Is the MacBook Pro 2021 still worth it in 2023?

MacBook Pro 2021 in the 2023 landscape

Explore if the MacBook Pro 2021 holds up in 2023. We assess its performance, design, and value for today's tech standards

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When Apple unveiled the MacBook Pro 2021, it wasn’t just another update; it was a revolution. The introduction of the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips marked a new era of performance and efficiency for the MacBook lineup.

With its thoughtful design revisions, including the addition of more ports and the removal of the Touch Bar, the MacBook Pro 2021 quickly became a benchmark for professional-grade laptops. But as technology advances at breakneck speeds, is the MacBook Pro 2021 still a smart buy in 2023? This article takes a closer look at its enduring value, assessing its performance, design, and longevity to help you decide.

In the following sections, we’ll evaluate the MacBook Pro 2021’s features, from its 14-inch retina display to the SSD speeds, professional-grade graphics, enhanced camera capabilities, and impressive memory bandwidth. We’ll also dive into real-world benchmarks to give you a clear picture of how this machine holds up against the latest models.

Is the MacBook Pro 2021 still worth it in 2023?

We’re now into 2023 and newer models have arrived. So, is buying the 2021 MacBook Pro still a good value purchase today? Let’s evaluate the key factors.

Display and design

The MacBook Pro 2021 marked a significant shift in Apple’s design philosophy, reverting to a form that balances aesthetic with practicality. The introduction of mini-LED technology on the 14-inch MacBook Pro and its larger counterpart brought displays that are not only expansive but also capable of delivering stunning visuals. With ProMotion technology, users enjoy variable refresh rates up to 120Hz, ensuring smooth transitions whether you’re scrolling through a document or enjoying high-fps gameplay.

These screens shine bright, offering up to 1600 nits of peak brightness for HDR content, and maintain great contrast levels that make colors pop and details stand out in Dolby Atmos and spatial audio-supported media. The design also thoughtfully includes an HDMI port and an SDXC card slot, a nod to the predecessors but with a modern twist. This allows for easy connection to external monitors and quick media transfers, a boon for professionals.

The MacBook Pro’s chassis, robust and sleek, houses various ports that had been missed in previous models. The return of the MagSafe charging port, alongside multiple USB-C/Thunderbolt ports, allows for a versatile and secure connection. The trackpad remains expansive and responsive, a staple of the MacBook experience, complementing the full-sized, tactile keyboard that replaces the Touch Bar.

Apple’s attention to detail extends to the audio experience as well. The six-speaker sound system with force-cancelling woofers produces rich, immersive sound that leverages spatial audio, making the MacBook Pro 2021 a portable powerhouse for both work and entertainment. Whether you’re mixing tracks or in a video conference, the studio-quality three-microphone array ensures your sound is crystal clear.

Touchpad and user experience

One of the hallmarks of the MacBook Pro series has always been its superior touchpad. The MacBook Pro 2021 continues this legacy with a touchpad that provides a responsive and smooth user experience. The touchpad is not just large and easy to use, but it also supports various gestures that enhance user interaction and productivity.

The MacBook Pro 2021’s design and display features, from the mouse to the keyboard, are engineered to enhance both productivity and pleasure. Its ability to connect with a multitude of devices through the HDMI port, USB-C, and SDXC card slot, combined with a top-tier visual and audio experience, solidifies its standing as a valuable tool for professionals and creatives alike, even into 2023.

Performance

The MacBook Pro 2021, with its M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, continues to stand out in the realm of high-performance laptops. The 14-inch and 16-inch models are not just a testament to Apple’s engineering prowess, but also a beacon for professional users who demand top-tier performance.

CPU and GPU cores

At the heart of the MacBook Pro 2021 lies a choice between the M1 Pro or M1 Max chips, both boasting numerous CPU and GPU cores. The M1 Pro comes with up to 10 CPU cores and 16 GPU cores, while the M1 Max can be configured with the same number of CPU cores but doubles the GPU count to 32. This configuration allows professionals to tackle graphics-intensive tasks with ease, whether it’s video editing, 3D rendering, or compiling complex code.

RAM and memory bandwidth

Accompanying the powerful processors is a generous amount of RAM. Users can opt for up to 64GB on the 16-inch model, which, along with an impressive memory bandwidth, ensures smooth multitasking and quick access to large files, a boon for professionals working with high-resolution media.

Six-speaker sound system and webcam

The MacBook Pro 2021 models also feature a six-speaker sound system that delivers rich audio, whether you’re editing a track or watching a movie. The improved 1080p webcam ensures that your video calls are crystal clear, making it an excellent choice for professionals who frequently engage in virtual meetings.

Keyboard, ports, and connectivity

Apple has refined the keyboard experience with a responsive and comfortable mechanism, making typing more pleasurable for long work sessions. The array of ports, including the Thunderbolt, headphone jack, and the return of the MagSafe, enhances connectivity and convenience. The inclusion of Wi-Fi 6 ensures faster internet speeds, which is critical for cloud-based workflows and online collaboration.

Battery life

The 14-inch model strikes a balance between portability and power, while the 16-inch variant pushes the envelope with its larger screen and additional battery capacity. Both models offer a range of configurations, allowing users to tailor their MacBook Pro to their specific needs.

The MacBook Pro 2021 remains a compelling choice in 2023. Its performance cores and neural engine continue to deliver exceptional speed and efficiency, making it a powerhouse for professionals. Whether you opt for the 14-inch or 16-inch model, the MacBook Pro 2021 is a machine that promises to keep up with the demanding pace of creative and technical workloads.

How long does the MacBook Pro 2021 last?

The 2021 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models are expected to easily last 4–5 years or more with proper care and maintenance. The key factors contributing to their longevity include:

  • Powerful M1 Pro/Max chips that will not feel outdated for daily tasks any time soon. These proprietary Apple Silicon chips are designed for the long haul.
  • Quality construction and materials like the aluminum unibody make them durable laptops built to handle years of use.
  • Outstanding battery health of up to 1000 charge cycles while maintaining 80% capacity. Enough for daily use over multiple years.
  • Thermal design prevents overheating and allows the hardware to run efficiently for a long device lifespan.
  • Apple supports Macs with 5–6 years of macOS software updates. The 2021 models shipped with the latest macOS and will receive updates for the next 5+ years.
  • The ability to upgrade the storage on some models extends its usefulness.
  • Apple provides comprehensive warranty and repair options to safely extend viability.

Barring any serious accidents or unforeseen manufacturing defects, a well-maintained 2021 MacBook Pro is expected to deliver reliable performance for 4–5 years or more before needing replacement. For a modern flagship laptop, that’s an excellent usable lifespan.

Should I buy MacBook Pro 2021 now?

Whether to invest in a MacBook Pro 2021 in the year 2023 hinges on several factors, including your specific needs, budget constraints, and the availability of newer models. The MacBook Pro 2021, available in both 14-inch and 16-inch variants, continues to be a formidable contender in the laptop market, even when compared to the newer M2-based laptops.

The MacBook Pro 2021 is equipped with Apple’s M1 Pro or M1 Max chips, which have not only set a high standard for performance but also for efficiency. These chips come with a remarkable number of efficiency cores that ensure smooth performance even with multiple applications running simultaneously. When compared to the newer models, the performance difference may not be substantial enough to justify the price difference, especially if your usage doesn’t demand the cutting-edge specs of the latest models.

Cost-saving alternative

Opting for the MacBook Pro 2021 over the 2022 or 2023 models can indeed save you several hundred dollars without compromising much on the performance or the features. Especially when considering the 14-inch variant, which offers a good balance between size and functionality, the 2021 model provides a cost-effective alternative to the latest releases.

Availability and choices

The availability of the MacBook Pro 2021, both new and refurbished, is an advantage for buyers. It offers an opportunity to get a high-performance laptop at a potentially lower price point. Moreover, with the choice between the 14-inch and the 16-inch models, users have the flexibility to choose a size that suits their needs.

Summing up

In summary, the MacBook Pro 2021 remains a viable option for those looking to own a powerful and reliable MacBook without having to stretch their budget to accommodate the latest models. Its performance, user-friendly features like the touchpad, and the availability of different sizes provide a compelling argument for considering the MacBook Pro 2021 as a smart choice even in 2023.