APPLE 16 INCH MACBOOK PRO

Design & Build Quality

So, I have owned the Macbook Pro 16 for about 3 months now and I have to say it’s the most powerful Macbook Pro I have ever use and yes, it is still the one the most powerful you can buy today. Starting off with the design, the Macbook Pro is still as well made as previous Macbooks and shares the similar design aesthetic. The 16 inch is now slightly bigger and thicker than the previous 15 inch and weighs a hefty 2 kg. Well for one very simple reason, and a good one, to accommodate the new Magic keyboard. The key travel is now a satisfying 1mm deep and it has been a joy to type on. Over the course of time owning them, I didn’t face any problems so far and that is saying a lot about the reliability of the scissor-switch keys. There is now an dedicated escape key that is obviously much better than tapping on the touchbar. The touchbar is still there and pretty useful for my use case. In fact, I’m with one of those people who actual love to use the touchbar more than something like a row of function keys. Next, the power button and Touch ID scanner is now separated from the touchbar. Fun fact, the Macbook Pro retains the ability to boot on when the screen is lifted so you don’t have to press the power button to turn on. Touch ID works well, but coming from a previous Windows Hello user, I’m actually starting to miss getting in ready without any form of authentication. Lastly, the arrows keys have gone back to the inverted T setup. I don’t hate it but I don’t love it either. Up till now, I am still hitting the wrong arrow key every time I use the arrows keys. The screen, it’s as colour accurate as you expect and now with lesser bezels along the sides and the top. It can produce up to 500 nits of brightness and supports the P3 wide colour gamut as well as True Tone technology delivering the best true-to-life colours that is highly useful for photo editing and video colour grading. Next, the speakers have also been upgraded to a 6 speaker setup and feature these dual force-cancelling woofers that support Dolby Atmos. Now, they blew my mind away when I first heard them. To be heard something that sounds this good from a chassis like this still keeps me curious how Apple did it. But in all cases, it never distorts at high volume levels and retain the depth and detail with sufficient soundstage and distinct left and right channels. The bass is deep and punchy and did not vibrate the chassis at all which gives you that excellent experience of not having to type on a shaky keyboard while blasting music loud. The mids are crisp and vocals come off with sparkling highs and never sounded shrill to the ear. The speakers seems to be tuned to sound best for the user using the Macbook Pro and didn’t work as well if you are trying to blast outwards and make it sound louder than it should be. They are not the loudest in volume but they are definitely the best-sounding in the market up till today amongst any Macbook model or Windows laptop. The microphones have also improved so much. In my time using it across Zoom, Skype, Discord and Facetime, I never had a single person feedbacked that they couldn’t heard me or I sounded muffled. Now sadly we got to work with the sad 720p webcam that Apple decide to stick to here in 2020. It is disappointing that they haven’t changed it to at least 1080p.

Performance

Moving on to performance, the model we are testing here is the 2.3 GHz 8-Core 9th Generation Intel Core i9, 32 GB 2667 MHz DDR4 RAM and 8 GB AMD Radeon Pro 5000M series graphics. But you can max out the performance to a 9th Generation 8-Core Intel Core i9 with Turbo Boost up to 5.0GHz and 64 GB of RAM together with a whopping 8TB of SSD storage on-board. Using the full Adobe Creative Cloud Suite for content creation, everything feels snappy and works well. In Photoshop, I was able to open a series of Sony RAW files quickly and lag-free. In Illustrator, InDesign and XD, I didn’t faced any issues with the similar snappy performance from the CPU, backed with a ton of headroom left in the RAM. With Premiere Pro, I imported and edited couple of 4K mp4 videos and the Macbook Pro heated up to cope with my work speed. It didn’t crashed on me but I did have couple of hiccups and drop frames when I put the playback on Full. Still, I was able to edit with ease and didn’t have to wait long when I was done with editing and colour grading the videos. Next, getting it to encode either in Media Encoder or in Premiere Pro itself wasn’t a problem. With a dedicated 8GB AMD Radeon Pro GPU, I was able to significantly reduce the encoding time with Metal acceleration. Using Final Cut Pro X or DaVinci Resolve, I was able to achieve the same performance with no problem. Logic Pro X on the other hand was able to load well and handle multiple tracks and effects playing all at once. Using DJ softwares like Serato Pro, Virtual DJ on the laptop for beatmatching and Rekordbox DJ, it was able to keep up and stay in sync with the Pioneer DJ all-in-one XDJ-RR that I use to mix with. Using it with design softwares like Rhinoceros 6, the performance was not compromised unless you are doing some serious advanced CAD or opening huge files. That is when the Macbook Pro started to lag and dropped frames andit was nearly impossible to edit the file. But in all case, you will probably be better off using a dedicated desktop or a Mac Pro if you need that level of performance. If you need to render the CAD models, Keyshot was able to load smaller file size and go through pretty smoothly. However, those who are looking to throw heavy and complex models at it will face a drop in performance but in all seriousness, go get a desktop or a Mac Pro and you will be better off. A Macbook Pro, at the end of the day, can only pack this amount of performace in a slim chassis and it seems to be top of the pack even when compared to its competitors like the Dell XPS 17 or the Microsoft Surface Book 3. When encoding long 10 minutes plus 4k videos, the temperature only managed to hit the highest of 90 Degree Celsius and the dual fans spun up to drop the temperature to a safe 70 Degree Celsius. The fans spun upwards of 5200 RPM – 5600 RPM and wasn’t the quietest to actively cool off the Macbook Pro. But it will definitely not be as loud as something like the Dell Alienware M17 R2. Apple claims that they have solve the thermal throttling issue from the 2019 15 inch Macbook Pro with a 28% better airflow and a 35% larger heatsink and I can confirm that their claims are true and with keep up with content creation. In my unit, I have 32 GB of RAM. I usually use up to 20 GB of RAM running Premiere Pro editing a video, a few Google Chrome tabs for Wix website editing and Photoshop to edit a few RAW photos and nothing ever did crashed or lagged. In running the Parallel Desktop for Windows 10 use on top of Mac OS with another couple of design softwares. The experience is as seamless as it could get. For gaming, the Macbook Pro kept up with mainstream games and didn’t have much drop frames even though the fans did spun up and the temperatures went up.

Connectivity & Portability

In terms of connectivity, the 16 Inch Macbook Pro supports the latest Bluetooth 5.0 but still kept the slightly older Wi-Fi 5 chip. It has the Apple T2 chip for security purposes. There are four USB-C Thunderbolt ports that can support for fast file transfer with HDD, SSD, SD cards. Charging can be done on either ports on the side but it is recommended to use the ports on the right as some have feedbacked that they see a spike in temperature increase when they use the left side ports. External display support over any USB-C port is supported with up to two 6K monitors such as the Pro Display XDR or four 4K monitors like the LG Ultrafine series of displays. There is still a 3.5mm audio jack for audio use fortunately but there is no SD carder reader built-in. Hello dongles again. The battery life will last around 11 hours but using softwares extensively will definitely drain the battery life quicker than it should. The 96W charger that comes with the Macbook Pro is the biggest yet to support the otherwise 100W battery which is the largest battery allowed on an aircraft.

PROS

  • Durable Construction

  • Excellent Build Quality & Materials

  • Up to 9th Generation Intel Core i9 CPU with Turbo Boost

  • Up to 8GB AMD Radeon Pro 5500 MM GPU

  • Up to 8TB SSD Storage

  • P3 Wide Colour Gamut & True Tone

  • Best in class Dolby Atmos Speakers

  • Scissor-Switch Magic Keyboard

  • 3.5mm Headphone Jack

  • Consistent Stable Mac OS Updates

CONS​​

  • 720p Webcam

  • No Wi-Fi 6 Support

  • No SD Card Reader

The Bottom Line

All in all, the Macbook Pro is a very specialised laptop for anyone that needs power of a decent desktop workstation but require the portability of a laptop. It is the best laptop you can buy with Mac OS Catalina as of yet but also the most expensive. Whether you are a content creator, an developer or a designer, the 16 Inch Macbook Pro does not disappoint with its powerful CPU and GPU. The Macbook Pro comes in both Silver and Space Grey colours.

WE RATE IT!

9.5/10

Other Notable Competitors

DELL XPS 17
HP SPECTRE X360 15.6
MICROSOFT SURFACE BOOK 3
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