In 2021, Apple released a new iteration of their famous MacBook Pro model. Dubbed by Apple as the “most powerful MacBook Pro ever”, the M1 based laptop was released in a 16” and an all new 14” screen size. But is it better than its Intel based predecessor?
Well, in this blog post we are going to explore the differences between this iteration of MacBook Pro 16” compared to the previous Intel based version to see if it’s worth upgrading.
The 16”: M1 Pro/Max vs Intel
Design and Construction
With new iterations of technology we’re usually used to seeing smaller, thinner and lighter but this isn’t the case with the new 14” and 16” MacBook Pros. The new 16” model is actually a couple of millimeters larger on both sides and a millimeter thicker, as well as 150 grams heavier! The fact that it does not have beveled edges actually makes it feel even thicker. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though as this makes room for some of the old ports to make a return (more on this in the connections section).
While the machine has become thicker, the screen edges have become narrower, which means that the new Mac has been fitted with a slightly larger screen in the same space. However, this has led to one of the bigger controversies because in order to do so Apple has made the camera sit in a notch just like on the iPhone with many customers complaining it looks ugly.
Another notable difference in the design of the new 16” is the absence of the touch bar. With this design change it seems like Apple is finally listening to its customers as many were not a fan of this feature on previous models. In its place we see the return of good old fashioned physical function keys.
Screen and display
Following on from what we were saying in the previous section, the screen has become slightly larger, 16.2 inches compared to the previous 16 inches. More importantly though, the new ‘liquid retina XDR display’ has replaced the old back-lit LED technology boasting a significant resolution increase from 3,072 x 1,920 pixels to 3,456 x 2,234 pixels. The dot density has also been increased from 226 ppi to 254 ppi.
With the introduction of the new display the M1 16” provides better contrast and local dimming for HDR materials. In addition, the brightness has increased from a moderate 500 cd / m² to 1,000 cd / m² with local peaks of 1,600 cd / m²!
Thanks to all these upgrades it is much nicer to work with high-resolution images and in fact more than acceptable to edit HDR material without having to resort to an external monitor.
Ports and connections
Quite possibly the most annoying thing about the previous models of MacBook is the exclusive USB-C connections it had; with the new iteration of MacBook Pro 14” and 16” we see the return of port variety. The HDMI port and SD card ports have made a comeback, good news for those that are tired of carrying around 5 different USB-C adapters in their bags. Also returning is the MagSafe charger which is much more convenient and safer than its Thunderbolt 3 counterpart.
When comparing the top spec i9 MacBook Pro 16” with the new M1 Max version we see a 58 percent higher performance in the single-core test in the new machine. With all the cores engaged, it pulled away with 76 percent higher performance according to Geekbench 5.
However, it is the heavily upgraded graphics part of the M1 Max that impresses the most. According to GFX Bench Aztec, it is 323 percent faster! The Cinebench R23 is not as impressive, but still shows a significant improvement of 35 percent. At the time, the older model was equipped with an AMD Radeon Pro 5500M graphics circuit, which is the mid range graphics card for that model.
The new SSD disk is also no joke. According to the BlackMagic test, reading performance has increased by 220 percent and writing performance by 236 percent. And it isn’t as if it was really slow before anyway.
To get a more realistic feeling for how much faster the computer feels, we also ran Basemark Web, which assesses how fast the browser can run code on web pages. There we got a twice as high result!
Assessing battery life is always tricky. Apple itself says that the new model lasts 14 hours for surfing with a wireless network, compared to 11 hours for the old one. Or 21 hours of movie playback in the Apple TV app, compared to 11 hours for the old one. We got a 64% improvement when we measured battery consumption for 3D game graphics in GFX Bench.
So should you buy the new MacBook Pro 16” or the 2019 model?
While the 2019 Intel-based 16” is still a very good machine, if you can afford it we would recommend getting the new M1 Max model. The 2021 model outperformed the 2019 in all of our categories and is a very suitable machine for any creative or professional that is often on the move.
With the new 16” starting to find itself in the second-hand market, it seems like a no-brainer to get one if you’re in the market for one. Machines with little to no use can be found with prices up to 30% less than Apple at different second-hand Mac dealers.
If you’re looking for a good deal on a MacBook Pro 16” M1 you can follow the link below: