Apple unveils the new MacBook Pro with M1 Pro and M1 Max chips: a music production dream machine?

Apple MacBook Pro 2021
(Image credit: Apple)

As expected, Apple has announced new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models. Completely redesigned - and built with pro music producers very much in mind - these are powered by two new silicon chips: M1 Pro and M1 Max.

Billed as “the first pro chips designed for the Mac,” the M1 Pro and M1 Mac go beyond the standard M1 in several key respects.

The M1 Pro offers an up to 10-core CPU and up to 70% faster performance than the M1, with GPU performance that promises to be up to twice as fast. Memory bandwidth is 200GB/s - that’s getting on for three times that of the M1 - and you can install up to 32GB of RAM (the M1 tops out at 16GB).

The best laptops for music production 2021

The M1 Max goes even further; it has the same 10-core CPU as the M1 Pro, but doubles the GPU core count to 32. This is said to equate to four times faster GPU performance than the M1. This chip can handle up to 64GB of RAM, and the memory bandwidth speed is 400GB/s.

While the M1 Pro features a ProRes accelerator in the media engine - designed for fast and power-efficient video processing - the M1 Max gives you two, so pros can edit even more hi-res streams simultaneously. Apple claims that the new MacBook Pros will maintain their performance levels whether they're running on mains or battery power.

Apple MacBook Pro 2021

(Image credit: Apple)

Both new MacBook Pro models omit the Touch Bar from the previous generation - the function keys are back in its place; we can't say we're sad to see it go - and there’s a Liquid Retina XDR display that features the same mini-LED technology that’s used in the iPad Pro. The display offers ProMotion technology that features an adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz.

The bezels surrounding the display are now thinner, which means a larger active area to work/play with (not to mention a nicer look).

Connectivity has been improved, too - all new MacBook Pro models come with three ThunderBolt 4 ports, an SDXC card slot, an HDMI port and a headphone jack that now supports high-impedance headphones. As predicted, the MagSafe power cable connector has returned, and the fast charge feature means that you can juice up to 50% in 30 minutes.

Apple MacBook Pro 2021

(Image credit: Apple)

Other features include a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, an improved array of mics, and a “high-fidelity” six-speaker sound system that promises 80 percent more bass than the one it replaces. Spatial Audio playback is supported, too.

The new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros start at $1,999/£1,899 and $2,499/£2,399 respectively. Both of these machines contain the M1 Pro chip - the M1 Max can be selected in either of them if you’re willing to pay for it. 

The machines can be ordered now, and will be shipping from 26 October. Find out more on the Apple website.

Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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