Time flies. I can’t quite believe I’ve had my 16-inch MacBook Pro for a year now.
This beast of a laptop has been the centrepiece of my production process for more than twelve months, in fact. It set my business back an eye-watering £3,699 and remains the most expensive piece of computer equipment I’ve ever purchased.
It replaced a £1,100 Mac mini which had been doing a stellar job of helping me edit my 4K YouTube videos. Truth be told, I didn’t need to replace that machine at all – it would have continued to run the production side of this business quite happily.
But I’m a tech YouTuber, and a tech YouTuber without an expensive MacBook Pro is like Tim Cook without his clasped hands – utterly pointless.
This is what I’ve learned during 12 months with Apple’s biggest, baddest, most expensive laptop.
Answering YOUR questions about the 16-inch MacBook Pro
If you’re thinking about buying a 16-inch MacBook Pro, I have some good news.
You won’t be disappointed with your purchase.
In fact, if you’ve already figured everything out and that’s all the reassurance you needed, you can stop reading this review now and go and buy one. Seriously – go for it; this is the best MacBook Pro Apple has ever made.
However, if you’re still unsure, I can help. You may have lingering questions, which probably number among the following:
- Is it too big?
- Has the keyboard been fixed?
- Is the notch annoying?
- How good is the display?
- What’s the battery life like?
There’s a lot more to this laptop than the above, of course, but I think these are the overriding considerations for many would-be owners. Let’s tackle each one in turn.
It will be too big for some people. I think it might be too big for me, to be honest (I’ll get to that later). Unless you spend most of your time working from home or in an office, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is a cumbersome computer. It doesn’t fit on normal-sized train or plane seat trays. You’ll struggle to place your coffee next to it on most coffee shop tables. It’s a lot heavier than you might think.
And, no, I don’t need to go to the gym more.
I would think very carefully about buying the big MacBook if you’re on the road a lot – it’s as simple as that.
As for the keyboard, if you’re still saddled with the awful butterfly keyboard (the one with virtually zero travel and numerous technical issues), I’m happy to report that it is a distant memory for new MacBook Pro owners. We now have a proper scissor-switch keyboard which is an utter joy to type on.
The notch isn’t annoying. In fact, I challenge you to spot it when you’re going about your daily work.
How good is the display? It is, quite simply, fantastic. Put all the silly marketing names to one side, and this will probably be the brightest, sharpest, and most satisfying laptop screen you’ve ever owned. The only thing I’d say is that ProMotion is a bit of a non-event; you barely notice it during everyday use.
As for battery life, it is stunning – easily one of the most impressive aspects of this laptop. On standby, it’ll last for days (weeks, possibly – although I’ve not tested that). But the in-use time is the most impressive thing – I’ve edited for hours on this laptop and completely forgot it wasn’t attached to a power outlet. It’s one of the most freeing things about the 16-inch MacBook Pro; you rarely find yourself thinking about the battery.
There were two configuration options I didn’t go wild with on my 16-inch MacBook Pro. The first was the unified memory – I stopped at 32GB. The second was the storage – I couldn’t go any further than 2TB, because I don’t sleep on a bed made from £50 notes.
Everything else was maxed out, if you’ll excuse the pun. That means mine is packing an M1 Max chip with a 10-core CPU and 32-core GPU.
If I’ve learned one thing in 12 months of ownership, it’s that this laptop is considerably more powerful than I ever thought it would be. I knew it would be a monster, but I didn’t anticipate how tricky it would be to make it sweat even a tiny amount – you know, just one or two moist beads on its forehead.
I’m not undertaking huge 8K edits in Final Cut Pro. Regardless, the footage I work with from my Sony FX3 camera is 10-bit, 4:2:2 4K stuff which is pretty chunky.
This laptop doesn’t care. The stuff I do with it is bread-and-butter for the M1 Max chip. I have no doubt that if I’d opted for the M1 Pro, it would have been just as performant; that’s probably the chip that would have made more sense for yours truly.
This leads me to an inevitable conclusion about these new MacBook Pros – they’re too powerful for most people. This is a wonderful thing – it means you can save some money! In fact, I can guarantee that the money you’ve set aside for yours is probably too much.
You might want that all-singing, all-dancing M1 Max 16-inch MacBook Pro, but unless you’re undertaking the kind of work you know requires oodles of power (and trust me, if you know, you know) just spend a bit less. Reduce the cores. Get the M1 Pro. Don’t get as much unified memory.
Thank me later.
My future plan
I’ve spoken recently about my desire for a smaller production laptop. As much as I love this 16-inch MacBook Pro and as impressive as it is, its size has become more of an issue as I begin to travel more.
I’ve realised that my business thrives when it’s mobile. The more work I can do on the road without hindrance, the better. More importantly, the lighter my backpack is, the less frustrated I get during my travels.
Although I’m not yet fully committed to this plan, I am seriously considering swapping the 16-inch MacBook Pro for the new 14-inch M2-powered version we’ll probably see during the first quarter of 2023.
That’s my conclusion. This big, beautiful, insanely powerful MacBook Pro might not be for me, despite it being the most impressive laptop I’ve owned.
It could be for you, though. And you know what? I think you’ll know if it is; keeping that travel element in mind (trust me – the 14-inch is the one to go for if you’re on the road a lot) everything about this laptop is guaranteed to impress you. So, if that budget is burning a hole – release it!
I went with 16 inch M1 Pro and absolutely love it – use it in a music studio and for mobile music production. I can run a modest but powerful rig from it (audio interface, midi keyboard, etc), all running off the laptop battery. And it will run for hours. On it’s last outing it managed around 2 1/2 hours recording session and dropped from 100% to 84%. Utterly unthinkable a few years ago and completely changed the way I can make music.
Oh, and it’s completely silent, which for audio is just priceless.
[…] readers will know that I’ve been toying with the idea of swapping my 16-inch MacBook Pro for the rumoured M2-powered 14-inch version next […]
I’m 2+ years into my 2019 16″ MacBook Pro. My cycle with MBPs (which started going back to the original PowerBooks) has been a 2.75 year cycle replacing it right before the Applecare extended warranty ends. So I’ll be replacing this MBP in the spring. Not sure how heavy I’m gonna go with the processor but I like to be in the low $2k price range.
Something a bit noteworthy is that I’ll be moving away from the Intel which means no more bootcamp, but I barely used it. It was too much hassle to restart to go into it. Instead I grabbed a nicely priced budget PC laptop as a primary for my kid, but a secondary for me for some casual gaming. It’s got a thunderbolt 4 port so I’ll be able to do some decent playing on it with the eGpu setup.
That eGpu (razer core x) I can apparently use w/ my current Intel MacBook pro not that I really need it for what I do w/ my MBP. But kind of cool to know I could use it if I wanted too. But I don’t think I’ll be able to use it w/ my future non-intel MBP