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Apple gives MacBook Pro 16 a massively powerful GPU upgrade

Apple has just updated its MacBook Pro 16 laptop with a new graphics card with much more powerful video memory, giving pro users a substantial upgrade that should noticeably speed up their work — for a price.

The new video card is the 7nm AMD Radeon Pro 5600M with 8GB of HBM2 memory, which replaces the AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 8GB of GDDR6 memory as the top-end graphics option in the MacBook Pro 16. That upgrade makes this laptop the most powerful Apple MacBook you can buy.

Although the 5500M card remains in the lineup, it is now the mid-range graphics card.

The main difference between the new graphics card and the 8GB 5500M option lies in the types of memory they use. HBM2 stands for High Bandwidth Memory that, as the name suggests, massively ramps up the amount of bandwidth the video RAM in the graphics card can use. This results in transfer speeds of up to 394GBps, according to AMD — more than double the 192GBps the 5500M can manage.

The 5600M surges ahead in other areas, too. It has 40 compute units to the 5500M’s 24, 2,560 stream processors to the 5500M’s 1,536, and hits 5.3 teraflops of performance compared to the 5500M’s 4.0 teraflops. In other words, the 5600M is a significant upgrade.

Unsurprisingly, it is also significantly more expensive. While the 8GB 5500M is an affordable $100 upgrade over its 4GB cousin (the default graphics card in the MacBook Pro 16), the 5600M will set you back a whopping $700. That price should not be too much of a surprise given its fantastic performance, but it is likely to make you think twice about adding it to your MacBook Pro 16 configuration unless you really need it.

This announcement from Apple comes just a week before it is due to host its first-ever online-only Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which will kick off on June 22.

The event is expected to be heavily Mac-focused, with Apple’s promotional imagery featuring MacBooks front and center. It is therefore plausible that Apple will give more solid performance figures for the 5600M at WWDC later this month.

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