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16-inch MacBook Pro: Here’s everything you need to know

Rejoice, Apple fans, because the rumors were true: Apple has just launched the near-mythical 16-inch MacBook Pro. That means we finally know what it looks like, how fast it is and, most importantly, how much of a hole it’ll burn in your wallet.

We’ve rounded up all the news, specs and features, giving you all the info you need right here. If you’re interested in the 16-inch MacBook Pro, this is the place to be.

Price and release date

Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro

Original reports indicated Apple was targeting either a September or October release date for the new MacBook Pro, but they turned out to be wide of the mark. As it turns out, Apple launched the 16-inch MacBook Pro via a simple press release in mid-November. While it’s unlike Apple to unveil redesigned products in this way, it has been done before.

The good news is that the 16-inch MacBook Pro is available to order right now. No more waiting around and no release dates some weeks in the future; if you want one of these babies, you can buy one right now.

We know what you’re thinking: This is going to be expensive, right? Well, it actually costs the same as the MacBook Pro 15, which has now been phased out entirely. It seems Apple seems the 16-inch MacBook Pro as more of an update or continuation of the MacBook Pro 15 rather than an entirely new, separate device. That means the entry-level 16-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,399, while the high-end model costs $2,799. Each can be upgraded with more powerful processors, extra memory, beefier graphics, and more capacious SSDs.

If you were to buy a maxed out 16-inch MacBook Pro you’d get an 8-core 9th-generation Intel Core i9 processor, 64GB of RAM (the first time that much has been available in a MacBook Pro), an AMD Radeon Pro 5500M graphics card, plus an enormous 8TB SSD (another first, this time for any laptop). All that power will sizzle a $6,099-sized hole in your wallet, though, so you’d better start saving.

A new keyboard

Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro

One of the biggest complaints and points of controversy about the Pro over the last few years has been the keyboard. The butterfly-switch keyboard has been present in every MacBook Pro since 2016, but fortunately it’s finally been ditched in place of what Apple calls the “Magic Keyboard”. Apple describes the new design as a “redesigned scissor mechanism” that’s quiet, stable, and comes with 1mm of travel. The company also states it contains a rubber dome “that stores more potential energy for a responsive key press.”

And that’s not even the full story of what Apple changed. The arrow keys have been restored to the “inverted T” shape of previous designs, which should make it easier to avoid mistakes when pressing the up or down arrow (on the butterfly keyboard, these keys were extremely small). As well as that, there’s now a physical Esc key — something that a small but vocal group of Apple users has been crying out for ever since the key was assimilated into the Touch Bar (which is present on both variants of the 16-inch MacBook Pro).

All these changes suggest Apple really went back to the drawing board with the MacBook Pro’s keyboard, as users clearly weren’t satisfied with the butterfly design. That’s backed up by a statement from Apple, which explains the keyboard redesign involved “extensive research and user studies focused on human factors and key design.” Here’s hoping it’s a substantial improvement.

As well as all that, there’s now a separate Touch ID button to the right of the Touch Bar. Although previously this a physical key, it was attached to the Touch Bar. Presumably moving it a few millimeters to the right will make it easier to press and more obvious to spot.

A larger, higher-resolution display with slimline bezels

Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro

Some rumors had previously suggested the 16-inch MacBook Pro could come with an OLED display. While that didn’t come to pass, the Retina display on the new MacBook Pro is still a real corker.

It’s got a resolution of 3,072 x 1,920 and pixel density of 226ppi, both of which are the highest on any MacBook device. That means the screen packs in almost 6 million pixels into its frame, which should be great news for photographers, designers, and anyone who needs plenty of screen real estate.

Apple also says every panel is calibrated in the factory for optimal gamma levels, white point accuracy and primary colors, and the 16-inch MacBook Pro’s display comes with 500 nits of brightness and the P3 wide color gamut. Apple’s displays have traditionally been some of the strongest features of the company’s laptops, with excellent brightness and very low color-error rates, and the 16-inch MacBook Pro looks set to continue that impressive legacy.

And just look at the slimline bezels on the image above. It’s funny how cutting just a few millimeters from the black border can make such a huge difference, but it really does make the display feel that much bigger. It’s hugely noticeable — just look at the thick bezels on Microsoft’s Surface Pro 7 if you don’t believe us.

But thinner bezels aren’t just there for show. By paring them back, Apple has been able to squeeze a 16-inch display into a chassis that’s only marginally larger than the now-discontinued MacBook Pro 15. Where the MacBook Pro 15 measured 13.75 x 9.48 x 0.61 inches, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is now 14.09 x 9.68 x 0.64 inches. Not bad.

Plenty of powerful specs — but no ARM chips yet

Navi GPU that's PCIe 4 ready

Rumors have been piling up that Apple is working on its own ARM-based chips for a future MacBook, but we’ll have to wait a little longer to see those. That’s because the 16-inch MacBook Pro is equipped with Intel’s 9th-generation processors.

Still, they aren’t exactly weak. The entry-level 16-inch MacBook Pro comes with a 2.6GHz six-core Intel i7 processor (upgradeable to a 2.4GHz eight-core i9), while the high-end version has a 2.3GHz eight-core Intel i9 chip (upgradeable to that same 2.4GHz eight-core i9). That should give you plenty of heft and power when it comes to intensive tasks like music editing and video rendering.

Graphics look just as promising, with AMD’s Navi GPU’s making an appearance for the first time in a MacBook. You’ll be able to choose between an AMD Radeon Pro 5300M or 5500M with 4GB of video memory, or a 5500M with 8GB of video RAM. Apple says this marks a substantial step up over the previous-generation MacBook Pro 15, with the entry-level 16-inch MacBook Pro offering twice the graphics performance of the entry-level MacBook Pro 15. That same top-end graphics card will yield 1.8 times faster performance in DaVinci Resolve, 1.6 times better gaming performance, and 1.4 times faster game development performance in Unity, according to Apple.

Elsewhere, you’ll be able to add up to 64GB of RAM — the most ever in a MacBook — which Apple says is faster than that in the previous version of the MacBook Pro. You can also outfit the laptop with a gargantuan 8TB SSD. That’s the largest SSD available in any laptop of any brand. Of course, upgrades like these don’t come cheap — the 64GB RAM upgrade costs $800, while the 8TB SSD is an eye-watering $2,400 on the entry-level 16-inch MacBook Pro and $2,200 on the high-end model.

A massive battery, and much more

Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro

Just as impressive as the minimal increase in chassis size is the fact that Apple has managed to ramp up the battery capacity. Where the MacBook Pro 15 packed in a reasonable 83.6 watt-hour battery, the 16-inch MacBook Pro has a 100 watt-hour battery, giving it an additional hour of battery life for up to 11 hours of wireless web browsing or Apple TV app video playback, Apple says. That’s been achieved while increasing the power of the internal components.

Speaking of powerful internals, extra power means extra heat, and Apple says it’s tackled that issue too with a new thermal design. This brings with it a 28% increase in airflow, the company says, while the heat sink is 35% larger. The real world effect of this is that the 16-inch MacBook Pro can shoulder an extra 12 watts during intensive workloads than the previous version could.

That’s all well and good, we hear you say, but what about the ports? Well, they remain untouched from the MacBook Pro 15, with four Thunderbolt 3 slots that can run at up to 40Gb/s on every 16-inch MacBook Pro. That means you can run two 6K displays simultaneously at 60Hz from one 16-inch MacBook Pro, or four 4K displays at 60Hz. Oh, and don’t worry, there’s also a trusty headphone jack as well.

And while we’re on the topic of audio, the speakers and microphone have been improved on the 16-inch MacBook Pro. Apple explains the laptop comes with a “completely redesigned” six-speaker audio system that make use of “force-canceling woofers” to cut down on vibrations and distortions. That means music sounds clearer and the bass can go half an octave lower. Elsewhere, the new microphone array reduces hiss by up to 40% and can now rival professional digital mics, Apple says, due to its improved signal-to-noise ratio. The speakers on Apple laptops are already good, and with these improvements — plus those to the microphone — the 16-inch MacBook Pro should offer up a real treat for the ears.

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