Apple announced a major update to its high-end MacBook Pro models in late 2021, 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 other features.
The redesigned MacBook Pro comes in new 14-inch and 16-inch sizes. Despite being high-end models, the 14- and 16-inch models differ in design, features, and capabilities, so should you buy the smaller MacBook Pro, which starts at $1,999, or the larger MacBook Pro, which costs at least $500 more? Our guide will assist you in determining which of these two high-end MacBook Pro models is best for you.
Comparing the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro
The display technology, chip configurations, and connectivity options are almost identical between the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models. Apple lists the following similarities between the two machines:
- Mini-LED Liquid Retina XDR display with up to 1,000 nits of sustained brightness and 1,600 nits of 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
- Unified memory of up to 64GB
- Storage capacity of up to 8TB
- FaceTime 1080p HD camera with Touch ID
- Six-speaker high-fidelity audio system with force-cancelling woofers, wide stereo sound, and spatial audio support
- Studio-quality three-mic array with directional beamforming and a high signal-to-noise ratio.
- Three Thunderbolt 4 ports, one HDMI port, and one SDXC card slot
- 3.5mm headphone jack with high-impedance headphones support Bluetooth 5.0 and 802.11ax Wi-Fi
- Silver and Space Gray colors are available.
- Apple’s breakdown shows that the two MacBooks share the majority of their important features, but there are some notable differences between the 14-inch MacBook Pro and 16-inch MacBook Pro, including display size, High Power Mode, thickness, weight, battery size, and power adapter.
MacBook Pro 14-Inch
- 14.2-inch display
- Configurations begin with the M1 Pro, which has an 8-core CPU and a 14-core GPU.
- 0.61 inch in thickness (1.55 cm)
- 3.5 pounds in weight (1.6 kg)
- 70-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery integrated
- When watching video, the battery lasts 17 hours.
- Charge quickly using MagSafe 3 or Thunderbolt 4.
- 67W USB-C Power Adapter (for use with the M1 Pro’s 8-core CPU)
- 96W USB-C Power Adapter (for M1 Pro with 10-core CPU or M1 Max, or M1 Pro with 8-core CPU)
- Prices begin at $1,999.
MacBook Pro 16.2-inch
- The M1 Pro comes standard with a 10-core CPU and a 16-core GPU.
- High Power Mode improves M1 Max performance.
- 0.66 inch in thickness (1.68 cm)
- 4.7 pounds in weight (2.1 kg)
- 100-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery integrated
- 21 hours of video playback battery life Fast charging via MagSafe 3 only 140W USB-C Power Adapter
- Prices begin at $2,499
The most noticeable distinction between the two MacBook Pro models is the display size. The precise display sizes are 14.2 and 16.2 inches.
The 16.2-inch display will be a better replacement for a desktop machine because it will provide much more screen space for arranging multiple windows and using professional applications that benefit from the extra display area. The 14.2-inch display is still larger than previous 13.3-inch MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models, and it will likely be the best overall balance of needs for most users.
While the notch containing the webcam does slightly reduce display space, both displays are larger than previous MacBook Pro models, so there is still more overall display area. Furthermore, the display area below the notch has the same aspect ratio as previous MacBook Pro models, ensuring that the notch does not interfere with normal display views or media viewing. As a result, if you’re concerned about the notch, you shouldn’t feel obligated to get the larger, 16-inch MacBook Pro. However, because the notch on both models is the same size, it may be slightly less noticeable on the 16-inch model.
Of course, the 16-inch model is physically larger than the 14-inch model, with a significantly larger overall footprint. It’s also worth noting that the 16-inch model is 0.13 cm thicker and weighs 1.2 pounds (0.5 kg).
High Power Mode is designed to optimize performance to better support resource-intensive tasks, such as color grading 8K ProRes video, according to Apple. When enabled, High Power Mode will de-prioritize resource-hungry system processes in order to leverage the full performance capability of the M1 Max processor. The setting is effectively the opposite of “Low Power Mode,” which aims to decrease system performance in favor of prolonging battery life.
The 14-inch MacBook Pro will be more portable and comfortable to carry around on a daily basis than the 16-inch model. Though the 16-inch MacBook Pro will still fit in larger bags and be suitable for less frequent travel, it is a much larger and heavier machine. If you’re thinking about getting the 16-inch MacBook Pro, make sure you’re comfortable with its larger size and weight.
Configurations for the M1 Pro
Both the 14-inch and 16-inch models are upgradeable to the M1 Max chip with a 10-core CPU and 32-core GPU, but if you want to spend as little as possible or do not require extra performance, the difference between the chips of the base configurations is worth noting.
The 14-inch MacBook Pro’s base configuration includes an M1 Pro with an 8-core CPU and 14-core GPU, while the 16-inch model includes an M1 Pro with a 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU. 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 jumps to $2,299 – just $200 less than the 16-inch model’s starting price.
For those considering purchasing the 16-inch MacBook Pro and requiring the M1 Pro with a 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU as a minimum, the $200 price difference between the two models may make it easier to justify purchasing the larger machine.
If you do not require the performance of the M1 Pro with a 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU, the 16-inch model may be overkill, and the 14-inch model will be the best way to save money in these circumstances.
High Power Mode
High Power Mode is a software feature available on the 16-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Max chip. When activated, High Power Mode improves the machine’s performance for intensive, long-term workloads.
Because the 14-inch MacBook Pro lacks High Power Mode, you must purchase the 16-inch model if you want to selectively push the M1 Max chip to its limits.
Because of its larger size, the 16-inch MacBook Pro has a larger battery and a longer battery life. The battery in the 14-inch model is 70 watt-hours, while the battery in the 16-inch model is 100 watt-hours.
When it comes to battery life, Apple claims that the 14-inch MacBook Pro can last up to 17 hours when playing back video. When playing back video, the 16-inch model adds four hours for a total of 21 hours of battery life. The 16-inch model will obviously have more battery life, but the 14-inch model’s 17-hour battery life is still very good and seven hours longer than the model it replaces.
The 14-inch MacBook Pro is powered by a 67W or 96W USB-C adapter, while the 16-inch model is powered by a 140W adapter. Both MacBook Pro models support fast charging.
Both models can fast charge via the MagSafe 3 port, but the 14-inch model can also be charged via one of its USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports. If you need the flexibility of being able to fast charge via USB-C, you will need to purchase the 14-inch model.
Other MacBook Alternatives
If you want an Apple silicon MacBook Pro but the latest M1 Pro and M1 Max models are out of your price range, the M1 MacBook Pro starts at $1,299. This is $700 less expensive than the 14-inch MacBook Pro and is a good option for users looking for a machine that is more capable than the MacBook Air but less expensive than the high-end MacBook Pro.
The M1 MacBook Pro is a low-cost model with a 13.3-inch display, Touch ID, two Thunderbolt 4 ports, the Touch Bar, and a 720p webcam. It is a less capable and more consumer-oriented machine than the high-end MacBook Pro, but it is more than adequate for most users.
The M1 MacBook Air, which starts at $999, has the same processor as the M1 MacBook Pro, a 13.3-inch display, Touch ID, and ports, as well as most other hardware features. This means that the extra $300 to upgrade to a MacBook Pro may be difficult to justify for casual users.
The M1 MacBook Pro still outperforms the MacBook Air in terms of performance, brightness, the Touch Bar, improved microphone and speaker quality, two extra hours of battery life, and an active cooling system. The MacBook Pro is the better option if you want slightly better performance than the M1 MacBook Air, as well as better battery life, display brightness, and speaker and microphone quality.
Similarly, users who intend to perform a lot of graphics-intensive 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 only if you don’t need more than 256GB of storage, because a storage upgrade would push the MacBook Pro’s price even higher.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro costs $500 more than the 14-inch model, so make sure you need the extra display area, battery life, and High Power Mode capability to justify the upgrade. However, if you upgrade the 14-inch model to the same M1 Pro with 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU as the 16-inch model, the price difference is reduced to $200.
Buyers should be aware that the 16-inch model is significantly larger, thicker, and heavier than the 14-inch model. Due to its larger size and potentially better thermals, the 16-inch model may provide slightly better performance than the 14-inch model, but this has yet to be confirmed with benchmark tests. Because of the larger size of the device, the speakers on the 16-inch model are likely to provide slightly better sound quality.
The 14-inch MacBook Pro is clearly a more portable machine than the 16-inch model, so if you plan on carrying the MacBook Pro around frequently or need the versatility of easily fitting it into a bag, the smaller model will be the better choice. Buyers of the 14-inch models gain the ability to fast charge using one of the machine’s USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports without missing out on any major MacBook Pro features. As a result, most users will benefit from purchasing the 14-inch model, which provides the best overall balance of price and form factor.