16-inch MacBook Pro
Apple's 16-inch MacBook Pro is the company's high-end professional notebook, replacing the 15-inch MacBook Pro that was first introduced in January 2006. In addition to the largest ever Retina display on a Mac notebook, it also has a redesigned Magic Keyboard, 9th-generation Intel processors with up to 8 cores, an additional hour of battery life, AMD Radeon Pro 5000M series graphics, and superior sound at the same costs as the outgoing 15-inch MacBook Pro.
● 3072x1920 16-inch Retina Display
● Magic Keyboard
● 9th-gen Intel Coffee Lake Processors
● New Thermal Footprint
● AMD Radeon Pro 5000M Series Graphics
● 11 Hours of Battery Life
● Up to 8TB SSD Storage
● Starts at $2,399
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Apple's first 16-inch MacBook Pro debuted on November 13th, 2019 as the successor to the 15-inch MacBook Pro. It built on the foundation of the latter model, while adding an improved keyboard and bigger Retina display with smaller bezels.
In addition to the Magic Keyboard and larger screen, it adds Intel's 9th-generation Coffee Lake processors with up to 8 cores, next-gen AMD Pro 5000M Series graphics with up to 8GB of VRAM, higher-fidelity audio, an additional hour of battery time, double the max storage to 8TB SSDs, and a more advanced thermal design.
In November 2020, Apple began rolling out Macs with custom Apple Silicon. While neither the M1 processor or a more powerful variant has appeared in the largest MacBook, Apple will likely refresh the line in 2021.
16-inch MacBook Pro Features
Incorporating improvements first developed for the iMac Pro's standalone Magic Keyboard, the updated MacBook Pro marks the debut of a new Apple keyboard designed specifically in response to three years of complaints about the butterfly keyboard. The latter was first seen in the 12-inch MacBook and migrated to the MacBook Pro in 2016. User issues ranged from an unpleasant typing experience to reliability issues.
The new Magic Keyboard brings back a physical escape key, rather than its being a virtual button in the Touch Bar. Apple also redesigned the arrow keys, now with an inverted-T arrangement. Previously, the four arrows took up the space of three full-sized keys, with full left and right arrows and half-height up and down versions.
In the Magic Keyboard, all four keys are half-height but with added space above the left and right keys to indicate more distinctly the arrow-key region. This should make it easier to press the keys while minimizing accidental fumbles with the shift key above.
The Magic Keyboard's key actuation is punctuated by a soft click, more similar to the mid-2019 noise (if a bit quieter) than any other MacBook keyboard. If you press slowly on the new keyboard, you can feel where the click is before hitting the bottom of the chamber. Gone is the "clackety-clack" of the original 2016 MacBook Pro keyboard, and you'll never mistake this one for a desktop mechanical model.
The return of the Touch Bar also means the return of Touch ID and the Secure Enclave. Touch ID functionality has not changed and is placed in the sleep-wake button next to the Touch Bar at the top right.
Largest Retina Notebook Display Ever
A super-slim bezel wraps the massive new P3 wide color gamut Retina Display. At a pixel density of 226 ppi and a resolution of 3,072 x 1,920, the 16-inch Retina display delivers nearly 6 million pixels. It is individually calibrated in the factory for accurate gamma, white point, and primary colors, while also producing 500 nits of brightness.
Apple's updates to this display go beyond a simple size increase. Even though it's barely half an inch larger on the diagonal, the extra space has been welcomed by users. So too is the higher resolution.
9th-gen Intel Coffee Lake Processors
The 16-inch MacBook Pro draws its power from Intel's 6-core and 8-core 9th-generation Coffee Lake processors with Turbo Boost speeds up to 5.0 GHz. According to Apple's tests, these new chips deliver up to 2.1 times faster performance than the quad-core 15-inch MacBook Pro.
There is a considerable improvement versus the previous year's 15-inch model in the multi-core score. The 16-inch MacBook Pro beat the 2018 model despite a 2.3GHz clock speed compared to our test machine's 2.9GHz.
When compared to the fastest quad-core 15-inch MacBook Pro, music producers can play massive multi-track projects with up to 2.1 times more Amp Designer plug-ins in Logic Pro X. Scientists and researchers will benefit from 2.1 times faster simulation of dynamical systems in MATLAB. Developers using Xcode can compile code up to 1.8 times faster. Photographers can apply complex edits to photographs 1.7 times faster in Photoshop.
This will likely be the last Intel generation as Apple brings the M-series chip to more of its Mac lineup. The M1 used in the 13-inch MacBook Pro is able to rival even the most powerful configurations of Intel-based MacBooks.
AMD Radeon Pro 5000M Series Graphics
On the graphics end, the MacBook Pro uses AMD Radeon Pro 5000M series – the first 7nm mobile discrete GPUs for pro users – with GDDR6 video memory and with up to 8GB VRAM. Compared to the baseline 15-inch MacBook Pro, it offers 2.1 times faster graphics performance while the highest-end configuration will see up to 80 percent faster performance.
When compared to the previous-generation 8-core 15-inch MacBook Pro with the highest graphics options, video editors using DaVinci Resolve will see up to 1.8 times faster effects rendering when color grading. Gamers will enjoy smoother gameplay with up to 1.6 times faster performance in games like Fortnite. In Unity, developers will experience 1.4 times faster fly-through performance during game development.
On June 15, Apple announced a new configuration with the AMD Radeon 5600M series chipset. It costs $700 more than the base model while offering a 75% performance boost.
Better Battery Life, More Storage, Thermals
To support the new performance features of the 16-inch MacBook Pro, Apple designed a new 100Wh battery – the largest ever in a Mac notebook – for an additional hour of battery life, giving the new notebook up to 11 hours of wireless web browsing or video playback in the Apple TV app.
In other firsts, users can configure the machine with up to an 8TB solid-state drive (SSD). This setup would likely be most ideal for professionals working in video or audio production.
In addition to more storage, Apple gave the sound system an overhaul. The notebook supports Dolby Atmos audio playback via a newly designed high-fidelity six-speaker system with force-canceling woofers.
It also has what Apple calls the "most advanced thermal architecture ever in a Mac notebook." A new fan design uses a larger impeller with extended blades along with bigger vents, resulting in a 28-percent increase in airflow, while the heat sink is 35 percent larger, enabling significantly more heat dissipation than before.
Together, the company says these advancements in cooling capacity allow the 16-inch MacBook Pro to sustain up to 12 more watts during intensive workloads than the previous design.
Other, smaller upgrades have been made to the system as well. It's worth noting that Apple now includes a 96W USB-C power brick to help keep this powerhouse charged. It charges the Mac quickly, and as USB-C becomes more ubiquitous, it can also be used to charge up other devices, such as the iPad Pro.
16-inch MacBook Pro Review
In AppleInsider's review of the powerhouse notebook, we gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars.
"While it looks quite familiar, Apple's new flagship laptop moves the needle forward in a big way. We've spent the last several days taking the new Pro for a spin and can say that Apple has dutifully listened to users' feedback this time around. Let's talk about it.
"We're not certain when Apple last issued four updates to the MacBook Pro within 18 months, or to any laptop it has ever produced. But, here we are.
"Just months after the last i9 MacBook Pro was released, Apple has unveiled its 16-inch MacBook Pro. The surface changes aren't even obvious — the monitor is about a half an inch larger on the diagonal, and you can't even tell that the machine is larger than the 15-inch 2016 MacBook Pro design.
"Interestingly, it is actually smaller and thinner than the 2012 through 2015 model. You also can't tell unless you're looking at the three together.
"There are three main configurations of the 15-inch MacBook Pro, one with a 2.6GHz Intel Core i7 processor, a 2.3GHz i9 model, and a 2.4GHz i9 configuration — effectively the same options as the 15-inch MacBook Pro from earlier in 2019. Depending on model, there are options for a AMD Radeon Pro 5300M or 5500M. For this review, we're examining the 2.4GHz 16-inch MacBook Pro, with 512GB of flash storage, 32GB of RAM, and the Radeon Pro 5500M. The retail price on this configuration is $3,299."
"This will matter to you a great deal, or it won't, and even before you started reading this, you already knew if it mattered to you or not. In our eyes, there are more important aspects to the redesign than the screen, though.
"What we will say, is if you are staring at a 15-inch MacBook Pro right next to the new model you will notice a difference. The updated design looks better with slimmer bezels and an ever-so-slightly elevated pixel density going from 220 to 226ppi. That likely won't be a huge reason for users to upgrade though.
"Pros out there who are well-versed in the video space will appreciate one change to the display though, which is the ability to specifically choose your refresh rate. Heading to System Preferences, multiple options can be chosen from to best align with your work."
"Keyboards are highly subjective. So highly subjective, in fact, that even if you like a mechanical keyboard, there are dozens of different iterations, with different key feels because assorted manufacturers believe that there is that much granularity in demand.
"So, a little context is important. We're not giant fans of typing on glass, like the iPad. We didn't have a problem with the butterfly keyboard that was introduced with the 2016 MacBook Pro — but it wasn't a favorite of ours.
"We get that the 2016 MacBook Pro keyboard design, and iterations, are polarizing. Where the 2012 through 2015 design had the entire expression of keyboard like and hate, the 2016 through 2019 weighed more heavily on the 'it'll do' to 'this is terrible' range, with very, very few folks in the 'this is great' zone.
"In regards to reliability, across the entire AppleInsider staff, exactly one unit had to be replaced. We had the same failure rate with the 2012 through 2015 keyboard. And, the data we've been collecting on the 2018 model and the mid-2019 refresh suggests that whatever Apple did for reliability is working, with it having an equivalent failure rate in the first year to the 2012 through 2015 design.
"Beyond looking back, the key actuation on the new keyboard is punctuated by a soft click, most similar to the mid-2019 noise versus any other, if a bit quieter. Where the 2015 design noise was more from the key bottoming out the switch, if you press slowly, you can feel where the click is on the new computer, before hitting the bottom of the chamber. Gone is the "clackety-clack" of the original 2016 MacBook Pro keyboard, and you'll never mistake this keyboard for a desktop mechanical model.
"There's more sensory data on the keys in the video that accompanies this piece. But, here are the numbers: the key travel on the new model's keyboard is one millimeter. This is in comparison to between 0.6 and 0.7 millimeters on the 2016-style keyboard, and between 1.2 and 1.5 millimeters on the 2012 through 2015 style.
"In our testing, we had a baseline of 38 dBa of ambient noise measured with a Kanomax model 4431 audiometer, with the test gear at head height and distance. Typing on the 2016 MacBook Pro with no other CPU load brought that up to about 43 dBa. The highest we could manage on the 16-inch MacBook pro with a particularly angry bout of random key-mashing was 41 dBa. Quieter indeed.
"With that 2016 redesign, Apple made a big deal about key stability being an underpinning of the design. In short, the new keyboard is more key travel than the 2016, but less than the 2012. Whatever Apple did for key stability in the 2016 was moved to the 16-inch MacBook pro — and this is a good thing.
"And, Apple tells us that individual keys can be replaced. We didn't get any information on what this entails, but at this juncture, it still looks like a complete disassembly is required to do so."
"This time Apple baked in a new 100Wh battery that is necessary for the beefed-up internals. That new battery doesn't just match the last model's performance, it extends it. While we didn't have too much of a chance to surf the web for 11 hours on end, Apple says that is what you can expect — which is one hour more than the 15-inch offered."
"The MacBook Pro is not going to be the same maximum speed as the Mac Pro. It isn't even going to top the iMac Pro in every regard. But, it is portable, and it is very, very fast.
"If you're doing long runs of rendering or the like, the iMac Pro will work better for you. Despite some social media posts to the contrary, the iMac Pro is in no way a portable machine. While the new Mac Pro doesn't have those seemingly sharpened handles that the old-school Mac Pro did, it isn't really portable either, even if you spring for the wheels.
"As the last two i9 MacBook Pro were, the new model is a solid machine, one that is faster than literally every other MacBook Pro ever made, if not by a lot.
"No matter how much of a Pro you are, not everything is a long processing job, constantly slamming the processor. Even most editing tasks aren't constantly pushing your CPU and GPU to the absolute limits. As we've said time and time again, considering your own workflow in regards to what you do most of the time is crucial in making this decision.
"If you're coming from a 2018 or earlier MacBook Pro, including the i9 2018 MacBook Pro, the 16-inch MacBook Pro with either flavor of i9 processor is unquestionably a great choice. However, the real-world performance for nearly every task that you will do, minus those blue-moon processor-crushing ones, the i9 performance isn't supremely higher than that of the i7 'baseline' model.
"As with every other i9 MacBook Pro, this latest model is a lot of computer, with a lot of power, for a lot of money. There are cheaper machines with the i9, dealing with many of the same thermal constraints, running Windows.
"How much is macOS worth to you? You can say all you want that there are cheaper Windows options, and you'll be right. But, none of them bring macOS to the table.
"As it was before, and as it remains, this notebook with an i9 processor is the right tool for macOS jobs that demand portability. It is not the ultimate solution to every macOS-centric computing problem, and those people that need that solution probably already know that they need to wait for the Mac Pro tower."
16-inch MacBook Pro Pricing
The 16-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,399 for a version with a 2.6GHz six-Core processor and 512GB of storage. A model with a 2.3GHz eight-core processor and 1TB SSD costs $2,799. Apple also offers additional custom configurations with various pricing.