audible if you are facing the machine, but which will not disturb your neighbors. To push the cooling system further, we ran HandBrake and Premiere encoding on the M1 Pro's GPU cores, which translates to 100% usage of all CPU and GPU cores. The cooling system was much more active and we recorded a sound volume of 43,9 dB, which is a doubling of perceived noise pollution. However, this is far from the 52 dB that we were able to find on the noisiest gaming laptops.

The disassembly of the MacBook Pro 14 remains possible, but of very relative interest. Simply remove the eight pentalobe screws, then unclip the shell and slide it forward.


The layout may be perfect, only the battery is replaceable. © TechnologiesTips

Apart from the battery – or rather the set of batteries – which you can eventually replace, all the components are soldered to the motherboard.

performances

The Apple MacBook Pro 14 tested here is a model equipped with an Apple Silicon M1 Pro SoC with 10 CPU cores and 16 GPU cores. 16 GB of unified memory and 1 TB of SSD complete this configuration.


Processor performance index. © TechnologiesTips

As much to say it right away, the M1 Pro embedded in this MacBook Pro 14 is a real workhorse. It thus allows itself to stand up to the two most efficient processors from Intel and AMD on all of our application tests, obtaining an index of 86. The most impressive thing is that it does so in near silence, that whether it is plugged into the mains or not.


Performance index of the processor/graphics card couple. © TechnologiesTips

By activating GPU acceleration on our various tests, the M1 Pro stalled with an index of 93. Difficult to compete against a processor and a dedicated graphics card which obtain an index of 96 or 95. However, the performance is particularly remarkable in terms of efficiency. The Apple MacBook Pro 14 consumes a maximum of 85 W when using its CPU and GPU cores simultaneously. For comparison, the MSI Z16 Creator consumes nearly 170 W at the outlet.

We briefly tested the video game skills of the MacBook Pro 14 with the game Shadow Of The Tomb Raider. So, with details set to “very high” at 1920 x 1200 px, the M1 Pro and its 16 GPU cores achieve an average of 47 fps — the M1 in the MacBook Pro 13 had a painful 20 fps. s.


The M1 Pro allows you to play in good conditions, even on emulated games. © TechnologiesTips

The SSD keeps its promises with 6635 MB / s in reading and 5238 MB / s in writing, enough to repatriate its rushes in an instant.


The SSD is particularly fast. © TechnologiesTips

Screen

The MacBook Pro 14 is decked out with a Liquid Retina XDR display. Behind this marketing name hides a 14,2-inch IPS panel with mini-LED backlight displaying 3024 x 1964 px with a variable refresh rate of 24 to 120 Hz compatible with HDR. An entire program !


Hide this notch that cannot be seen. © TechnologiesTips

As usual, Apple does not complain about the quality of its screens. The colorimetry is almost perfect with a delta E of 1, the human eye only perceiving drifts above 3. The brightness of 500 cd/m² promised is kept with 495 cd/m² measured. The anti-reflective treatment is particularly effective for a glossy panel with an average reflectance of 25,3%. However, the best matte tiles are normally around 15%.

The color temperature is a little high with 6902 K, when the video standard recommends 6500 K. The contrast is at the level of an OLED panel, that is to say close to infinity. Our probe was also unable to measure their depth. It is therefore a real pleasure to watch dark films or series, especially with HDR activated.

Finally, the persistence of the panel is 15 ms, almost at the level of the best gaming laptops.


From left to right, the gamma curve, the color temperature and the delta E.

Audio

Like its big brother, the MacBook Pro 14 2021 is equipped with two tweeters under the grilles and four woofers placed further forward in the chassis. The latter also benefit from the openings machined in the aluminum in order to express themselves freely.


The famous woofer in the corner, and there are four like this. © TechnologiesTips

When listening, the sound volume is particularly important, but that does not prevent it from being precise and rich. We will remember a slight compression at the maximum level, just to find a fault with this audio system which turns out to be one of the best on laptop PCs, if not the best.

The headphone jack is of the same ilk as the speakers. The distortion is minimal with 0,0014%, the particularly wide dynamic range (115 dB) and the limited crosstalk (60 dB). So you can get the most out of the stereo effects. We will especially remember the output level of 340 mVRMS which makes it possible to manage even audiophile headphones with very high impedances.


© TechnologiesTips

Mobility / Autonomy

The MacBook Pro 14 measures 31 x 22 cm and is 1,56 cm thick. With its weight of 1,55 kg, it will easily find its place in your backpack. The 94 W charger weighs 365 g. Note that it is possible to change the pinout of the charger (by a US or UK version, for example), or even to replace it with an extension cord, unfortunately optional on the Apple site.


On the left, the 16-inch MacBook Pro charger; on the right, that of the 14 inches.

If you've ever picked up a 13 Intel MacBook Pro, the dimensions are pretty much identical, but this 14 M1 Pro version, once placed on the desk, is perched a little higher on its feet. The hood is also less domed and much more monolithic.

With its bird's appetite, the MacBook Pro 14 claims an autonomy of 13 h 40 min under Chrome with Netflix on a loop and its screen set to 200 cd / m². Autonomy that you can extend to almost 17 hours if you use Safari.


© TechnologiesTips

We were even able to apply our entire test procedure, which allows us to calculate our performance index, in one go and without a drop in performance. The MacBook 14 Pro shut down after about 6 hours of various requests (rendering, encoding, benchmarks). This opens up new possibilities for professionals on the go.

Highlights

  • Top-flight performance.

  • Quiet.

  • Excellent mini led screen.

  • Impressive speaker sound output.

  • Enormous autonomy.

Weak points

  • No Face ID.

  • No HDMI 2.1 port (HDMI 2.0 only).

Conclusion

Note globale

Apple strikes once again very hard with a MacBook Pro 14 that does not suffer from any defect. The only menu criticisms that will be made to it are of an aesthetic nature, in particular its notch or the color of the keyboard. In terms of performance, Apple has a perfect command of its processor and knows how to guide developers so that their software takes full advantage of it. We appreciate the return of a provided connector, but we would have liked the manufacturer to go to the end of its approach by offering an HDMI 2.1 port and an SD UHS-III port, as long as it takes. And what about the proposed autonomy… impressive.

Sub Notes
  • Construction
  • performances
  • Screen
  • Audio
  • Mobility / Autonomy
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