The MacBook Pro 14″

I splurged a fair bit of money and went for the MacBook Pro 14″. It is something I ruminated on for the past 3-4 weeks and finally gave in.

I don’t think I need a MacBook Pro but when the Mac Studio came out one gets into the cycle again of wanting a new device and that got me thinking that the prices for MacBook Pros are not that bad and maybe I shouldn’t have been dismissive of them earlier. A Mac Studio starts at similar prices to a 14″ MacBook Pro and with the latter one also gets good display as well as better than M1 features such as being able to connect more than 2 monitors. Sure, the Mac Studio starts with an M1 Max and 32GB, but I don’t need those… what I need is the ability to attach more than 1 external display if I want to, and a good internal display.

I was torn between the 16″ and 14″. The latter had better deals for the Silver colour that I was interested in. The former is something I got burnt with in my previous Intel MacBook Pro 16″ as it was quite heavy and I loathed that butterfly keyboard. Granted the new one has a better keyboard but I still had a negative feeling towards it and I felt I won’t like the additional weight. I wanted something not too heavy. I love the MacBook Air as its so effortless to pick up, and my only qualm with it is the small screen because of which I can’t make it my primary work device. If the new laptop is substantially heavy I may not use it as much. Of course, I checked the weight specs on Apple’s website as well as various reviews, and even went over to the Apple Store to lift each model. The 16″ was definitely too heavy for my taste, but seeing the larger screen face to face tore me again as I do love me a large screen. 😃

Thus began a period of “do I need this?”, “what size do I need?”, “let’s wait for some deals to decide”, “I really don’t need this”, “I don’t want this new laptop to be a repeat of the Intel MacBook Pro that I ended up disliking” yada yada yada. To make things worse I definitely didn’t want the Space Gray as I realized when I saw them face to face that I am a Silver (or light colours) kind of person, but all the deals were usually for the Space Gray. So not only was I splurging on an expensive device, I couldn’t even take advantage of the deals due to my colour preferences. I also wanted the 1TB version if possible so I can have most of my iCloud offline.

Anyways, things dragged on for quite a while until finally two days ago I purchased the Silver 14″ from Amazon. They had a deal going on where there was a discount, they were offering 5 months 0% instalments, and the Space Gray was only £30 less than Silver so I didn’t feel too bad about going with the Silver.

I got the device today and set things up. So consider this blog post a first impressions one after just a few hours of usage.

To begin with I love the keyboard layout. They’ve gone with an all black design and that looks very professional. You know the Air is more for fun or day-to-day or casual use while this one’s for work for serious stuff. (Or maybe it’s just me reading too much into the colours haha). The keys feel great, just like the MacBook Air. No more butterfly keyboards, super yay!

The display is great as expected. Would I have been happier with the 16″? Dunno. Maybe, coz it would be taller and that’s better ergonomically perhaps when I use this laptop sitting/ standing on a desk… but at the same time the additional weight would have put me off as this one’s still easy to carry with one hand and move around. Even though it’s only about an inch larger than the MacBook Air it feels more spacious thanks to the narrower bezels and higher resolution (3024 x 1964 pixels vs 2560 x 1600). Both devices have a 16:10 aspect ratio (both the MacBook Pro 14″ (and 16″) and MacBook Air I mean (as well as the 13″ MacBook Pro)). I am usually a fan of the wider 16:9 ratio as I like to have more text across the screen (that’s what the LG Ultrafine 4K I currently use has). Or the 3:2 aspect ratio sported by devices like the Surface Laptop. But hey, 16:10 is fine too… I think the larger resolution is what really matters to me.

With the MacBook Air I would usually have my windows in full screen so I could get more text on the screen. But I don’t like that as I prefer seeing the wallpaper background and dock etc., which I able to do easily with this Pro device as I don’t need to put all my windows in full screen. Moreover I can have more than one window in a desktop space too and it doesn’t feel too cramped.

Nothing much to say about the higher refresh rate, but swiping between desktop spaces (something I do a lot of) is definitely smoother. I used to notice that on all the other Macs so far as just put it down as something I have to deal with as the Macs are maybe unable to handle so many desktop spaces and swiping between them; but now I realize it’s more of a refresh rate thing. This one’s smoooooth as butter when it comes to swiping between desktop spaces, I love it!

Interestingly, thanks to Universal Control I am able to use this along with my existing Mac mini for when I am working with this on my desk. I can use the trackpad and keyboard of the MacBook Pro with the mini. Unfortunately though, there is a noticeable lag on the Mac mini when I move the mouse from the MacBook Pro to that. It’s not a Mac mini thing, the same happens if I move the mouse from the MacBook Pro to the MacBook Air. Something in the MacBook Pro isn’t too happy sharing its trackpad with the MacBook Air or Mac mini. Conversely, if I control the MacBook Pro from the mouse of the Mac mini or MacBook Air there’s no lag… so its one way thing.  It does seem to be an off and on thing though and I hope I don’t get too frustrated with it soon. :-/

Speakers are slightly better than the MacBook Air (which was already good in my opinion). Slightly more loud and a larger soundstage I think. I didn’t use the headphone jack, so no comments on that.

Do apps feel any faster to launch on this? I don’t think so. But then I am an IT worker so the kind of apps I use are Outlook, Teams, Word, Citrix, iTerm, Visual Studio Code, Fork and so on. With a bit of Music and Podcasts occassionally. Outlook has progressively become slower in my opinion with it taking a few bounces each time I launch it on my Mac mini or MacBook Air. I was hoping this being a fresh setup (and with all those extra cores heh!) it would be blazing fast… but nope, it still took it usual number of bounces in the dock to start. All these M1 based devices have the same single core performance so if something doesn’t try and take advantage of all the extra cores offered by the M1 Pro it doesn’t matter. I imagine something like Outlook doesn’t try to.

As an IT worker should I have even bothered with the MacBook Pro 14″? Am I Pro enough for that? Nope! For me the MacBook Pro is all about the better display and portability, and it’s the only macOS based device I can get that ticks these boxes. Maybe the 15″ MacBook of next year would have been fine enough, but I don’t want to wait a year (and it’s going to be around £1600 for the base model I assume, so around £1800 for the 1TB version; while I got this Pro device for a few hundred quid more and can start using it now).

Overall, a good device and worth the money. And as of writing at least I am glad I went with the 14″ instead of the 16″ as I feel I use this device more often as I can carry it around and put it on my lap without it feeling heavy. But let’s see! Hopefully there isn’t a follow up post a month from today saying I returned the device. 🤞🏼