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 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
● Find great 16-inch MacBook Pro deals
● Discounted prices start at $2,299
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The original 16-inch MacBook Pro arrived in 2019 before Apple began its transition to Apple Silicon. 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 that 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 the 16-inch MacBook Pro. The latter two have identical designs and feature sets and differ only in size and battery life.
Beyond adding an HDMI port and SD card slot, Apple included a ProMotion 120Hz display with mini-LED backlighting. 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 bolder 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 that 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 a black casing appears especially dark compared to the aluminum around it. There is a row of full-sized function keys with basic Mac controls in its place.
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. Apple says that Touch ID is more convenient for users since their hands are already on the keyboard, but that doesn't mean the company won't eventually implement Face ID in its Mac lineup.
Like the iPhone, the space around the notch is used for menu bar items rather than the 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, so while content will not be "lost" under the notch, the mouse cursor can move underneath the protrusion. Some developers have added whimsical features to animate objects around the notch or add automations to clicking in the space behind it.
The internal design has been rearranged to enable 50% more airflow, even at low fan speeds. Active cooling is necessary for the 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 on a flat surface, thus providing more natural ventilation.
The larger 16-inch model does have more space for cooling, so some more intensive benchmarks perform better than the 14-inch MacBook Pro with the same chipset. Apple is expected to release a "high-power mode" exclusive to the 16-inch MacBook Pro.
Liquid Retina XDR Display
The Liquid Retina XDR Display combines 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 a unified memory, making every process faster and more efficient.
Apple boasts that 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 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.
This chipset has multiple configurations 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 benefits 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 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 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. 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.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro compared
The updated 16-inch MacBook Pro with M1 Pro or M1 Max is Apple's most powerful laptop yet. We've compared this machine against the latest Macs and notebooks from Apple's competitors to see how it stacks up.
Intel model versus M1 Pro/M1 Max model
When Apple brought custom Apple Silicon to the 16-inch MacBook Pro, it didn't stop at the processor. The entire computer was revamped from top to bottom, so the differences between the Intel and Apple Silicon models are notable.
At first glance, the design is more rounded with a notched display and black-on-black keyboard tray. The external design wasn't altered much, but flip the device over, and you'll see an etched "MacBook Pro" emblem in the aluminum chassis.
The new design also brought new ports. Instead of four identical Thunderbolt 3 ports, the M-series model has three Thunderbolt 4 ports, an SD card slot, an HDMI port, and MagSafe 3.
The display also supports 120Hz ProMotion variable refresh, has a mini-LED backlight, and has more pixels than ever before. This means users can finally run their MacBook Pro display at full 2x Retina natively without scaling oddities.
Apple boasts big performance gains over the Intel model as well. The company claims up to 2.1x faster Xcode build times and 3x faster computational fluid dynamics performance in NASA TetrUSS.
Read the spec breakdown and more feature differences in the full report: Compared: 2021 New 16-inch MacBook Pro vs. 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro.
16-inch MacBook Pro versus Mac Pro
The M1 Max performed exceptionally well against the Intel Xeon chips used in the Mac Pro. The single-core performance of Apple's custom silicon is well beyond what has been expected from even the best Intel processor, and these are laptop chipsets.
In some cases, such as multi-core tasks, the Intel Xeon chips took the crown, but it is noteworthy that Apple's laptop held its ground despite costing a fraction of the massive desktop. Also, the built-in media processing for ProRes makes video rendering impossibly faster on the MacBook Pro. A 53 minute 4K video took one hour and six minutes to process on the Mac Pro, but only 17 minutes total for the 16-inch MacBook Pro.
Our tests concluded that the new MacBook Pro with M1 Max is the equivalent of carrying the Mac Pro around in a backpack for the video professional. We also expect the custom processors built for the next Mac Pro will set an even higher standard for performance.
Read the spec breakdown and more feature differences in the full report: Compared: M1 Max 16-inch MacBook Pro versus Mac Pro.
16-inch MacBook Pro versus Windows PCs
Apple pointed out a couple of Windows-based computers during its M1 Pro and M1 Max announcement. So, we at AppleInsider pitted them against the high-end M1 Max equipped MacBook Pro to see if our numbers matched Apple's.
The first laptop we compared was the Lenovo Legion 5 gaming PC. It is substantially larger, heavier, and has a more aggressive design with large vents on either side.
The other Windows PC was more conventional with an aluminum enclosure. The Dell XPS 17 shared a few design elements with the MacBook Pro but is thicker and heavier depending on the battery.
Both Window's laptops couldn't compete with Apple's pixel-dense Retina Displays. With its mini-LED backlit display and 120Hz refresh rate, the MacBook Pro sits at 254 PPI. The Lenovo has 144 PPI while the Dell has 133 PPI, much lower resolutions for similar displays.
In Geekench 5, the Dell XPS 17 scored a 984 and a 5984 on the single-core and multi-core tests. The Intel Core i7-11800H in the Lenovo Legion 5 scores a decent 1,481 points in single-core tests and 8,009 for multi-core. That compares to the 16-inch MacBook Pro that pulled a 1769 and a 12308.
Read the spec breakdown and more feature differences in our full reports:
New 16-inch MacBook Pro review: More power & more convenience for more money
Apple has created a powerful laptop that addresses nearly every user complaint filed in the past five years, but that isn't the whole story. With every improvement or change, there is some compromise. However, we believe the 16-inch MacBook Pro is a net gain for users.
The introduction of Apple Silicon to Apple's high-end laptops enabled a radical design shift to differentiate new from old. The return of some ports and case refinements left this model resembling the Titanium PowerBook G4.
The enclosure design doesn't change the dimensions of the MacBook Pro enough to notice, even when side-by-side with the older model. The weight is noticeable at 4.7 pounds for the M1 Pro and 4.8 pounds for the M1 Max, but only because the market has moved to thinner and lighter designs.
The most significant change lies in the display. The 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display has a controversial notch design thanks to the 3.5mm bezel. We found the notch to be a non-issue since the active display space below the notch was still a full 16-by-10 area, so nothing was lost.
Apple introduced ProMotion to the MacBook Pro, but this isn't something you'll actively notice unless compared to an older display. It can shift from 24Hz to 120Hz based on the content being displayed, but users can also set a fixed refresh rate if desired.
The processor descriptions above show that the M1 Pro and M1 Max are powerful chipsets with complex integrated architecture. We like that there is no longer a need to consider which GPU is bundled with your Mac since it is built-in to the SoC.
The Geekbench 5 single and multi-core results showed exceptional gains over the 2019 model. With 1782 single-core and 12,828 multi-core scores, the 16-inch MacBook Pro with Apple Silicon easily outpaces Intel's best chipsets.
The Geekbench Compute graphics benchmark scored 68,379 for the new MacBook Pro compared to 21,757 on the Radeon Pro 5500M GPU used in Intel models. We also tested the GPU with Unigine Heaven, which averaged a 106.8 frame rate and scored 2,689.
In Cinebench R23, our multi-core CPU score was 12340, and our single-core score was 1532.
These benchmarks don't incorporate all of the benefits of Apple Silicon, like the Media Engine. So, workflows incorporating Final Cut Pro and similar apps will see even more performance gains.
Apple included a 100W battery again, but it can be fast-charged thanks to the MagSafe 3 port. The larger 16-inch MacBook Pro needs 140W from an included adapter to fast charge, and it can only be fast charged from that port.
We experienced about 16 hours of battery when used for normal tasks. That dropped to around 12 hours with video and photo editing, but this will need to be tested over the long term.
Users who like docks, hubs, or other chargers can still utilize the Thunderbolt ports to charge the laptop. Any of the three Thunderbolt ports support up to 100W charging. While this won't fast charge the battery, it will be more than enough to keep it full during use.
Fast charge does cause incredible heat around the mid-section of the keyboard. We measured about 124F during a fast charge session, which makes us wary of the effects on overall battery health with use.
FaceTime Camera and audio
Apple upgraded the FaceTime HD camera to 1080p, which also benefits from the advanced image signal processor found in Apple Silicon. The jump in detail and low-light performance is greater than in anything portable we've tested and found it on-par with the 24-inch iMac camera.
The new 16-inch MacBook Pro also includes an improved speaker system. There are six high-fidelity speakers with force-canceling woofers with support for Dolby Atmos.
The headphone jack also saw a slight update with support for high-impedance headphones. This is a purely additive upgrade that no one except audiophiles will notice but is still a welcome addition.
In general, we liked the Touch Bar at AppleInsider and will miss it. The full-sized function keys are a welcome return to those who didn't like the OLED strip, but the reduction in functionality is a net loss here.
While Apple should have provided the option of including a Touch Bar or function keys at purchase, it is clear that the feature is being retired. It will take time to get used to jabbing at keys to change the volume rather than slide our fingers across a slider.
The keyboard itself is going to be a highly subjective experience. The key travel is slightly more shallow than the previous 16-inch model and quieter when typing.
Touch ID remains in its designated corner and functions the same as before. The continued omission of Face ID is a pain point on the Mac, but Touch ID remains convenient regardless.
HDMI and SD card reader
There has been much adulation about Apple's return to offering a variety of ports, but it isn't quite the perfect result. The HDMI port is version 2.0, not the faster and more capable version 2.1. The SDXC slot is also the slower version, with support for slow UHS-II.
There are three Thunderbolt 4 ports, one more than the M1 Macs released previously, thanks to more Thunderbolt controllers. However, it isn't clear if Apple could have included a fourth port instead of the HDMI port and SD card reader due to PCI-E limitations.
So, the added ports may be a better tradeoff over no fourth Thunderbolt port or a slower USB-C port. Regardless, we prefer this decision over USB-A and encourage others to embrace the USB-C future.
Best, but not perfect
We believe the 16-inch MacBook Pro is the best MacBook Pro ever released. However, that's not the full story.
Apple took many of the complaints about the MacBook Pro line to heart, although some compromises still remain, like second-tier HDMI and SD card ports. The removal of the Touch Bar in favor of less dynamic keyboard keys is also a loss, even if the feature was underutilized by Apple.
That being said, this is a net positive for most users. There's also the larger and brighter screen, the incredible power, and a long-lasting battery.
Performance has been a focal point, especially when compared to Windows gaming PCs. Apple's new 16-inch MacBook Pro will never be a Windows machine or gaming powerhouse, so that may be a deal-breaker for some.
We believe this machine is a herald for the next five years of Apple Silicon and how Apple will differentiate between the "pro" gear and non. At the minimum, it will light a fire under Intel and AMD, which benefits the entire industry and Apple.
AppleInsider scored the 16-inch MacBook Pro a 4.5 out of 5.
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 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. At the same time, 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.
Read the full review here: New 16-inch MacBook Pro review: More power & more convenience for more money