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The new MacBook Pro has slightly slower 802.11ac Wi-Fi than Intel models, but you’ll probably never notice


As Apple updates its support pages to give more information about the new MacBook Pro with M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, we can understand more about what these new computers have or don’t have.

As graphic designer Anton Bulzomi noted, the new MacBook Pro has slower 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) specifications than Intel-based models 2017-2019.

As you can see on this support page here, the 2021 16-inch and 14-inch MacBook Pro as well as the 2020 M1 MacBook Pro share the same 802.11 ax @ 5 GHz standards with a maximum PHY data rate of 1200 Mbps.

The 2017-2019 MacBook Pro models, all of which are based on Intel, have a standard 802.11 ac @ 5 GHz, which delivers a maximum speed of PHY data of up to 1300 Mbps.

The big difference here lies in the maximum spatial flows, in which the newer MacBook Pro has only 2 / MIMO while the older ones have three.

There is a lot to speculate about, including that M1 chips may not be made for more than 2 space streams because no iOS device supports more than 2. Not only that, but fewer space streams also help save battery. What’s more, 802.11ax / Wi-Fi 6 is only available in Apple Silicon models, so that’s not a real comparison.

Left: 2021 Mac specifications / Right: 2017-2019 Intel based Mac specifications

Although, you shouldn’t have to worry about this Wi-Fi “restriction”. Bulzomi said he was able to conduct several tests and noticed only a small difference in speed between the new Macs and those from 2017-2019 that are based on Intel.

Wi-Fi speeds are very subjective as they will largely depend on your current Wi-Fi and RF environment with factors such as the types of access points used, the number of devices on the network, how far you are from the access point, and the RF environment.

The MacBook Pro 2021 may have slightly slower performance on Wi-Fi when on Wi-Fi 5 compared to the previous one, but in everyday use – you’ll probably never notice. In fact, if your workflow needs absolute top performance, you’re probably using a USB-C to Ethernet adapter or 10GB Ethernet adapter, and not your Wi-Fi connection anyway.

You can learn more about the new Macs below:

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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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