MacBook Pro 2021: Release Date, Price, M1X and all the other rumors we’ve heard

MacBook Pro 2021: Release Date, Price, M1X and all the other rumors we’ve heard

MacBook Pro 2021: Release Date, Price, M1X and all the other rumors we’ve heard

Two things we expect to disappear in this round: the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the Touch Bar.

Dan Ackerman / CNET

If you have endured shelling for a new MacBook Pro out of FOMO or indecision, Apple may soon keep the answers you’ve been waiting for. The company announced its next event scheduled for Monday, October 18th, with an invitation theme about “released”, indicating that we’ll finally hear about Apple’s high-performance systems. As we get down to the cord, recent rumors signal that not only is a 14-inch MacBook Pro model on the horizon, both it and a new 16-inch may have new, high pixel density Mini-LED-based screens, along with a new more powerful version of Apple M1 processor similar to that of 12.9 inch iPad Pro, the return of much missed plugs and the ditch of not much loved Touch Bar.

The upcoming announcements follow Apple’s big event in mid-September, when the company showed off iPhone 13, Apple Watch 7, iPad Mini 6 and updated entry-level iPad.

Read more: No Macs for the Apple iPhone 13 event, but the year is not over yet

When will the new MacBook Pros be announced?

It’s almost certain that the company will launch new MacBook Pros and possibly other new Macs next week on October 18th. It’s buzzing with Mark Gurman’s claim in a recent Power On newsletter that he expects new MacBook Pro models to debut sometime this month. He previously speculated that the new models would arrive at the end of this year.


Apple’s “Unleashed” invitation to its October 18 event.


A more powerful Apple M1X (or M2) CPU?

This is pretty much a given. Apple’s M1 CPU has reached as far as the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, 24-inch iMac, Mac Mini and iPads, but so far we’ve not seen any of Apple’s homemade silicon in power systems. Several sources agree that there will be a new version of the CPU – and it is reportedly already in production -for the larger MacBook (currently a 16-inch screen version) and possibly for upcoming new desktops.

There have also been rumors that there will be two variants of the new chip, both with 10 cores (eight high-performance and two energy-efficient), but with different integrated graphics core configurations: 16 or 32. In contrast, the M1 has eight cores, shared equally between performance and power saving, and either seven or eight graphics cores. Doubling or quadrupling the number of cores promises significantly better performance, which in combination with the tight integration with MacOS could compete with the performance of a discrete AMD GPU. And it is unclear whether a discrete GPU remains an option.


A higher power version of Apple’s M1 chip may be on the horizon.

Screenshot / Apple

Having two variants (with rumors of future versions with even more core options intended for the Mac Mini and Mac Pro) makes a lot of sense: In my test, the M1 chip has worked almost identically on any device, giving the iPad as much power as the Mac Mini. It does not make sense for buyers of advanced equipment, where choosing a smaller processor can potentially save you thousands, or where a discrete GPU can be crucial.

The two variants could explain why guess whether the name of the new CPU, M1X or M2, has not tipped definitively against one or the other.

As for Intel offerings, as early as January last year, we started hearing predictions that there would be no Intel versions of the MacBook Pros, and to date, there have been no signs to the contrary.

When can we buy them?

Due to chip shortages, you probably will not be able to get one right after they are announced. Earlier this month, there were reports that the shortage would at least delay shipments to around the end of October or the beginning of November. And these delays are independent of roadblocks to produce Mini-LED-based displays, which could only result in a limited amount of laptops available in 2021.

A new size, but at a higher starting price?

In addition to an upgraded model of a 16-inch MacBook Pro, we may have a 14-inch replacement for the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which could mean a 14-inch screen that fits in the case roughly the same size as the 13 – thanks to smaller screen frames. It follows a similar trend we’ve seen in Windows laptops and the same approach that Apple followed when it switched from 15-inch to 16-inch MacBook Pro models. If the 14-inch uses a new panel technology as indicated by the resolution rumor below, it would also explain a price increase.

Most industry viewers believe there will be a price increase for the 14-inch model over the 13 inches starting closer to the top end of the latter’s price range. Given the more expensive display technology and current shortage, I would not be surprised. It makes you wonder if Apple will continue to offer the M1-based MacBook Pro 13 as a cheaper option.


We expect the MacBook Pros to have Mini-LED backlit screens like the iPad Pro 12.9 (left).

Scott Stein / CNET

A whizzy new Mini-LED display?

A Mini-LED backlit display seems to be a different given and an extremely welcome display: It would give the MacBook Pro a better chance of supporting HDR at higher brightness and with better local dimming, essential for video editing or content production for 12, 9-inch iPad Pro and its Mini-LED screen. Hopefully, it will be accompanied by an update that allows the MacBook Pro to play 4K HDR content.

Most recently, Ross Young, CEO of Display Supply Chain Consultants (who correctly described the iPad Mini months before it was announced), tweeted “Panel vendors are the same between iPad Pro’s and MacBook Pro’s – LG Display and Sharp. Expected similar technology – oxide backplane, miniLED 120Hz backlight and refresh rates. MiniLEDs, 100% confirmed. “

Oxide backplane and Mini LED (but not 120Hz refresh rate) backlight are two technologies used by Apple’s Pro Display XDR, which bodes well for black levels.

MacRumors discovered a reference to new screen resolutions in a late beta of MacOS Monterey: “3,456 x 2,234 retinas” and “3,024 x 1,964 retinas.” The first would deliver almost the same pixel density — 226 ppi — as the current 16-inch MacBook screen. Apple always likes to keep a given range for its Retina displays, but the latter differs only slightly from the current 3,072×1,920; this is a strong sign that Apple will offer a new panel. Alternatively, both resolutions would deliver the same 257 ppi on 16-inch and 14-inch models, respectively.

A new aesthetic?

The rumors here vary. Almost every device Apple has announced this year, from the iPad to the iMac, has adopted the flat-edged profile aesthetic that goes back to the iPhone 4. But it remains to be seen whether Apple will adopt it for the MacBook Pro, given its seashell design. And there has not been much traction to the suggestion that MacBooks might come in bright colors a la the iMac 24.

Goodbye, Touch Bar?

I’ve never been a fan of the Touch Bar, especially as a replacement for fixed function keys, so I receive these reputable rumors about deprecating the Touch Bar and returning real function keys with a little stable dancing — and will be very disappointed if they turn out to be untrue. Since the Mini-LED typically also generates more heat than other backlights, Apple could probably handle a lesser need for heat dissipation near the screen.

Returning old favorites?

Apple had stripped its MacBook Pros of connectors that many people had come to trust, including an HDMI connection, SD card slot, and MagSafe connector (not to be confused with the MagSafe charger for iPhone). Some rumors suggest we’ll get them back with another pair of USB4 / Thunderbolt ports. Some news has also indicated a return of the MagSafe connection, but it is also possible that they confuse them with rumors of a new version of the latest application to the Federal Communications Commission for a MagSafe charger for iPhone.

A 1080p webcam, but still no Face ID?

When Apple introduced an upgraded 1080p webcam first with the 27-inch iMac (and discontinued the iMac Pro), then with the 24-inch iMac, it makes sense to integrate one into the MacBook Pro as widely rumored, as it is probably used for video conferencing more than many other of its systems. But while Touch ID is likely to remain, there has been no welcome word about much-sought-after Face ID (or 5G) since we heard in January that it would not be included.

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