It looks exactly like any other MacBook to date when you open the latest MacBook Pro box. Despite its beauty and stateliness, there is no hint of what lies beneath the aluminum chassis. I promise you that there is one. Power, performance, and the promise of the future are at stake.

This MacBook does not look like a future milestone in Apple’s computer history, but it represents changes in computer technology. Why is this monumental change taking place? It’s Apple’s new M1 processor, one of the most talked-about components that highlight the company’s shift away from Intel. This MacBook was touted as having 3.5x as much CPU power, 6x more GPU power, and outperforming 98% of PC laptops on the market with grandiose and seemingly unheard-of claims.

Well, here’s the thing: the hype train is well-founded, except for that last one. We’ve got a whopper here. Still, I haven’t seen a Mac that’s more capable or offers a longer battery life than the MacBook Pro 13-inch M1 ($1,899 reviewed, $1,299 starting). And as if all that weren’t enough, when you pair it with Apple Silicon, you get lightning-fast website loads and a more responsive webcam. In short, Apple’s new MacBook Pro does everything they said it would do.

  • CPU: Apple M1
  • GPU: Apple M1 GPU
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Storage: 1TB
  • Display: 13.3-inch, 2560 x 1600-pixel
  • Battery: 16:32
  • Size: 12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Weight: 3 pounds

Apple MacBook Pro design

Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, M1,) review

The iconic design is already iconic. What more can be said? This is a MacBook. The chassis is made entirely of aluminum, just like its predecessors. I reviewed a space gray model, but there’s also a silver model. There is nothing on the lid but the gleaming glossy Apple logo.

It has the same Space Gray aluminum that makes up the palm rest and keyboard deck on the inside. A large touchpad occupies most of the palm rest. A slim pair of slim speaker grilles flank the keyboard, which is slightly recessed.

Apple MacBook Pro security

With the MacBook Pro, you can be assured that all your precious data will remain in your hands. A Touch ID fingerprint scanner is hidden in the power button so you can log in quickly and securely. In addition, the chip’s Secure Enclave software makes it possible to encrypt data, confirm secure boot, and easily encrypt high-performance content.

Apple MacBook Pro ports

Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, M1,) review

There are just two Thunderbolt ports and a headset jack on the right side of the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Thunderbolt ports do have a silver lining in that they support USB 4, which offers speeds up to 40Gbps and a maximum power of 15W.

Although there are four Thunderbolt ports on the MacBook Pro, I wish there was another one on the iPad Pro.

 

Apple MacBook Pro display

Without the Retina Display, a MacBook would not be a MacBook. Apple, however, continues to refine the formula with the addition of innovative technologies like TrueTone. This technology intelligently adjusts the color temperature of the display based on the quality of the lighting in the room. This allows for an ideal viewing experience regardless of the lighting conditions. A wide color spectrum is also offered by P3, which is larger than sRGB. Having vibrant colors always makes a great impression.

The 13.3-inch presentation with a resolution of 2650 x 1600 pixels is really stunning, but I don’t like the thick bezels surrounding it. It makes no sense that Apple hasn’t followed suit when all your competitors are reducing the unsightly black bars by nearly half. Perhaps next time.

Respect, the upcoming biopic of Aretha Franklin, was bursting with color. The scene that I liked best had actress Jennifer Hudson wearing a rose-red sweater under a powder pink blouse. Throughout the face, the sunlight was glinting off her brown skin and you could see her chocolate lowlights scattered throughout her hair and her brown skin.

78.3% of the DCI-P3 gamut was reproduced by the MacBook Pro when we tested its color reproduction capabilities. This is below our average of 84% for premium laptops. Although a little below the Spectre (77.4%), ZenBook (76.1%), and XPS 13 (69.4%).

With an average brightness of 435 nits, the MacBook Pro panel is also quite bright. In comparison, that’s significantly brighter than both the ZenBook (370 nits) and Spectre (369 nits). Nonetheless, the XPS 13 had the brightest display with 469 nits.

Apple MacBook Pro performance

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Aside from the 16GB of unified memory, Apple made a lot of lofty claims about the M1. The MacBook Pro chugged along with no signs of stalling or lags as I had 50 chrome tabs opened in the browser, including Slack, Tweetdeck, YouTube, Tidal, Gmail, Google Sheets,, and Twitch.

Our synthetic benchmarks also showed good results for the notebook. The MacBook Pro scored 5,882 on Geekbench 5.0, a benchmark that measures the overall performance of a laptop. It garnered a higher score than the average Premium laptop of 4,215 on Geekbench. With a score of 5,254, the XPS 13 (Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU) came closest to matching the MacBook, while the ZenBook (Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU) reached 5,084. In terms of the number of units, Spectre’s Intel Core i7-1065G7 was just 4074 out of 4,074.

Using Handbrake, we converted a 4K video to 1080p and the MacBook Pro scorched the competition once again. Handbrake’s Silicon Beta version was clocked at 7 minutes and 44 seconds; the Rosetta 2 version was clocked at 13 minutes and 38 seconds. In both cases, the time is still faster than that of the competitors. It took the ZenBook 17:51 and the XPS 13 18:22 to complete the task. Spectre took the longest at 21:13.

As part of the Puget Photoshop test, the MacBook performed 649, outperforming the 613 average and the 588 of the XPS 13. However, the ZenBook scored 742 and won the competition.

The MacBook reached 708 during the AfterEffects benchmark, which is higher than the category average of 651.

On the read portion of the test, the 1TB MacBook Pro SSD scored 2,824.9 megabytes per second while on the write portion, it scored 2,752.4 MBps. Neither score outperforms its respective average (2,012 MBps read, 2,028.3 MBps write).

Apple MacBook Pro graphics

Because of its integrated M1 GPU, the MacBook Pro is capable of running games.

We saw 29 frames per second for Rising of the Tomb Raider on Very High at 1400 x 900 when we ran the benchmark. The average premium laptop gets 24 frames per second, but this is much higher. Rerunning the test in 1080p, however, dropped the frame rate to 18 frames per second. According to the XPS 13’s specs, it scored 12 fps, just like the ZenBook.

The MacBook Pro measured 29 fps during Sid Meier’s Civilization Gathering Storm test, beating the average of 28 fps, and the ZenBook and XPS 13 recorded 21 and 16 fps, respectively.

Apple MacBook Pro battery

Battery life on a MacBook Pro has never been so long. Apple estimates 20-hour battery life for the MacBook Pro M1. However, we did not get those exact numbers with the Pro. In our battery test, the MacBook Pro lasted 16 hours and 32 minutes (continuous web browsing at 150 nits of brightness). The average premium laptop takes much longer than 10:01.

Both devices shut down at around 13:47 and 13:19, respectively. In total, the XPS 13 clocked in at 11:07.

Pros Cons
Stellar overall and gaming performance Not enough ports
Excellent battery life  Thick bezels
Lightning-fast SSD
Great webcam
Comfortable keyboard

Conclusion

Call it Apple’s emancipation, the freedom song, or just liberation in general. Apple’s M1 chip opens doors — allowing it to be faster, stronger, and dominant. The company’s aggressiveness hasn’t slowed down. Its performance overall and graphics are better, and its battery life exceeds that of any laptop we have ever used before.

With native Universal apps, you can seamlessly integrate Mac, iPad, and iPhone apps across devices.  Cameras and microphones are even improved with the 5nm chip.

The only problem is that with all this impressive power, a new design or even a new color would’ve been nice. We also wish to see slimmer bezels and more ports on future MacBooks. However, if you’re seeking the fastest, most powerful premium laptop in the land, you should check out the $2199 Asus ZenBook UX325EA.