Should I buy the Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch?

It's one of the best MacBooks... but is it the Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch the right laptop for you?

Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch 2021
(Image credit: Apple)

If you're discussing the best MacBooks available now, then the 14-inch MacBook Pro launched in 2021 is likely to come up sooner rather than later – in fact, we think it's the best MacBook for most people at the moment, in the midst of some strong competition.

Is it, though, the best MacBook for you? We'll attempt to help you answer that question for yourself here, by covering everything you need to know about this particular Apple laptop: what the internal specs are, how much the battery lasts, and plenty more besides.

And if you're in need of even more advice, we've got you covered there as well – from our guide to the best laptops to our list of the best laptops for students, you should be able to find a portable computer that ticks all the boxes you need ticking before buying.

Should I buy the 14-inch MacBook Pro?

MacBook Pro 14-inch 2021

(Image credit: Apple)

There's no doubt the 14-inch MacBook Pro is a fantastic laptop – just about everybody agrees on that – but that doesn't necessarily mean it's the right laptop for you. There are both cheaper and more expensive MacBooks available on the market, so you should put in plenty of research before deciding what to spend your cash on (and reading this article is a good start).

Do you actually want a MacBook at all? If you've always had Apple laptops then these are the ones that you probably feel most comfortable with, but Windows laptops and Chromebooks can be notably cheaper, and can more than cover your day-to-day computing needs (our list of the best Chromebooks might be of some use here).

If you already own a lot of Apple kit – an iPhone maybe, and an Apple TV 4K box perhaps – then it makes sense to pick up a laptop that will work seamlessly with these other gadgets. If you have an Android phone and a Chromecast on the other hand, you might want to think again. As with many tech choices these days, you need to think about what you're going to be using your new device with.

What are the specs of the 14-inch MacBook Pro?

MacBook Pro 14-inch 2021

(Image credit: Apple)

As with most of Apple's laptops, there are various spec configurations to choose from when it comes to the 14-inch MacBook Pro. What doesn't change is that 14.2-inch screen that differentiates it from the other MacBook Pros: the display uses Apple's Liquid Retina XDR technology, runs at a resolution of 3024 x 1964 pixels and can hit a maximum of 1,600 nits peak brightness. It supports Wide Colour (P3), True Tone, and ProMotion refresh rate adjustments up to 120Hz.

Under the hood you've got either an Apple M1 Pro chip or an Apple M1 Max chip – these configurations top out at a 10-core CPU and a 32-core GPU. You can then spec the laptop up with a maximum of 64GB of RAM and 8TB of internal storage, though prices can get very high as you go. When closed, the laptop measures 31.26 cm x 22.12 cm x 1.55 cm (that's 12.31 inches x 8.71 inches x 0.61 inches), and it weighs 1.6 kg (3.5 pounds).

You get a 1080p webcam built into the display, a high-fidelity six-speaker sound system, and support for Wi-Fi 6. As far as ports go, we're looking at a 3.5mm audio jack, plus an HDMI port, an SDXC card slot, and three Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports. These make it easy to connect to one of the best monitors for MacBook Pro no matter what connection your screen uses.

There's no Touch Bar on the keyboard here, but there is integrated Touch ID. It's a powerful, capable, versatile laptop alright, and you only to check out T3's Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch review to see how highly it is thought of.

What are the best features of the 14-inch MacBook Pro?

MacBook Pro 14-inch 2021

(Image credit: Apple)

This is the first generation of MacBook Pros to come with Apple silicon fitted inside, and the switch has meant substantial improvements in terms of performance and battery life. If you're in the market for a laptop that can cope with demanding tasks like video editing and still last a full day away from a charger, then this might be it.

The 14.2-inch display is a stunner as well, and definitely one of the best features of this particular model (though we're still not completely sure about the display notch). If you need even more screen space, consider upgrading to the MacBook Pro with a 16.2-inch display – but that does mean you're going to have to pay more money, of course.

It's really the combination of hardware and software that have made Apple's MacBook Pros stand out over the last few years, With the removal of the Touch Bar above the keyboard and the addition of more ports on these latest models, it would seem Apple is listening to user feedback and focusing on what makes these laptops really special.

What else do I need to know about the 14-inch MacBook Pro?

MacBook Pro 14-inch 2021

(Image credit: Apple)

The new chips that Apple has fitted to its recent Macs bring both power and efficiency improvements, and Apple reckons you can get around 17 hours of video playback between charges on the 14-inch MacBook Pro. For wireless web browsing that goes down to 11 hours, but that's still an impressive figure – you're not going to have any worries going out and about for an entire day (or maybe two) with this laptop in tow.

As we mentioned above, pricing can get very pricey very quickly if you start to upgrade the specs on the 14-inch MacBook Pro. For reference, the starting price on the Apple website is £1,899 / $1,999 – if you push every spec to the max, that goes all the way up to an eye-watering £5,399 / $5,899 (a large chunk of that is the extra SSD storage by the way). As good as MacBook Pros are, they're certainly not cheap.

You can pick up the laptop in the standard colour options of space grey and silver, and we should also mention macOS for those who've never used it: Apple's desktop operating system comes with everything you need to get started, including Messages and FaceTime for communication, Mail for your emails, Apple Maps, Safari for browsing the web, and the Pages, Numbers and Keynote office applications. The Siri digital assistant is on board too.

What are the alternatives to the 14-inch MacBook Pro?

Razer Blade 15 Advanced

(Image credit: Razer)

The best alternatives to the 14-inch MacBook Pro really depends on what you're looking for – check out our best MacBooks guide and you'll see the Pro model comes in 13-inch and 16-inch sizes as well as the 14-inch model we've covered here. You could also go for the MacBook Air, which isn't quite as powerful but is more affordable.

If you're seriously into gaming then the 14-inch MacBook Pro probably isn't for you: have a look at our best gaming laptop guide instead. Something like the Razer Blade 15 Advanced (pictured above) will cost you a substantial amount of money, but you get all the gaming and computing power you need, together with a phenomenal design and the option of a 4K display when choosing the 15-inch screen.

On the other hand, perhaps you want to spend a lot less than you need to pay out for a MacBook Pro. Our list of the best budget laptops is useful here, and we'd recommend something like the 15.6-inch Acer Aspire 5 for your needs: it's not quite as powerful or as well-designed as the 14-inch MacBook Pro, but it costs substantially less, has a nice big screen, and will take care of your everyday computing tasks quite comfortably.

David Nield

Dave has over 20 years' experience in the tech journalism industry, covering hardware and software across mobile, computing, smart home, home entertainment, wearables, gaming and the web – you can find his writing online, in print, and even in the occasional scientific paper, across major tech titles like T3, TechRadar, Gizmodo and Wired. Outside of work, he enjoys long walks in the countryside, skiing down mountains, watching football matches (as long as his team is winning) and keeping up with the latest movies.