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Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch: A refined MacBook Pro 15 with some small but essential changes

The MacBook Pro 16: A triumphant return for Apple? (Image source: Notebookcheck)
The MacBook Pro 16: A triumphant return for Apple? (Image source: Notebookcheck)
Apple returns with a new MacBook Pro that addresses many of the concerns that we had about the fourth-generation models. While the MacBook Pro 16 may look an awful lot like its 15-inch predecessor, Apple has made several tweaks that make it a pleasure to use.

The MacBook Pro 16 is an excellent multimedia laptop, regardless of whether you are running it on macOS or Windows 10. The last MacBook Pro 15 impressed us too, as the 91% overall rating that we awarded it suggests. The fourth-generation models have their faults though, namely their fragile butterfly keyboards and their comparably weak cooling system. The MacBook Pro 16 rectifies both of these issues, with Apple having made other minor changes too that provide an all-round better experience than the MacBook Pro 15 offers.

The company has ditched its butterfly keyboard in favour of scissor switches with which it equipped third-generation Macbook Pros. Scissor switches not only offer more travel than butterfly ones but should be more durable too. Sticking with the keyboard area, Apple has redesigned the Touch Bar, separating escape and the power button into dedicated keys. The Touch Bar continues to use pulse-width modulation (PWM), which may worry some people, but its positioning means that you will rarely be looking at it. Its PWM frequency should be high enough to cause few people issues like eyestrain or headaches too.

The slightly larger display is just as bright, colour accurate and crisp as the 15.4-inch panel in the last MacBook Pro 15 that we reviewed. Its glossy finish and middling contrast ratio are not ideal, though. Likewise, its 131 kHz PWM frequency should not trouble most people, but its presence could affect those who are severely PWM sensitive.

The Intel Core i9-9880H and AMD Radeon Pro 5500M are a powerful combination too, allowing the MacBook Pro 16 not only to breeze through productivity tasks, but also modern triple-A games. A word on gaming, though. If you are thinking about gaming on the MacBook Pro 16, then install Windows via Boot Camp. Doing so gives you a wider library of games from which to choose and allows the device to get the most from its dedicated GPU. Gaming on macOS is doable, but our review unit cannot even run Fortnite at 60 FPS in 960p. By contrast, the MacBook Pro 16 can run all triple-A titles on at least medium graphics settings in 1080p. Most titles average beyond 60 FPS at high or ultra graphics too, with only particularly resource-intensive games like Metro Exodus requiring a drop to medium graphics.

The MacBook Pro 16 has better speakers than its predecessor too, while the increase to a 100 Wh battery gives the device all-day battery life. Some issues remain, though. Apple continues to solder practically every component to the logic board, rendering the MacBook Pro 16 almost irreparable. The device lacks Wi-Fi 6 connectivity for some reason too, while we cannot understand why Apple continues to equip its premium laptops with such poor webcams.

Ultimately, the MacBook Pro 16 will probably convince few ardent Windows fans to macOS. If you consider repairability and value for money more important than looks, then the Dell XPS 15 7590 or Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 would probably be better choices for you. However, if you were on the fence about buying the most recent MacBook Pro 15, then the MacBook Pro 16 will likely have you parting with your money. In short, Apple's latest MacBook Pro only offers an all-round better experience than its predecessor, without you having to spend any more money than you would have done on a MacBook Pro 15.

Please see our MacBook Pro 16 review for our full thoughts on the device.


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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2019 12 > Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch: A refined MacBook Pro 15 with some small but essential changes
Alex Alderson, 2019-12- 5 (Update: 2019-12- 5)