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MacBook Pro 14-inch — 5 reasons to buy and 3 reasons to skip

MacBook Pro 14-inch
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Apple’s new 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops are now available to purchase. The M1 Pro and M1 Max processors found in each device represent a new era for Apple silicon chips. These laptops are a vast improvement over its Intel-powered predecessors. Sporting crisp displays, durable battery life and exceptional performance, the new MacBook Pros are worth getting excited about.

There’s little doubt that hardcore Apple enthusiasts have already secured their orders for the new laptops. But what about those on the fence? Considering the power of the new devices — in this case, the 14-inch model — even those who’ve never purchased an Apple product might want to give it serious consideration.

Here are reasons for purchasing the 14-inch MacBook Pro alongside a few arguments for considering another device.

MacBook Pro 14-inch: Reasons to buy 

Awesome mini-LED display

The mini-LED Liquid Retina XDR display produces clear, sharp and vibrant images. 4K HDR movies look stunning, with colors popping off the screen. The 120Hz refresh rate provides smooth on-screen motion. Even fast-paced action scenes run buttery smooth. It should come as no surprise that simple acts like scrolling through pages are also smooth thanks to the display and refresh rate.

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

The screen is also quite bright, emitting up to 487.8 nits according to our light gun. We were only able to get the brightness up to 520 nits, which is short of the advertised 1,600 nits. Despite that, the screen’s brightness is nothing to balk at.

Ports are back!

You’ll find almost every kind of port you could think of in the MacBook Pro 14-inch. This differs from previous MacBooks which only had USB-C ports.

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

The MagSafe charging port makes its triumphant return, much to the delight of Apple enthusiasts. Because the magnetically-attaching MagSafe detaches with a simple tug, you won’t have to worry about someone accidentally yanking on the power cable and potentially destroying your new expensive toy.

You’ll also find three Thunderbolt 4/USB4 ports, a headphone jack, an HDMI port and an SD card reader. The SD card reader is essential for transferring photos from one’s camera to the MacBook Pro. Considering how both new MacBooks are phenomenal workstations for creatives, the SD card reader is extremely welcome.

Blazing M1 Pro performance

The 14-inch MacBook Pro is, for lack of a better word, a beast when it comes to performance. In all but one category we tested, the 14-inch MacBook, with its M1 Pro w 10 core CPU and 32GB of RAM, reigned supreme.

It scored 12,477 on the Geekbench 5 general performance multi-core test. Compare this score with the 7,571 earned by the M1 MacBook Pro 2020 and it’s almost no competition. Laptops like the Razer Blade 14 (7,471), XPS 15 (7,477), Surface Laptop Studio (5,820) and Dell XPS 13 (5,400) don’t come close.

Our review has a thorough breakdown of the 14-inch MacBook’s performance, but it’s plain to see that the M1 Pro-powered laptop is no joke. Though it, and its M1 Max-driven big brother, come up short when it comes to gaming performance, the laptop is all but unrivaled in most categories.

Finally, a 1080p webcam

Online video conferencing became an essential tool for those of us working from home during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, it’s great that both new MacBook Pros come with a 1080p camera. The camera produces bright and clear images, revealing more details than the 720p camera of the Intel-based 2020 MacBook Pro. Whether you’re attending a work meeting or having a chat with a friend or significant other, the 1080p will make you look your best.

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

Stellar battery life

Related to the previous point, if you’re working from home, you need a long-lasting laptop. The 14-inch delivers this in spades with its impressive battery life.

The 14-inch MacBook Pro lasted 14 hours and 9 minutes on our web browsing-based battery test (set to 150 nits). That’s good enough to get you through an entire day. Previous MacBooks like the 13-inch (10:21), 15-inch (10:21) and 16-inch (10:55) pale in comparison. If you wanted a long-laster MacBook, you got it.

MacBook Pro 14-inch: Reasons to avoid 

Um, there’s a notch

One of the biggest gripes folks have with both new MacBook Pros is the notch located in the top center of the display. The notch exists because of the laptop’s thinner bezels. As noted in our review, folks like tech enthusiast Quinn Nelson have reported that the notch doesn’t play nice with the iStat Menus utility — with Menu Bar options on the left and icons on the right hitting a breaking point.

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

To be fair, you do get used to the notch after some time, and the Menu Bar lines up well with the notch. However, it’s clear that most are not happy with the notch. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, Apple plans to do about this with future MacBook iterations.

Pricey

This is a complaint you can lobby at almost all Apple products, but the $1,999 asking price for the 14-inch MacBook Pro is certainly a major investment. It costs $200 more than its $1,799 MacBook Pro predecessor and $700 more than the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1. Granted, the M1 Pro-powered machine is superior to both of the aforementioned MacBooks. But if you’re on a budget, the 14-inch laptop is hard to justify.

No USB-A ports

USB-C is effectively the default port used by most electronics nowadays. But there are still plenty of devices that use USB-A. If I wanted to plug my Samson mic into the MacBook Pro, I’d have to use a USB-A adapter. Like we said in our review, you shouldn’t have to carry an adapter around to use these accessories while on the go.

MacBook Pro 14-inch outlook

It's no question that the MacBook Pro 14-inch is the next generation of Apple silicon-based hardware. This is the MacBook fans have long yearned for, with its vibrant display, blazing-fast performance, thinner bezels and more. Those on a budget may want to steer clear, but if you need a work laptop with serious muscle under the hood, you can't go wrong with this device.

Tony Polanco

Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.