Is the new 16-inch MacBook Pro a pro-only machine?

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited November 24
Apple's latest MacBook Pro launches offer high performance for creative professionals, but is it really just meant for those who need the performance, or can those who can afford the purchase justify it for bragging rights and knowing they have the best available Mac?

The 16-inch MacBook Pro is great for video creatives.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro is great for video creatives.


The new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models have signaled a pleasing return to form for Apple's most professional laptop. High performance, improved displays, and the return of much-needed ports are certainly advantages for those looking for a portable workstation.

This is especially true for the 16-inch version, in particular, thanks to its large screen and the recent discovery of a High Power Mode' for GPU-intensive work.

It certainly appears to be the epitome of a professional computer. But is it?





What makes a MacBook Pro' in an age where Apple Silicon has completely rewritten the script for performance, power efficiency, and the democratization of computing power?

More importantly, what if you just want a 16-inch MacBook Pro for nothing more than the kudos that comes from owning one?

An acquired taste

The 16-inch MacBook Pro is big in every sense of the word. The new squared-off and chunky design language is matched by the sheer weight and presence of the 16-inch version.

This notebook clearly means business, but it also feels far bigger than the 2019 Intel version, despite being just 0.02 inches thicker and 0.4 pounds heavier.

If the 16-inch MacBook Pro is too big, there's always the 14-inch model.
If the 16-inch MacBook Pro is too big, there's always the 14-inch model.


The 16-inch MacBook is therefore an acquired taste and will be far too cumbersome for many people - particularly those who regularly travel with their notebook.

If your intended use for the 16-inch MacBook Pro isn't within the professional realm, it does pay to get your hands on one first to assess the size and weight. Do you really fancy lugging one around just for bragging rights and knowing you have it?

Professional video work

We all have different definitions of what constitutes professional use' for a laptop, and there's no right or wrong answer.

Let's take a professional video editor, for instance. They'll spend the majority of their time on the 16-inch MacBook Pro in applications such as Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere Pro.

In essence, these people hone in on particular capabilities within the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. The laptop itself simply becomes a tool for the job, with an identical workflow applied to it on a daily basis.

The new M1 Max chip can outperform a Mac Pro with the Afterburner card in video encoding and decoding.
The new M1 Max chip can outperform a Mac Pro with the Afterburner card in video encoding and decoding.


Specifically, this relates to the included Media Engine, part of the new chips that provide hardware-accelerated encoding and decoding of video in H.264, HEVC, ProRes, and ProRes RAW. This element, and the improved version in the M1 Max, basically does the same job as the Afterburner Card for the Mac Pro, and can do so with a higher level of performance too.

Conversely, a non-professional owner is more likely to throw a variety of tasks at the 16-inch MacBook Pro. Dabbling with creative work, playing the odd game, and editing family photos may not put a consistent strain on this hugely powerful notebook, but will make it a more interesting ownership experience than race-to-the-deadline professional work.

"Need" versus "want"

There are two types of MacBook Pro buyers - those who need such a device and those who simply want one.

The author of this article has resided in both camps and can happily report that neither camp is a bad place in which to find yourself.

If you need a MacBook Pro for your business, it's always going to be a good investment - provided you're sensible with your choice of specifications. It's not too hard to think of the benefits you'd get from buying a MacBook Pro with sky-high performance, but there may not necessarily be many benefits to some upgrades unless you absolutely require it, such as storage.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro is a powerhouse, but also a status symbol.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro is a powerhouse, but also a status symbol.


But at the same time, if you just want a 16-inch MacBook Pro because you love Apple products, there is no harm in placing down your hard-earned money on the most expensive one you can afford. It will be expensive and you probably won't be able to use it to its full potential, but it will easily handle the vast majority of tasks you can throw at it.

It's also worth remembering that, regardless of the Pro moniker, Apple doesn't make these laptops squarely with professional, revenue-generating tasks in mind. It knows that a considerable section of its customer base just wants them as expensive, much-loved toys.

This was embodied at the start of the Unleashed event last month, where we were treated to the captivating sight of a young guy in his garage, using a MacBook Pro to create a tune from Apple-inspired sounds.

So, is the 16-inch MacBook Pro a professional-only laptop? Absolutely not.

Apple's 16-inch MacBook Pro is on sale now, with coupon savings in effect on every configuration. Shop the deals in our 16-inch MacBook Pro Price Guide.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    So Apple took away our way to upgrade the machine, removed USB ports, and now they are wondering why no one is buying?
    williamlondonlkrupp9secondkox2
  • Reply 2 of 25
    lam92103 said:
    So Apple took away our way to upgrade the machine, removed USB ports, and now they are wondering why no one is buying?
    What an odd article this was. The argument put forth is that the computer is indeed for pros, but if you like apple products, then just go ahead and buy! It really does seem like the author is trying to help Apple sell the product.  
    williamlondon9secondkox2
  • Reply 3 of 25
    I’m the kinda pro who edits vast amounts of pictures for my sons sports, and I’m also the guy who just wants one. My 16’ will be here in 7 days and I’m so excited. Thanks for that video, because it’s exactly what the vast majority of Mac Book Pro user are imo, a combo platter. 
    williamlondonkillroy9secondkox2watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 25
    omasouomasou Posts: 264member
    The biggest advantages for me are the peace and quiet. While attached to 2 LG 5K monitors my previous 16 MBP fans would be on constantly with the new one no more fans!!!!

    Another thing I noticed today. I have a portable Blu-ray CDROM drive. Previously I would have to use the USB + power cable to use it. Today using a USB C - USB A adapter and just the USB A to CDROM cable I was able to power and use the drive.

    The ONLY negatives are the lost of the 4th USB C port but MOST importantly is the weight is NOT worth the extra battery life!
  • Reply 5 of 25
    Define "pro"

    Anyone that can make use of the speed improvement will benefit from the machine, this could be as simple as being faster to render a video from iMovie or complex photo adjustments in the Photos app (or Lightroom if you're a hobbyist photographer)
    edited November 23 watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 25
    Skeptical said:
    Dumbest article to date. Slow news day?
    Hm? I think it's an interesting question. Like the mythical "xMac" (a sort of sub-Mac Pro desktop with PCI slots that Mac gamers have clamored after for like twenty years now), there's always been a vocal slice of users who want a 15" Macbook Air. In fact, everyone in my extended family fits this bill. They wind up inheriting old big computers from me, or just swallowing the expense every few years; they'd rather just have a big flat Air.

    The M1 Pro is radically over-powered and frankly kind of a tank. To answer the author's question, yes, I think in both price, power and heft it is pretty exclusively a professional's computer. I would not be at all surprised if more casuals start begging for a big-screen Air. I don't think Apple will ever sell one, it would cut too deeply into the 16" Pro sales, but holy heck they'd sell a lot of them.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 25
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 989member
    The last time I received “kudos” over a piece of tech was in 2007 when the original iPhone came out. In my little corner of the world, no one really gives a crap what kind of computer or smartphone you are using anymore. So, the concept of someone spending all that extra money for something they don’t even need just to have “bragging rights” or receive “kudos” is completely foreign to me. The empty validation that comes from thinking anyone really cares is pretty adolescent, imo. Maybe I’m the only one. 
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 8 of 25
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,823member
    lam92103 said:
    So Apple took away our way to upgrade the machine, removed USB ports, and now they are wondering why no one is buying?
    Why do people do this? "No one is buying" is such a false, fabricated statement.  Anything but the base models is for the most part sold-out, with up to a month lead-time for delivery.  Everyone is buying them.

    Just stop.  Go troll elsewhere.
    williamlondontomahawkchiadrow9secondkox2watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 25
    I wish there was a 16 inch MacBook Air, that would be perfect for what I need in screen size and plenty powerful.
    edited November 23 saarekwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 25
    hucom2000 said:
    I wish there was a 16 inch MacBook Air, that would be perfect for what I need in screen size and plenty powerful.
    I'm wondering if they'll eventually come out with a 15" Air, or drop the Air name and just call it a MacBook.  Would have plenty of differentiation too.  13" & 15" MacBook, 14" & 16" MacBook Pro
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 25
    lam92103 said:
    So Apple took away our way to upgrade the machine, removed USB ports, and now they are wondering why no one is buying?
    References ... or are you just trolling?

    What makes you think no one is buying it? I have a 16" M1 Max with 32 GPU cores, 32 GB RAM, and 2 TB SSD and it replaces my 2019 16" core-i9 2.3 ghz, 32 GB RAM, AMD Radeon 5500M with 8 GB, 2 TB SSD.

    It's a remarkable advancement for just about the same price - certainly waaayyy beyond a yearly incremental increase in computing value, even more revolutionary than the 2019 was at its introduction.

    I ordered it within half an hour of availability on the Apple Store and by then the shipping date had slipped to December 2-9 while portions of the Apple Card verification pipeline were overloaded and in disarray (arguing that my suburb didn't exist), though it later was revised to November 17-24 and ultimately arrived November 4.

    Unfortunately, there are issues with Handbrake encoding using the media engine since Handbrake is in the process of moving hardware encoding using ffmpeg's libavcodec to native VideoToolbox API calls which seem to be working fine on Intel models with T2 chips but not on Apple Silicon media engines. The Handbrake team seems to think hardware encoding on the media engine is being dispatched on a Monterey background queue, but I believe it's circumventing the media engine and doing a CPU-based software encode. An M1 MacBook Air user claimed that the 1.4.0 betas were getting 300-500 fps encoding, but that's dropped down to 80 fps in later versions. Since this is my first foray into Apple Silicon, I can't testify to the veracity of claims prior to receiving my MacBook Pro.

    So ... at this juncture it's impossible to determine if this is a Monterey issue, an ffmpeg issue, or a VideoToolbox issue depending on the state of Handbrake's transition to the VideoToolbox API (which only the Handbrake team knows). Eventually all this should get ironed out.

    Any way, these machines are pretty remarkable for their sustained performance, energy efficiency, displays, sound quality, and silence. They're probably the best laptop you can buy right now.

    As for USB ports, I assume you're talking about USB-A ports - those went away years ago and are probably not coming back. Are you claiming that Apple's sold few MacBooks for the last five years because of this?

    My solution while at my desk has been a Plugable TBT3-UDZ Thunderbolt dock which provides 96 watts charging via USB-C and a gazillion other ports including USB-As and gigabit ethernet. It's the same dock I used with my 2019 MacBook Pro before I sold it in June.
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 25
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,341member
    I own the new 16” MacBook Pro. Not because I need the Pro level CPU/GPU for my home life but because it’s the only way to own a MacBook with a screen bigger than 13” and my eyes just aren’t what they used to be.

    Personally I’d love a 16” MacBook Air, but Apple seemingly has no interest in making a bigger screened consumer notebook.

    For work I used a ultra wide monitor. Wish I could use a Mac as I’m a data analyst & this machine would just fly through my datasets, but I’m stuck with a Dell on Windows. 
    edited November 23 watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 25
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,341member
    hucom2000 said:
    I wish there was a 16 inch MacBook Air, that would be perfect for what I need in screen size and plenty powerful.
    Amen to that, it’s not just professionals that want a larger screen!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 25
    Just got my 16" M1Max w/ 64GB of memory. WOW!!!!!

    And this is coming from a 2019 16" i7 w/ 16GB of memory. I mean, there isn't any thing out there that can compare to how fast this thing is. And I made sure to do a TimeMachine restore so I can get a like for like comparison and it's so blazingly fast now that I won't even bother with a clean install. Apple is going to absolutely own the market with these chips.
    chiawatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 25
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,441member
    saarek said:
    hucom2000 said:
    I wish there was a 16 inch MacBook Air, that would be perfect for what I need in screen size and plenty powerful.
    Amen to that, it’s not just professionals that want a larger screen!
    Yes! I'm a professional, just not a professional audio/video editor. I technically don't need a 16" screen, but the larger screen makes it far easier to work. The problem is, the 16" MBP is definitely overkill in terms of what I need for processing power. A 16" M1 MBA would be perfect. I suspect Apple won't make one because it would cannibalize (decimate) the 16" MBP sales.

    sflocal said:
    lam92103 said:
    So Apple took away our way to upgrade the machine, removed USB ports, and now they are wondering why no one is buying?
    Why do people do this? "No one is buying" is such a false, fabricated statement.  Anything but the base models is for the most part sold-out, with up to a month lead-time for delivery.  Everyone is buying them.

    Just stop.  Go troll elsewhere.
    Yes, it appears the new machines are selling quite well. Even the old machines did, despite these drawbacks. 

    Skeptical said:
    Dumbest article to date. Slow news day?
    Well, the 'pro' moniker is repeatedly debated around here, so it's not a dumb question. I can't count how many posts I've seen that say something like "well, a 'pro' needs this," or "Real pros don't use that." 

    The problem with the article is that it didn't answer the question, but that's probably because it's not answerable. The real question is does the word 'pro' mean anything at all? What about the iPhone 'Pro?' Is it only for 'professionals?' I think the problem is people assume the word 'pro' in Apple products means 'professional.' In reality, it's a modifier to describe a more powerful device, not unlike the different trim levels when buying a car. It's also marketing so people feel better about paying more because they're getting a 'professional' machine.

    My answer is a 'professional' is someone who needs the extra features and is willing to pay for them.
    muthuk_vanalingamchiawatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 25
    pmcpmc Posts: 8member
    lam92103 said:
    So Apple took away our way to upgrade the machine, removed USB ports, and now they are wondering why no one is buying?
    Apple is not wondering why no one is buying.
    drowchia9secondkox2watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 25
    lam92103 said:
    So Apple took away our way to upgrade the machine, removed USB ports, and now they are wondering why no one is buying?
    Who said no one is buying?  Macs are selling quite well.  There are actual numbers out there.
    Which USB Ports?  The USB-C is very flexible, how long do you think Apple should take up space with old standards?
    Laptops in general are not upgradable these days so they can be made thin nad light.  This is well known.
    williamlondonchia9secondkox2watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 25
    drowdrow Posts: 126member
    i've had mine for a couple of weeks now, and its hands down the best laptop i've ever owned.  i'm on the edge of the "want" group, but do just enough software development on it to drift towards "need".  waiting two or three times as long for a compile to run wouldn't be the worst thing the world, but working from home, it just doesn't take me that long to get another cuppa.  the weight doesn't bother me, its no heavier than my two-laptops-ago laptop, and there are usually a couple of hardback books in my go-bag which weigh just as much.  throw in unreal performance, battery life, fans which just never make more than a whisper, a real keyboard and physical escape key again... like i said, best i've ever owned.

    but whatever, that's just my 2cp.  if you feel you need to bash it to justify your existence in this cosmos, you do you.  peace & love, inc.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 25
    DuhSesameDuhSesame Posts: 1,133member
    You know, if you’re deciding whether you need a 16” Pro, then you don’t need one.
    DAalsethCheeseFreeze
  • Reply 20 of 25
    DuhSesameDuhSesame Posts: 1,133member
    MplsP said:
    saarek said:
    hucom2000 said:
    I wish there was a 16 inch MacBook Air, that would be perfect for what I need in screen size and plenty powerful.
    Amen to that, it’s not just professionals that want a larger screen!
    Yes! I'm a professional, just not a professional audio/video editor. I technically don't need a 16" screen, but the larger screen makes it far easier to work. The problem is, the 16" MBP is definitely overkill in terms of what I need for processing power. A 16" M1 MBA would be perfect. I suspect Apple won't make one because it would cannibalize (decimate) the 16" MBP sales.

    sflocal said:
    lam92103 said:
    So Apple took away our way to upgrade the machine, removed USB ports, and now they are wondering why no one is buying?
    Why do people do this? "No one is buying" is such a false, fabricated statement.  Anything but the base models is for the most part sold-out, with up to a month lead-time for delivery.  Everyone is buying them.

    Just stop.  Go troll elsewhere.
    Yes, it appears the new machines are selling quite well. Even the old machines did, despite these drawbacks. 

    Skeptical said:
    Dumbest article to date. Slow news day?
    Well, the 'pro' moniker is repeatedly debated around here, so it's not a dumb question. I can't count how many posts I've seen that say something like "well, a 'pro' needs this," or "Real pros don't use that." 

    The problem with the article is that it didn't answer the question, but that's probably because it's not answerable. The real question is does the word 'pro' mean anything at all? What about the iPhone 'Pro?' Is it only for 'professionals?' I think the problem is people assume the word 'pro' in Apple products means 'professional.' In reality, it's a modifier to describe a more powerful device, not unlike the different trim levels when buying a car. It's also marketing so people feel better about paying more because they're getting a 'professional' machine.

    My answer is a 'professional' is someone who needs the extra features and is willing to pay for them.
    I believe the MacBook Air will deliver a genuinely better notebook experience (unlike iPads).  Even better for “pros” under many circumstances.  Lots of utility tools that doesn’t need extra performance and the more portable machine will be more versatile.
    edited November 24 9secondkox2
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