I’m typing this MacBook Pro 16-inch Review with the new Magic Keyboard, and I don’t want to give it up. This keyboard is much appreciated when compared to Apple’s highly criticized older Butterfly keyboards. There is more travel, a cushion atmosphere. It just feels right. Honestly, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is designed for serious creative professionals with more demanding needs, such as programmers, video editors, and game developers.
That’s why it has an 8-core Core i9 processor, up to 64GB of RAM, and up to 8TB of storage. You’ll also get a massive 16-inch Retina display with slimmer edges and a crazy, powerful 6-speaker sound system. Yes, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is overkill for my daily needs, but this machine is a real beast for power users and is one of the best laptops that you can buy.
MacBook Pro 16-inch Review – Design
If you’re tired of the aesthetics of the Apple aluminum laptop, the 16-inch MacBook Pro won’t win you over. But it does look a little more modern than other MacBooks, thanks to the slimmer edges around the screen. As someone who (really) commutes for almost two hours on a busy bus, I was pretty shocked that I can work on this system without hurting the person next to me. That’s because the total footprint of the 16-inch MacBook Pro is only 2 percent bigger than that of the 15-inch model.
But there are several considerations here. The 16-inch MacBook Pro is a bit thicker and slightly more substantial than the 15-inch model with 4.3 pounds versus 4.02 pounds. I don’t think this is very Pro. The 16-inch MacBook Pro gives you four Thunderbolt 3 ports with USB-C connections. That’s nice, but I wish Apple had found a way to pinch a micro-SD card or an SD card slot for photographers, as well as a full-size traditional USB port. If you have full-sized USB peripherals, you need to keep that dongle life going.
Keyboard and TouchPad
Before we get into mechanics, let’s first talk about the feel of this Magic Keyboard, which is inspired by Apple’s beloved desktop keyboards. The keys feel much softer than the previous MacBook Pros, and there’s more room to travel. I didn’t feel tired typing this review, composing emails, or answering Slack messages.
To achieve this transformation, Apple chose a scissor mechanism, complete with a new design with a more hollow keyboard cover and a rubber dome under each key for more excellent stability and comfort. It’s not that I type much faster on the MacBook Pro 16-inch. I ran 74 words per minute, with 96 percent accuracy, which is just a little better than my average. It’s that I like to use it, even though you have to make a bit more effort to hit the keys than the flat butterfly keyboards of the past.
I wish the MacBook Pro supported Face ID for login, Apple Pay and approve purchases from the App Store, but the Touch ID button works quickly and efficiently. It’s nice not to enter a password again-and-again, and it’s just as lovely that this Touch ID button also acts as a power button.
MacBook Pro 16-inch Review – Display
Considering that the 16-inch MacBook Pro is explicitly designed to edit 4K video, it can handle up to 11 4K streams at once. I’m disappointed this panel doesn’t have 4K UHD resolution. You’ll get a resolution of 3072 x 1920, compared to 2880 x 1800 for the MacBook Pro 15-inch. That’s a difference of around 226 PPI for the new MacBook Pro 16-inch and 220 PPI for its predecessor. Slimmer edges make content stand out more, whether you’re editing videos or watching a show.
When I watched a trailer from The Mandalorian, I saw the top vents on the dirty Storm Trooper helmets on spikes. The real pros will appreciate the ability to change the refresh rate on the screen. This is important for editors who want to adjust the refresh rate to the frame rate of their content. Based on our laboratory testing, the 16-inch MacBook Pro’s screen can display 113.9% of the sRGB color gamut, which is good. However, the OLED and non-OLED versions of the XPS 15 scored 239% and 210% of the sRGB color gamut, respectively. The OLED version of the Envy x360 reached 258%.
The display on the new MacBook Pro 16 is one of the most accurate there is, as it has a Delta-E score of 0.27. A score of 0 is perfect. In terms of brightness, the 16-inch MacBook Pro recorded 429 nits, which is very bright, but below Apple’s 500-nit. The OLED panel on the XPS 15 reached a much higher 626 nits, while the non-OLED 4K model reached 418 nits, which is just below the 16-inch MacBook Pro. The Envy x360 15 with OLED was also very bright with 483 nits, while the Blade Pro 17 reached only 267 nits.
Other laptop makers need to get back to the drawing board. The 6-speaker audio system on the new MacBook Pro has the best sound I’ve ever heard on a laptop. This system provides solid bass that’s half an octave deeper, thanks to the force canceling woofers that also minimize vibrations, even when you’re maximizing the volume. When I played 311’s Beautiful Disaster with my friend in another room, she didn’t believe that the sound came from a laptop.
The sound is much more vibrant and fuller than the first-generation Echo Show in our kitchen. A similar reaction came from playing The Mandalorian trailer from our office when I heard several people say, “wow.” Podcasters and musicians will undoubtedly appreciate the 16-inch MacBook Pro’s studio-quality, 3-mic array. According to Apple, there’s 40 percent less noise. I want to be able to attend Google video calls without having to wear a stupid headset, and I could do that with this system.
To try out the microphones, I conducted a live video interview on Cheddar without putting on a headset, which is generally a big no-no for any broadcast. And yet, my voice came loud and clear during the segment.
Graphically, the 16-inch MacBook Pro should be able to handle any workload easily. The AMD’s Radeon Pro 5300M is the starting GPU, but you can upgrade to the more powerful Radeon 5500M and use up to 8GB of VRAM, which our test model has. On The Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark test, the MacBook Pro 16-inch ran at a pretty decent frame rate of 27.2 fps with the resolution set to 1920 x 1200 at the very high graphics setting.
The Dell XPS 15 has 19.54 fps carved with the same preset. Still, when we set the texture quality to a very high level on the MacBook Pro (which is set to default on the Dell), the MacBook Pro’s frame rate dropped to a comparable 19.6fps.
MacBook Pro 16-inch Review – Performance
The latest MacBook Pro is one of the most powerful laptops in its class. Choose between a 6-core Core i7 processor or an 8-core Core i9 CPU. And you get 16GB RAM to start the system; it can be upgraded up to 64GB of memory. Our review model had 32GB RAM, which should be sufficient for most applications.
Apple has a reasonably robust 512GB SSD storage in the start configuration and 1TB SSD in the $2,799 model. But you can customize your MacBook with up to 8TB of SSD storage. Our model features 2TB. On the Geekbench 5, which measures overall performance, the 16-inch MacBook Pro scored 7,250, which is slightly lower than the 7,584 of the Dell XPS 15 (with a 2.4GHz Core i9 processor, 32GB RAM and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1650 GPU).
Video editors will appreciate the power of the 16-inch MacBook Pro. It took Apple’s system only 8 minutes to transcode a 6.5GB 4K video to 1080p, which was as time-consuming as the Dell XPS 15. The Razer Blade Pro 17 needed a longer 10:39 minutes, although that system had a slower Core i7 CPU.
As usual, Apple offers some of the best and fastest SSDs in the world. On the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test, the MacBook Pro 16-inch ran at a writing speed of 2,805 MBps and a reading speed of 2,540 MBps. By way of comparison, the Dell XPS 15 scored 2,224 MBps and 2,116 MBps for writing and reading.
MacBook Pro 16-inch Review – Battery Life
The largest laptop that you can legally incorporate into a laptop is 100 watt-hours. And that’s exactly what you get with the 16-inch Apple MacBook Pro. Apple claims that you should expect up to 11 hours of web browsing time, which would be impressive for a 16-inch laptop. In our battery test, where we’re continuously surfing the web with 150 nits of screen brightness, the 16-inch MacBook Pro has been around for 10 hours and 55 minutes. That’s a great battery life for a large-screen laptop and lasts longer than competing Windows systems.
The non-OLED, UHD 4K version of the Dell XPS 13 lasted 8 hours and 48 minutes, and the OLED version continued 8:07, so we’re talking about a difference of at least 2 hours. The OLED version of the HP Spectre x360 15 lasted 7 hours and 46 minutes, and the non-OLED Spectre x360 lasted 8:09 hours. Unfortunately, Apple does not make any claims about fast charging. However, the 16-inch MacBook Pro’s power brick is quite muscular, as it is a 96W USB-C power adapter of 96W in the same size as the 15-inch MacBook Pro’s 87W adapter.
Price and Configuration Options
The 16-inch MacBook Pro is now available from Apple store and other retailers, including Amazon and Best Buy. The release date was November 15. The 16-inch Apple MacBook Pro starts at $2,399 for the standard model with a Core i7 CPU, AMD’s Radeon 5300M GPU, and 512GB SSD storage. This model replaces the 15-inch MacBook Pro, which came at the same price. The $2,799 upgrade to a faster Core i9 CPU, faster Radeon Pro 5500M graphics, and 1TB SSD.
Our review model is quite steep and offers 32GB of RAM, a 2TB SSD, and the Radeon 5500M GPU with 8GB of RAM, representing a price of $3,899. That’s pricey, especially when you consider that a similarly configured Dell XPS 15 costs about $900 less.
MacBook Pro 16-inch Review – Conclusion
The 16-inch MacBook Pro has the keyboard that every Apple laptop should have. And I hope Apple will take it to the 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air because superior ergonomic comfort shouldn’t be a premium feature. But that’s just the way it is. There are many other reasons to show off on this laptop, such as the vibrant 16-inch display with narrower bezels, a fantastic audio system, and excellent battery life.
This is also a very powerful laptop, thanks to the combination of Core i9 muscle, RAM gobs, and one of the fastest SSDs on a laptop. It’s up to you to decide how much oomph you need – and how much extra you’re willing to pay over and above the $2,399 starting price. The only points of contention against the 16-inch MacBook Pro are the cost and lack of old ports that some pros would appreciate.
If you’re on the fence between Windows and macOS, the Dell XPS 15 is a compelling MacBook Pro alternative because it offers comparable performance, a keyboard with even more freedom of movement, and an OLED screen for hundreds less. But if you’re on a Mac and need a large canvas for work and play, the 16-inch MacBook Pro will do it for years to come.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro's Magic Keyboard, larger display and larger battery make it a force to be reckoned with.
- Magic Keyboard feels great
- Larger 16-inch display with slimmer bezels
- Best sound ever in a laptop
- Serious power and performance
- Great Battery life
- Display not 4K
- Heavier than 15-inch MacBook Pro
- No full-size USB port or SD card reader