Should you upgrade to the 16-inch MacBook Pro?

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited February 2020
Now that Apple's late-2019 16-inch MacBook Pro is available to order, AppleInsider breaks down who should and who shouldn't upgrade to the newest portable powerhouse.

The 13-inch versus 16-inch MacBook Pros
The 13-inch versus 16-inch MacBook Pros


The new 16-inch MacBook Pro is here and it is making a lot of waves. Creative professionals are already loving the great price, powerful graphics, more reliable keyboard, and even the extra battery life.

It's no surprise that we are already seeing an influx of questions that can be summarized as "should I upgrade?" That's what we are going to try to answer, for at least the majority of users.






There are two main things that need to be considered when deciding whether or not to upgrade: what machine you have now and what your workload is like.

Your current machine

If you just upgraded earlier this year to the mid-2019 15-inch, it is very hard to justify upgrading out of the gate. It is a pricey proposition, and probably not worth it for almost any users in that situation.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro
The 16-inch MacBook Pro


Where we would draw a line is if you have a 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro or earlier, as it is going to be worth it to upgrade. There will be a significant performance improvement in that time, and with a more reliable keyboard, you should feel safe investing for the long-term.

If you fall into those middle years in between, it is going to largely depend on your workflow to decide if it is worth it.

Your workflow

Workflows tend to be categorized into three areas. Consumption, CPU-intensive tasks, and GPU-intensive tasks.

For those who are pure media consumers, there likely isn't anything in the new MacBook Pro that is going to be a must-have upgrade. The slightly larger screen is nice and the speakers are huge upgrades, but that probably isn't worth the cost of upgrading if you bought a MacBook Pro in the last few years.

Updated thermals in the 16-inch MacBook Pro
Updated thermals in the 16-inch MacBook Pro


Users who have CPU-intensive tasks but already have a Core i9 processor should also hold out. The new MacBook Pro has the same CPU options as the mid-2019 series, and while the cooling system has been improved and boosts performance a bit, it won't make that much of a difference compared to the past i9 machines.

Lastly, if you have a GPU-intensive workflow, the upgraded AMD graphics are likely going to be hugely beneficial, especially if you don't want to use an eGPU or work on the road. There is a significant graphics boost over even the mid-2019 machines, and any machines earlier have a larger performance gap.

The decision of a new machine

16-inch MacBooK Pro
16-inch MacBooK Pro


The new late-2019 16-inch MacBook Pro looks amazing. They have a lot of tech packed in there and answer a lot of questions that professionals had.

Some may have been holding out for a new keyboard for taking the plunge and those that were can finally do so. Others may want the impressive-sounding microphones for recording on the go and could use that as a reason to justify the cost.

No matter your camp, it is clear Apple is listening and the future of the Pro line seems strong.

How to save on Apple's 16-inch MacBook Pro

B&H Photo, an Apple Authorized Reseller, is accepting orders for the new 16-inch MacBook Pro with a variety of incentives. Shoppers can select between no interest financing when paid in full within 12 months with the B&H Financing Card or a sales tax refund in eligible states with its Payboo Credit Card. The latter can save many shoppers anywhere from $200 on the standard configuration to $500 on a maxed out model on average.

Stay tuned to AppleInsider in the coming days for full analysis and breakdown once we get our hands on the new machines. And be sure to check out the AppleInsider 16-inch MacBook Pro Price Guide for the latest deals and product availability on Apple's newest hardware.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    Not that I have the intension buying this machine for WoW, but still curious how World of Warcraft would run on this thing..  :D
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 24
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,778member
    No brainer if you were/are in market for 15" MBP than lucky you are and buy 16". If you can trade/sell your current MBP at acceptable price than worth upgrade. If you are OK with your current MBP than it's your call.
    edited November 2019
  • Reply 3 of 24
    For that price tag, hell no.

    I feel more comfortable paying that type of price for an actual desktop. 

    It doesn’t matter how big, powerful, and capable a laptop is, I find them to be a hindrance. 
    I mean, you have to be desperate to use a laptop for big tasks, in my opinion.  

    I think Apple needs to make a MacBook Pro with rounded edge screen like the iPad Pro. And have a very small bezel. That way, you can have a bigger screen in a smaller casing. 

    I have a 13 inch MacBook Pro from 2012. It’s massive. I can’t imagine having a wider laptop. 
    The only benefit of the newest ones is the weight and the fact that they have the new scissor keyboard. 
  • Reply 4 of 24
    anomeanome Posts: 1,482member
    If I were still doing the kind of thing I was doing when I bought my 2016 MBP (lots of VMs to test server implementations), I almost certainly would. As I'm not doing so much of that, I have the luxury of waiting an iteration or two.
    acheron2018watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 24
    Sounds like an easy answer to the posed question:  If you own a 15" Macbook Pro from 2016-2018, obviously upgrade for the keyboard and better sound and slightly better thermals.  If you own a Macbook Pro from 2015 and earlier, it's too early to tell yet if it's an improvement. (For example, only four plugs (with one being power) is still a huge inconvenience for power users.)  But it'd be great to have a MBP you can love again...  We'll see how it goes.

  • Reply 6 of 24
    What about the *doubling* of max RAM to 64G? That will definitely help my workflow (several VMs).
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 24
    wood1208 said:
    No brainer if you were/are in market for 15" MBP than lucky you are and buy 16". If you can trade/sell your current MBP at acceptable price than worth upgrade. If you are OK with your current MBP than it's your call.
    I paid $3869 (not incl. AppleCare) education price for a 2.2GHz, 32GB, 2TB 15" (mid-2018) MBP in January 2019. A PoS at so many levels (compared to my 2015 MBP that I gave away).

    A 2019 16" 2.6GHz (with 32GB/2TB) can be had for an education price of $3099.

    Yikes, I am suffering from major post-purchase dissonance. I might have to cut my losses, turn it in, and spring for the 16"....

    :-/
    jdwrazorpit
  • Reply 8 of 24
    Andrew, thanks for a really useful analysis! I'd upgrade now but I have a sneaking intuition that Apple will offer additional features by mid 2020. We shall see.


  • Reply 9 of 24
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,033member
    If it had WIFI 6, Face ID, and LPDDR4 RAM it would've been impossible for me to say no. If it had WIFI 6 I'd probably be getting one. Since it doesn't I'll probably hold out with my 2017 MBP until it does.
    edited November 2019 watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 24
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,990member
    Soli said:
    If it had WIFI 6, Face ID, and LPDDR4 RAM it would've been impossible for me to say no. If it had WIFI 6 I'd probably be getting one. Since it doesn't I'll probably hold out with my 2017 MBP until it does.
    I'm going to do the same.  My 2017 MBP works just fine for what I use it for.  

    Until then, I'm ready to upgrade my 2015 iMac to whatever Apple comes out with in 2020.  I hope it's a major redesign like they did with the MBP. :)


    Solimacpluspluswatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 24
    "Creative professionals are already loving the great price, powerful graphics, more reliable keyboard, and even the extra battery life".

    How is the keyboard proving to be more reliable after just a few days?
    Solihenrybay
  • Reply 12 of 24
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,681member
    wood1208 said:
    No brainer if you were/are in market for 15" MBP than lucky you are and buy 16". If you can trade/sell your current MBP at acceptable price than worth upgrade. If you are OK with your current MBP than it's your call.
    I paid $3869 (not incl. AppleCare) education price for a 2.2GHz, 32GB, 2TB 15" (mid-2018) MBP in January 2019. A PoS at so many levels (compared to my 2015 MBP that I gave away).

    A 2019 16" 2.6GHz (with 32GB/2TB) can be had for an education price of $3099.

    Yikes, I am suffering from major post-purchase dissonance. I might have to cut my losses, turn it in, and spring for the 16"....

    :-/
    the keyboard on my 2017 MBP is so annoying that I might do the same - I'd wait for a few months to get some actual longer term reviews and data, though. This keyboard is new, too.
  • Reply 13 of 24
    kevin keekevin kee Posts: 1,291member
    2017 MBP, no keyboard issues. Should I upgrade? I hardly use my MBP for heavy work now as I prefer iMac bigger screen and iPad Pro more portability form. I might skip laptop altogether from now on as I find myself increasingly use iPad Pro more often for productivity tasks.
    edited November 2019 watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 24
    iMaK said:
    For that price tag, hell no.

    I feel more comfortable paying that type of price for an actual desktop. 

    It doesn’t matter how big, powerful, and capable a laptop is, I find them to be a hindrance. 
    I mean, you have to be desperate to use a laptop for big tasks, in my opinion.  

    I think Apple needs to make a MacBook Pro with rounded edge screen like the iPad Pro. And have a very small bezel. That way, you can have a bigger screen in a smaller casing. 

    I have a 13 inch MacBook Pro from 2012. It’s massive. I can’t imagine having a wider laptop. 
    The only benefit of the newest ones is the weight and the fact that they have the new scissor keyboard. 
    i am on the last of the scissor keyboard 15” MBP, late 2015 i think. while i get your angle, truth is i can’t lug a desktop around to go to various workplaces, sit with clients, be in the field.

    i literally only buy the 15” for the screen size and discreet GPU.

    the 13” MBP is only better than an Air because quad core chip.

    while most of my work is not heavy visuals, i also demand as close no a stall workflow as i can. so my perfect would be a 16” Air with quad core and a discreet gpu... LOL.

    not sure what you mean by “for that price”, the computer is $10AUD / day in australia. If i am not making $10 a day - that is a real problem.
    edited November 2019 sailorpaulwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 24
    I'd love to get one of the new 16in MBP's.
    But seeing articles and information about 'where to get it' at discounted prices just makes me mad (a bit)
    There are millions of Mac (and Apple in general) users who are outside the USA. We see thos discounts and then find that there is nothing available here so we have to pay full retail price.
    I was lucky in that my business took me to the US in 2015 and I was able to buy my current MBP in Delaware with 0% sales tax.
    Now that I'm retired that option is no longer there.

    Even Amazon here only sells old stuff at a discount even on Black Friday (And especially on B-F).

    Please, have a thought for all of us who can only dream of getting Apple kit at anywhere near the prices you so often quote in articles.

    Rant over.
  • Reply 16 of 24
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,396member
    If you have a 2015 MacBook Pro and it’s fast enough still then wait a bit. 

    If you were someone who had to buy a newer model
    with the broken keyboard then you should upgrade ASAP.

    There will be no resale on those once the keyboard warranty runs out.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 24
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 434member
    kevin kee said:
    2017 MBP, no keyboard issues. Should I upgrade? I hardly use my MBP for heavy work now as I prefer iMac bigger screen and iPad Pro more portability form. I might skip laptop altogether from now on as I find myself increasingly use iPad Pro more often for productivity tasks.
    You should not. Wait it out for the 2nd generation with a newer CPU or just get an Air. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 24
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    kevin kee said:
    2017 MBP, no keyboard issues. Should I upgrade? I hardly use my MBP for heavy work now as I prefer iMac bigger screen and iPad Pro more portability form. I might skip laptop altogether from now on as I find myself increasingly use iPad Pro more often for productivity tasks.
    I’m finding myself in that workflow as well. I’m doing more and more “email” type of work on my iPad Pro and then going to the Mac mini when I need to do the heavy lifting stuff. I often work from home and don’t bother lugging my MBP around. I just leave it at the office. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 24
    I just still can't get over how much the value has improved.  I'm in reverse sticker shock!  Everything's better, yet it's $1,000 less than the prior model (at the same configurations).  Before, I was facing paying more than I'd ever spent on a MBP yet accepting a laptop configured with less than my minimum requirements, 'cause I simply couldn't afford it.  At these new lower prices, not only can I afford what I need, I'm now considering splurging on a 4TB hard drive - it's still cheaper. :)

    You guys might want to consider a trade in:  Even though the value of your 2016-2018 Macbook Pros has fallen, the lower new prices might compensate for that.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 24
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,628member
    I have a late 2016 MBP.  No keyboard issues, except for the fact that the black stuff has rubbed off the A, S, L and N keys.  My biggest complaint, which is not rectified in the new machine is that IMO, the touch pad is too large and when part of my palm rests on it, it moves the cursor.  This drives me nuts.  it also proves to me that Apple is not doing the kind of user testing that they used to do.

    My MBP never got good battery life and now the battery needs to be replaced.   I liked my late 2008 MBP far better - the battery could be swapped out by the end-user.  

    I'm still on Mojave.  Too many old 32-bit programs to switch at this point, but the bugs in the OS and in Safari also drive me nuts.    

    My daughter and son-in-law have relatively new Macs (bought within the last year) and they're both already having keyboard problems.   Apple really needs to get their act together.   This should not be happening in $3000 machines and they knew they had a keyboard problem.   
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