In this video walkthrough we discuss the 16-inch MacBook Pro top features, which include a larger display, a new keyboard, faster GPUs, and more. Watch our hands-on video and stay tuned for the full review coming soon.
If you’ve been holding off on buying a new MacBook Pro because you hated the keyboard, then I’ve got great news for you: the Magic Keyboard on the 16-inch MacBook Pro is downright wonderful.
The new Magic Keyboard feels very similar to the standalone model that ships with the iMac. There’s not quite as much key travel as the wireless Magic Keyboard, but it’s far and away better than the butterfly keyboard switches that have been a disappointing part of the MacBook Pro since 2016’s big refresh.
The best thing about the new keyboard, besides the fact that it’ll actually hold up under normal usage, is that typing on it feels fantastic. It no longer feels like your fingers are crashing into the keyboard, which is one of the reasons why I disliked typing on previous MacBook Pro models.
Watch: 16-inch MacBook Pro Top Features video
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But Apple didn’t just stop at replacing the butterfly switches with improved scissor switches. It actually addressed several additional issues that users have complained about since 2016. For starters, Apple brought back the physical ESC key, which had been relegated to a virtual key on the Touch Bar, much to the delight of developers and anyone else who regularly uses the key.
16-inch MacBook Pro with Magic Keyboard vs 13-inch MacBook Pro with butterfly keyboard
Secondly, the inverted T arrow keys are back! While the inverted T arrow keys may not look as nice as the full arrow key design, the inverted T makes it much easier to find the right keys using touch.
Last but not least, Apple included a bigger gap between the Touch Bar and the top row of keys in an effort to prevent accidental brushes against the Touch Bar.
While a sizable swath of users will testify that the butterfly switches were terrible, the design did come bundled with a few good qualities, which Apple wisely decided to keep around.
For example, the individual LED backlights under each of the keys are still a thing, which provides even backlighting and less backlight bleed from beneath the keys. The keys also retain their stability so that even when you press them off-center, the entire key depresses evenly.
Needless to say, this is a massive improvement over the previous MacBook Pro keyboard, and I look forward to the changes trickling down to all other Mac laptop models.
Outside of the keyboard, the next biggest change to hit the MacBook Pro is the inclusion of a larger and slightly denser display. The display gains an additional inch, going from 15-inches diagonal on the previous model to 16-inches.
Along with the size increase, the display sports a higher resolution with a slightly higher PPI. The native resolution of the display goes from 2880-by-1800 to 3072-by-1920. The change yields a higher default scaled “retina” resolution of 1792-by-1120.
The extra screen real estate is great to have for productivity apps and professional video editing and photo editing applications where added space makes it easier to get things done.
One of the most surprising new features to come to the MacBook Pro is the ability to configure up to 8TB (!) of internal flash storage. Although pricey at $2,200, the price is actually quite competitive with what’s currently available on the market. For example, OWC’s external Thunderbolt 3-enabled 8TB Thunderblade SSD, a unit we reviewed earlier this year, costs exactly $2,200 for the same amount of storage.
Having 8TB internally can provide a huge productivity boost for people who work with lots of media, or for someone who needs to carry the entire contents of a production with them on the go without needing to rely on external media.
An 8TB SSD lessens the need for external drives
For the first time ever Apple is giving MacBook Pro users the option to configure up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM. As always, such an upgrade comes at a premium, but if you use lots of memory heavy applications, or if you run multiple virtual machine instances, such a configuration may speed up your workflow.
Apple RAM has always been overpriced, which is why I always recommend upgrading yourself if that happens to be an option. While it’s possible to manually upgrade RAM on Apple’s desktop machines like the iMac or even the Mac mini (with a little bit of work), it’s impossible to do on the MacBook Pro because the RAM is soldered to the logic board. In other words, if you need 64GB of RAM, you’ll need to buy it during the build-to-order process.
Apple offers several GPU options on its 16-inch MacBook Pro, but the highest-end configuration, the AMD Radeon Pro 5500M, is the one I recommend getting.
Heaven benchmark: Ultra quality, Moderate Tessellation, 2xAA, 1920×1080
The 5500M comes in 4GB or 8GB varieties and packs a potent punch that makes it possible to play games, edit and export video, and manipulate graphics with ease.
The 5500M is the most powerful GPU to appear in an Apple laptop thus far and even performs better than a Thunderbolt 3-connected Blackmagic eGPU Pro in some of our preliminary benchmarks. Look out for the full review for additional analysis and details.
To handle the larger screen and additional horsepower under the hood, Apple includes a 100W lithium‑polymer battery inside the MacBook Pro, another first for Apple’s storied laptop franchise. The 100W battery is the maximum battery size allowed by the TSA, which means that you won’t be seeing batteries larger than this is any portable Apple product.
Thanks to the 100W battery, Apple notes that the MacBook Pro can last for 11 hours doing normal wireless web browsing, which is one hour longer than the last-generation 15-inch MacBook Pro. Apple also packs in a new 96W power supply alongside the 16-inch MacBook Pro to help replenish its massive battery pack.
One of the most surprising new features found on Apple’s latest MacBook Pro is the inclusion of a new three-mic array with high SNR and directional beamforming. Apple says that the microphone yields studio-quality recording capabilities without the need for an external microphone.
I’ve been really impressed by the recording quality of the microphone, particularly its low noise floor. It just might be possible to use the microphone inside the MacBook Pro for more than just scratch audio. Stay tuned for additional commentary downloadable audio comparisons between the new microphone and previous MacBook Pro microphone in my full review.
Complementing the new microphone is an impressive new Hi-Fi six‑speaker system with force-canceling woofers. The audio emanating from the speakers sounds ridiculously good for a laptop, and I could legitimately see using the MacBook Pro speakers for music playback when in a pinch.
One of the most annoying characteristics of the speakers in pre-16-inch MacBook Pro models was how the speakers caused vibrations throughout the chassis so you could feel it while you typed. Apple seems to have significantly dampened the vibration, which is great news for people who like to type and listen to music at the same time.
The new MacBook Pro is a significant improvement over its predecessor. It’s not just a fix for the keyboard or a larger display, but it’s a well-rounded machine that improves over the previous MacBook Pro in a variety of noteworthy ways.
We’ll have a full review airing shortly that goes more in-depth with thoughts and criticisms about the new 16-inch MacBook Pro. Although there was no CPU bump over the last 15-inch MacBook Pro Apple released, the thermal dynamics of this model received some much-needed attention that helps improve performance. This, too, we will discuss in future coverage.
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