This week, Apple announced a major update for its high-end MacBook Pro models, with the new machines featuring a complete redesign, the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, larger mini-LED displays with ProMotion, an HDMI port and SD card slot, full-sized function keys, and more.
The redesigned MacBook Pro is available in all-new 14-inch and 16-inch sizes. Despite both being high-end models, the 14- and 16-inch models do have some different design aspects, features, and capabilities, so should you consider purchasing the smaller MacBook Pro, which starts at $1,999, or do you need the larger MacBook Pro, which costs at least $500 more? Our guide helps to answer the question of how to decide which of these two high-end MacBook Pro models is best for you.
Comparing the 14-Inch MacBook Pro and 16-Inch MacBook Pro
The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models share almost all of their key features, such as display technology, chip configurations, and connectivity options. Apple lists these same features of the two machines:
- Mini-LED Liquid Retina XDR display with up to 1,000 nits sustained brightness, 1,600 nits peak brightness, P3 wide color, True Tone, and ProMotion
- Options for the M1 Pro or M1 Max chip with up to 10-core CPU and 32-core GPU
- Up to 64GB of unified memory
- Up to 8TB of storage
- Touch ID
- 1080p FaceTime HD camera
- High-fidelity six-speaker sound system with force-canceling woofers, wide stereo sound, and spatial audio support
- Studio-quality three-mic array with high signal-to-noise ratio and directional beamforming
- Three Thunderbolt 4 ports
- HDMI port
- SDXC card slot
- 3.5mm headphone jack with support for high-impedance headphones
- 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0
- Available in Silver and Space Gray
Apple’s breakdown shows that the two MacBooks share most of their important features, but there are still some meaningful differences between the 14-inch MacBook Pro and 16-inch MacBook Pro that are worth highlighting, including display size, thickness, weight, battery size, and power adapter.
14-Inch MacBook Pro
- 14.2-inch display
- Configurations start with M1 Pro with 8-core CPU and 14-core GPU
- 0.61 inches thick (1.55 cm)
- Weighs 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg)
- Integrated 70-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
- 17 hours of battery life when playing back video
- Fast charging over MagSafe 3 or Thunderbolt 4
- 67W USB-C Power Adapter (with M1 Pro with 8-core CPU)
- 96W USB-C Power Adapter (with M1 Pro with 10-core CPU or M1 Max, configurable with M1 Pro with 8-core CPU)
- Starts at $1,999
16-Inch MacBook Pro
- 16.2-inch display
- Configurations start with M1 Pro with 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU
- 0.66 inches thick (1.68 cm)
- Weighs 4.7 pounds (2.1 kg)
- Integrated 100-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
- 21 hours of battery life when playing back video
- Fast charging over MagSafe 3 only
- 140W USB-C Power Adapter
- Starts at $2,499
Other MacBook Options
If you are looking for an Apple silicon MacBook Pro, but the latest M1 Pro and M1 Max models are out of your price range, there is the M1 MacBook Pro, which starts at $1,299. This is $700 cheaper than the 14-inch MacBook Pro, and is a good option for users who want a machine that is more capable than the MacBook Air, but something more affordable than the high-end MacBook Pro.
The M1 MacBook Pro is an entry-level model, featuring a 13.3-inch display, Touch ID, two Thunderbolt 4 ports, the Touch Bar, and a 720p webcam. It is a more consumer-oriented and less capable machine compared to the high-end MacBook Pro, but is more than adequate for most users.
There is also the M1 MacBook Air, which sports the same processor as the M1 MacBook Pro, a 13.3-inch display, Touch ID, and ports, as well as most other hardware features, and starts at $999. For casual users, this means that the additional $300 to upgrade to a MacBook Pro may be difficult to justify.
- Apple M1 MacBook Air vs. M1 MacBook Pro Buyer’s Guide
- Apple M1 MacBook Pro vs. Intel MacBook Pro (13-Inch) Buyer’s Guide
M1 MacBook Pro still has a number of improvements over the MacBook Air, offering slightly better performance, a brighter display, the Touch Bar, improved microphone and speaker quality, two extra hours of battery life, and an active cooling system. If you want slightly better performance than the M1 MacBook Air, as well as better battery life, display brightness, and speaker and microphone quality, the MacBook Pro is the better option.
Likewise, users who intend to perform a lot of graphics-based tasks should skip the MacBook Air entirely and buy the M1 MacBook Pro because the eight-core GPU MacBook Air configuration is only $50 less than the MacBook Pro, but this is only the case if you don’t need more than 256GB of storage, because a storage upgrade would further push up the MacBook Pro’s price.
The 14-inch MacBook Pro is clearly a more portable machine than the 16-inch model, so if you intend to carry the MacBook Pro around frequently or need the versatility of easily fitting it into a bag, the smaller model will be the better option. Buyers of the 14-inch models are not missing out on any major MacBook Pro features, so this will be the best model for most customers.
The 16-inch model is $500 more than the 14-inch model, so you should be sure that you need the additional display area or battery life. That being said, if you upgrade the 14-inch model to the same M1 Pro with 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU that the 16-inch model starts with, the price difference shrinks to $200.
Buyers of the 16-inch model should be aware that it is considerably larger, thicker, and heavier than the 14-inch model. The 16-inch model may also provide slightly better performance than the 14-inch model due to being larger with potentially better thermals, but this is yet to be confirmed with benchmark tests. The 16-inch model’s speakers are also likely to provide better sound quality owing to the device’s larger size, but we can’t be sure of this until real-world comparisons emerge.
While the performance difference in real terms between the two high-end MacBook Pro sizes is yet to be seen, most users will be better off buying the 14-inch model. We will revisit this recommendation after we see the real-world performance of the two machines.
This article, "14-Inch MacBook Pro vs. 16-Inch MacBook Pro Buyer's Guide" first appeared on MacRumors.com
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