New MacBook Pro at Apple event — 5 biggest rumored upgrades

MacBook Pro 2021
(Image credit: Intel)

If you're in the market for a new MacBook Pro, we have good news. Apple has announced an Apple event for October 18 with the title "Unleashed."

Based on various reports and rumors, we expect to see two new Apple laptops launch at the event in the form of a new 14-inch MacBook Pro 2021 and 16-inch MacBook Pro 2021. And this could be the biggest upgrade in years for the Mac lineup.

From a flat-edge redesign of the chassis and stunning mini-LED displays to more ports and the return of MagSafe charging, here's everything you need to know about the new MacBook Pros. 

MacBook Pro 2021: Get ready for M1X power

Apple is reportedly prepping a new M1X chip for the MacBook Pro 2021 this fall, and it should offer even more power than today's M1. We're talking about up to 10 CPU cores (up from 8 cores) and as many as 16 to 32 cores for the GPU (up from 8).

There's some debate around the amount of RAM the new MacBook Pro 2021 will support, but we're hearing anywhere from 32GB to 64GB.

At the same time, we'd expect the MacBook Pro M1X to offer the same or better endurance as the previous model. In our web surfing battery test, the MacBook Pro M1 lasted an astonishing 16 hours and 25 minutes. 

MacBook Pro 2021: mini-LED with 120Hz refresh rate

The MacBook Pro 2021's biggest, most in-your-face upgrade will likely be the new mini-LED display. Apple is expected to use the same display tech found in the iPad Pro 12.9-inch for the new MacBook Pro. The Liquid Retina XDR panel boasts 1,000 nits of brightness along with a 1 million to 1 contrast ratio, offering stellar image quality and overall performance.

In addition, display analyst Ross Young claims that the new MacBook Pros will also offer a 120Hz refresh rate. This should result in smoother animations and better overall performance, especially in games. And let's not forget that the 14-inch MacBook Pro should be a new size, potentially replacing the 13-inch model. 

MacBook Pro 2021: More ports, finally

Mac fans have been complaining for a while that the MacBook Pro's port section is skimpy. And the new MacBook Pro should address that by potentially including an HDMI port, an Ethernet port and a high-speed UHS-II SD Card reader.

No offense to Thunderbolt, but many photographers simply prefer being able to plug in an SD card after shooting phots and videos for easy transfers. And there are times when an Ethernet port is simply more reliable, even with the best Wi-Fi 6 routers offering stellar performance. 

MacBook Pro 2021: The return of MagSafe

Apple is also expected to bring MagSafe back to the MacBook Pro. Having a magnetic connection for the power cord should help prevent accidental drops should someone (or you) trip on your cable. Plus, the Touch Bar is reportedly getting killed, which we don't think anyone will miss. 

MacBook Pro 2021: Finally, a 1080p webcam

The MacBook Pro 2021 is tipped to offer a 1080p webcam (via iOS developer Dylandkt), which should be a major upgrade for those of us stuck on hours upon hours of video calls. In 2021 720p just doesn't but it any more. 

Having a sharper webcam would also be a welcome upgrade for taking better advantage of macOS Monterey, which offers features like SharePlay in FaceTime. 

MacBook Pro 2021 outlook

So what about price? We've only seen one rumor that the 14-inch model could start as high as $1,799. If that were true, Apple would likely keep the existing $1,299 MacBook Pro around so that it had a lower cost option. 

Stay tuned to our MacBook Pro 2021 hub for all the latest news and leaks as we get closer to the Apple event. 

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.