What you need to know
- Apple's new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros have slower Wi-Fi than older models.
- The new MacBook Pros max out at 1200Mbps.
- Older Intel Macs can reach speeds of 1300Mbps.
Apple's new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro notebooks are pretty great and blazingly fast, but it turns out they have slower maximum Wi-Fi speeds than older models. In use, however, it's unlikely anyone will ever notice.
A support document spied by Anton Bulzomi notes that the new M1 Pro and M1 Max machines, plus the M1 13-inch MacBook Pro, have a theoretical maximum throughput speed of 1200Mbps via their 802.11ax 5GHz radios. Older Intel Macs, however, top out at 1300Mbps via 802.11ac 5GHz.
New 14” and 16” MacBook Pro’s have slower 802.11ac Wi-Fi than Intel Based 2017-2019 MacBook Pro Models https://t.co/M3iFvE9woINew 14” and 16” MacBook Pro’s have slower 802.11ac Wi-Fi than Intel Based 2017-2019 MacBook Pro Models https://t.co/M3iFvE9woI— Anton Bulzomi (@BulzomiAnton) October 31, 2021October 31, 2021
It's unlikely that anyone would even notice the difference in speeds, however, and the differing standards — 802.11ac and 802.11ax — do mean that things are more complicated than raw throughput capabilities. Bulzomi notes that they were unable to see any big speed differences between the new and old Macs when running tests.
All of this is probably moot for most people — none of this matters unless you have the correct Wi-Fi hardware in use and have the very best conditions available. Wi-Fi speed is a complicated beast at the best of times and I would absolutely say that this 100Mbps is highly unlikely to cause issues in real-life use. It's also worth noting that anyone who needs to transfer huge amounts of data would be best served by using a wired connection method, regardless.
There's little doubt that the new MacBook Pros are the best Macs Apple has ever made for people who need the most possible performance on the move. This 100Mbps speed difference isn't going to change that.
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Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.
Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.