What I'm expecting from Apple's October 2021 M1X Mac event

16-inch MacBook Pro
16-inch MacBook Pro (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

New 14-inch MacBook Pro. New 16-inch MacBook Pro. M1X Pro-level Apple silicon. Maybe M2X? Maybe Mac mini Pro? Maybe iMac Pro? Maybe all the Pro. It's the next major Apple event. The… Apple Event Pro! And it's coming our way as soon as this month. But what's really ripe... and what's purely hype?

Apple typically holds Mac events in October. They're not the close to sure things that iPhone events have been in September, but... more often than not. Last year, the iPhone event was in October, and the Mac event, November. This year, the iPhone event was back in September and the Mac event… honestly it could be back in October or it could still be in November, it just depends on when everything will actually be ready to ship. Most especially technologies like the M1X chipset and mini-LED displays, more on those in a minute.

Either way, the only thing that sounds like a lock right now, but also finally, are new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBooks Pro. And yeah, I've been waiting over a year for those. Specifically for me, the 16-inch, because I need it in my life.

Famously, infamously last redesigned back in October of 2016, with Butterfly Keyboards, Force Touch Trackpads, Touch Bars, and all USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports. Yeah, you win some you lose some. And if you want a video on that whole inside story, let me know in the comments.

This next redesign though, this one is supposed to bring in that now damn near ubiquitous iPad Pro design language, with everything just flatter than ever before. The keyboards have already been fixed, back to blessed scissor switches like nature and human fingers intended, and the Trackpad was a huge hit, so no worries there, but it sounds like Apple will be deleting at least one more thing — the Touch Bar.

I kinda mourn that, mourn that not. I like using it for some things like timelines and tabs, but Apple has done almost precisely zero updates to them over the last 5 years, not haptics, no nothing. And I never want to feel more deeply invested in a technology than the company that makes it. So, Power Word Kill it is.

But… revenge of the ports! Or… return of the ports? At least according to Kuo Ming-Chi. With HDMI for TV output, SD card for cameras, and even MagSafe, maybe with Ethernet on the brick, all making a comeback… that even LL would call a comeback.

Now, It'll be great for prosumers who want direct, dongle-less access for video cables and media cards. Potentially not so great for hardcore pros who want as many USB-C / TB 4 ports as possible, because we'll still need CFExpress, or whatever. But it'll really all depend on what exact mix we're left with, especially on the 16-inch.

MiniLED displays, if Kuo's reports pan out, will be amazing. Just like on the current 12.9-inch iPad Pro. They get close to OLED levels of high dynamic range without some of the issues that have plagued OLED at large scale on larger devices. Whether or not they get the full-on adaptive refresh rates of ProMotion though, we'll have to wait and see. But I wants it.

Super Fake Mockup of M1X Macs

Super Fake Mockup of M1X Macs (Image credit: Rene Ritchie)

The biggest news, at least for high-order-bit Apple nerds, just has to be M1X. The next level of Apple silicon.

Since the MacBook Pros were originally rumored for a June launch, it's likely M1X will be built on the same A14/M1 architecture as the previous Apple Silicon Macs. Rather than the just-released A15 architecture of the iPhone 13. If you're curious about the differences, check out this video.

But the truth is, Apple can and will have built-in whatever silicon IP they thought best for the product over the last 3 or so years they've been working on it. So, regardless of whether or not they're using Icestorm or Blizzard efficiency cores, or Firestorm or Avalanche performance cores, according to Mark Gurman, there'll be just 2 of the former, which would be half as many as usual and something of a departure, but a whopping 8 of the latter, which would be double M1 and very much an obscene escalation. Especially with low power mode… and maybe high power mode coming to macOS….

Also, options for 8-16 graphics cores. Again, whether they're G13 or G15 cores, we'll have to wait and see, but 16 would at the very least also be double M1.

M1 M1x M2 M2x Grid

M1 M1x M2 M2x Grid (Image credit: Rene Ritchie)

Either way, I'll be watching for hardware-accelerated ProRes on the Pro Macs, like Apple just introduced for the Pro iPhones. Because going from a whole entire Afterburning ASIC on the 2019 Mac Pro to dedicated IP blocks on the 2021 SoCs would be… brain-bogglingly terrific.

Now, there have been rumors of a few other Pro Macs as well. Specifically, an M1X version of the Mac mini. Because, where the 2018 Intel Mac mini skewed decidedly Pro, the 2021 Apple silicon Mac mini did not. You could tell by its case going back to silver instead of the more oh-so-pro space gray.

M1 Mac Mini Macbook Air Macbook Pro Bench Hero

M1 Mac Mini Macbook Air Macbook Pro Bench Hero (Image credit: Rene Ritchie)

This… M1X Mac mini Pro would have not only the same additional p-cores and potential g-cores, but the additional ports as well. Hopefully as many as 4x USB-4. According to John Prosser, an all-new design. Yeah, sprinkle your Apple Watch redesign salt here! But Apple's still selling the higher-end Intel mini, so redesign or not, sooner or later, you know that old thermal detonator has just gotta go.

Likewise, an M1X iMac Pro to replace the 27-inch Intel model. That's rumored to be 32-inches and look just way more like the Pro Display XDR Apple introduced in 2019. With similar if not the exact same I/O as the new MacBooks Pro. No miniLED rumors there yet though, and while it's coming, given it took Apple until April of this year to push out the new, colorful 24-inch iMacs, it… might not be arriving just yet. Much less the Apple Silicon Mac Pro, which I'm not even looking for until WWDC next June, at the earliest.

Pro Display XDR next to a Mac Pro

Pro Display XDR next to a Mac Pro (Image credit: iMore)

AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro 2 could drop at any time. With the AirPods 3 rumored to be getting an AirPods pro-style redesign, and the AirPods Pro 2, a Beats Studio Buds-style redesign. But… more pro. Way more pro.

The rumored HomePod Apple TV, which I think everyone is hoping will be the long lusted-after HomePod Theater, and the HomePod iPad hybrid…. Chimera for the kitchen… sound like next year's products at the earliest. Same for the rumored multicolored M2 MacBook Air and the next generation of ultra-low-power Macs.

And then there are the real long shots. Apple's eagerly expected entry into the VR headset market. Basically, a personal Apple TV with 8K displays for each eye. Not to be confused with the just as eagerly expected AR glasses. Basically an Apple Watch for your face, with dual lenses instead of a single screen.

The VR headset sounds more like a 2022 or 2023 thing still, and the Apple glasses 2023 or… later. Because I really think Apple wants to focus on quality here, not quantity. But let me know what you want to see!

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.