It wasn’t supposed to end this way.
At the top of this page, you can see my 16” MacBook Pro. Well, actually, you can’t – but that’s the point. It’s all packaged up, ready to be shipped to its new owner.
I bought the laptop in 2019. In MacBook ownership terms, that’s barely two weeks ago.
My original plan was to keep the 16” MacBook Pro as my main business machine for at least three years. Possibly a lot longer. And that was for two reasons – firstly, it cost a small fortune and I wanted to maximise the investment, and secondly because as soon as I received it, I fell in love.
So, what happened?
Apple ruined everything – that’s what.
My first ‘proper’ MacBook Pro
My first hands-on experience of an Apple Mac was when I was lucky enough to attend a school that decided to invest in not one but two G3s.
I still have no idea how they could afford to do so, but I’m very glad they did.
Against the great big, honking beige boxes we were used to back then, those Apple Macs were like something sent from another world. I cut my video editing teeth on them, and due to my insistence on using those G3s at any given opportunity, somehow became the unofficial Mac support person at school.
That kicked off a bit of an obsession which, in the years following school, I flirted with lower spec, second-hand Macs. And I should reiterate at this juncture that there’s nothing wrong with base spec Macs. If you can only afford – or want – the cheapest version of a MacBook, iMac or Mac mini – go for it and enjoy it. There’s no such thing as a “poverty spec” (I hate that term).
However, I’d always secretly hankered after something a little more powerful. I started my business on the 13” ‘escape key’ MacBook Pro in 2016, and I absolutely ran that machine into the ground.
By 2019, my business was fortunately profitable enough to enable me to invest a little more wholesomely in my next Mac – and that led me to the 16” MacBook Pro.
Upon hearing about the launch of the new machine, I leapt onto Apple’s website, specced one up as far as I could and hit the ‘checkout’ button. It was the fastest, most expensive computing purchase I’d ever made.
But that didn’t matter. This would be my first properly powerful Mac, and I couldn’t wait for it to arrive.
Oh, the speed…
The 16” MacBook Pro is seriously fast to this day – even if you decide to leave it in stock configuration.
I used mine for pretty intensive audio and visual work, and it never, ever felt like I could push it even remotely close to its full potential. The 8-core i9 Intel processor I chose for mine had more headroom than I had ever experienced previously with a computer.
This matters – particularly when you’re a content creator. Knowing that you’ll never reach the ceiling of the computing power in front of you means you have nowhere to hide and no excuses to get you out of tight spots.
Suddenly, I had a computer that completely outpaced me in terms of what I could do, creatively. It meant I could continually challenge myself to try new things, raise my video editing game and dig more wholesomely into audio production without any fear of a spinning beach ball interrupting proceedings.
Oh, and it had a great keyboard too. So good, in fact, that it revealed just how awful the previous generation was.
But there was just one small problem.
Oh, the noise…
I won’t beat around the bush – the chassis is still the 16” MacBook Pro’s Achilles heel.
Don’t get me wrong; Apple made significant strides with this version of their ageing MacBook Pro design, and they were quick to point out in the marketing material for the 16” that it was very thermally efficient.
I don’t doubt that at all. As noted earlier, I never felt like mine was having to slow itself down to keep up, and most benchmarks confirmed that CPU throttling was no longer an issue.
But the net result of this was an insane amount of fuss and noise from the fans in the 16” MacBook Pro. With hindsight, it seems that this element of Apple’s largest laptop was either shoved under the carpet by early reviews or, somehow, went undiscovered.
I doubt it’s the latter; you really can’t miss it. As soon as you do anything even remotely intensive on the 16” MacBook Pro, the fans spin up as though it’s about to take off.
They are so loud. And the thing gets so hot, too. In fact, while using Logic Pro, I’d occasionally place my finger gingerly on the aluminium strip above the Touch Bar. I’d have to immediately retract it; you could cook an egg on there – trust me.
However, I dealt with the noise and heat. I live in the UK, so it only really became a significant irritant during the fleeting summer months we experience over here. But it was clearly an indication that, no matter what Apple did with the MacBook’s chassis, it would forever be battling against internals over which it had limited control.
And then, they launched the M1 chip.
Combined, they cost less than the 16” MacBook Pro, and both of them individually feel just as capable as the Intel machine they’re replacing.
That’s quite a feat on Apple’s behalf. It’s also why so many 16” MacBook Pros are making their way onto the second-hand market.
I really had to think twice about selling mine. I think it’s a superb laptop when bought at a second-hand price, and I have no doubt that the new owner of mine will get many years enjoyment from it.
But it had to go.
Those M1 chips, for me, have completely changed the way I think about computing. RAM doesn’t seem to matter any more, and the way in which the M1 Mac mini breezes through my creative workflow without ever making a sound is breathtaking.
Will I miss the 16” MacBook Pro? Absolutely. There’s something special about that great big laptop. Yes, it’s unwieldy, loud and features an ageing design, but it remains my first proper taste of a specced-up Mac, and for that, I’m very grateful of the experience.
What’s next for the 16” MacBook Pro?
This is the question so many people are asking. What on earth will the next 16” MacBook Pro be like?
Considering that the current generation went ‘all out’ on Intel’s latest chips and available upgrade options, the thought of what Apple can do now they have the freedom to use nothing but their own silicone is incredibly exciting.
I don’t think we’ll see it until much later this year, but when the next 16” MacBook Pro arrives, it’ll change computing again. It’ll look different, feature the latest M series chip and no doubt pack one or two surprises we’d all fail to dream up.
But, until then, I’m going to continue to lose myself in the wonderful world of the M1 chip.
Goodbye, 16” MacBook Pro – I’m just sorry we weren’t together longer.