MacBook Pro 2021: M1X chip, no Touch Bar, mini-LED display, and more

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The MacBook Pro has gotten a new lease on life as Apple outfits it in 2020 with the great M1 chip. It looks like it has an exciting future ahead of it, and with lots of interesting rumors going around, there’s a lot of debate about it. What could happen in the next version of Apple’s Pro laptops.

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There’s been a flurry of information recently, with respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and lead reporter Mark Gurman both highlighting a new 14-inch version, as well as sharing updates to the current MacBook Pro 16. From a brand new M1X chip to a completely redesigned chassis, there are high hopes on these new MacBook Pros.

release date

A 2020 MacBook Pro, seen above, with macOS Big Sur display.

When can you get your hands on one of these new models? It could happen soon. The “California Streaming” event, centered on the iPhone 13, came and went without mention of the M1X MacBook Pro — or any other Mac for that matter.


However, Mark Gurman’s latest report in Bloomberg states that the M1X MacBook Pro will still launch in the next few weeks. This could mean that we may get a follow-up event on September 28 or as early as October 5.

Initial claims were that Apple would unveil MacBook Pro models (both 14-inch and 16-inch) at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 7. In late May and early June, report leaker John Prosser and industry analysts Wedbush said that Apple is planning to launch new MacBook Pro models at WWDC. However, they were proven wrong, and we didn’t have any MacBook Pros left at WWDC.

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Although all initial reports pointed to a mid-year launch, the rumors of a delay in the new mini-LED display seem to have been linked to the fall. According to Gurman, “these new MacBooks were supposed to be launched earlier, but the complexities surrounding the new mini-LED displays have put production on hold.”

The idea of ​​a delay was supported by an earlier report from Nikkei Asia published in March, which claimed that Apple had pushed back production of the two MacBook Pro models from May or June to the latter year. If true, this would delay the release date, perhaps into the more traditional October or November window that typically sees major MacBook launches.

a new, squared design

A MacBook Pro viewed from the side, with its lid partially closed.

In recent years, Apple has begun to revert many of its products back to the square-edge design, which was last seen in 2016 in the iPhone SE – first the iPad Pro and then the iPhone 12 range. According to reports, MacBook Pro will be joining them soon.

Kuo believes that the MacBook Pro 2021 design will feature square-off edges at both the top and bottom sections, instead of the slightly curved back found on current MacBook Pro models. This may only be a minor change, as the bottom half of the current MacBook Pro can already be considered “squared-off”. Mark Gurman agrees that any design changes will be minor, but still believes there will be some exterior changes compared to the current models.

Also, you might be wondering whether the MacBook Pro 16’s thermal architecture will make the leap to the MacBook Pro 14. Given the great thermal efficiency of the M1 chip in the current MacBook Pro 13 and MacBook Air, you might think it’s unnecessary – the new MacBook Air, after all, doesn’t even need a fan, such as its chip’s ability to keep cool under pressure. ability. That said, the current MacBook Pro comes with 16 discrete, powerful graphics cards that require more vigorous cooling. If Apple is going to match that power with its system-on-a-chip with a beefy built-in GPU, it may need an equally brutal cooling system to keep everything under control. With that in mind, we won’t rule out retaining the thermal system in the MacBook Pro 16.

The Magic Keyboard is almost certain to remain – no return to the unfortunate butterfly keyboard – but there is one longtime MacBook stalwart that may eventually be ditched: the Touch Bar. Since debuting in 2016, this touch-sensitive strip has been divisive, and it seems that Apple has finally lost patience with it instead of trying to fix it. Kuo claims that the next MacBook Pro will definitely run without the Touch Bar; Gurman initially only said that Apple was testing a Touch Bar-free model, but recently clarified that the Touch Bar is definitely on its way out. Both analysts have indicated that there isn’t much future for Apple’s OLED bar. Considering how little it lived up to its potential, that might not be a bad thing.

More port diversity and the return of MagSafe

Speakers, keyboard, and Touch Bar on MacBook Pro, seen from the side.

Since the 2016 redesign that introduced the Touch Bar and Butterfly keyboard, Apple has stuck entirely to USB-C in its laptops — to the exclusion of all other port options. This may change soon.

Several reports have suggested that Apple is going to loosen the USB-C stranglehold and allow a smidgen more port variety in the 2021 MacBook Pro. Kuo touts an increase in the “types of I/O” available and, technically, suggests that “most users may not need to purchase additional dongles.” Specifically, he believes the HDMI port is going to make a comeback. Gurman believes the SD card slot is making a comeback for the first time since it was removed in 2016, which will certainly please photographers and videographers who might otherwise need an adapter or cloud to transfer their work to their Macs. would be required.

The increase in port variety means an obvious return to a much-loved MacBook feature that was first ditched in 2015 with the 12-inch MacBook: MagSafe. This handy technology attaches the charging cable to your Mac magnetically, which means if the cable is shaken, it quickly loosens, saving your expensive laptop from falling to the ground and breaking . According to industry rumours, Apple is going to reintroduce MagSafe in the 2021 MacBook Pro and it will function like its old avatar using a tablet-shaped port. Considering how popular MagSafe was — and how much we’ve missed it ever since it was abandoned — it’s a welcome change of heart from Apple.

Interestingly, in April a big leak Turns out that’s what Apple is planning for the ports — and it turns out that Kuo and Gurman were right. According to Nerdshala, hacking group REvil apparently managed to steal technical specifications from Apple supplier Quanta, and among documents — which are now being used to blackmail Quanta — port arrangements on an upcoming MacBook Pro model. There is a picture showing. It features an HDMI port, USB-C slot, and SD card reader on the same side of the device. Also in the documents was a list of ports and connectors that included MagSafe with HDMI and SD card slots. MacBooks in these files use the code names J314 and J316, which According to Gurmani Check out the upcoming 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models.

Processor and Battery Life

MacBook Pro 16.  on speaker and keyboard

Apple made a real splash when it released the first version of its own Apple silicon processor, the M1, in the latest round of Macs. In our testing, they proved to be fast-paced, with the 24-inch iMac offering the best performance of many.

There’s good news on that front, as the next generation of this chip is expected in the 2021 MacBook Pro models. Both bloomberg Reporter Mark Gurman and Twitter leaker Dylandkt has claimed that the chip for the upcoming MacBook Pro will be called the M1X and not the M2. The former is clearly an “extension” of the current M1 with more cores and Thunderbolt 3 channels, while the latter is expected to be an entirely new generation chip that will launch in 2022.

We already know from previous reporting that Apple is working on processors with upwards of 32 CPU cores, though that chip is almost certainly reserved exclusively for the Mac Pro. Nonetheless, expect 2021 MacBook Pro models to come with more cores and more performance – the M1 was just the beginning.

a report from bloomberg It was claimed in December 2020 that the next generation of Apple silicon chips could have 16 high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores. If those chips don’t meet the deadline, chips with 12 or eight high-performance cores can be used, according to Gurman. Now it looks like the latter option is what we’ll see in the next MacBook Pro model, like a Gurmani’s new report was released in May 2021 that said the next-generation Apple silicon chips coming to the MacBook Pro would have eight high-performance cores and two high-efficiency cores, for a total of 10. These chips will be offered in 16 or 32 graphics core variants. .

Unlike the current MacBook line-up – where each Mac uses the same M1 chip – we can see a split here, with the MacBook Pro 16 getting a more powerful chip with 32 graphics cores. It will certainly match the status of its current incarnation, which offers high-end Intel Core i9 processors and discrete graphics cards that are unavailable in any other MacBook. Apple, on the other hand, may decide that its current strategy of offering the same chip in different Mac models is the right one, and make this new chip available in both the MacBook Pro 14 and MacBook Pro 16.

As for the future, Nikkei Asia reports that the 2022 iPad Pro may come with a 3-nanometer chip, which will be better than the M1 used by the current iPad Pro. Given that Macs also use the M1, this could mean that future MacBooks will move to 3-nanometer chips as well, possibly in 2022 or 2023. However, Nikkei Asia predicts that the iPad Pro will be the first Apple device to use 3-nanometer. chip, which means the Mac may have to wait until after 2022. Either way, keep an eye out for more news on this front.

The processor also means good things for battery life. When we reviewed the M1 MacBook Pro, we got 21 hours of battery life in our video playback test and 16 hours during light web browsing. he is around three times Battery life of the 2020 Intel MacBook Pro. You can expect similar exploits from the 2021 MacBook Pro, the incredibly efficient ARM-based…

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