Apple’s 2021 MacBook Pro laptops come with support for both MagSafe and USB-C charging, but which one is the better option? MagSafe was the default charging port on MacBooks for several years until Apple got rid of it in 2017. Surprisingly, the company reintroduced MagSafe with the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models launched in 2021. While users can also use the Thunderbolt 4 ports (USB-C) for charging, the charging speeds will vary depending on the port used.
A lot of manufacturers, including Apple, have switched to USB-C as the laptop charging port. But despite the popularity of USB-C, it is not uncommon to see some manufacturers such as Microsoft stick to proprietary connectors. Its Surface Pro 8 features a Surface Connect port for charging but also supports USB PD charging via its Thunderbolt 4 ports.
The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models launched in 2021 come with different power adapters depending on the configuration. The wattage varies between 67W, 96W, and 140W, and all ship with a USB-C to MagSafe 3 cable. This means the power brick supports a USB-C input, allowing users to just buy a cable and charge their laptops through the Thunderbolt ports if they prefer.
Is MagSafe Or USB-C Charging Faster?
The 14-inch MacBook Pro with an M1 Pro 8-Core CPU ships with a 67W power adapter and MagSafe 3 cable, while the variant with an M1 Pro 10-core CPU or M1 Max chip ships with a 96W power adapter cable and MagSafe 3 cable. Apple has revealed that the 67W power adapter won’t fast charge (0 to 50 percent in about 30 minutes) the MacBook Pro. Those who want fast charging can pay an extra $20 at checkout for a 96W power adapter. Alternatively, buyers can use a USB-C to USB-C cable and a Power Delivery charger that can output 100W speeds to fast-charge the laptop via the Thunderbolt 4 port.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro is available in M1 Pro and M1 Max versions, and all configurations ship with a 140W USB-C power adapter. This means the laptop will charge at the maximum possible power rating with the bundled MagSafe cable and charger. However, when charging via the Thunderbolt 4 port, the charging speed will not be as fast. The reason for this is Thunderbolt 4 has a maximum power rating of 100W, which is lower than what the 140W MagSafe 3 offers. Therefore, using a USB-C to USB-C cable and the included 140W power adapter or a third-party 100W USB-C PD power adapter to charge via the Thunderbolt 4 port won’t be as fast as MagSafe charging.
Use The Right USB-C Cable To Charge A MacBook
Both the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro can be charged using either of the Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports. Apple notes that the MacBook Pro charges over only one port at a time, which means users shouldn’t plug in two USB-C charging cables or a USB-C cable alongside the MagSafe cable. In case the MacBook Pro doesn’t charge over USB-C, the first thing to do is check the charging brick. If using the supplied charging brick, first check if the Mac is charging via the MagSafe port. If that doesn’t work, Apple recommends shutting down the MacBook Pro, closing the display for 30 seconds, and then opening it and trying to charge it again. If the laptop charges normally, however, it means the problem is with the USB-C cable being used.
Not all USB-C cables can charge a MacBook Pro. It’s important to ensure that a USB-C cable that’s used to charge a low-power accessory isn’t being plugged into a high-wattage charger. The safest bet is to buy a USB-C cable specifically for charging the MacBook Pro. While Apple sells several versions of these cables on its official site, the prices tend to be on the higher side. There are a few good third-party options from brands such as Amazon Basics and Anker, and it’s best to buy a cable that supports 100W PD to get the fastest-charging speeds possible. In case USB-C charging doesn’t work with even a compatible cable however, there might be a problem with the charging ports, in which case it’s best to take the MacBook Pro in for service.