MacBook Pro 2021 16-inch has a secret weapon 14-inch MacBook Pro lacks

MacBook Pro 2021 bezel with notch
(Image credit: Apple via YouTube)

On Monday (October 18) Apple announced the 14-inch MacBook Pro 2021 and the 16-inch MacBook Pro 2021, two long-awaited new MacBook Pros that sport bright mini-LED displays and the latest in Apple silicon. 

There are actually two new pieces of Apple silicon, the new M1 Pro chip and the beefier M1 Max, both of which look to be magnitudes more powerful than the already impressive M1 chip. 

But while both models of MacBook Pro are configurable with either chip, it looks like only the 16-inch MacBook Pro 2021 with M1 Max will have access to a special new High Power Mode coming in macOS Monterey.

This is potentially a big deal because this is the first time we've ever seen Apple ship a laptop with a dedicated High Power Mode. We already suspected that the MacBook Pro 2021 could get a performance boost with a new High Power Mode, but Apple has now confirmed to Tom's Guide that this High Power Mode will exist in Monterey and it will only be accessible by 16-inch 2021 MacBook Pros packing an M1 Max chip.

Based on the name, it's reasonable to expect this new boosted performance mode will work much like the Low Power Mode we've come to know and love (?) on modern MacBooks, but in reverse. A MacRumors contributor recently discovered text within the macOS Monterey beta that reads "your Mac will optimize performance to better support resource-intensive tasks. This may result in louder fan noise," so it's reasonable to expect that this new mode will cause the reportedly whisper-quiet 16-inch MacBook Pro 2021 to get a bit noisy. 

However, it's yet unclear how much of a performance boost this High Power Mode will provide. We'll have to wait until we have a chance to benchmark a 16-inch MacBook Pro 2021 running macOS Monterey to see exactly how much of a difference this new mode makes, and whether it's worth trading up to the 16-incher with an M1 Max. 

The new MacBook Pros launch October 26th, a day after the launch of macOS Monterey. Look for our full review of Apple's new operating system and its beefy new MacBook Pros then, complete with the results of our performance benchmarks, battery tests, and more. Stay tuned!

Alex Wawro
Senior Editor Computing

Alex Wawro is a lifelong tech and games enthusiast with more than a decade of experience covering both for outlets like Game Developer, Black Hat, and PC World magazine. A lifelong PC builder, he currently serves as a senior editor at Tom's Guide covering all things computing, from laptops and desktops to keyboards and mice.