14-inch MacBook Pro (2021) Review: Pros and Cons

Review: 14-inch MacBook Pro (2021) Pros and Cons

The 14-inch MacBook Pro (2021) is a 5th-generation Macintosh computer from the MacBook Pro line of laptop computers. Announced during an online event held on 18 October 2021 alongside the 202116-inch MacBook Pro and the new Apple M series chips, its introduction marks the first time that Apple designed and released a laptop with a 14-inch screen real estate.

Pros of the 14-inch MacBook Pro (2021): Features and Selling Points

One of the key advantages of the 14-inch MacBook Pro (2021) is that its base model comes with the more powerful Apple M1 Pro chip. Consumers have the option to configure this device with an Apple M1 max chip for faster and better computing capabilities.

Then there is the larger screen real estate too. Unlike the 4th-generation 13-inch MacBook Pro or the 3rd-generation M-series MacBook Air, and similar to the 15th-generation 16-inch MacBook Pro, it also has an almost edge-to-edge screen as evident from its slimmer bezels.

Below are the key features and advantages of this new MacBook Pro device:

• Improved M1 Pro and M1 Max Chips: The M1 Pro and M1 Max system-on-chips are more powerful than the earlier Apple M1 chip. Both chips are marketed toward professional-level users. The base M1 Pro has 70 percent faster CPU and 2 times faster GPU than the M1 while the M1 Max is more technically superior than the M1 Pro.

• Larger Unified Memory Capacity: RAM is another advantage of the 14-inch MacBook Pro. Its base model comes with a 16GB unified memory compared to the 8GB memory of the base model of the 4th-generation 13-inch MacBook Pro. Consumers have the option to purchase an M1 Pro model with 32GB memory or an M1 Max variant with 32GB to 64GB memory.

• Improved Display Technology: The device also boasts an IPS-based Liquid Retina XDR display to provide Extreme Dynamic Range and a million to one contrast ratio, as well as ProMotion technology for an adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz while conserving power depending on a specific use case. It also has P3 Wide Color that can produce 1 billion colors and True Tone technology.

• 1080p High-Definition Camera: Another notable advantage of the 14-inch MacBook Pro (2021) is the 1080p HD FaceTime camera. Note that the 13-inch MacBook Pro has been criticized because of its lower-quality camera. The 14-inch variant levels up the video conferencing experience with a wider aperture, larger image sensor, and an advanced image signal processor with computational video for capturing clearer images and better low-light performance.

• Better Audio Input and Output Systems: This device also comes with three studio-quality microphones that capture even the faintest sounds while using directional beamforming for a louder, clearer, and forward-sounding voice input. The six-speaker sound system has four force-canceling woofers and 80 percent more bass. These speakers enable spatial audio using algorithm to provide three-dimensional sound.

• Connectivity Ports and Expansions: MagSafe 3 port returns to the 14-inch MacBook Pro for safer charging. Users can also charge this device via the three Thunderbolt ports based on USB-C. These ports also support DisplayPort, Thunderbolt 4 of up to 40GB/s, and USB 4 of up to 40 GB/s. There is also an HDMI port, SDCX card slot, and a 3.5 mm headphone jack for expansions.

• Wireless Connectivity Technologies: It also features the faster Wi-Fi 6 for wireless local-area networking, which is faster than the Wi-Fi 5 standard, and Bluetooth 5.0 that allows data transfer speeds of up to 2 Mbps.

There is no denying that this device is a portable powerhouse that can rival advanced laptops and other desktop computers running on Windows or other operating systems. It also inherently has all of the advantages and benefits of macOS, as well as the upside of chips based on reduced instruction set computing or RISC architecture, and ARM architecture.

Another noteworthy advantage of the 14-inch MacBook Pro (2021) is the details of its asserted design and production. Apple claims that this device its enclosure is made with 100 percent recycled aluminum and all of the magnets are made with 100 percent recycled rare earth elements. The solder of the main logic board is also made with 100 percent recycled tin while 35 percent of the plastics used in different components are also recycled.

Cons of the 14-inch MacBook Pro (2021): Drawbacks and Key Issues

No one can argue that the 14-inch MacBook Pro (2021) is one of the most powerful and capable laptop computers released in 2021. This device will live up to this hype in the coming years until Apple releases a next-generation iteration featuring new Apple M series chips.

However, this device is far from perfect. In some cases, it might be not ideal to purchase this laptop because certain consumers might be better off purchasing a MacBook Air or a 13-inch MacBook Pro, and even a Windows-based laptop alternative.

The following are the key issues and drawbacks of this MacBook Pro device:

• Bulkier and Heavier Physical Specs: Compared to the MacBook Air and even to the 13-inch MacBook Pro, a notable disadvantage of the 14-inch MacBook Pro (2021) is that it is bulkier and heavier. It weighs 1.6 Kg compared to the 1.4 Kg weight of its 13-inch counterpart and the 1.29 Kg weight of the MacBook Air. It also has a width of 12.31 inches compared to the 11.97 inches width of the 13-inch and the Air. The extra bulk makes can put a significant strain on its user when carried around.

• Notch on the Retina Screen Display: The screen looks good with its larger and almost edge-to-edge real estate. However, it looks like an iPhone because of the notch placed on its top-most portion. Some might find this an eyesore. However, Apple decided for this design principle to allow it to shrink the display bezels without sacrificing the quality and performance of the new high-definition camera.

• Lacks Face ID Despite Having A Notch: Apple justified the inclusion of the notch beginning on the iPhone X to accommodate the hardware components for its Face ID technology. However, this MacBook device does not have a Face ID. The screen and the entirety of the lid are too thin to accommodate the relevant hardware components. Remember that the addition of the notch centers more on shrinking the bezels.

• Excessively Expensive Base and Configured Models: Price is another disadvantage of the 14-inch MacBook Pro (2021). The base model has a price tag of retails at USD 1999.00. Opting for a model with 32GB RAM would mean adding USD 400.00 to the final price tag. A 10-core CPU and 10-core GPU M1 Pro configuration with 1TB of storage retails at USD 2499.00.

• Overkill Specification for Average Users: Remember that the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips that are available in both the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro devices are marketed toward power users. Considering their technical specifications, as well as the high price tags, the 14-inch model is still an overkill for regular users who might be better off purchasing an M1-powered MacBook Air or the M1-powered 13-inch MacBook Pro. There are also less expensive Windows-based alternatives.

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