“UNLEASHED”, or “unleashed”, with this word Apple titled the October 2021 event. After the classic September appointment with the iPhone, the Apple company chooses October 18 to unveil the new generation of Mac computers, in a market that has seen Apple grow significantly year over year. And following the well-established trail of recent times, even “Unleashed” was a streaming event from the Apple Park in Cupertino, with a decidedly “Pro” connotation, because these new Macs are born for what is today the most professional user. hungry for innovation. And therefore the “creators” of content, increasingly demanding in terms of computing power of computers, graphics processing capacity, overall operating speed.
So Tim Cook opens the keynote dances with the new AirPods and a color refresh of the HomePod Mini, but we immediately move on to the main dish, the new MacBook Pro. And it is the second generational leap for Macs in the space of a year. It changes everything, processor, screen, hardware capabilities. The new SoCs (ie the heart of the new computers) are an evolution of the M1 chips, presented a year ago and already at the time significantly more powerful than the vast majority of “classic” Intel / Amd configurations available on Macs up to that point. They are called M1 Pro and M1 Max, they are chips produced with 5 nanometer technology and according to Apple they guarantee a jump in power up to four times on the classic M1s. Between M1 Pro and M1 Max, the difference lies in overall capacity, memory scalability, and the focus on graphics capability.
To understand how M1s work, it is necessary to illustrate at least briefly their architecture. While in computers with “classic” chipsets (including pre-M1 Macs) each circuit has its own defined space, even if integrated into the motherboard, but in any case in an independent area of the machine. As is the case with smartphones and tablets, M1 is instead a Soc, or rather a System on chip which in a single structure incorporates the central unit, the graphics unit and the memory. All together passionately and “zero distance” on the motherboard. This means that the transmission of information from one unit to another is almost instantaneous, there are no “bottlenecks” or particular drivers to use. It is a single “power plant”, which in this generation, however, acquires scalability and expandability (but everything must be decided before purchasing: then it cannot be upgraded). The new M1s relaunch on all fronts: the previous generation of M1, the one contained in the latest MacBook Air, Pro, Mini and iMac, had a maximum of eight operational computing units (“cores”) (six power and two savings). power) and up to eight graphics units (seven in the Air and some iMacs). The maximum memory supported was 16 gigabytes. Here, in these new MacBook Pro, the operating “cores” rise to 10, the graphics units rise from a maximum of 8 to a minimum of 16, and can be configured up to 32. The supported Ram reaches 64 gigabytes and in short, we’ll see them tested soon, but the M1’s jump in performance was already impressive a year ago. With these specifications, MacBooks become beasts of graphics and processing power. With the M1 of 2020, resource-intensive applications (After Effects, Cinema 4D, Blender, Motion) acquiring impressive fluency (our tests took place on Final Cut Pro X and Logic, native to M1, and also on non-optimized apps that still gained in speed). These new SoCs resume the discussion from those points left a little pending with the M1s, bringing the high-end Macs to the top performance of the market, and settling the inevitable initial uncertainties that a new technology presents. There is also space for a 16-core neural engine capable of grinding multiple machine learning algorithms, and an energy redesign for optimizing battery consumption.
New entries and goodbyes
But these new MacBook Pros are a completely new generation, they buy (and recover) features compared to the previous one and abandon some of them. For example, goodbye to the “Touch Bar”, an OLED strip that in some MacBook Pro models from 2016 to before the M1 occupied the upper area of the keyboard, a horizontal and touch mini-display, which should have provided further usability to the computer and to applications but in reality it has never been particularly appreciated by users and developers. And so I know long, Touch Bar. But there are several relevant news. We have said about the Soc, but it is inside and cannot be seen. What you see instead is a new Liquid Retina XDR ProMotion display – or with refresh at 120 hertz – from 14 or 16 inches with Mini-Led technology, as on the latest iPad Pro. There are two versions, the 14-inch has 3024 x 1,964 pixels, the 16-inch 3,456 x 2,234. The peculiarity of the Mini-LEDs is that it substantially approaches the quality of the displays to that of an OLED, without the risks of image permanence in the event of prolonged display of fixed elements (think of the interface of a worksheet for example), improving the quality of the black color rendering. The newer iPad Pro uses Mini-LEDs and the leap in quality is noticeable compared to previous LCD displays, we will see these MacBook Pros as they will be live.
Back to school
They are different and all interesting, the most spectacular is certainly the return of the MagSafe, which had debuted on the MacBook now ten years ago, then replaced in 2016 by USB-C connections. MagSafe is in fact a magnetic hook of the charging connector to the Mac port, which prevents for example from pulling the computer behind it and dropping it if you trip over the charging cable. Which thanks to the magnets detaches, avoiding the worst.
Then the video ports and the SD slot return directly on the machine body, avoiding the use of dongles or docking stations for the most common data transfer operations. And the ports up to now based on Thunderbolt 4 technology become three. Prices start at 2349 euros for the 14-inch and 2849 for the 16-inch, with discounts for students and the education sector. In the almost top spec configuration, optimal for us (64gb of ram, 32 gpu, 2 tera ssd) we get to 4869 euros, with an 8 tera ssd we are at 6939 euros.
The new AirPods and HomePod Mini
Third generation wireless earbuds originally introduced in 2016, and now featuring improved bass drivers and shorter stems, borrowed from the AirPods Pro. The idea here is to improve listening quality and with Adaptive Eq algorithms, equalization automatically adjusts to the listener’s ear. Optimized charging times and battery life, and now the case is also MagSafe as well as wireless. The AirPods 2, the Pro and the Max remain on the list. The HomePod Mini buy color variants, now there are five shades in all, including the original black and white.