Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch M1 Pro test: full of hearts that makes the difference

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Pau Monfort
@paumonfort
Author and references

The 16-inch MacBook Pro was expected to replace the Intel version, Apple hitting a big blow with its new M1 Pro chips. This very muscular configuration should fully satisfy professionals and creatives.

Presentation


Apple unveiled its 13-inch MacBook Pro M1 at the end of 2020, but the big screen was still missing and the transition is now complete with not one, but two new MacBook Pros, 14 and 16 inches. Many changes have been made to these models in terms of design, screen and, above all, at the component level since two new chips are now in the game: the M1 Pro and M1 Max. Many configurations are therefore available with more or less storage and RAM (unified at Apple) and a starting price of €2749 for the 16-inch version. We are testing here a solid machine adorned with an M1 Pro, 32 GB of RAM and a 1 TB SSD, all marketed at 3439 €.


Construction

Apple has accustomed us to impeccable build quality and this is obviously still the case on the 1-inch MacBook Pro M16. The design evolves compared to the previous generation and the 1-inch MacBook Pro M13, without however upsetting the codes. The anodized aluminum chassis is included, but it is more flattened. It gains a bit in thickness, width and length with a total of 35,6 x 24,8 x 1,68 cm. He is also a little overweight since he now weighs 2,1 kg.



The screen is in tune with the times with well refined borders, even if Apple has chosen a notch at the level of the webcam. An aesthetic decision reminiscent of the iPhones of the moment, but which will not necessarily please everyone.


The notch that sparks so much debate.

The keyboard design has also been renewed with a completely black dress, even in the interstice of the keys. The multitouch trackpad is very large (approximately 16 x 9,9 cm), convenient for easily navigating your desktop. We also notice at first glance that the Touch Bar has disappeared, a sign that it probably did not convince.


Requiem for the Touch Bar.

So we end up with fairly standard function keys for brightness, desktop management, multimedia, as well as a shortcut for Spotlight search, another to activate voice dictation and a last one to trigger Do Not Disturb mode. . In the upper right corner, the Touch ID is present in order to unlock its session or its applications quickly using a fingerprint. The keys to adjust the brightness of the backlight are no longer, and you must now go directly through the small dashboard of the menu bar. Typing on the keyboard is responsive and enjoyable.




Touch ID is present.

Another element that changes on this new MacBook Pro: the connection. And in a good way since Apple retraces its steps by offering a complete endowment, worthy of a “pro” computer. We thus discover three USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, an SD UHS II card reader, an HDMI 2.0 port and a mini-jack socket. A good point therefore, even if we regret that the HDMI is not the 2.1 standard (which would have allowed 8K broadcasting or refresh rates of more than 60 Hz). But this is a detail, as the M1 Pro and Max offer the ability to seamlessly manage display on multiple screens through USB-C Thunderbolt ports, which was not feasible on the M1 13 inches.


The connection is now complete.

The MagSafe also makes a comeback and not only makes it easy to connect the charging cable, but also frees it from the MacBook in case it accidentally gets snagged, potentially saving it from a bad fall. Apple no longer provides a power cable extension, but the charging cable is 1,98m, which should suffice in most cases. The connector at the mains socket is always detachable to be replaced by a US or UK model if traveling abroad. Finally, a small LED on the connector lights up orange to indicate that charging is in progress and turns green when the battery is full.



The webcam now films in a nice 1080p. The rendering is good when the brightness is sufficient, but in low light, the image is much smoother. Apple did not include its effective Face ID screen unlocking technology on iPhone and iPad.

In low light.

Close to a window.
enlarge

By the way, the connection to the networks is made through Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0. Under the chassis, the feet have been flattened and are no longer domed as they once were. Inside, the components are obviously soldered to the SoC, which prohibits any scalability to the MacBook Pro.


Inside the chassis.

In terms of heating and ventilation, it's simply flawless on the part of the Californian manufacturer. The M1 Pro SoC works wonders and we found just 41,5°C in the center of the hot keyboard. Fans almost never kick in, even with video encoding apps — we had to run HandBrake AND Adobe Premiere simultaneously to get the MacBook Pro 16 to even blow. The sound level remained very contained with a maximum of 35,7 dB raised.


The MacBook does not heat up very much and the ventilation rarely kicks in.

performances

It is on this aspect that we expected the MacBook Pro and their new M1 Pro chips, because despite the qualities of the 1-inch MacBook Pro M13 of 2020, it was difficult to envisage certain very demanding tasks (3D rendering, heavy video processing, etc). It was indeed equipped with “only” 8 CPU cores and 8 GPU cores.

Our test 16-inch MacBook Pro features an M1 Pro SoC with 10 CPU cores and 16 GPU cores (the M1 Max can accommodate up to 24 or even 32 GPU cores). As mentioned earlier, our model also has a 1TB SSD and 32GB of unified memory. We put the M1 Pro through our procedure and compared it to other competing high-end processors (AMD Ryzen 9 and Intel Core i9). And we must admit, the M1 Pro impresses in several respects.

Its performance now matches that of the best Intel and AMD processors while consuming less energy. Depending on the software and its optimization, the three competitors follow each other in any case.


Our performance index when GPU acceleration is enabled.

The increase in the number of GPU cores now gives it the ability to tackle heavy tasks without flinching, and even to compete with dedicated Nvidia graphics cards. As we showed in our comparison lab, the M1 Pro does very well in most applications, although the GeForce RTXs do better in some cases.

Our test procedure is not dedicated only to Macs, some software used is not necessarily to their advantage. The M1 Pro might therefore fare better with some Mac-optimized apps, like the DaVinci Resolve editing software.

The prowess is all the same to be underlined, especially since the M1 Pro heats up very little and delivers the same performance on mains and on battery, which is not the case with PCs equipped with Intel and AMD which weaken when they are are disconnected. We also ran the Shadow of the Tomb Raider game at 1920 x 1080 px, graphics set to high to see how the MacBook fared. Surprisingly, the computer reached an average of 47 i / s, enough to play serenely without however reaching the symbolic bar of 60 i / s, but let's not forget that MacBook Pros are naturally not intended for video games.


The MacBook Pro does well on Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

Screen

For the Liquid Retina XDR screen (3456 x 2234 px) of its 16-inch MacBook Pro, Apple has chosen to integrate very interesting technologies such as ProMotion (a variable refresh rate depending on the application, up to 120 Hz), the HDR and the mini-led technology that we could already find on the iPad Pro. This is not the first computer to benefit from it, some competing studio models having already taken the plunge, but several advantages are worth noting. The thousands of LEDs that make up the panel offer it infinite contrast like OLED screens, as well as exceptional brightness (HDR content only) with a peak that we noted at 1535 cd / m² on our test chart and 1221 cd /m² in full screen. For more information on these values, we recommend our dedicated lab.

Going back to our usual procedure, the MacBook Pro's panel is one of the best we've tested so far. The colors are very accurate with a delta E of 1,1, an average temperature of 7070 K and an infinite contrast ratio. The maximum brightness (494 cd / m²) is not at the level of that obtained in HDR, but remains very high, while the persistence of 14 ms is worthy of PC gaming. Finally, the average reflectance of 24,7% is on the other hand a little higher than that of matte tiles, but this should not be a problem on a daily basis.


From left to right, the gamma curve, the color temperature and the delta E.

Audio

We're used to Apple delivering a top-notch sound experience, but the engineers have outdone themselves with this 16-inch MacBook Pro. In total, six speakers sit enthroned in the chassis, including two tweeters and four woofers for unparalleled rendering on a laptop, so much so that it could be compared to that of a small speaker.

The sound is surprisingly detailed across the entire spectrum and the bass is impressive for such a thin machine. Likewise, the stereophonic space is particularly wide. And if Apple emphasizes support for Dolby Atmos, we note that 3D spatialization is not quite optimal – but it is still remarkable. To put it simply, these speakers are currently the best models that can be found on laptops, all categories combined.

Finally, nothing to say about the headphone output either. Distortion at 0,0013% is insignificant, dynamic range is 116dB, and crosstalk at -58dB is inaudible. Additionally, the 340mVRMS output power is huge and will accommodate the use of any high impedance headphone.

Mobility / Autonomy

The 16-inch MacBook Pro is quite large and won't be carried around as easily as the 14-inch model. Its MagSafe charger is also larger and heavier (350 g) than that of its smaller cousin, but it provides greater charging power (140 W). It is also possible to charge your MacBook using a USB-C cable, but the charge is limited by this standard to 100 W. To take advantage of fast charging (50% battery in 30 min, according to Apple ), it is therefore necessary to connect the charger via the MagSafe cable. Similarly, the classic plastic cable has been replaced by a paracord copy and should therefore better withstand the vagaries of time.


On the left, the 16-inch MacBook Pro charger; on the right, that of the 14 inches.

The presentations being made, let's see how long this new 16-inch MacBook Pro was able to last during our test in video playback on Netflix, screen brightness set to 200 cd / m² and volume at 50% with headphones connected.


The 16-inch MacBook Pro is a battery life champion.

The MacBook Pro M1 Pro lasted an impressive 16h 40min (using Google Chrome). It is therefore – by far – the most enduring computer in the 16-inch segment. On Safari, we can expect even greater autonomy, because the browser is much better optimized. The manufacturer has once again demonstrated the efficiency of its chip in terms of energy management, which also makes it possible to work far from an outlet without losing performance.

Highlights

  • Top-flight performance.

  • Very silent.

  • Excellent mini led screen.

  • Impressive speaker sound output.

  • Enormous autonomy.

Weak points

  • No Face ID.

  • Relatively imposing.

Conclusion

Note globale

The 1-inch MacBook Pro M16 Pro is now a reference for intensive software use while allowing some mobility. Its performance flirts with that of high-end AMD and Intel processors, and even competes with Nvidia's GeForce graphics cards. Its excellent mini-LED screen, an unequaled audio system and its monster autonomy complete this pretty picture. A success.

Sub Notes
  • Construction
  • performances
  • Screen
  • Audio
  • Mobility / Autonomy
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