Chapter in this post:
On Monday Apple presented its new MacBook Pros. With both models we were able to experience the return of some previously missing connections, e.g. B. the SD slot and the HDMI port. But which technology is behind it in each case? Which memory cards with which writing and reading speed are supported? And what standard was used for the output of video and audio content? I will answer these and other questions for you in this guide. Because Apple has with the "M1 Pro" and "M1 Max" chips Relied on the best performance in the mobile computer sector. The connections are not high-end, however.
The slot for SD memory cards on the MacBook Pro from 2021 supports the regular size of the storage media and can also handle high storage capacities. This is what the abbreviation SDXC (Extended Capacity) stands for. It is based on the standard UHS-II set, which has read and write speeds of up to 312 MB / s (according to MacRumors, only 250 MB / s of this can be used in the new MacBooks). Anyone who is professional in the fields of photography or video, however, has a full memory card with 64 GB, 128 GB or 256 GB of data to transfer.
So it's a shame that Apple didn't use UHS-III for the new MacBook Pros. With this standard, read and write speeds of up to 624 MB / s are possible. If Apple had relied on the more modern technology here, data transfer from the SDXC memory card to the laptop's SSD would (theoretically) be twice as fast. Modern cameras also have USB ports through which the card content can be transferred to the MacBook Pro via a USB-C cable. The data rate then depends on the camera.
The various UHS standards are so-called bus interfaces. In the case described, these define, among other things, the maximum speed with which data can be read and written. Before the UHS standards existed, interfaces for “default speed” with 12,5 MB / s or “high speed” with 25 MB / s were used.
The following maximum data rates apply to UHS cards and readers:
All three standards are backwards compatible and can be used with SD, SDHC and SDXC cards. The SDUC (Ultra Capacity) standard has also been available for SD cards since 2018. This was extended to microSD cards in 2019 and enables memory cards with 2 to 128 TB. For these, UHS-III would also be a rather slow data exchange. What is more likely to be considered here is “SD Express”, a data bus with up to 3.940 MB / s.
We come to the HDMI connection for the output of video content, both in terms of image and sound. This is also not high-end in the new Apple MacBook Pro from 2021. Because it's just the standard HDMI 2.0. HDMI 2.0 supports 4K resolution up to 60 fps and data transfer of up to 18 GBit / s, but it cannot do anything with HDR. If you want to connect 14K screens with HDR to the new 16-inch and 8-inch MBP, you have to use the Thunderbolt 4 ports.
The HDMI 2.1 standard is also not exactly new - it has been around since 2017, which is why it is surprising that Apple has not integrated it into the new laptops. HDMI 2.1 offers support for 8K video with up to 60 fps and 4K video with up to 120 fps, Dynamic HDR, data transmission of up to 48 Gbit / s and a VVR mode for dynamic frame rates. Since the new MacBook Pros with their highly efficient and powerful Apple silicon chips are aimed at pro users with the highest demands, HDMI 2.1 would actually have been expected.
Thunderbolt 4 is based on the USB4 standard, which enables up to 40 GBit / s of bidirectional data exchange. There is connectivity with the DisplayPort 2.0 standard, which defines the video output. However, there is also the option of translating the data to HDMI, so that Thunderbolt ports can use both Thunderbolt monitors and DisplayPort and HDMI screens.
Of course, it's best to use Thunderbolt or DisplayPort models. Uncompressed 2.0K videos with a resolution of up to 8 x 7.680 pixels and 4.320 bits per color channel and 10 fps can be transmitted via DisplayPort 60. Accordingly, the connection of two 4K screens with HDR is possible. Theoretically, compressed transmission of 16K video with up to 15.360 x 8.460 pixels as well as 10 bits and 60 fps is possible.
If you are one of the pro users that Apple is targeting with the new MacBook Pros with M1 Pro and M1 Max, then I have a few questions at this point: Do you see yourselves with UHS-II and HDMI 2.0 as standards restricted for the connections used? Or do you only see it as a replacement for on the go, while the professional hardware for the Thunderbolt 4 connection is waiting at home, in the office or in the studio? Feel free to leave a comment on the topic!
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After graduating from high school, Johannes completed an apprenticeship as a business assistant specializing in foreign languages. But then he decided to research and write, which resulted in his independence. For several years he has been working for Sir Apfelot, among others. His articles include product introductions, news, manuals, video games, consoles, and more. He follows Apple keynotes live via stream.