A Return To Form

Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Apple has just launched a new 16inch MacBook pro that fixes some of the issues that plagued older models. The biggest fix comes in the keyboard. Gone are the butterfly switch keys; replaced with more traditional scissorswitch mechanisms. There’s now more travel and the keys have a pleasant tactile feel about them.

If you are worried about reliability, teardowns have revealed that the keyboard mechanism of the 16-inch MacBook pro is almost identical to that of Apple’s standalone Magic Keyboard.

Apple has made other small tweaks too; there is now a physical Esc key, something requested by many developers who complained of problems trying to hit Esc when it was still part of the Touch Bar.  Apple also restored the inverted-T layout to the arrow keys.

The other big change is obviously the display. It’s now 16 inches large. It doesn’t sound like much, but I feel that it’s a lot more expansive. resolution is now up to 3,072 x 1,920 pixels which means pixel density remains the same as the outgoing 15-inch MacBook pro at 226ppi. In true MacBook tradition, the display is gorgeous. It also gets sufficiently bright, enabling it to be more comfortably used outdoors.

Thickness is now up to 16.2mm from 15.5mm and weight is up to 2kg from 1.83kg. The difference is noticeable, but it’s still relatively light for a notebook in its class.

Much of its weight can be attributed to larger batteries, coming in at 100Wh, a nearly 20% increase and the maximum permissible by the u.S. Federal Aviation Administration. Even with the display set to around 80% brightness and my usual suite of apps running—Safari, Airmail, Music, pages—I could easily get around 10 to 14 hours of battery life, remarkable considering its specs.

Inside, you get Intel 9th generation coffee Lake core processors and you can now spec up to 64GB of 2,666MHz DDr4 memory and 8TB of SSD storage. Graphics come in the form of AMD’s newest radeon pro 5000M series.

To ensure these components run at their maximum potential, the 16-inch MacBook pro boasts a completely new thermal design with a heatsink that has 35% more surface area and fans that improve airflow by 28%. The result of these improvements is that the processor can sustain up to 12 more watts of power during intensive workloads.

Unsurprisingly, performance is good. In photoshop, the 16-inch MacBook pro applied filters and effects without a hitch even when working with giant TIFF files. In benchmarks, the new 16-inch MacBook pro showed only modest single-figure percentage gains in single-core workloads. Multi-core workloads showed larger gains but not many applications can take full advantage of this yet.

Other improvements include speakers that are easily the best I have heard on a notebook. It’s a six-speaker system with two woofers mounted back to back to cancel each other’s movement out and reduce distortion. The microphone has also been improved with 40% less hiss and a signal-to-noise ratio that Apple says rivals professional studiograde microphones.

The speakers are a revelation, and I think podcasters and YouTubers will appreciate the enhanced microphone.
My Reading Room

There’s now a physical Esc key.

My Reading Room

The thermal system has been upgraded and the battery is now a whopping 100Wh.

It’s still not perfect but it’s the best macBook pro since the 2015 edition.
My Reading Room



8-core 9th generation core i9 processor






AMD radeon pro 5500M 4GB GDDr6