I upgraded from my 13” Intel MacBook Pro: MacBook Pro 14” review


I used to be an owner of the famously hot 2020 4-port MacBook Pro 13” (quite the mouthful). It was…not great, and not bad at the same time. The 2020 model rectified the greatest limitation of the previous models – the infamous unreliable butterfly keyboard, replacing it with the much loved Magic Keyboard, but still retained the many annoyances of the outgoing machine, such as the Touch Bar, horrible thermal management and consequently, borderline unusable battery life for people needing to tap in to its performance while on the go.

Fast-forward a year later, Apple released the machine that would replace my 4-port model – the 14” and 16” MacBook Pros powered by the brand new M1 Pro and Max SoCs. After watching and reading the raving reviews, I knew this was my upgrade.

Around a month back, the base 14” model got a discount of 10% on both Amazon and Officeworks. Since I’ve saved up for quite a while, I decided to jump on the offer, and spoiler alert: I’m glad I did.



If you knew me in real life, something you’ll notice about me is that I’m a real box snob. There’s just something about them that makes an existing product that much better, and being an Apple device, the MacBook Pro 14” box didn’t disappoint.

In typical Apple fashion, the box is dense, and smells good. A graphical representation of the device is on top, along with the ‘MacBook Pro’ text and Apple logo. Towards the back, you’ll get the specs of the MacBook sitting inside.

Lifting the lid, the MacBook Pro in wraps is the first thing you’ll see, followed by the instruction manuals (bundled with black Apple stickers!), MagSafe 3 cable and USB-C power adapter.

The MagSafe 3 cable is now braided, which feels so much better compared to the old soft touch plastic material found on the USB-C cables. Compared to MagSafe 2, it seems slimmer, but largely does the same thing, so I’m really happy – no more destroyed USB-C ports because of my or someone else’s carelessness.



This new design is a stark departure from the tapered, rounder form of MacBooks of yore. Apple has forgone making the MacBook Pro as thin as possible, instead choosing to give much needed ports back to the Pro lineup, like a SD card slot and HDMI port.

Old vs. New

As a result, the 14” is quite chunkier feeling compared to the outgoing 13”. It’s apparently not much of a departure from the old model thickness wise, but the new MacBook Pro does feel much heavier in my hands, despite being only 200g more. Maybe I just have weak arms…


Another design change that I don’t see mentioned in other reviews is in the hinge area directly above the keyboard. It’s now much more ‘spacious’, leaving an adequate clearing for cleanup. This was quite annoying on the 2016-2020 MacBook designs, as dust would pile up in there and you’d have a hard time pulling all of it out due to the tiny clearance.

All that said, I can’t complain about a little extra weight, given the advances that this new design has given us – it looks great and is distinctly Mac-like.



Yes, there’s a notch on the display now. Do I mind it? Not so much.

On the one hand, you’re actually getting more display by having that extra area to the sides of the notch. The macOS menubar ‘seamlessly’ blends in around the notch, giving you a full 16:10 canvas to work on below, which is pretty valuable on a small laptop display like this 14”. I don’t even notice it’s there after a few hours.

On the other hand, I’m not really sure why the notch needs to be that big. There’s still no Face ID on the Mac, so all that’s up there are the light sensors, 1080p webcam + it’s accompanying privacy indicator. Yet it’s almost as huge as my iPhone 12 mini’s notch, which packs in much more than what’s on here.

Menubar issue

Apple also doesn’t provide a way to handle many menubar apps. I use an app called Hidden Bar for this, but it only helps so much. Once I launch an app with a long menubar like Xcode, menubar apps are removed temporarily to make space for the app's menubar items. It's quite frustrating when you do need to use a menubar app to check on something while having another menubar-intensive application open.

I’m not someone working with graphics content on the daily, nor do I view HDR content frequently on this panel, so I can’t really comment much on the display. It is definitely brighter relative to the 13” though, making work in sunny conditions much easier.


Xcode development

This is where the 14” truly leaves my Intel 13” in the dust. Everything just flies, from zipping through the web or compiling code, and best of all, there’s 0 fan noise in most workloads. The only time when I got the fans to kick in was while trying out X-Plane 12, and that also ran brilliantly at pretty much max settings. The Apple integration really does its magic in this laptop, and it shows.

The most mind-blowing thing is these two laptops are just a year apart, and one has half the RAM of the other. Yet the 14” manages to outperform the 13” in almost everything I do.


These speakers blow the competition out of the water (pun intended). The 13” speakers were already excellent, but the 14” just takes it a notch further. Everything sounds ‘fuller’ and more satisfying to the ears. You just have to try it out for yourself, or take my word for it.

The speakers weren’t the only audio thing to get an upgrade. An upgraded amplifier and DAC allows for high impedance headphones & Hi-Res lossless audio support, which should be great news for people with high-end headphones. I use the jack with my Etymotic ER2SE every day and everything sounds good through it.

Input devices

Keyboard and touchpad

The keyboard is still the same old Magic Keyboard experience that Apple has introduced since the 2020 Intel refreshes, except for a full height function row in place of the Touch Bar and several changed media keys. Speaking of which…

I’m glad the Touch Bar is gone. It was very unreliable in my experience, and as someone who mostly codes on their laptop, it didn’t provide much more utility compared to traditional function keys, since the vast majority of code editors and tools never bothered taking advantage of this hardware feature.

The touchpad remains as excellent as ever, providing a slick gliding surface as well as even clicking feedback anywhere you tap on its surface. Absolutely zero complaints there.


Apple gave the webcam some love with this MacBook generation too, upping the resolution from a paltry 720p to an okay-ish 1080p. You still won’t look the best in online meetings with this webcam, but at least you won’t be a watercolor painting.


There's just no comparison. This is the best MacBook or laptop battery life I've ever experienced, period.

I could go a whole day out and about without bringing my charger, and that's not just casual use. I frequently bring my 14” out of the house for a change in work/study atmosphere and I've never felt the need for the charger sitting in my backpack. By night, I usually still have around 20-30% in the tank, which is just unimaginable for Intel MacBooks of the past.

Would I recommend the upgrade?

Wholeheartedly. I don’t think there’s a better package out there for the money if you want a laptop that:

Pretty much what you’d want out of a laptop, right?

I may sound like a massive Apple shill (and maybe I am to an extent), but I’m truly impressed with what Apple has given us after all these years of subpar experiences.


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