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Apple MacBook Pro (2021) review: Top-notch performance

Apple MacBook Pro (2021) review: Top-notch performance

Apple MacBook Pro 2021

Apple's bet on its ARM-based M1 processors continues to pay dividends with the latest 14-inch Apple MacBook Pro (2021). The re-designed and thicker laptop brings back MagSafe, an SD card slot, HDMI port, but adds a notch to the display, much like the iPhones. Whether you're editing video, photos, or making music, the new MacBook Pro delivers performance in spades, and more.

Quick specs

  • 14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display 3,042 x 1,964 pixels, 120Hz, up to 1,600nits
  • 10-core M1 Pro chip, 14-core GPU, 16GB RAM
  • 3x Thunderbolt 4, HDMI, SDXC card reader, MagSafe 3, headphone jack
  • From 1.6kg

The new aluminium-clad MBP comes in two sizes, 14-inch and 16-inch. Each model can be configured with either the M1 Pro or M1 Max processor. In addition, buyers can customise the amount of RAM and storage. My laptop comes with the 10-core M1 Pro and 14-core GPU, which is a step-up from the basic 8-core M1 Pro. The 16-inch starts with 10-cores. All laptops will let you go up to the M1 Max 10-core CPU with 32-core GPU. You'll need to select the M1 Max chip if you want more than 32GB RAM. Storage goes up to 8TB SSD. To be honest, unless you're doing a lot of coding or sound editing, you're probably fine with the 10-core M1 Pro with 16GB of RAM. That's what I went with for video and photo editing.

Apple MacBook Pro 2021
Credit: Aloysius Low/Can Buy or Not

The laptop has a starting weight of 1.6kg, and the 14.2-inch model features a peak brightness of 1,600nits. It has a non-standard aspect ratio of 15.4:10, which allows you to stack two windows side by side and see more. It's actually pretty great for writing or for comparing content. Watching videos is amazing and the speakers pack plenty of sound. I also like the keyboard better than my older 2018 MBP. There's a much more solid feel to the key travel. The Touch ID button is located at the power button, and makes it easy to log in to stuff. As for ports, the new MBP comes with three Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, HDMI, SD card reader, and a MagSafe 3 port. The MagSafe 3 cable comes included, and allows for fast charging with the included 96W USB-C charger.

Apple MacBook Pro 2021
Credit: Aloysius Low/Can Buy or Not

Performance is where the MacBook Pro shines. For example, apps such as Adobe Photoshop open in a snap — you'll barely have the chance to see the loading screen. Editing with Final Cut Pro is also a breeze, and I don't think you'll have to worry about spinning beachballs. I also tried games such as Dota 2, which ran fine at 80fps at high settings. Civ VI's AI benchmark took 10.2s for a turn. What's more impressive is that the laptop barely feels hot if you're just surfing the web or watching a video. Furthermore, the fans almost never turn on at all. However, a Handbrake test did take temperatures up to around 59 degrees Celsius. Speaking of which, a 1-hour video took just five minutes to encode to 1080p. Geekbench 5 tests showed a 1,758 single-core and a 12,319 multi-core score.

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Battery life is good too, with around 7hr 26min in our video-loop battery test. That's very good considering the 1,000nit display and a pretty loud speaker setup. In day-to-day use, I got a full day of use without needing a charge. This is with photo editing, surfing the web, and writing reviews. The Apple MacBook Pro (2021) is an excellent laptop for creatives on the go. You can't go wrong with getting one. Prices start at S$2,999 and you can order one from Apple, Lazada, or Shopee (16-inch).

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Powerful performance with great battery life.

Get it at Lazada
Buy from Shopee (16-inch)

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