Home Digital Art Review Apple 16-inch MacBook Professional evaluate: up to date with 2020’s mannequin – Assessment

Apple 16-inch MacBook Professional evaluate: up to date with 2020’s mannequin – Assessment

Apple 16-inch MacBook Professional evaluate: up to date with 2020’s mannequin – Assessment

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After months with Apple’s redesigned new MacBook Professional – together with the most recent upgrades – we had been impressed in methods we did not anticipate.

Because it was launched in 2006, the 15-inch MacBook Professional has been synonymous with creatives, as a lot a part of the uniform as thick glasses, a checked shirt, and beards and/or bangs. Whereas different laptops have provided greater efficiency earlier, or higher screens, the fashionable and solidly dependable MBP was the laptop computer of alternative for a lot of designers, illustrators, animators, editors and photographers. And whilst you may plump for a 13-inch mannequin, or – till 2011 – a 17-inch mannequin, for many the 15-inch provided the perfect mixture of efficiency and portability.

However on the tail finish of 2019 – when the world seemed like a really completely different place – the 15-inch MacBook Professional grew to become an ex-Macbook. Apple changed it with a barely bigger mannequin: the 16-inch MacBook Professional. 

Seven months later, a further possibility appeared – a extra highly effective graphics chip, the AMD Radeon Professional 5600M, with twice as a lot of its personal reminiscence because the beforehand top-spec possibility. This was carefully adopted by the information that this could possibly be the final MBP of this kind – as Apple shall be ditching Intel chips for its own over the subsequent two years.

So let’s get that out the best way first. As somebody who lived by Apple’s transfer from PowerPC chips to Intel again in 2005-7, in my judgement there is not any method to inform if the primary Apple Silicon-powered MacBook Professional will arrive in 2020, 2021 or 2022 – and whether or not it’ll provide modest or large enhancements over what’s out there now. However I’d say that the identical could be true if Apple had been sticking with Intel – its next-generation chips could possibly be a game-changer for all we all know. So I am judging the MacBook Professional by what now we have now, not guessing at what the long run might or might not maintain.

Additionally, even seven months post-launch, most creatives contemplating a 16-inch MacBook Professional shall be taking a look at within the context of the 15-inch MBP they already personal – or one other high-end 15-inch laptop computer of a earlier era. In order that would be the lens for this evaluate.

MacBook Professional: 15-inch vs 16-inch

Your first query is more likely to be, what does the additional inch get you? Effectively, it is solely 0.6 of an inch because the 15-inch mannequin had a 15.4-inch display screen, whereas the 16-inch is bang on 16 inches. However past that, the reply is just about every part you might need: a higher-resolution display screen with out hulking out, a redesigned keyboard primarily based on the Magic keyboard shipped with desktop Macs, (barely) greater efficiency, extra RAM and storage, and a sound system that may solely be described as phenomenal.

It’s not excellent, however should you preferred what Apple did with the 15-inch mannequin, you’ll like this – doing a fast calculation in my head – 4% extra. And on the identical worth because the 15-inch mannequin, you’re not paying any extra for it.

Anybody who remembers the 17-inch mannequin may be involved that once more we’ll be confronted with an impractically massive, teatray-sized Mac. Fortunately, the 16-inch MacBook Professional is simply a smidge bigger than the 15-inch mannequin, because of slimmer bezels across the display screen – and it’s lower than 1mm thicker too. On the desk subsequent to my 15-inch MBP, the 16-inch mannequin seems to be noticeably larger – however folded down there’s not a lot in it for dimension or weight. It’s about the identical dimension/weight as 15.6-inch Home windows rivals such because the Dell XPS 15 or Precision 5540, or the Razer Blade Advanced Model.

The 15-inch MacBook Professional subsequent to its 16-inch substitute.
The 16-inch MacBook Professional (proper) is lower than 1mm thicker than the 15-inch mannequin (left).

It’ll slip into most 15-inch laptop computer luggage, as they’re designed for bulkier PC fashions, however you’d want to switch something that’s particularly designed for the 15-inch MBP. Our check unit arrived with a black leather-based sleeve, which is good should you’re into that company look.

So general, should you had been joyful transferring round from desk to assembly to coach to coffeeshop to the park with a 15-inch MacBook Professional – or any of these PC rivals – you’ll be simply as content material with the 16-inch mannequin.

Display screen points

For those who’re anticipating a 4K display screen – as you will get with a lot of the MacBook Professional’s rivals – you’ll be disenchanted. Apple believes that at a decision of three,072 x 1,920 offers MacBook Professional may have a for much longer battery life than if it had a 4K show – and that you simply’ll not discover the distinction on a 16-inch display screen in comparison with a 4K decision.

We actually may inform the distinction the 16-inch mannequin’s 16% extra pixels offers over with the earlier 15-inch mannequin’s display screen – however subsequent to a top-spec 4K laptop computer show, the MacBook Professional impresses much less. We positioned the 16-inch MBP subsequent to the Razer Blade 15 Superior, which has a 4K show with 40% extra pixels than Apple’s new laptop computer – and cautious inspection confirmed extra depth and element on the PC’s display screen

Right here you may see how far more of a picture (at 100%) you may see on the 16-inch mannequin (proper), in comparison with the 15-inch (left)

The color gamut hasn’t modified both – with Apple aligning the color mannequin to the DCI-P3 customary used for digital cinema fairly than the Adobe RGB gamut utilized by Adobe’s purposes. Utilizing a Datacolor Spyder5Elite colorimeter and testing software program, we discovered the 16-inch MBP can output about 87% of the Adobe RGB customary – in comparison with 100% by many rivals together with the Razer Blade 15 Superior, Dell XPS 15 or Precision 5540, HP’s ZBook Studio or Lenovo’s ThinkPad P1.

That being mentioned, the Spyder discovered that the MBP 16 presents distinctive color accuracy. There’s little or no glare and pictures and video look as wealthy as they did on the earlier mannequin – it could output 500nits of brightness, so it doesn’t actually matter that Apple doesn’t provide an OLED show possibility like Dell and Razer do.

Beneath the display screen are the redesigned Contact Bar and keyboard. Personally, I’ve by no means been a fan of Apple’s method to having the Contact Bar fairly than a touchscreen possibility like PC rivals – it’s simpler to work with a full touchscreen than the thin Contact Bar in cramped situations like on a practice or sure espresso outlets – however not less than it’s a lot better supported by most main artistic apps than it has been up to now.

The brand new Contact Bar has a separate, bodily Escape key – a request from many builders in response to Apple. The Contact ID fingerprint scanner has additionally been separated from the remainder of the Contact Bar, although this appears to be simply to stability it aesthetically with the separated Escape key.

A brand new keyboard

The brand new keyboard is a particular enchancment – and never provided that it fixes the earlier keyboard’s reported reliability points (which we will’t have an opinion on but). It is very snug to sort on, the keys have a deeper ‘journey’ and it feels extra just like the Magic Keyboard from desktop Macs that it’s primarily based on. Apple has additionally gone again to the ‘inverted T’ format of the arrow keys – which some customers most well-liked (and others will get irritated at as they’ve simply received the muscle reminiscence for the ‘block’ format).

The 15-inch MacBook Professional’s arrow keys
The 16-inch MacBook Professional’s arrow keys

The trackpad is similar dimension because the earlier mannequin – ie large in comparison with most different laptops, and one of many MBP’s usability highlights. It actually does make it straightforward to exactly choose and manipulate factors and components should you’re in a state of affairs the place you may’t use a mouse.

Beneath the keyboard, Apple presents most of the identical elements it did beforehand – nevertheless it has rejigged their association to enhance airflow and subsequently efficiency, higher cooling permitting chips to run quicker.

The MacBook Professional 16 presents the identical Ninth-gen Intel Core i7 and i9 chips because the final 15-inch mannequin – as much as the Intel Core i9-9980HK, which has eight cores operating at 2.4GHz, a few of which will be accelerated to 5GHz once they’re not all in use. Intel has a tenth era line of chips but, however these are geared toward smaller laptops such because the Microsoft Floor Professional 7 with decrease efficiency wants (so there’s no Tenth-gen Core i9, for instance).

Different inner enhancements are higher than earlier fashions, although most are extra about bringing the MacBook Professional in keeping with its rivals than innovating past them. Now you can match 64GB of DDR4 RAM – as with these aforementioned Dell, HP and Lenovo fashions – for £720/US$800 over the usual 16GB. And storage now tops out at 8TB, which is bigger than its rivals however provides £1,980/US$2,200 to the value over the usual 1TB. These are precisely what cash’s-no-object creatives who need final energy want, nevertheless it’s out of attain of most. There are new AMD Radeon Professional 5000M collection graphics with as much as 8GB of its personal RAM.


We’ve examined the 16-inch MacBook Professional with Photoshop – as that’s the most typical utility utilized by Digital Arts readers – and our Cinema 4D ProRender check that measures GPU efficiency for each 3D or 2D acceleration. We have additionally used Cinebench benchmark that’s primarily based on Cinema 4D’s CPU-based rendering engine to see if the airflow makes a distinction to efficiency as Apple claims.

Right here we’ve in contrast three completely different configurations of the 16-inch MacBook Professional to our 2019 15-inch mannequin evaluate unit – plus a cell workstation with a Quadro RTX graphics chip from Acer and creative-focussed however non-workstation laptop computer from Razer. Observe: We did not have the primary 16-inch MBP mannequin lengthy sufficient to run our ProRender or battery check on

  • The primary 16-inch MacBook Professional is what we might contemplate to be the bottom configuration for a artistic professional – although when you have extra finances we might counsel rising the RAM to 32GB earlier than some other improve. It has a 16-inch, 3,072 x 1,920 LCD display screen; a Core i9 2.3GHz processor with eight cores, 16GB DDR4 RAM, AMD Radeon Professional 5500M graphics with 4GB RAM, a 1TB SSD and macOS Catalina. It prices £2,799/US$2,799.
  • The second 16-inch MacBook Professional is our beneficial spec for video editors and 3D artists. It has a 16-inch, 3,072 x 1,920 LCD display screen; a Core i9 2.4GHz processor with eight cores, 32GB DDR4 RAM, AMD Radeon Professional 5500M graphics with 8GB RAM, a 2TB SSD and macOS Catalina. It prices £3,799/US$2,799.
  • 2020’s new 16-inch MacBook Professional options the most recent graphics chip possibility.  It has a 16-inch, 3,072 x 1,920 LCD display screen; a Core i9 2.4GHz processor with eight cores, 32GB DDR4 RAM, AMD Radeon Professional 5600M graphics with 16GB RAM, a 2TB SSD and macOS Catalina. It prices £4,449/US$4,499.
  • The 15-inch MacBook Professional had a 15-inch, 2,880 x 1,800 LCD display screen; a Core i9 2.4GHz processor with eight cores, 32GB DDR4 RAM, AMD Radeon Professional Vega 20 graphics with 4GB RAM, a 4TB SSD and macOS Mojave. This value £6,074 – although as famous in our review a big a part of that was the large-for-the-time 4TB SSD, decreasing this could deliver its worth/specs extra in keeping with our second MBP 16 evaluate unit. You may choose up a refurbished unit from Apple for about £2,800/$2,800.
  • The Acer ConceptD 5 Professional has a 15-inch, 3840 x 2160 LCD display screen, a Core i7 2.6GHz processor with six cores, 32GB DDR4 RAM, Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000 graphics with 6GB RAM, a 1TB SSD and Home windows 10 Professional. It prices £1,999
  • The Razer Blade 15 Superior has a 15.6-inch, 3,840 x 2,160 OLED display screen; a Core i7 2.6GHz processor with six cores, 16GB DDR4 RAM, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 graphics with 8GB RAM, a 512MB SSD and Home windows 10 Dwelling. It prices £3,149/$3,299. Learn our Razer Blade 15 Advanced Edition review.

Cinebench R20

Cinema 4D R20 ProRender

Photoshop 2019

Battery life

From these outcomes you may see that the 16-inch MacBook Professional presents solely reasonable efficiency positive aspects over the past 15-inch mannequin in each space besides 3D efficiency, the place we have seen a giant enhance. Nevertheless, Apple’s determination to proceed utilizing AMD’s chips implies that it delivers a lot decrease 3D efficiency than the Nvidia RTX-sporting Razer Blade 15 Superior. 

It is potential that this determination has helped Apple maintain the MBP’s battery life for much longer than the Blade, as has the selection of a lower-resolution display screen. Regardless of the motive, the MBP’s battery life is spectacular and a serious motive to go for it over a PC rival.

High quality audio

A laptop computer’s audio system isn’t often one thing we write about – except you’re sitting in a resort room in NYC benchmarking a MacBook, chances are high you pair your laptop computer with a correct set of audio system or some respectable headphones. Most laptops produce a sound high quality someplace between tinny and mediocre – however the brand new speaker system within the 16-inch MacBook Professional makes listening pleasurable fairly than simply acceptable, and it’s so much louder too. Flipping tracks on Spotify between the 16-inch MBP and my 2018 15-inch, meandering between pop (Lizzo), soundtracks (Thom Yorke’s Suspiria), noise (Blanck Mass) and regardless of the hell you name the final FKA Twigs album, the 16-inch MBP’s sound is a lot fuller: hotter or blasting as wanted.

You’re not going to need to commerce in your studio’s speaker system fairly but, nevertheless it’s saved my ears joyful whereas penning this evaluate.

The inner microphones have been upgraded to match. You’re unlikely to note the distinction on a compressed-to-hell Skype name, however should you’re pondering of becoming a member of the rising variety of designers beginning their very own podcast, you may not want an exterior microphone.

One function you will not discover on any of the 16-inch MacBook Professional’s Home windows-based rivals is Sidecar. Discovered solely on macOS Catalina and iPadOS, this allows you to use an iPad as a Cintiq-like second display screen you may draw on utilizing the Apple Pencil.


The 16-inch MacBook Professional is, unsurprisingly, the perfect Mac laptop computer to this point – and it is greater than able to taking over the perfect of the PC bunch too. 

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