Should You Buy the 16-Inch MacBook Pro?
The 16-inch MacBook Pro is Apple’s high-end, performance-focused laptop, featuring 9th-generation Intel chips, the Magic Keyboard, and Touch Bar, with prices starting at $2,399.
Announced in November of 2019, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is the the oldest Mac laptop still in Apple’s lineup and it is nearing the end of its product cycle. Apple is phasing Intel-based Macs out of its product lineup in favor of its own more powerful and efficient custom silicon chips, and a major overhaul of the high-end 16-inch MacBook Pro is expected to arrive later in 2021.
If you are looking for a more portable Mac laptop, you may wish to consider the M1 MacBook Air, which starts at $999. The M1 MacBook Air is $300 cheaper than the M1 MacBook Pro, and offers the same chip with many of the same features, such as the Magic Keyboard, Touch ID, and two Thunderbolt ports. The only advantages to buying the 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro over the MacBook Air are the Touch Bar, active cooling, a longer battery life, a brighter display, and speakers with high dynamic range. Unless these features are worth the additional $300 in your personal use-case, you should buy the MacBook Air instead.
The high-end 13-inch MacBook Pro models with Intel chips that launched in May of 2020 also remain in Apple’s lineup. Like the 16-inch MacBook Pro, these models are approaching the end of their product cycle, we do not recommend buying an Intel machine as an alternative option even though they are slightly newer.
What’s Next for the 16-Inch MacBook Pro
Apple introduced a new M1 MacBook Pro in November of 2020, but the new model didn’t include any design changes. That’s going to change in 2021 as Apple is working on revamped 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro models.
The upcoming MacBook Pro models will feature the most significant design overhaul to the MacBook Pro line that we’ve seen since 2016, and the updated machines will also address complaints that users have had with the MacBook Pro for years by bringing back older features that include MagSafe, more ports, and physical function keys.
The 14-inch MacBook Pro that’s in the works will replace the existing 13-inch version, while the 16-inch model will be a successor to the current 16-inch MacBook Pro. The 14-inch model is expected to feature slimmed-down bezels, though the casing may also be slightly larger.
Both new models will have a flat-edged design that has been described as “similar to the iPhone 12” with no curved edges like current models, but in practice, the design changes may be smaller than expected.
Along with a flat-edged design, the revamped MacBook Pro models could have more ports than prior models, including an SD card slot, and an HDMI port. Apple is expected to return to MagSafe connectors rather than opting for charging over USB-C. The new MacBook Pro models will also do away with the Touch Bar that Apple first debuted in 2016, with Apple instead opting for physical function keys.
Other new features will include Apple silicon chips and brighter, higher-contrast display panels and it is possible Apple will opt to use mini-LED display technology, which was already introduced in the 2021 iPad Pro. Apple is working to ramp up mini-LED production specifically for the new MacBook Pro models, and is expecting high demand for them given the large number of updates.
The upcoming 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pros are expected to feature display resolutions of 3024 x 1964 and 3456 x 2234, respectively. These resolutions increase pixel density to around 250 pixels per inch, allowing for native 2X retina for the sharpest possible image. The resolution information was found in code in a macOS Monterey beta that was released in September.
A last minute rumor from Weibo has suggested the upcoming MacBook Pro models will feature a notch at the top that houses the webcam, which could suggest very thin bezels. This notch, says the leaker, will be similar in size to the notch on the iPhone 12.
This rumor might sound implausible, but looking at the resolutions of the two machines, it’s not out of the realm of possibility. The MacBook Pro models feature resolutions of 3024 by 1964 and 3456 by 2234, and if you subtract 74 pixels from the height of both for the alleged notch, the resulting 3024 by 1890 and 3456 by 2160 resolutions are equivalent to a 16:10 aspect ratio.
All of Apple’s existing MacBooks feature a 16:10 aspect ratio, so a 74 pixel notch could theoretically happen, but it’s not clear how that would work with the macOS interface. The 74 pixel bar at the top could be used for some other purpose than a notch, but we don’t know what. Along with the notch, the same rumor claims that the entire keyboard area of the new MacBook Pro is black rather than just the keys, and that the new machines will be thicker with larger fans.
The 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro models will have upgraded “M1X” or “M2” Apple silicon chips with a 10-core CPU that features eight high-performance cores and two energy-efficient cores, along with 16-core or 32-core GPU options.
The next-generation Apple silicon chip destined for new MacBook Pro models will support up to 64GB of RAM, up from the current 16GB supported by the M1 chip. The new chip will also enable additional Thunderbolt ports.
Both the 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro models are expected to offer the same performance because they’ll be equipped with the same M1X Apple silicon chip.
Based on regulatory filings found in a Chinese database, the 16-inch MacBook Pro will feature a 8,693 mAh/11.45V battery, which is just slightly smaller than the battery in the current 16-inch MacBook Pro, while the 14-inch MacBook Pro will have a larger 6,068 mAh/11.47V battery.
Schematics that hackers stole from Apple supplier Quanta Computer confirm Apple’s plans to add additional ports to the MacBook Pro and reintroduce MagSafe.
The plans display the logic board of the MacBook Pro. On the right side of the machine, there’s an HDMI port accompanied by a USB-C/Thunderbolt port and followed by an SD Card reader. The left side features two additional USB-C/Thunderbolt ports and a MagSafe charging slot, for a total of three USB-C/Thunderbolt ports instead of four as we have today.
The codename for the Mac is “J316,” which suggests that the logic board that we’ve seen is for the 16-inch MacBook Pro. There’s also a “J314” model that likely correlates to the 14-inch MacBook Pro that Apple is also rumored to be working on. Both machines are expected to feature the new ports, MagSafe charging option, and upgraded Apple silicon chips.
The upcoming 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro models are rumored to include an upgraded 1080p webcam that would be better than the 720p webcam that’s included in the current version of the MacBook Pro. Apple also used a 1080p camera for the 24-inch iMac.
The 16-inch M1X MacBook Pro is expected to be priced the same as the current 16-inch MacBook Pro, which starts at $2,399.
Further in the Future
Apple is rumored to be considering adding an OLED display to the 16-inch MacBook Pro starting in 2022. This was first suggested in 2019, with Apple reportedly holding talks with Samsung to acquire a supply of OLED displays for a future 16-inch MacBook Pro.
OLED displays could bring benefits like increased brightness, deeper blacks, better contrast, faster response times, and sharper colors, and thinner devices as OLED panels are slimmer than LCDs.
Apple has been rumored for some time to be transitioning to mini-LED displays on its iPads and Macs. DigiTimes says that mini-LED and OLED display technologies will exist side-by-side in Apple’s product lineup, “each targeting different customer groups.”
Apple is said to be working on a range of MacBooks with 5G cellular connectivity. The rumor comes fromDigiTimes, a site that has a mixed track record when it comes to Apple info. The site says that Apple has finalized its integrated 5G MacBook design, and it has a 5G transceiver that’s more efficient and faster than components used by rivals like Lenovo, Dell, and HP. Apple is said to be using a ceramic antenna board for improved performance, which could drive up the cost of the 5G MacBook.
The 16-Inch MacBook Pro Lineup
The 16-inch MacBook Pro, introduced in November 2019, features a larger 16-inch Retina display, slimmer bezels, an updated keyboard with a scissor mechanism instead of a butterfly mechanism, up to 64GB RAM, up to 8TB of storage, and AMD Radeon Pro 5000M Series graphics cards.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro features a 3072×1920 resolution display and a higher pixel density of 226 ppi, while the 13-inch MacBook Pro features a 2560×1600 resolution with a ppi of 227. The Touch Bar and the Retina display of all MacBook Pro models feature support for True Tone functionality that adjusts white balance to match ambient lighting, and other display features such as wide color support are included.
16-inch MacBook Pro models use 6 or 8-core 9th-generation chips. Apple says the 16-inch MacBook Pro uses the “most advanced thermal architecture ever in a Mac notebook,” allowing it to run at higher power for longer periods of time.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro includes a new fan design with a larger impeller, extended blades, and bigger vents, which increases airflow by 28 percent. The heat sink is also 35 percent larger, allowing for more heat dissipation. All in all, this lets the MacBook Pro sustain up to 12 watts more during intensive workloads compared to the prior 15-inch MacBook Pro.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro is equipped with Apple’s new Magic Keyboard. The Magic Keyboard uses a refined scissor mechanism that is expected to be more reliable than the butterfly keyboard that was prone to failure. The keyboard offers up 1mm of key travel and features a “more responsive key press.”
Design wise, Apple has updated the Magic Keyboard to feature a physical Escape key instead of the virtual key on the Touch Bar, along with a separate Touch ID button, an inverted “T” arrangement for the arrow keys, and a Touch Bar.
There’s a new six-speaker sound system in the 16-inch MacBook Pro that’s designed to offer the most advanced audio experience ever in a notebook. Sounds are more clear and more natural than ever before, and the bass is half an octave deeper. There’s also an upgraded high-performance microphone with a 40 percent reduction in hiss and a better signal-to-noise ratio.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro models are equipped with built-in graphics and Radeon Pro 5300M graphics, Radeon Pro 5500M graphics, or the Radeon Pro 5600M graphics introduced in June 2020. The Radeon Pro 5600M is up to 75 percent faster than the Radeon Pro 5500M. Up to 8TB of SSD storage is available in the 16-inch machine.
The AMD Radeon 5000M series graphics in the 16-inch MacBook Pro offer the first 7nm mobile discrete GPUs designed for pro users. The standard configuration offers up to 2.1 times faster graphics performance than the previous configuration, and the high-end graphics options offer 80 percent faster performance.
Up to 64GB RAM is available in the 16-inch MacBook Pro, and there are four Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports.
A T2 chip continues to offer enhanced security with secure boot and on-the-fly encrypted storage along with support for hands-free Hey Siri commands. The 16-inch MacBook Pro features a 100Wh battery, which is the largest ever in a MacBook Pro, allowing for 11 hour battery life.
You can purchase the 16-inch MacBook Pro models in Silver or Space Gray from Apple’s online store and Apple retail stores. Bluetooth 5.0, 802.11ac WiFi, and a 720p FaceTime HD Camera are other included features. Pricing on the starts at $2,399 for a 2.6GHz Core i7 processor, Radeon Pro 5300M, 16GB RAM, and a 512GB SSD. Custom configuration options are available for an additional price.
Apple also offers 13-inch MacBook Pro models, including entry-level models with the new M1 Apple Silicon chip, with details available in our 13-inch MacBook Pro roundup.
Note: See an error in this roundup or want to offer feedback? Send us an email here.
Apple in macOS Big Sur 11.2.1 addressed an issue that could prevent the battery from charging in some 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro models. In an Apple support document released alongside the update, Apple says that a small number of customers with 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro models have experienced a bug that causes their batteries not to charge past 1 percent, an issue macOS Big Sur 11.2.1 fixes.
Affected customers who ran into the problem with an earlier version of macOS Big Sur will also see a “Service Recommended” notice and will need to contact Apple for a free battery replacement. If you have a MacBook Pro model that is experiencing problems prior to macOS Big Sur 11.2.1, see Apple’s support document for instructions on a replacement.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro features a design that’s similar to the prior 15-inch MacBook Pro, but with a slightly larger body and slimmer bezels, and it is noticeably larger than the 13-inch model that Apple also sells.
Design wise, the 16-inch MacBook Pro does not look radically different compared to earlier MacBook Pro models, continuing to feature the same general design elements with large trackpad, thin hinge, Touch Bar, rear Apple logo, side speakers, and silver and space gray color options.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro measures in at 14.09 inches long, 9.68 inches wide, and 16.2mm thick. It weighs in at 4.3 pounds. Compared to the 15-inch MacBook Pro, it’s thicker, heavier, and bigger.
The 15-inch MacBook Pro measured in at 13.75 inches long, 9.48 inches wide, and 15.5mm thick. It weighs four pounds.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro includes a Retina display with with 500 nits of brightness, P3 Wide Color support, and True Tone functionality.
True Tone uses a multi-channel ambient light sensor that’s included in the new MacBook Pro models, which is able to determine both the brightness of the room and the color temperature. After detecting the white balance, the MacBook Pro is able to adjust both the color and intensity of the display to match the room’s lighting for a more natural, paper-like viewing experience that also cuts down on eyestrain.
The display of the 16-inch MacBook Pro features a 3072 by 1920 native resolution at 226 pixels per inch (an improvement compared to the 15-inch MacBook Pro).
The 16-inch MacBook Pro features a variable refresh rate that can be set to the frame rate of a video that’s being edited or viewed. Options include 47.95, 48, 50, 59.94, and 60Hz.
The 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro is the first Mac that was updated with a new “Magic Keyboard” that does away with the butterfly mechanism that Apple has been using since 2015. Apple says it’s meant to deliver the “best typing experience ever on a Mac notebook.”
The butterfly mechanism was not been popular with customers due to its penchant for key failure due to dust and other small particulates, and with the inclusion of the new scissor-switch keyboard in the 13-inch MacBook Pro, the butterfly mechanism has been retired.
According to Apple, the scissor mechanism in the Magic Keyboard offers 1mm of key travel and a stable key feel, plus an Apple-crafted rubber dome that’s designed to store more potential energy for a more responsive key press.
Apple says that Magic Keyboard delivers a comfortable, satisfying, and quiet typing experience. Design wise, the keyboard is similar to the prior keyboard, but there’s a physical Escape key instead of a virtual key on the Touch Bar, and the Touch ID button is a separate button too.
The arrow keys have been redesigned as well with an inverted “T” arrangement for the arrow keys, which is a departure from the previous design of the MacBook Pro keyboard. The Touch Bar is also slightly further away from the keys on the keyboard.
Apple is still offering a Keyboard Service Program for all MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro machines that feature a butterfly keyboard, including the 2019 MacBook Pro models from May and July 2019. The Keyboard Service Program does not apply to the 16-inch MacBook Pro or the 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro as they use the newer, more reliable scissor mechanism.
As with prior MacBook Pro models, the 16-inch MacBook Pro features a large Force Touch trackpad that takes up much of the bottom of the machines.
The Force Touch trackpad has no traditional buttons and is instead powered by a set of Force Sensors, allowing users to press anywhere on the trackpad to get the same response. A Taptic Engine powered by magnets provides users with tactile feedback when using the trackpad, replacing the feel of a physical button press.
The Force Touch trackpad supports a light press, which is used as a regular click, along with a deeper press or “force click” as a separate gesture that does things like offer up definitions for a highlighted word.
There’s a Touch Bar on the 16-inch MacBook Pro, which is a small OLED Retina multi-touch display build into the keyboard where the function keys traditionally go.
The Touch Bar is contextual and can perform a huge range of functions on the Mac depending on which app is in use, and it is now available across all of Apple’s MacBook Pro lineup.
The Touch Bar is a matte-style display that blends right in with the rest of the keys on the keyboard, and in all modern MacBook Pro machines, it supports True Tone, allowing the white balance to be adjusted to match the ambient lighting conditions.
Interacting with the Touch Bar is done through taps, swipes, and other multi-touch gestures, with support for up to 10 fingers at a time available.
In 2019, Apple updated the Touch Bar to add a separate physical Escape key and a separate Touch ID button that is not connected to the Touch Bar. The Touch ID fingerprint sensor works much like the Touch ID Home button on older iPhone models. Touch ID can be used in lieu of a password, unlocking the Mac when a finger is placed on the sensor. It also replaces a password for password-protected apps, and it can be used to make Apple Pay purchases in Safari.
Touch ID is powered by a separate Apple-designed T2 chip with a Secure Enclave that keeps your fingerprint data and personal information safe.
All 16-inch machines feature four Thunderbolt 3 ports with support for USB 3.1 Gen 2 and Thunderbolt 3, for Thunderbolt transfer speeds of up to 40Gb/s and USB transfer speeds of up to 10Gb/s.
Each port on the MacBook Pro models is identical and can be used for the same functions, so every one can be used to power the machine. All ports support the following connections: power, Thunderbolt, USB, DisplayPort, HDMI, and VGA.
Over Thunderbolt 3, the 16-inch MacBook Pro can power two 6K displays at one time or four 4K displays. All external displays are able to run at 60Hz.
Apple’s custom-made T2 chip is included in all 16-inch MacBook Pro models to make them even more secure and to add additional functionality.
The T2 chip houses the Secure Enclave processor that protects Touch ID fingerprint data and allows for secure boot and encrypted storage capabilities. It also consolidates multiple controllers, including the system management controller, image signal processor, audio controller, and SSD controller.
It supports enhanced tone mapping, improved exposure control, and face detection-based auto exposure to the FaceTime HD camera, and it encrypts the SSD on the fly using dedicated AES hardware.
The T2 chip also powers “Hey Siri” functionality in the MacBook Pro. With Hey Siri capabilities, you can say “Hey Siri” to activate the personal assistant on the MacBook Pro without the need to press the physical Siri button. The T2 chip is a variant of the A10 in Apple’s iOS devices and it runs a modified version of iOS.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro has an updated high-fidelity sound system with six speakers. Apple says the six-speaker setup is designed to provide musicians, podcasters, and video editors with the “most advanced audio experience ever in a notebook.”
The speaker system uses Apple-designed force-canceling woofers with dual opposed speaker drivers that cut down on unwanted vibrations that distort sound. The resulting music sounds more clear and more natural, with bass that’s an octave deeper.
There’s an upgraded microphone array that cuts down on hiss by 40 percent along with an improved signal-to-noise ratio that Apple says rivals that of popular professional-grade digital microphones.
Apple’s 16-inch MacBook Pro is the largest and most powerful notebook that the company sells, with up to an 8-core processor, discrete AMD Radeon Pro 5000M series graphics, up to 64GB RAM, up to 8TB of SSD storage, and a larger, 16-inch display that sets it apart from the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the previous 15-inch MacBook Pro models.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro models are equipped with Intel’s 9th-generation 14-nanometer Coffee Lake Refresh chips, which are the same chips that were used in the 15-inch models that were released back in May 2019.
The entry-level 16-inch MacBook Pro uses Intel’s 6-core 2.6GHz Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz. The higher-end 16-inch MacBook Pro features Intel’s 2.3GHz 8-core 9th-generation Core i9 processor with 4.8GHz Turbo Boost. Both machines can be upgraded to a 2.4GHz 8-core 9th-generation Core i9 processor with Turbo Boost up to 5GHz.
According to Apple, its 8-core chips offer up 2.1 times faster performance than a quad-core MacBook Pro and 40 percent more performance than a 6-core MacBook Pro, making them the fastest chips in a Mac notebook ever.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro uses an updated thermal architecture that Apple designed to allow the notebook to run at a higher power for sustained periods of time.
There’s a new fan design with a larger impeller that has longer blades and bigger vents, which allows for a 28 percent increase in airflow. The heat sink is 35 percent larger, enabling “significantly” more heat dissipation than before, which allows the 16-inch MacBook Pro to sustain up to 12 more watts during intensive workouts than the previous 15-inch MacBook Pro.
In our testing, the thermal improvements that Apple made in the 16-inch MacBook Pro has resulted in a 16.5 percent increase in multi-core performance. The 16-inch MacBook Pro earned a single-core score of 989 and a multi-core score of 6733, while the previous-generation 15-inch MacBook Pro with the same processor scored 972 in the single-core test and 5781 in the multi-core test.
We also did multiple real-world performance tests with Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro, and our video is worth checking out to see how well the 16-inch MacBook Pro performs with “Pro” tasks.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro models feature Intel’s built-in UHD Graphics 630, but are also equipped with AMD Radeon Pro 5000M series graphics cards, which are the first 7-nanometer mobile discrete GPUs.
The base-level 16-inch MacBook Pro features an AMD Radeon Pro 5300M with 4GB GDDR6 memory and the mid-level model uses an AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 4GB GDDR6 memory. Both can be upgraded with an AMD Radeon Pro 5500M GPU with 8GB GDDR6 memory, and in June 2020 Apple added a new high-end AMD Radeon Pro 5600M option with 8GB of HBM2 memory.
According to Apple, customers who choose the standard GPU configuration see 2.1 times faster graphics performance than the previous standard configuration, while those who choose the highest-end graphics options see up to 80 percent faster performance than the previous high-end configuration.
Apple says that compared to the prior-generation 8-core 15-inch MacBook Pro, the 16-inch models with the highest graphics options result in the following improvements:
Video editors using DaVinci Resolve can see up to 3.4 times faster effects rendering when color grading.
Gamers can enjoy smoother gameplay with up to 2.6 times faster performance in games like Fortnite.
In Unity, developers can experience 3.2 times faster fly-through performance during game development.
In our testing of the new 5500M GPU in the higher-end machine, we found significant gains. In an OpenCL test, the 16-inch MacBook Pro scored 30608, compared to the 15-inch MacBook Pro’s score of 17904, and in a Metal test, the 16-inch MacBook Pro scored a 29840 vs. the 15-inch MacBook Pro’s score of 19065.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro supports up to 64GB of 2666MHz DDR4 RAM, which is faster than the RAM used in prior models. The previous 15-inch MacBook Pro also maxed out at 32GB RAM.
Apple in 2016 introduced super fast SSDs with sequential read speeds of up to 3.2GB/s and sequential write speeds up to 2.2GB/s, and that same technology is used in the SSDs of the 2019 MacBook Pro models.
Storage space in the base-level 16-inch MacBook Pro starts at 512GB, but it can be upgraded to a maximum of 8TB for the first time, up from 4TB.
The camera in the 16-inch MacBook Pro has not been upgraded compared to the previous-generation machine. It continues to use a 720p FaceTime HD camera.
Apple’s 16-inch MacBook Pro offers “all-day” battery life with up to 11 hours of wireless web usage, up to 11 hours of Apple TV app movie playback, and up to 30 days of standby time.
The machine is equipped with a 99.8 watt-hour lithium-polymer battery that’s higher capacity than the battery in the 15-inch MacBook Pro models from 2019. Apple added extra battery capacity by slightly increasing the thickness of the batteries in the MacBook Pro. The machine comes with a 96W USB-C Power Adapter for charging purposes.
Bluetooth 5.0 is included in the 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro. It also supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
There are two stock 16-inch MacBook Pro configurations available from Apple:
$2,399 – 2.6GHz 6-core Intel Core i7 processor, Radeon Pro 5300M, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD.
$2,799 – 2.3GHz 8-core Intel Core i9 processor, Radeon Pro 5500M, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD.
Build to Order Options
The processor, RAM, SSD capacity, and graphics card can be upgraded in the 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro.
Entry level 16-inch MacBook Pro upgrade options:
Higher-end 16-inch MacBook Pro upgrade options:
How to Buy
Apple’s MacBook Pro models can be purchased from Apple’s website, Apple retail stores, and the retail locations and websites of third-party resellers like Best Buy and B&H Photo. Apple is also offering discounted refurbished models from its refurbished stores in the United States and other countries.