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Everything we know about M1X MacBook Pros.

Yesterday, one of our viewers asked in iCaveAnswers for basically a round up of all we know about the M1X MacBook Pro, and because its off the cuff, I missed a bunch of stuff. So lets make this a full on one stop shop on EVERYTHING you need to know on Apple’s new top of the line Notebooks.

In this video we’ll be covering the Design, Displays and camera, connectivity, audio, M1X performance, battery life, pricing and release date, so get ready, hit like and subscribe and also, thank you to Apple_Tomorrow on Twitter for all the renders!

Design

The 2021 MacBook Pro models are expected to feature flatter faces to its shell, dropping the gradual curve of the display assembly and bottom case in favour of lines more akin to the iPad Pro range and the iPhone 12, giving a clean modern look without changing the overall look of the device. They’ll still be unmistakably MacBooks. It is possible however that the chassis will be thinner on the base and a little thicker on the display assembly in order to accommodate what comes in our next segment.

While the iMac design refresh brought light coloured bezels and a combination of vivid colours and more muted tones, its expected that the MacBook Pro models will retain the more refined colour options that already exist, Space Grey, Silver and possibly a Gold, I’d personally love to see Apple bring the same colour choices as the iPhone Pro lineup, a little more adventurous. Of course, I also worked with Apple Tomorrow on some even more outlandish colour combinations too, and I still think Gold & Black looks hot.

There is of course an outside chance that Apple will bring the iMac’s design language with it’s light grey bezels and white keyboard to the MacBook Pro too, though the consensus right now is that Apple’s Pro devices will get the darker display surrounds as a point of difference. And speaking of displays…

Displays & Cameras

In terms of displays, Apple is reportedly bringing their MiniLED technology that is currently in the M1 12.9” iPad Pro to the MacBooks, and here in both sizes, 14” and 16”.

The MiniLED display which Apple markets as XDR or eXtreme Dynamic Range gives a 1million to 1 contrast ratio, with the iPad version delivering 1000 nits of full screen brightness and 1600 nits of peak brightness, making the displays more than twice as bright as the previous models.

The MiniLED technology works by splitting the display down into a number of localised dimming zones, in the case of iPad Pro it’s 2500, each made up of 4 LED backlights that allow the display to be fully dim in areas of black, though it can mean some blooming around very small bright sprites on the screen. The displays will also support Apple’s True Tone, P3 wide colour gamut and more, though whether 120Hz variable ProMotion will come to the Mac is unclear.

In terms of cameras though, Apple is expected to up the built in FaceTime camera to a 1080p sensor while also adding even better image signal processing and bringing the new background bokeh effects to the Mac in macOS Monterey.

For some time the built in cameras on Macs have been the butt of jokes at Apple though I have to say I’ve never found them to be too bad, and certainly better than the vast majority of pc laptop cameras. One of the biggest limitations of a front facing laptop camera is the depth available to house the camera, and without the depth for movable lenses for autofocus, so if Apple is able to move some of the bulk of the thickness away from the base and up to the display lid could make sense.

Connectivity

Here we have some huge changes. Right from the first quarter of 2021, we’d been hearing that there would be some new ports. Well, old ones anyway. So first, MagSafe is making a triumphant return, with we assume a direct connection  rather than the current wireless solution. Also coming back, the HDMI port and SD Card reader. The SD card reader is something that basically every YouTube creator angry that it’s not there, even though most have moved on to CF cards now. But still, they want their SD Card readers back. Finally in the cable department there will be about 3 USB-C ports, and a number of these will be Thunderbolt. Not quite sure how many though.

Audio

On the Audio side, I think its probably a good shout to assume that the M1X MacBook Pro will be getting some really decent speakers, Studio quality as Apple will call them if they follow their usual naming convention, but I’d also assume that they’ll be able to output Apple’s Spacial audio format to simulate audio sources all around you. Apple uses some kind of witchcraft in general to provide far more bass than their tiny computers should be able to provide in many cases, and I’d assume that these MacBook Pros with their M1X redesign will be able to keep up. 

The other aspect of audio is of course input, and Apple’s Studio mics in the MacBook Pros are recognised as pretty good here, perhaps not quite studio quality but a pretty decent USB mic level, and that’s not a bad thing at all. These things will certainly be able to hold their own in a zoom call. But thanks to the M1X, they’ll be very capable of more than that too.

M1X

So the M1X is the main selling point of these things, and the best way to understand why they’ll be so revolutionary is to take a look at its little brother, the M1.

The M1 has 4 high efficiency cores and 4 high performance cores, all of which are based on the core designs in the iPhone 12’s A14. It also includes an 8 core Neural engine and 8 Core GPU, though some of the lower binned version s we sent without faulty products.

The M1X doubles the performance cores up to 8 with just a pair of efficiency cores in there. It’s also reportedly going to come with a 16 or 32 Core GPU option. In single core benchmarks the M1X will likely perform similarly to M1, but in multicore, there’s double the performance cores to absolutely fly here.

Just like with the M1, we expect the M1X GPU to be integrated in the same system on chip, and sharing the same pool of unified memory with the M1X CPU cores, reducing latency and overheads as the data doesn’t have to be copied between the system memory and GPU specific memory.

Also, because of the nature of ARM’s architecture, the cpu can bring through and process instructions faster, because all of the instructions are the same length, removing the step that check the would normally check the length of the stage.

The specialist hardware inside the SOC also makes a massive difference, including the CPU, GPU, ISP Image signal processor, a Digital signal processor for more mathematically intensive tasks like decompressing files, the Neural processing unit, Secure Enclave and video encoder. 

Basically the M1X is going to be quite the powerhouse.

Battery

The current 16”’ MacBook Pro has effectively the largest battery you can legally put in something you may have to fly with at 100 Watt hours, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it stays at a similar capacity in the M1X version with the 14” getting more capacity than the current 13” MacBook Pro. Now bearing in mind that the M1 13” unit can offer up to 18 hour of use on a single charge, the battery life on these could be pretty mind-blowing. It was suggested that the 16” could offer between 25-30 hours, though these were simply third party estimates without having any real information on the system’s power draw, but either way, I think its safe to say these will be impressive.

Pricing

Based on what Apple has done so far with its updated Apple Silicon Mac line, so far the new versions have arrive at or below the pricing of the Intel devices they’re replacing. The MacBook Air and 13” MacBook Pro with M1 kept the pricing exactly the same, and the Mac mini actually reduced the starting price by $100, so my best guess is that these will do the same thing. The 14” MacBook Pro with M1X replaces the 4 port 13” model which currently starts at $1799 and the 16” is currently starting at $2399.

The only caveat here is that when Apple introduced the new MiniLED Display technology in their iPad Pro 12.9” model, they did increase the price here by $100, however the iPads have always been based on Apple Silicon, so there are no savings to be made there vs the Intel models they replace. Also as these MacBook Pro models will reportedly drop the Touch Bar that they’ve all included in the past, that’s also a reasonable saving to bear in mind, so I think we’ll be stable on pricing here.

Release date

Based on the MacBook Pros arriving in the EEC registrations database alongside the new iPhones and Apple Watches, I’m predicting that the MacBook Pro will be announced in Apple’s September event which I believe will happen on September 14th 2021. However I do think that they won’t be available to order the same week, the iPhone and Apple Watch models will likely be available to order from September 17th and ship on the 24th September, and that’s the date I’d expect orders to open for these, with shipping on October 1st

So that’s everything we THINK we know on the MacBook Pro with M1x. Redesigned, more powerful, better displays, more connectivity and quite possibly one of the best performing notebooks in its class. So let me know in the comments, will you buy one?

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