The 16″ MacBook Pro: Did Apple Nail it? We Think So!

19th December 2019
Group standing and looking at laptop

The 16 inch MacBook Pro is one of the most highly anticipated Apple products in years, but does it live up to the hype?

Based on our testing of this new machine, we truly believe that this is the best value MacBook ever. Let us explain why, before we get into the performance cooling improvements and pricing, we want to first point out the new features that really make it stand out compared to the 15-inch model. The beauty of the 16-inch MacBook Pro is that it offers an excellent package of updated features and performance at the base price, showing that Apple has started listening to users.

Apple MacBook Pro 16" - Featured Image - Blue
2019 MacBook Pro 16″

You asked for a better cooling. You got it. You asked for a larger battery. You got it thinner. A better keyboard, a physical escape key, a more powerful charger in 512GB of base storage. Apple gave you what you asked for, and at the same base price as before, which many weren’t expecting. They even threw in things you didn’t even ask for, like the updated speakers, updated microphones, up to a massive 64GB of RAM, and an insane 8TB of storage, and they even allow you to get the best graphics option while configuring from the base model instead of forcing you to start with the higher end like with the 15-inch MacBook Pro. Apple didn’t have to do any of that, but they did it anyway, and consumers are benefiting from it because the 16-inch Macro-Pro is an excellent deal.

Yes, it’s a bit larger and heavier than the 15-inch model, but after a month of use, the 16-inch Pro starts to feel no different in size. You just get used to it. As for the keyboard, we’ve been using it for almost a month and we’ve yet to have any reliability issues at all, nor have we heard of anybody else having issues, and on top of that it feels better as well. You get more key travel along with a nice springy feedback. That makes it possibly the best MacBook keyboard yet, even better than the one on the 2015 MacBook Pro. That physical escape key is a lot more convenient to use. The display hasn’t really changed apart from the slightly larger size, but Apple has also slimmed down the bezels especially at the top and the difference is actually significant.

It looks quite a bit more immersive and modern for the speakers. The 16-inch MacBook Pro packs a set of three speakers on each side and it’s actually the perfect setup because each speaker is fully dedicated to a certain sound frequency range. One speaker for the high notes, one for the midtones, and one just for base. This means that a single speaker doesn’t have to produce two different frequency ranges at the same time, so there’s no clashing or blending of tones and for that same reason, vocals are incredibly clear and you can easily hear every single instrument and note within a song compared to previous models or it can sound muffled or tinny at max volume. The only downside is that the speakers are a little bit quieter than the 15-inch, but the quality is definitely worth the trade off.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro also has upgraded microphones. Apple calls it studio quality, you may not necessarily say that it’s good enough to replace a studio microphone, but it’s actually good enough for content creators who are just starting out and don’t want to invest in a dedicated microphone just yet. Our only issue is that you still get the old 720p webcam, which looks bad in comparison to the better microphone quality.

Now let’s get into the good stuff, performance, starting with the processor. When Apple first added the six-core option to the MacBook Pro, the cooling system was so limiting that paying extra for the processor only got you around 2% more real-world performance under load, but since then Apple and Intel have been working on optimisations and along with the new thicker body and improved cooling on the 16-inch MacBook Pro.

The base model with the 2.6GHz Ice Lake processor now actually outperforms the best 2.9GHz six-core i9 processor from the 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro, which is very impressive. The only downside with a better cooling system is that it’s a little bit louder than before, around 1 to 2 decibels louder, but the fan noise isn’t as high pitched as before so it’s not too bad and definitely worth the better cooling. We tested quite a few things with the base model and found that it’s fast enough for most people for video editing. The six-core base model was surprisingly not that much slower than the eight-core model that also came with the best graphics and 32GB of RAM in a couple of the tests. The better spec model did much better for mainly one reason, which we’ll get into in just a second, but overall the base model was able to handle video editing extremely well considering the price.

We then tested photo editing in Lightroom and Photoshop and the base model, yet again, handled them perfectly well. Exposure and colour adjustments with instant brushes were smooth and responsive. Zooming was super quick on the spot. You might be thinking “why not upgrade to the eight-core processor?” Yes, the cooling has been improved, so now the eight-core can run at higher clock speeds, but so can the six-core. We actually think the base six-core processor is now fast enough for most people. That’s due to one very important recent change in the software world. Graphics performance has recently been improving faster than processor performance, so certain productivity apps like Final Cut Pro X in various Adobe apps like lightroom, Photoshop, and Premiere Pro, have all recently been updated to use more graphics power than ever before. Therefore leaving less work for the processor to have to deal with.

The MacBook Pro 16" is now available from HardSoft using Flexi-Lease or Pure-rental!
Graphics Special from HardSoft

What’s great about the 16-inch MacBook Pro is that it packs AMD’s brand new 7nm Navi GPUs which are a massive improvement over the previous graphics and the 15-inch MacBook Pro. Even the base graphics and the 16-inch is almost as powerful as the top-spec Vega 20 graphics option in the 15-inch and in a lot of our tests, the base 5,300 M graphics on the 16-inch performed quite close to the best 5,508 GB graphics option being only a bit slower for common 4K video editing as well as 4.5K Red RAW editing, and for gaming, the base model performed basically the same as the higher-end model, getting the same 70 FPS average on Call of Duty Modern Warfare, which is very impressive.

Now there were two specific tests where the better graphics model performed much better in the blender benchmark. It finished almost twice as fast as the base model and in our five minute 8K RAW export test, it finished almost four times as fast and it did it for mainly one reason. It’s packing 8GB of video memory. In those specific tests, we’re completely maxing it out. So the 4GB of Ram on the base model was a major limitation in those tests. And for those of you doing other things like programming and music production, the base six-core processor should be more than good enough for most of you.

But for everyone else, the basic 16-inch MacBook Pro is the first base model that can handle a wide variety of productivity programs without having to worry about which upgrades to buy. And what’s even more impressive, is that the base model now gets double the storage at the same price in acceptable 512GB, which also runs at incredibly fast transfer speeds. Basically as fast as the 2019 Mac Pro’s SSDs, we believe that the base 16-inch MacBook Pro is the ‘go-to’ model for most people because the value you get for the cash is the best we’ve seen on any MacBook. You’ll get amazing performance, along with great features like the new reliable keyboard, modernised 16-inch display and best-in-class speakers.

Now for features, we would have liked Apple to include an SD card slot, since it’s the most common storage card used by a lot of people, but Apple chose to stick with four Thunderbolt three ports once again. We also wish it featured Face ID authentication but due to the very thin display, it doesn’t seem like we’ll be getting that anytime soon. For those of you who already have a 2018 or 2019 15-inch MacBook Pro, you won’t see much of a difference in performance, especially if you already have Vega 20 graphics. But for everyone else, the 16-inch MacBook Pro will definitely be a big upgrade.

With Christmas almost upon us, a lot of the 15-inch MacBook Pros are now on sale like the high end 2019 model. But while it might be tempting to grab one at a discount, there’s one problem. The latest 15-inch model already seems old, even only one month since the release of the 16-inch Pro. So we fully recommend the 16-inch MacBook Pro instead of saving some extra cash by going with the 15-inch.

The MacBook Pro 16" is now available from HardSoft using Flexi-Lease or Pure-rental!

If you’d like to find out more about leasing the new 16-inch MacBook Pro, get in touch with our sales team on 020 7111 1643 or email sales@hardsoft.co.uk