MacBook Pro 14-inch vs MacBook Pro 16-inch: What are the key differences?

MacBook Pro 14-inch vs MacBook Pro 16-inch: What are the key differences?

Apple’s new MacBook Pro notebooks are finally here. As expected, we have a new 14-inch MacBook Pro and a larger 16-inch variant that’s replacing the older 16-inch model with an Intel chip. The new MacBook Pros both can utilize either the M1 Pro or the M1 Max chip — two new silicon joining the M1 family. While the two variants have their fair share of differences, they both seem worthy of reserving a spot in our collection of the best Macs right now. In this guide, we wanted to highlight some of the key differences between the two MacBook Pros that you may have missed during the keynote. We believe this will help you decide which model is the best one for you before you go ahead and pre-order the new MacBook Pro.

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MacBook Pro 14-inch vs MacBook Pro 16-inch: Specs compared

Let’s go through the specifications of each new MacBook Pro model to see what you get for the price:

SpecificationMacBook Pro 14-inchMacBook Pro 16-inch
Processor:Apple M1 Pro (8-core CPU + 16-core Neural Engine)
Apple M1 Pro (10-core CPU + 16-core Neural Engine)
Apple M1 Max (10-core CPU + 16-core Neural Engine)
Apple M1 Pro (10-core CPU + 16-core Neural Engine)
Apple M1 Max (10-core CPU + 16-core Neural Engine)
Graphics:14-Core GPU
16-Core GPU
24-Core GPU
32-Core GPU
16-Core GPU
24-Core GPU
32-Core GPU
RAM:16GB
32GB
64GB (only available with M1 Max chip)
16GB
32GB
64GB (only available with M1 Max chip)
Storage (SSD):512GB
1TB
2TB
4TB
8TB
512GB
1TB
2TB
4TB
8TB
Display:14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display, Adaptive refresh rate with ProMotion tech up to 120Hz, 3024 x 1964, 1000 nits, True Tone, DCI-P3 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display, Adaptive refresh rate with ProMotion tech up to 120Hz, 3456 x 2234, 1000 nits, True Tone, DCI-P3
Webcam:1080p FaceTime HD camera1080p FaceTime HD camera
Battery:69.6Whr battery
Up to 17 hours of Apple TV app movie playback
96W USB-C Power Adapter (67W USB-C Power Adapter with M1 Pro 8-core CPU SKU)
99.6Whr battery
Up to 21 hours of Apple TV app movie playback
140W USB-C Power Adapter
Ports:Three Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 ports (40Gbps, Power Delivery, one external display)
SDXC card slot
HDMI port
MagSafe 3 port
3.5 mm Headphone jack
Three Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 ports (40Gbps, Power Delivery, one external display)
SDXC card slot
HDMI port
MagSafe 3 port
3.5 mm Headphone jack
Connectivity:Wi-Fi 6 (802.11a/b/g/n/ac compatible)
Bluetooth 5.0
Wi-Fi 6 (802.11a/b/g/n/ac compatible)
Bluetooth 5.0
Size (WxDxH):12.31 x 8.71 x 0.61 inches14.01 x 8.71 x 0.61 inches
Weight:3.5lbs (1.6kg)4.8lbs (1.6kg)
Colors:Silver, Space GreySilver, Space Grey
Starting price:$1999$2499

Design and ports: A new look with more ports!

Apple's new MacBook Pro notebooks

Apple’s new MacBook Pro notebooks have a squared-off design with flat edges. It almost feels like Apple wants to revert all its product designs to match the older ones. The changes are minimal on the outside, but you’ll still be able to tell the difference between the new and the older versions. The port selection on the new MacBook Pro is an instant giveaway in that regard.

There aren’t too many design differences between the 14-inch and the 16-inch MacBook Pro models, besides the actual footprint, of course. They both feature the same flat-edged design now and come in Silver and Space Grey colorways. As you may have noticed from the specs table above, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is 1.3 pounds heavier than the 14-inch variant.

Both variants have ditched the Touch Bar in favor of physical function keys — a move that a lot of people are happy about. You get the same Backlit Magic keyboard on both models with TouchID and Ambient light sensor. The Force Touch trackpad is slightly bigger on the 16-inch variant due to its larger keyboard deck. Both notebooks also have a high-fidelity six-speaker sound system with force-cancelling woofers. These top firing speakers are next to the keyboard on both sides and they support spatial audio when playing music or video with Dolby Atmos.

What we’re most excited to talk about is the return of ports, especially MagSafe. Yes, MagSafe is back and it magnetically attaches the charging cable to your MacBook Pro. It’ll detach itself from the device as opposed to pulling the entire notebook if you ever happen to accidentally pull the cord. You might want to look up the best MacBook Pro cases to protect your device regardless. Apple has given MagSafe a facelift and improved the charging speeds compared to the older generation of Macs.

An image highlighting the ports on the new MacBook Pros

In addition to MagSafe, the new MacBook Pro models now have an HDMI port, an SD card reader, three Thunderbolt ports, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Many MacBook Pro users have been yearning for more ports and we think Apple did the right thing by bringing them back.

Display, now with a notch

Turns out the rumors of Apple using a mini-LED technology for these notebooks were true. Both models now use min-LED instead of LED backlighting. Apple calls it “Liquid Retina XDR display”, though. What you essentially get here is a wider color gamut, a better contrast ratio (1,000,000:1), and of course, deeper blacks. An interesting design decision to highlight here is the use of a notch on both models at the top to house the webcam. It at least brings the much-needed 1080p quality upgrade, replacing the 720p cam.

A front-facing image of Apple's 2021 MacBook Pro notebook

Both the 14-inch and the 16-inch models use the same display technology, but they do differ in size. You get a 14.2-inch panel with a resolution of 3024 x 1964 on the 14-inch MacBook Pro, and a 16.2-inch panel with a resolution of 3456 x 2234 on the 16-inch model. There are no differences when it comes to the refresh rates, though. Apple is using ProMotion technology for adaptive refresh rates up to 120Hz. As a user, you can also turn off ProMotion tech and use fixed refresh rates instead.

Performance: Supercharged with M1 Pro & M1 Max chips

As we mentioned earlier, the new MacBook Pro notebooks are using Apple’s new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. The new chips have more cores and faster speeds for a better overall computing experience. These new chips are more powerful than the original M1 chip, especially in the GPU department. That being said, you will be able to configure both the 14-inch as well as the 16-inch variant with the same specs, including the amount of RAM and storage.

Apple's M1 Pro and M1 Max chip logos

Both notebooks can be configured with up to 64GB of unified memory and up to 8TB of storage. You’ll get 16GB RAM and 512GB storage as the standard in base configurations. The new MacBook Pros also deliver storage speeds of up to 7.4GB/s, which is two times the previous generation speeds. They’re on par with what you’d get with modern PCIe 4.0 storage on the market. In terms of cooling, Apple says the new MacBook Pro models are using an advanced thermal system. It’s said to move up to 50-percent more air even at lower fan speeds. We believe both models are using the same cooling system, and hence there’s no difference in weight or the form-factor due to that.

MacBook Pro 14-inch vs MacBook Pro 16-inch: Portability

There’s no denying that the smaller 14-inch MacBook Pro is more portable than the larger variant. The new 14-inch MacBook Pro is almost similar in size to the 13-inch MacBook Pro. It’s 15.5mm thick and weighs 3.5 pounds. The 16-inch MacBook Pro, on the other hand, is 16.8mm thick and weighs 4.7 pounds. Not to mention, it also has a larger footprint thanks to the bigger display and battery. The 14-inch MacBook Pro packs a 69.6Whr battery and the 16-inch variant packs a 99.6Whr unit.

A top down picture of the Apple MacBook Pro showing the keyboard deck

So the decision boils down to having a bigger display and larger battery or settling for the smaller one in favor of portability. The 14-inch MacBook Pro is clearly the more portable machine out of the two but they are both relatively easier to carry. We’ve seen bulkier Windows machines on the market. This is also a good time to remind you that MacBook Air continues to remain one of the most portable notebooks in Apple’s lineup.

MacBook Pro 14 vs MacBook Pro 16: Final Thoughts

The new MacBook Pros have a lot in common but you still have to consider a few things before making a purchase decision. Unlike the differences between a MacBook Air and a Pro, your decision mostly boils down to the display size and battery life this time. Portability wise, the 14-inch MacBook is recommended for power users on the go while the 16-inch variant is more suited for those with a working setup.

All things considered, the new MacBook Pro notebooks have turned out very well. Apple did the right thing by giving pros everything they wanted, including the MagSafe charging cable, more ports, a redesigned keyboard with function keys instead of a Touch Bar, and a high refresh rate panel. Apple’s new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips are also looking mighty powerful on paper.

There’s no doubt the new MacBook Pro notebooks are beastly machines, but they certainly have a price to match. The base model of the MacBook Pro 14-inch starts at $1,999, and the MacBook Pro 16-inch starts at $2,499. In fact, the most expensive MacBook Pro costs over $6,000! That being said, we think Apple’s MacBook lineup now has a decent collection of devices for different use cases. From the $999 MacBook Air M1 to the new supercharged MacBook Pros, it’s safe to say the lineup is looking better than ever.

    Apple MacBook Pro (2021)
    Apple's new MacBook Pro notebooks come with M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, and a notch on the display.

About author

Karthik Iyer
Karthik Iyer

Karthik covers PC hardware for XDA Computing. When not at work, you will find him yelling at his monitors while playing video games.