Mac Book Pro 16 Review

Apple has always prided itself on being a step ahead of the market. They weren’t afraid to kill floppy drives on the iMac, cd drives on Macbooks

But over the last couple years this urge to push the industry forward has felt like too much too soon. We didn’t want to give up our headphone jacks. USB-c sounds cool but there everything was still boring ol usb. and That mag safe charger was actually a brilliant idea! And HEY! HEY! The escape key on the keyboard wasn’t obsolete and it never will be… Bring that back *echoes*

You mix that with keyboards with a high failure rate and magic touch bar that had some high profile bugs of its own and the Macbook line wasn’t looking as appealing in a time when Windows Laptops were getting really really good.

Consumers can handle a big change now and then but 4 or 5 changes at once was just too much. Especially on the MacBook Pro. which being “pro” mean that a lot of folks needed an SD card reader, or an hdmi port, or a…. OK I could go on and on.

And that’s how the Macbook felt 3 or so years ago. Being Pro folks still needed that SD card slot or that hdmi port or… you get the idea But times have changed and he new 16” Macbook Pro feels like the right laptop at the right place at the right time.

THE HARDWARE

They have kept the same dimensions as the older 15” Macbook pro but shrunk the bezels to get a larger display in there. This let them bump up the resolution to 3072 x 1920. It’s not technically 4K but it doesn’t matter it looks great and you can’t see any pixels on it.

There are 4 USB-c thunderbolt ports on this thing. 2 on each side. Also a headphone jack at a time when other computers like the Surface Pro X are jettisoning them.

I lied, they did change the dimensions slightly it’s not as thin, about a millimeter thicker. That extra space houses a better battery. Confession, I had to learn about batteries for this. I’m a just tell me how long it last kind of guy.

This is a 100watt hour battery which is the largest battery you are allowed to take on a plane. I unplugged it and used it all day yesterday to see how long I could go without a charge and I can expect around 5 to 6 hours for the tasks that I do. The battery life is officially listed at 11 hours but for the work I was doing in Premiere and Adobe Animate I didn’t expect to come anywhere near that.

Also those speakers. these little speakers are fantastic. The speakers themselves are good but having speakers in front of you as opposed to on the side of a device like an iPad makes a big difference. I noticed this on my iMac, the speakers aren’t bad but because they are under the screen, pointed down you lose so much clarity.

Other elements here are just OK, the web cam is adequate, the microphone is better but still just OK.

There is a new Microphone on here, it’s alright, not going to replace my main Mic.

The touch bar has been around for a couple years now but it’s new to me. I’m still adjusting. There are times when I’m in an app like Photoshop and I can jump into brush settings and I think, that’s handy. There are other times when it gets in the way, for example it’s not an extra tap to adjust the volume or to pause music. The touch bar is customizable and I tried out a 3rd party app called Better Touch bar and that’s pretty cool. I rely pretty heavily on the F keys for my Adobe Animate flow for adding keyframes and whatnot and I still haven't found a way to add those into the touchbar which was my biggest frustration but it was more a frustration with Adobe only adding native support in some of their apps and not others.

SPECS & CONFIGURATION

The new MacBook Pro 16 is expensive. I had to sell one of my cat’s kidneys to buy it. Don’t worry I’m like 80% sure cats have two kidneys.

The good news here is that for my work the base configuration is amazing. 2.6 ghz 6-core Core i7 (9th generation) 16gb of ram 512 go SSD storage AMD Radeon Pro 5300M 4gb memory But you can spec any of these things up. Up to 64gb of ram 8tb of internal SSD storage if you want to sell your cats second kidney. Kidding. KIDDING. But this base configuration is really good, for that price it better be. That i7 processor also boosts up to 4.5ghz. But there is more to that story.

HOT HOT HEAT

There is a lot out there about Apple and thermal throttle and the problems with Apple’s last couple MacBook Pros. Here is what on earth that means.

The processor runs at the advertises 2.6ghz speed. But at times it will run much faster, in this case up to 4.5ghz This give the MacBook a nice speed burst when needed.

Like me running up a flight of stairs the longer I do it the more likely I am to get really hot and potentially break.

When your computer hits a certain temperature it throttles down to that slower speed so it doesn’t fall down the stairs.

If you’ve ever seen a desktop built for performance they tend to have big vents on top of the processor, these are called heat syncs. The idea here is to take the heat and funnel it away from the processor and towards the fan where the heat can be pushed away and thus cooling the computer allowing it to run hotter longer.

When you see those big thick gaming laptops that’s what they are built for. They can work harder longer because they are pulling in and pushing out more air.

The thinner your laptop the less air you can get in there. And one problem Macs have had in recent years is that they can’t stay at that higher speed as long because you just can’t get a decent heat sync in something this thin. It’;s a trade off.

Brad why are you telling us this?

Because Apple says that this Macbook has improved the airflow in this laptop. I’m not really equipped to test this out. If you want to really geek out about benchmarks check out MaxTech’s video. I’ll link down below, the to long didn’t read is this is the same exact processor as the previous 15” Macbook Pro yet you can expect about 6% better performance out of it because they have improved the airflow.

I’m OK with thicker or heavier pro machines if it means that we can get more performance out of the components they are packing in there.

Because if like me you’re using this for say video editing. What you’ll find is it’s fine when you're editing but when you go to process,a task that takes a lot of energy. It’s going to get hot and throttle back and that process is going to happen at a much slower speed than it would on a better ventilated machine.

The new MacBook sports better ventilation, that extra millimeter does help.. but for the video I exported it was still just ok.

The keyboard:

I never thought that I would dedicate an entire section of a video to a keyboard but here we are. You could fill the grand canon with all the ink that has been used to write about the shortcomings of the butterfly switches apple created a couple years back. *Canon filling up with tourists saying “crap”* I’m sure I’m not the only one who looked at those keyboards and decided to skip upgrading until that problem was solved.

Aside from going back to the old reliable scissor key switches I can also confirm that they keyboard just feels better to use. The travel of the keys increases from a half a millimeter to a full millimeter.

What an exciting spec. when I read it I fell asleep and missed a video call with Todd. Sorry dude. But that extra half a millimeter makes a huge difference and feels so much better to type on.

It also makes a really satisfying thumpy sound.

They also changed up the arrow keys back to the old design, and they added that escape key I mentioned earlier back up to the top row by the magic Touch Bar screen. I can’t remember all the names of apple features... TM

DRAWING

As far as how it is for art and illustration… It’s a MacBook. A really good MacBook. So it can run anything any other Mac can run and it runs it well. It;’s not a windows device so there isn’t native pen support but should work well with any 3rd party tablet and the bigger companies in that space like Wacom, Huion and XP-pen all have updated their drivers to work on MacOS Catalina.

There is also Sidecar, a new feature that turns your iPad into a second screen for your Mac and has Apple Pencil support.

I made a whole video on that and I was disappointed. Here is the TLDR: A great second screen but needs some work on the pen response time.

It is running the latest OS Catalina and so some drawing tablets that haven’t updated their drivers yet might be problematic for you.

A couple weeks ago I saw some stories speculating that Jonny Ive was problematic pushing form over function in Apple’s most recent products. And with his departure the Apple design team was free to release the MacBook Pro everyone wanted. There might be a grain of truth to that but making a product like this is so much more complex than that.

but looking at this new MacBook I have a feeling those stories are going to stick around, because by taking the already great looking design but scaling it back to make it more usable Apple has finally gotten back to making great laptops again.

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