Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro: don’t make a mistake you’ll regret

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When it comes to the best Apple laptops, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is the accurate flagship model. It contains the fastest chips, the best storage, and the better and best absorbing display. It’s additionally the best big-ticket MacBook Pro, calmly costing you bags of dollars with aloof a few upgraded components.

That makes it catchy to assignment out how you should configure it and which adaptation you should buy. There may alone be three capital choices you accept to accomplish — the chip, the anamnesis and the accumulator — but anniversary one carries a lot of weight. It’s important to accomplish the appropriate accommodation back you cull the trigger.

That’s area our adviser comes in. We’ve taken aggregate we abstruse when we advised the 16-inch MacBook Pro and again fabricated a accurate appraisement of every advancement best it offers. That’s helped us assignment out which upgrades are account your time (and money) and which aren’t in adjustment to put calm this affairs guide. Give it a apprehend and you’ll apperceive all the best configurations for the 16-inch MacBook Pro.

Go for the M3 Max chip

The MacBook Pro accessible on a table in advanced of a couch.Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

We’ll alpha by attractive at the cavity options, as this is apparently the best important accommodation you can accomplish back configuring your MacBook Pro.

We haven’t had a adventitious to analysis a MacBook absolute the M3 Pro chip, but we can draw some abstracts based on what others accept found. According to a review in PCMag, for example, the M3 Pro is slower than the previous-generation M2 Max. That’s disappointing, and we’d accept hoped for abundant bigger achievement accustomed that the M3 Pro uses a 3nm process, which has been absorbed as a above footfall up. Overall, the M3 Pro isn’t attractive as acceptable as expected.

What about the M3 Max? Things are abundant added able here. Apple offers two versions of this cavity in the 16-inch MacBook Pro, and both are conspicuously bigger than the M3 Pro. While the M3 Pro comes with a 12-core CPU and an 18-core GPU, the aboriginal M3 Max offers a 14-core CPU and a 30-core GPU. The additional M3 Max, meanwhile, has a 16-core CPU and a 40-core GPU.

While the CPU amount improvements are not huge, there’s a abundant beyond gap back it comes to graphics. That was borne out in our testing, too. While the M3 Max’s CPU was 13% faster in single-core tests and 32% bigger in multi-core tests compared to the M2 Max, its GPU was a whopping 56% speedier than its predecessor. That’s a above increase, abnormally if you’re absorbed in Mac gaming.

Statistics and appearance for Apple's M3 alternation of chips, including the M3, M3 Pro and M3 Max.Apple

All things considered, we’d acclaim advance to the aboriginal M3 Max chip. The M3 Pro is absolutely a acceptable chip, but it’s calmly outclassed by the M3 Max, authoritative the about-face account it aloof for the performance. After all, achievement is what best bodies buy the 16-inch MacBook Pro for.

Stepping up to this cavity is labeled as a $400 advancement on Apple’s website, but it’s absolutely $800 because alteration the cavity automatically doubles the RAM to 36GB, which itself is a $400 change. In acknowledgment for that amount increase, though, you get a abundant faster cavity and far added memory, authoritative your laptop a lot added capable.

If you charge the best ability you can get, there’s additionally the high-end M3 Max option. But at $700 for the cavity access abandoned (or $1,300 including the automated RAM access to 48GB), it’s alone absolutely account it for bodies who apperceive they charge the added achievement for their ambitious workloads. Most added users can apparently canyon on that version.

The 1TB accumulator candied spot

Looking bottomward at the keyboard and trackpad on a MacBook Pro.Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

Now that the cavity brain-teaser is sorted, we can move on to storage. Most 16-inch MacBook Pros alpha with a 512GB SSD, although the high-end adaptation comes with 1TB by default. For best people, a best of 1TB is apparently abundant unless you apperceive you will be installing a lot of ample apps and amateur or will be apartment a accession of beefy files.

It pays to anticipate anxiously about how abundant you charge because Apple doesn’t let you advancement your accumulator afterwards purchase. The aggregate you accept at the checkout is the aggregate you’ll accept to alive with.

Well, unless you buy one of the best alien accumulator drives, which we acclaim accomplishing if you’re activity to charge a lot of space. Apple’s accumulator is actual big-ticket — you can advancement the 16-inch MacBook Pro to accept an 8TB SSD, for example, but accomplishing so costs $2,200, which is about as abundant as the entry-level 16-inch MacBook Pro in its entirety.

A MacBook Pro on a table in advanced of a window.Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

Apple’s accumulator is acutely fast, which is apparently how the aggregation justifies the aerial price. Yet, we’ve apparent letters in contempo years that Apple’s MacBooks with entry-level accumulator are slower than those with added accumulator amounts. That’s because Apple absitively to bisect the cardinal of beam accumulator modules to two rather than the antecedent four, which can appulse speed.

We haven’t been able to analysis this in the latest MacBook Pro, but iFixit conducted a teardown of the 14-inch MacBook Pro with an M3 Pro cavity and begin that the 512GB archetypal had a absolute of four beam accumulator modules. That should beggarly the 16-inch MacBook Pro is additionally chargeless of slowed-down storage, but we can’t be assertive until we’re able to analysis it ourselves.

How abundant anamnesis is enough?

The 14-inch MacBook Pro with M3 Max cavity apparent from behind.Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

Memory is a complicated subject, and there are aggressive claims over absolutely how abundant you charge in a MacBook Pro. Fortunately, things are a bit simpler in the 16-inch archetypal than in its 14-inch sibling, but it’s still account exploring your options.

The 14-inch MacBook Pro starts with 8GB of memory. Apple claims this is equivalent to 16GB in battling laptops because Apple builds the anamnesis into its M-series chips, acceptation it’s faster and added efficient. Recent testing has apparent that’s not absolutely the case, though, and it’s account dispatch up the RAM if you’re cerebration about accepting the 14-inch MacBook Pro.

The 16-inch model, though, starts at 18GB of memory, which is abundant added comfortable. If you don’t charge to do actual able tasks and aren’t addition who consistently tries video encoding while active 30 tabs in Chrome, 18GB will apparently be enough.

The keyboard and trackpad of the MacBook Pro.Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

The acceptable account is that if you aces the M3 Max cavity we recommend, you’ll alpha out with 36GB of anamnesis by default. So not alone do you get bigger cavity performance, but you get bigger RAM as well.

If you absolutely charge the added anamnesis capacity, Apple offers upgrades all the way up to 128GB of RAM. This is abundantly cher admitting — not alone does it crave a $300 footfall up to the high-end M3 Max, but it will amount you an additional $1,000 to addition the anamnesis from that chip’s 48GB minimum to 128GB. You get ultimate performance, but for a actual aerial price.

Which archetypal should you pick?

An accessible MacBook Pro on a table.Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

Right now, there are two 16-inch MacBook Pro models we’d recommend, and the one that’s best for you will depend on your needs and your budget. Of course, you ability not accede with either aces — you’ll charge to do you own analysis actuality to ensure our choices bout with your needs.

To alpha with, we’ve got a agreement that should be adapted for best bodies who appetite the added ability the 16-inch MacBook Pro provides, after alarming a aperture in their finances:

  • M3 Max cavity with 14-core CPU and 30-core GPU
  • 36GB memory
  • 1TB SSD
  • Price: $3,499

Then there’s a added able adaptation that is aimed at users with actual ambitious workloads. This will action a amazing aggregate of performance, but you’ll charge a account to match:

  • M3 Max cavity with 16-core GPU and 40-core GPU
  • 64GB of memory
  • 1TB of storage
  • Price: $4,199

Despite actuality fabricated for ambitious users, we haven’t autonomous for 128GB of memory. That’s because while some bodies will charge that much, it’s added than best users will accept a use for. For annihilation added than 1TB of storage, you ability be bigger served by one of the best alien accumulator drives rather than Apple’s actual big-ticket options.

Pick one of these two configurations, though, and you’ll get a chiefly able laptop that can handle about annihilation you charge it to do.

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