Today Apple has announced that the 15 inch MacBook Pro range has been replaced by the new 16 inch MacBook Pro. It gets a bigger screen, new keyboard, new sound system, better GPU and larger storage capacity. We take if for an early test drive with some 8K 60FPS ProRes RAW footage in HDR in FCPX!

More people edit with Final Cut Pro X on a 15 inch MacBook Pro, than any other Mac. So today's announcement of the 16 inch model is huge news for us.

Apple has listened to criticism of past models and this new machine not only addresses those issues, but brings more power, more storage and a bigger screen.

  • 16 inch screen model replaces the 15 inch MBP
  • Selectable screen refresh rates.
  • Same size as the 15 inch MacBook Pro, but 1 mm thicker
  • Two colours are available, Silver and Space Grey
  • New keyboard mechanism inspired by the iMac Pro keyboard 
  • Separate ESC key and separate Touch ID button
  • 2.6GHz 6 and 2.3GHz 8 Core models. Configurable to 2.4GHz 8-core i9 (Turbo Boost up to 5.0GHz)
  • New thermal architecture
  • AMD Radeon Pro 5300M/5500M GPUs
  • 64GB DDR4 of RAM and 8TB storage options
  • New audio featuring studio-quality 3-mic array and  high-fidelity 6-speaker system
  • 100-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery (Biggest you can carry on a plane)
  • Four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports 

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We will go through each point one by one and end up with some real-life tests with FCPX and some 8K ProRes RAW footage. Make sure you watch the YouTube test below.

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Not much news on the cost and cost of options, but we do know that UK pricing for the 16” MacBook Pro starts at £2,399. That's the same price as the current 15" MacBook Pro. The machine cannot be upgraded as all the components are soldered in place.

16-inch Retina display 

The machine is no wider or deeper than the model it replaces, but the 500-nit, P3 wide color screen is an inch bigger diagonally. This is because they have shrunk the top and side edge bezels. The resolution is 3072 by 1920 (approx 5.9 million pixels). Looking at an old MBP, you get he same feeling when you go back to a previous iPhone you had - the screen looks small! You won't be able to playback UHD 3840 x 2160 pixel for pixel. Going for a screen this size would impact the battery life.

macbook pro 16 03Much thinner black bezels on the 2019 16 inch MacBook Pro

The next new feature will really help editors. Under Catalina in the System Preferences, the user can adjust the refresh rate. This should give smoother playback in FCPX and Motion. Good to see 50 hertz options in there for Europe as well as multiples for film work.

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It's no slouch when driving external displays either.

• Up to two displays with 6016-by-3384 resolution at 60Hz at over a billion colours
• Up to four displays with 4096-by-2304 resolution at 60Hz at over a billion colours

For the first time ever, if you prefer BlackMagic's Davinci Resolve for editing and grading, you can output video directly to a Pro Display XDR without the need for an IO box. 

Magic Keyboard

Why not, we have had a Magic Mouse for a long time now! This is one area where Apple got a lot of criticism, users of the previous model reported a lot of problems with the butterfly keyboard mechanism.

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Apple has heard the complaints and the 16 inch MacBook Pro has a different keyboard mechanism. Inspired by the iMac Pro keyboard, the new scissor mechanism should be more robust and offer a better feel. To be honest, I never really liked the previous keyboard. 

There is dedicated ESC key, especially important for software developers.

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The new model also features a separate Touch ID button similar to the one found on the MacBook Air.

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The inverted T arrow keys also return.

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Processors

  • 2.6GHz 6-core Intel Core i7 (Turbo Boost up to 4.5Hz)
  • 2.3GHz 8-core Intel Core i9 (Turbo Boost up to 4.8Hz)
  • Both are configurable to 2.4GHz 8-core Intel Core i9 (Turbo Boost up to 5.0GHz) 

We know that the previous models had problems with heat, so it is good to see Apple tackling this with a new thermal management system.

New fans improve airflow by 28 percent and a redesigned heat sink has 35 percent more surface area. This allows the MacBook Pro to sustain up to 12 more watts of power during heavy lifting. For example, the 8 Core allows 11 multicam streams of 4K video to play simultaneously in Final Cut Pro X.

GPUs

  • AMD Radeon Pro 5300M with 4GB of GDDR6 memory & Intel UHD Graphics 630
  • AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 4GB of GDDR6 memory & Intel UHD Graphics 630
  • Both are configurable to AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 8GB of GDDR6 memory

The new thermal architecture allows the GPUs to utilise 20 % more power. Compared to the previous generation models, the user can expect a performance gain of 2.1 times for the 5300M with 4GB of GDDR6 and an 80% increase for the 5500M with 8GB of GDDR6.

RAM

The new models can be configured with up to 64GB of 2666MHz DDR4 memory. This will allow quicker processing of images or the loading of complete software instrument libraries for music composition.

SSD

The new MacBook Pro has storage options up to 8TB of SSD. Whatever the size, it will run at speeds up to 3.2GB/s.

Battery

The new models have a 100-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery. This is the largest size airlines will allow you to carry on board. It gives up to 11 hours of surfing the net or Apple TV watching. There is a new USB-C power adapter for the MBP. It's the same size, but goes from the previous model's output of 87W up to 96W. 

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Sound

Apple has done something very clever here, they have really improved the speakers and the microphone.

Well, when we say microphone, what they have done is built a 'beam forming' array of three microphones built-in to the LHS of the unit. The idea is to give a studio quality input for voice/blogging or music recording. The multiple micropone array also cuts down ambient noise. 

In a comparison with other brand laptops and a Blue USB mic, the Mac Book Pro sounded a lot better. No clipping of information by processing trying to reduce noise. Yes we do think you could do a  broadcast quality voiceover directly onto a FCPX timeline.

There is a completely new 6-speaker system with force-canceling woofers. By opposing the speakers it reduces unwanted vibrations. It sounds very impressive, very similar to a Bose powered speaker you connect an iPhone to for example.

How can so much bass come out of something so thin? The audio is very impressive when put up against similar PC laptops. 

We will have to give it a full test, but with such quality and loudness, we would quite happily use the MBP monitoring for broadcast audio if we were editing only on a laptop.

Yes it is that good. It also supports Dolby Atmos.

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Connectivity

As per the previous model, the 16 inch has four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports, all support charging, DisplayPort, Thunderbolt (up to 40Gb/s), and USB 3.1 Gen 2 (up to 10Gb/s).

Testing

We got our hands on a production model and had a few hours to try it out. You have to love the smell of a new laptop!

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The machine we got our hands on was an 8 Core Intel Core i9 running at 2.3GHz. It had 16GB of RAM and the AMD Radeon Pro 5500M GPU with 4GB of VRAM.

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Now we only had a few hours with this machine and we will to do a full test later in the month, so what could we use that would put it under a severe test?

How about some ProRes RAW8K 8192x4320 59.94P HDR footage that we managed to snaffle from the very generous Lee Herbet from Capture.ink at the FCPX Creative Summit?

First of all we had to set up the Library and Project in Final Cut Pro X.

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We also toggled the Tone Mapping on to display the HDR at a maximum of 500 Nits on the P3 screen. And of course turned off background rendering.

Then we added the two 8K ProRes RAW clips to the HDR timeline and hit play...

And it played back.

Just get your head around that for a moment.

That is unrendered 8K 60FPS ProRes RAW playing back smoothly in an HDR FCPX timeline on a 16inch MacBook Pro.

We even made a short video showing the footage playing back.

As you can see in the image below we had the playback set to Better Performance. Going Better Quality causes the footage to stutter slightly. After a few minutes on loop play, the fans kicked in.

Putting a colour corrector on a clip didn't stop the timeline dropping frames either, we did of course get the dots above the clip to show it was unrendered. Going a step further, a picture in picture effect with two clips did play, but we got the drop fame warning after a couple of seconds.

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Conclusion

Apple has listened to all the criticism and answered the problems from the previous model. They have addressed the thermal issue and hopefully the new keyboard will not prove to be as delicate as the last.

No CPU upgrade from the previous model, but the beefier GPU and extra RAM speeds this machine up. In post production these days, speed is very important.

It is designed for the pro and yes, the Dollars do start to tick up when you spec the options, but this machine will pay you back with speed.

For the mobile filmmaker, photographer or even serious blogger then this is the machine for you. If we can play 8K ProRes RAW back, then editing all day in 4K will be no problem.

The audio capability is amazing, having the ability to do a good voiceover without a USB mic means one less thing to carry. The playback quality really is 'room filling' and removes the need to edit on headphones whilst away from base.

And... If you are lucky enough to shoot 8K ProRes RAW on location and want to see what it looks like on an HDR timeline with Tone Mapping. This machine will do that.

The new 16 inch MacBook Pro is available to order from today and will start appearing in retail outlets at the end of the week.

Maybe the credit cards should be locked away until after Christmas!

 

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