16-inch MacBook Pro
The 16-inch MacBook Pro with custom Apple Silicon is the most powerful portable Mac ever introduced by Apple. It houses either the M1 Pro or M1 Max processor, multiple ports, ProMotion with mini-LED backlight, and a notched display. Every aspect of this laptop addresses years of consumer complaints and wishes in one update.
● 16-inch Liquid Retina XDR Display
● Redesigned Magic Keyboard
● M1 Pro and M1 Max
● New thermal footprint
● 120Hz ProMotion
● 17 Hours of Battery Life
● Starts at $2,499
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The 16-inch MacBook Pro arrived in 2019 just before Apple began its transition to Apple Silicon, therefore it sat in a state of limbo for nearly two years. Then in October 2021, Apple announced a redesign with the M1 Pro and M1 Max processors at its core.
The return to a variety of ports, no Touch Bar, and a thicker case show Apple has listened to its customer's complaints about the pro laptop line. Thanks to the new processors and display upgrades, Apple's MacBook Pros are more powerful and versatile than ever.
The MacBook Pro lineup now consists of the base 13-inch MacBook Pro, the 14-inch MacBook Pro, and 16-inch MacBook Pro. The latter two have identical design and feature sets and only differ in size and battery life.
Beyond the addition of an HDMI port and SD card slot, Apple included a ProMotion 120Hz display with mini-LED backlighting. All of these upgrades arrived in a single update, a pace of change usually unheard of for Apple, especially for its aging Mac line.
2021 16-inch MacBook Pro Features
When the M1 processor first debuted, Apple took a safe approach by introducing computers with the same external design and general feature set. Since then Apple has become more bold with its approach, like the ultra-thin 24-inch iMac, to showcase the efficiency of its custom processors.
Now, Apple took it a step further by designing around the thermal capacity of their new powerful M-series chips. The 16-inch MacBook Pro is slightly thicker, heavier, with more ports, and longer battery life — all design aspects which Apple has avoided in previous models.
The unibody aluminum design with a giant trackpad and Apple logo are the only aspects of the 16-inch MacBook Pro that didn't change in 2021. The display has been expanded slightly to 16.2 inches, the chassis is thicker at 0.66 inches, and is heavier at 4.7 pounds. Despite the slight growth in size, the large MacBook Pro is svelte compared to other laptops in its size and power class.
With the Touch Bar gone, the keyboard with black casing appears especially dark in contrast to the aluminum around it. In its place is a row of full-sized function keys with basic Mac controls.
The extra display space gained by reducing the thick bezels comes at a price — the infamous notch. Despite the controversy, a notch is the only way to fit a webcam and other sensors within the lid of the MacBook without a uniform bezel.
The iPhone X pioneered the notch design so it could move forward into an edge-to-edge display while housing a complex True Depth system for Face ID. However, you won't find Face ID in the latest MacBook Pros due to the extreme thinness of the display lid.
Like the iPhone, the space around the notch is being used for menu bar items rather than actual content. Full screen apps will avoid the notch by default, but developers can specifically write their apps to incorporate the notch if they decide to.
macOS treats the space under the notch as active, however, so while content will not be "lost" under the notch, the mouse cursor can move underneath the protrusion.
The internal design has been rearranged to enable 50% more airflow, even at low fan speeds. The active cooling is necessary for high-end processor, but won't always be enabled.
Also, to account for better heat dissipation, Apple included larger feet underneath the chassis. These allow air to flow under the laptop when in use on a flat surface, thus providing more natural ventilation.
Liquid Retina XDR Display
The Liquid Retina XDR Display combines of all of Apple's latest display technologies in one package. It houses a mini-LED backlight, high mobility oxide TFT for 120Hz refresh, and a 1,600 nit peak brightness HDR LCD panel.
The 16.2-inch display has 254ppi at 3456p by 2234p. It operates at 1,000 nits of sustained brightness but can crank up to 1,600 nits for HDR content.
The 120Hz ProMotion display enables a variable refresh rate that adjusts to whatever content is on the screen. Users who need a fixed refresh rate for video editing can set their preferred refresh rate as well.
The mini-LED backlight is a half-step from standard LED to OLED. It enables a higher contrast ratio of 1,000,000 to 1 with deeper blacks and better control over color accuracy. Localized dimming means reduced halo effects and an overall more accurate picture.
All of these display features first appeared in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Apple has been long-rumored to implement mini-LED across its entire lineup, and now that it has debuted in three products, expect it to show up in more large-sized displays.
The M1 Pro and M1 Max
Many of the design aspects of the 16-inch MacBook Pro can be attributed to the processors being used. The M1 Pro and M1 Max are Apple's high-end M-series processors that bring power and efficiency at levels never-before-seen in a notebook.
Customers can expect up to 13x graphics performance, 3.7x CPU performance, and 11x machine learning performance when using the new MacBook Pros.
Each of these processors combines the CPU, GPU, and Neural Engine into a single System on a Chip. Thanks to this design, everything happens on the same chip using unified memory, making every process faster and more efficient.
Apple boasts that both the M1 Pro and M1 Max deliver 1.7 times more performance than the latest 8-core PC laptop chip in the same power envelope. And they match the highest performance levels at 70% less power. The Windows laptop Apple compared against was actually the MSI GP66 Leopard, a 5-pound computer with a two-hour battery life under heavy load.
The M1 Pro supports up to 32GB of RAM and 200GB/s memory bandwidth. This is essentially like stacking two M1 processors on top of each other with even more performance gains.
There are multiple configurations for this chipset with 8-core or 10-core CPU options, 14-core or 16-core GPU options, and 16GB or 32GB of RAM. Customers can also purchase up to 8TB of integrated SSD storage.
There are no options for a discrete GPU, and Apple says this is a benefit thanks to the unified memory. The M1 Pro consumes 70% less power at its peak than laptops with a discrete GPU. Apple compared the M1 Pro against the Lenovo Legion 5 for this data — another 5-pound laptop.
If the M1 Pro is like two M1 chips stacked on each other, the M1 Max is double that. It has a 10-core CPU with up to 64GB of RAM and 400GB/s memory bandwidth.
Customers can configure the M1 Max with a 24-core or 32-core GPU and up to 64GB of RAM. Maxing out this processor adds $700 to the base price of the laptop, costing another $800 for the maximum RAM.
Apple's graphics comparisons continue, this time against a six-pound laptop called the MSI GE76 Raider. Apple says the M1 Max delivers similar performance to the high-end laptop with 100W less power.
Thanks to the efficiency of custom Apple Silicon, the battery life of the 16-inch MacBook Pro extends into all-day use. While intense tasks will drain the battery faster, general use can last up to 14 hours. And thanks to the 120Hz variable refresh, video playback can last up to 21 hours.
Battery life won't be an issue either, thanks to fast charging capabilities. Standard charging up to 100W is possible through any of the Thunderbolt 4 ports, but the MagSafe connector enables 140W fast charging. That translates to a 50% charge in just half an hour.
Apple's design philosophy under Jony Ive seemed to be minimalist for the sake of minimalism. As a result, with each update, Apple removed ports, changed the keyboard, and kept taking away in the name of simplicity. Now, however, Apple has taken a step back to return some high-demand ports for pros.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro has a MagSafe connector, three Thunderbolt 4 ports, an SD card slot, an HDMI port, and a headphone jack. Previous MacBook Pros had only two or four Thunderbolt ports and a headphone jack, which is a return to convenience.
The trade-off for the new ports is a slightly thicker chassis and the loss of one Thunderbolt 4 port. This is a slight reduction in features if only because a single Thunderbolt 4 port would have been much more versatile if less convenient. Notably, Thunderbolt enables HDMI 2.1 connections, while Apple's included HDMI port is only HDMI 2.0.
As mentioned previously, the return of MagSafe enables 140W fast charging through Apple's proprietary connector. Of course, this shouldn't be confused with the iPhone MagSafe system, which uses magnets for accessories and charging.
Thunderbolt 4 is a universal port standard that is backward compatible through USB 4 and Thunderbolt 3 accessories. Therefore, if you have a USB-C-shaped connector, it is compatible with this port.
16-inch MacBook Pro Price Guide
The 16-inch MacBook Pro is available starting at $2,499. Customers can choose multiple configurations based on the processor, RAM, and storage. Check out our Price Guide to find all of the configurations and lowest prices.
The 2019 Intel-based 16-inch MacBook Pro
Apple's first 16-inch MacBook Pro debuted on November 13th, 2019 as the successor to the 15-inch MacBook Pro. It improved upon many design aspects while keeping the case thin and light.
In addition to the Magic Keyboard and larger screen, it added 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, double the max storage to 8TB SSDs, and a more advanced thermal design.
Scissor Switch Keyboard
Incorporating improvements first developed for the iMac Pro's standalone Magic Keyboard, the updated MacBook Pro marked 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 2019 Magic Keyboard brought back a physical escape key, rather than its being a virtual button in the Touch Bar. Users complained about the random nature of the Touch Bar and requested a physical key that didn't change on the whim of software.
Apple also redesigned the arrow keys 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. After the update, all four keys are half-height but with added space above the left and right keys to indicate more distinctly the arrow-key region.
The return of the Touch Bar also meant 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.
9th-gen Intel Coffee Lake Processors
The 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro drew 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 delivered up to 2.1 times faster performance than the quad-core 15-inch MacBook Pro.
There was 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.
AMD Radeon Pro 5000M Series Graphics
On the graphics end, the MacBook Pro used 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 offered 2.1 times faster graphics performance while the highest-end configuration saw up to 80 percent faster performance.
On June 15, 2020 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.
Battery Life, Storage, Thermals
To support the new performance features of the 16-inch MacBook Pro, Apple designed a new 100Wh battery 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 could 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 supported Dolby Atmos audio playback via a newly designed high-fidelity six-speaker system with force-canceling woofers.
It also had what Apple called 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 allowed the 16-inch MacBook Pro to sustain up to 12 more watts during intensive workloads than the previous design.