New MacBook Pros have slightly slower 802.11ac WiFi than Intel models, but you’ll likely 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’re able to understand more about what these new computers feature or not.

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

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.

MacBook Pro models from 2017-2019, which are all Intel-based, feature the standard 802.11 ac@5 GHz, which brings a maximum PHY data rate of up to 1300 Mbps.

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

There’s a lot you can speculate about that, including that perhaps the M1 chips aren’t built for more than 2 spatial streams as no iOS device supports more than 2. Not only that, but having fewer spatial streams also help save battery life. Furthermore, 802.11ax/Wi-Fi 6 is only available in the Apple Silicon models, so it’s not quite an apples to apples comparison.

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

Even though, you shouldn’t worry about this Wi-Fi “limitation.” Bulzomi said he was able to conduct a few tests and only noticed a slight speed difference between the new Macs and the ones from 2017-2019 that are Intel-based.

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

The 2021 MacBook Pros can have a slightly slower performance on Wi-Fi when on Wi-Fi 5 compared to previous, but in daily use – you’ll will likely never notice. As a matter of fact, if your workflow needs the absolute top performance, you’re probably using a USB-C to ethernet adaptor or a 10GB ethernet adaptor and not your Wi-Fi connection anyways.

You can learn more about the new Macs below:

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