The new MacBook Pros are kind of ridiculous. Giant levels of processor power, huge reserves of RAM and storage, a cutting-edge 120Hz HDR display, and enough GPU power to go toe-to-toe with the PlayStation 5.
Obviously, I would love to have one, but for the first time in a long time when it comes to Apple laptops, I'm not actually tempted to get myself the 'pro' model just in case. Because also for the first time in a long time, it's clear to me that this MacBook Pro really is for pros this time.
In the past, the line between Apple's consumer laptops and its Pro laptops has been fuzzy to say the least. Especially more recently, but in the pre Apple M1 chip time, where your only choice was the MacBook Air with an underpowered Intel ultra-portable chip, or the entry-level MacBook Pro, which was only a little more expensive but would offer more storage and connections and all that good stuff.
The Air's portability had its big advantages, but lots of people would step up to the Pro happily, because it was the only place to go if you wanted a non-lightweight processor that would be futureproofed for years. And that 'you' includes me – that's exactly what I did.
On Intel chips, it really felt like you had to dabble in the MacBook Pros if you had any ambition for getting a bit fruity with your Mac – I've done various video and image editing work over the years, and I just didn't want to risk that not being something I could do smoothly. The Pros weren't just for pros – they were for anyone with ambition.
But that's not really an issue any more. The M1 MacBook Air (2020) available today isn't underpowered. It is, if anything, overpowered for a super-light machine. Its eight-core processor and strong graphics chip are both far more than most people need, even with ambition.
So when I look at the new MacBook Pros and hear about their option for 10-core processors and graphics power to rival Nvidia's mobile 3080, instead of thinking about how I can justify spending that the money on them (as I would in the past), I just thought "This is very cool, but it clearly isn't for me".
This is partly down to the power they offer, and partly down to the new MacBook Air and its own M1 chip. This is the first time where Apple's entry-level laptops have delivered enough power that I don't worry about outgrowing them over their life. For the first time, I'm convinced that I don't need any more power, rather than just settling for the best processor I can afford.
And in turn, the MacBook Pros really set out their case that the extra stuff you're paying for is most of value to pros. More processor speed is only valuable if it will save you time on big projectors. The graphics tech is best used for serious creative work. The M1 Pro/Max chips include custom tech for making video editing run more smoothly. I don't do these thing! I can't even make the MacBook Air get warm with the complexity of the Photoshop work I do on it.
Apple has done such a great job of explaining how good they are, that it talked me right out of feeling like I have to buy one. Mercifully.