Twitter user and graphic designer Anton Bulzomi reported that he spotted a potential performance limitation with the latest MacBook Pro powered by Apple’s M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. The new MacBook Pro models support 802.11ax WiFi 6 but the listed maximum data transfer rate is slower compared to the Intel-based 2017-2019 models.
On the Apple support page for the MacBook Pro’s WiFi specification details, the new models —including the 2021 16-inch MacBook Pro, the 14-inch MacBook Pro, and the 2020 M1 MacBook Pro— supports 802.11ac @5 GHz standard (WiFi 5) with a maximum PHY data rate (the highest rate at which a client can transmit data over Wi-Fi) of only 866 Mbps. On 802.11ax @ 5 GHz standard (WiFi 6), the maximum PHY data rate is 1200Mbps and it supports a maximum bandwidth channel of 80MHz.
As for the 2017-2019 Pro models—which are Intel-based— the maximum PHY data rate for 802.11ac @ 5 GHz (WiFi 5) is up to 1300 Mbps, which is higher than the new MacBook Pro’s maximum data rate on WiFi 6.
Based on the spec table, the newer MacBook Pro units have fewer maximum spatial streams of 2/MIMO, which are basically the different spaces used for transmitting and receiving wireless signals within the same spectral channel in a MIMO (multiple-input-multiple-output) environment. The older laptops, by comparison, have 3/MIMO which explains the difference in data rate.
However, it’s not something that affects the laptop’s performance greatly. Bulzomi mentions that 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.
According to 9to5Mac, you’ll probably won’t even notice any difference—even with the slightly slower performance on WiFi when on Wi-Fi 5 compared to previous MacBook Pros. WiFi speeds depend on your current WiFi environment and other different factors like the types of access points in use, the number of devices on the network, and how far you are from the access point.
Still, this is not the first in the list of “flaws” for the new MacBook Pro laptops. One of the problems involves its notch, which causes some glaring issues with status bar items.
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