The MacBook Pro 16-inch is the most luxurious laptop available (2021). This premium portable, which was introduced in October 2021 with its smaller sister, the MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021), has pushed the boundaries of what a professional notebook can provide. It not only redesigns the look of the 2019 MacBook Pro 16-inch, but it also adds some amazing new features and an astounding level of speed.
The performance of the Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) is eerily identical to that of the somewhat more portable MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021), owing to the fact that both versions use the new M1 Pro or M1 Max CPUs. The biggest difference is related to its size since it has a larger screen and greater resolution, as well as longer battery life.
Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) Review: Price
If you're looking for something portable, we recommend reading our in-depth MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) review, as that may be a better option. Otherwise, if endurance and screen real estate is important to you, the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) is the laptop for you. The MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021), as the bigger of the two and Apple's flagship MacBook, is an expensive laptop, starting at $2,499 (£2,399, AU$3,749) for the model with an M1 Pro processor with a 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU, 16GB unified memory, and 512GB SSD storage. The more powerful M1 Max processor, which features a 10-core CPU, 32-core GPU, 32GB of quicker memory, and a 1TB SSD, will set you back $3,499 (£3,299, AU$5,249).
The MacBook Pro 14-inch is significantly less expensive, starting at $1,999 / £1,899 / AU$2,999 for a model with the M1 Pro CPU. This M1 Pro, on the other hand, is significantly less powerful, with an 8-core CPU and 14-core GPU. The most powerful 14-inch model, which has a 10-Core CPU, 16-Core GPU M1 Pro chip, 16GB Unified Memory, and 1TB SSD storage, costs $2,499 / £2,399 / AU$3,749.
Both sizes are configurable, so you could buy a 14-inch with an M1 Max if you wanted to. A 14-inch machine with a 10-core CPU, 32-core GPU, 32GB of RAM, and 1TB SSD will set you back $3,299/£3,199/AU$4,949, which is around $200/£100/AU$300 less than the similarly specced 16-inch model. That's not an awful deal when you consider you're getting a significantly larger screen.
In the meanwhile, the 2019 model with Intel technology and an AMD Radeon Pro graphics card started at $2,399 (£2,399, AU$3,799) for a 6-core Intel Core i7 CPU, AMD Radeon Pro 5300M 4GB GPU, 16GB RAM, and a 512GB SSD. So it's a little more expensive than the previous generation, but Apple's enhancements to the design and performance of the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) have made this price increase justifiable for many consumers. People who are upgrading from the 16-inch 2019 model are likely to opt for the 14-inch MacBook Pro instead.
Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) Review: Display Screen
The screen is the most noticeable difference in the design of the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021). It is now a Liquid Retina XDR display with mini-LED technology that provides up to 1,000 nits of continuous, full-screen brightness. Even better, the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) has a peak brightness of 1,600 nits and a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1.
The display supports one billion colors and has a P3 broad color gamut coverage for better gradients. The panel also has the promised 120Hz refresh rate, making it the quickest MacBook Pro 16-inch display yet.
Because the bezels around the screen have been reduced down for a more contemporary design, Apple has been able to raise the screen size to 16.2-inches from the previous model's 16-inches. It also has 7.7 million pixels because of its 3,546 x 2,234 resolution, which Apple claims are the most ever in a MacBook. This is a significant improvement over the screen of the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2019), which featured a 16-inch, 3,072 x 1,920 Retina display with backlit LED for up to 1,000 nits continuous brightness and 1,600 nits peak brightness with a broad color P3 gamut.
The screen of the 14-inch MacBook Pro is visibly smaller at 14.2-inches and has a lesser resolution of 3024x1964. However, because both panels in the new MacBook Pros have the same pixel density of 254 PPI (Pixels Per Inch), they give the same visual quality. It is thus a matter of personal preference as to which screen size you prefer.
While the 16-inch model has a bigger screen that many people will find more comfortable working on, it also means that the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) has substantially greater total proportions than the MacBook Prom 14-inch (2021). With dimensions of 0.66 x 14.01 x 9.77 inches (1.68 x 35.57 x 24.81cm), which is roughly the same as the previous model's 0.64 x 14.09 x 9.68 inches (1.62 x: 35.79 x 24.59cm), make no mistake: the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) is a big and bulky laptop, weighing 2.2 kg (4.8 pounds) for the M1 Max model (the M1 Pro version is (4.7 pounds).
Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) Review: Smart Look & Design
If you're looking for a thin and light laptop, this isn't it. Of course, Apple has you covered with the fantastic MacBook Air (M1, 2020), which, while not as powerful as the MacBook Pro 16-inch, is thinner, lighter, and far less expensive. That would be a better investment for many individuals.
Because of the massive size of the MacBook Pro 16-inch, what Apple has accomplished with it doesn't feel quite as spectacular as with the 14-inch model, which packs a lot of power into a much smaller, and more portable, form. That may be unfair to the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021), which remains an extraordinarily capable workstation machine, but having that power in a smaller notebook simply seems so much more amazing.
Being a big laptop, on the other hand, has its perks. One of the most welcome upgrades to the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) is the inclusion of more ports, something many of us have been pleading with Apple to incorporate in its professional notebooks for quite some time.
As with the 14-inch model, the new MacBook Pro 16-inch includes three Thunderbolt 4 ports, one HDMI port, an SDXC card slot, a MagSafe 3 port, a Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, a Force Touch trackpad, and a 140W USB-C power adapter (you can still charge through USB-C if you choose). A 3.5mm headphone jack is also included.
Apple previously limited connectivity to a pair of USB-C slots on prior MacBook Pros, and although this made the laptops seem sleek and small, it wasn't much use to professionals who needed to bring in peripherals such as cameras, displays, and memory cards. Instead, they'd need to buy a USB adaptor for these gadgets.
So we're really thrilled with the additional ports in the new MacBook Pros. For photographers, this means that you can put your camera's memory card directly into the laptop without needing to pack a dongle or adaptor. Anyone using the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) for presentations may now connect it straight to a projector or television via the HDMI connector.
It's excellent that Apple is listening to and including customer feedback, despite its tendency to prioritize form above function in many of its products. It results in a larger and thicker laptop, but it's a price worth paying for professionals looking for a powerful workstation laptop they can use anywhere without having to plug in additional devices.
However, one design decision that has sparked debate is the insertion of a prominent notch around the camera that extends down into the menu bar. Many users have expressed dissatisfaction with the way this appears, and there are now various applications available to assist disguise the notch.
As we stated in our 14-inch MacBook Pro review, while the notch is apparent, and it's not the most attractive solution, you'll honestly forget it's there after a while. According to Apple, the notch is required due to the improved webcam (now 1080p, up from previous models' 720p webcams) and the slimmer bezels surrounding the screen.
While the notch does encroach on the menu bar, the menu bar itself has been pushed higher and now occupies an area that was previously occupied by the larger bezels of prior MacBook Pros. This means you have a lot more screen room to work with, and if the notch is a price worth paying for that, we'll certainly take it – and we're sure many people will feel the same way after only a few minutes with the new MacBook Pro 16-inch.
That's why we're perplexed by notch concealing applications that do little more than relocating the menu bar farther down the screen and blackout the screen surrounding the notch. This essentially decreases your screen real estate and makes the MacBook Pro 16-inch appear to have an unsightly and out-of-date bezel once more. It's not worth it to go through all of that just because you don't like the notch.
Still, the notch and huge size of the 16-inch model mean that this won't be a laptop for everyone, especially because the 14-inch model delivers comparable performance but in a smaller frame.
In terms of performance, the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) is a pleasure to operate. The pre-installed macOS Monterey operating system is quick and snappy, and the M1 Pro CPU within the MacBook Pro 16-inch performs admirably in all of the creative activities we put at it.
This included editing a large number of 8K video files in Final Cut Pro, experimenting with sophisticated musical projects in Logic Pro, and doing real-time 3D modeling and animation. The fact that the MacBook Pro 16-inch handled all of this with ease – even while running on battery power – was really amazing.
The model we were provided to examine was equipped with the same M1 Pro processor as the MacBook Pro 14-inch that we had reviewed, so performance was very similar. Again, the decision between the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro comes down to price and whether or not you want a bigger screen.
We haven't had an opportunity to test the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) with the M1 Max processor yet, but we plan to do so soon and will update our review accordingly. That offers even higher performance, particularly for graphics applications, while the 16-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Max processor also benefits from an exclusive High Power Mode, which enhances performance even more and is designed for the most strenuous jobs, such as editing raw 8K film.
This isn't something everyone needs, but it's worth noting that it's only available with the 16-inch M1 Max MacBook Pro. Owners of the 14-inch model, as well as any of the versions with the M1 Pro, will be unable to use this function.
However, for most creative work, we found the 16-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro to be more than enough. It's very astonishing to have desktop-class performance in a laptop, and while it's not as portable as the 14-inch model, it's still a notebook you can carry around in decent comfort.
The screen of the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021), like that of the 14-inch, is really magnificent, and the greater size makes it more comfortable to work on. Colors and brightness levels are fantastic, and images are sharp and vibrant. By far the greatest screen available on a business laptop right now. While the resolution isn't the greatest, the technology behind it, notably the tiny LED display and Pro Motion's variable refresh rate, guarantees that your work, whether 3D models, films or images, looks its finest. It also eliminates the requirement to connect an external monitor.
The webcam was also quite good, with crisp and clean images. It's crucial to be able to communicate with customers, clients, coworkers, and family members over the internet these days, and the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021)'s combination of upgraded camera and studio-quality built-in microphones excels in this regard.
Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) Review: Battery Life
The battery life has also been much enhanced. Apple claims that the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) can play video for up to 21 hours, which is 10 hours longer than the previous-generation MacBook Pro 16-inch (2019). The business also claims that when wirelessly accessing the web, the laptop would last up to 14 hours, which we take as casual to moderate use.
The MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) lasted an impressive 18 hours and 48 minutes in our battery benchmark test, which played a looping 1080p movie. That's an astonishing amount, and it outperforms the results of the MacBook Pro 14-inch by over three hours.
Because of the greater size of the 16-inch, Apple was able to integrate a larger battery, which has resulted in one of the best battery life in a laptop — especially in a computer this powerful. During our time with the 16-inch MacBook Pro, we were able to work a complete workday without needing to plug it in, and the fact that performance wasn't restricted when running on the battery was once again really amazing. This is the first time you can use a workstation laptop without having to worry about plugging it in.
The greater size of the MacBook Pro 16-inch is a compromise for the extended battery life, but many users will find it worthwhile.
Overall, Apple has done an amazing job of producing a contemporary workstation laptop for creative workers that delivers a brilliant performance, even when operating on battery power, as well as the finest screen available on a laptop right now.
The MacBook Pro 16-inch is not as portable as the 14-inch MacBook Pro, but if you want a bigger screen and an even longer battery life, this is the model to choose.
Small Things of MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021)
You require a portable creative workstation
The MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) provides nearly everything you need in a workplace in a compact package. It's strong, has a plethora of ports, and has a great display.
You desire a strong battery life
The battery life on the MacBook Pro 16-inch is very outstanding and should allow you to work for a whole workday without worrying about plugging it in.
You want the best laptop screen possible
Did we mention how fantastic the screen is? We'll say it once more. This will make your creations seem their finest, and it's also ideal for watching media.
You want a laptop which is both small and light
The 16-inch MacBook Pro (2021) is not the thinnest laptop on the market. Not at all. It's large and unwieldy, yet it provides enough power (and connectivity choices) to compensate for its size.
You don't require the power
The MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) is a very powerful laptop, especially when equipped with the M1 Max, yet it provides a level of performance that many people will not require.
You're on a low budget
The MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) is an expensive tool, but it's a wonderful buy for creatives who require a powerful laptop. However, because of the price, it will not be suited for everyone.