16-inch MacBook Pro: Buy now or wait?

While the MacBook Air is tremendously popular, some users need a little bit more. More performance, a bigger battery, more ports, a larger screen…if you need more, you need a MacBook Pro. If you want a Mac laptop with a display larger than 13-14 inches, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is your only option.

Before you spend all that money (often upwards of $3,000) on something you hope to keep and use for years, it’s worth asking if this is a good time to buy. In the world of computers, there’s always something better on the way, but if it’s a lot better and it’s coming soon, you might want to wait. Here’s what we know about the MacBook Pro and our buying advice.

16-inch MacBook Pro: Pricing and specs

Released: November 2019
It has been almost two years since Apple updated the 16-inch MacBook Pro. The current version features a 9th-generation Intel Core i7 or Core i9 CPU, which is definitely no longer state-of-the-art. They also have dedicated graphics, ranging from an AMD Radeon Pro 5300M up to a 5600M in the custom configurations. That’s behind the times, too.

Configurations start with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage, which is reasonable for a high-end laptop, and all 16-inch MacBook Pros have four Thunderbolt 3 ports.

While the display isn’t bad, the 3072‑by‑1920 resolution is a little on the low side for a high-end laptop of this size. And it supports wide color and True Tone, but not HDR, nor refresh rates in excess of 60Hz, nor variable refresh rates.

16-inch MacBook Pro 2.4GHz 8-core Core i9 (2019)

16-inch MacBook Pro 2.4GHz 8-core Core i9 (2019)
MSRP: 2.66GHz 6-Core, 512GB $2,399 | 2.3GHz 8-Core, 1TB $2,799

16-inch MacBook Pro: Why you should buy

Despite being a couple of years old, this is literally the only option for Mac users who want a big-screen laptop. It’s this or 13.3 inches, those are your choices. If you really need that bigger display and you need it now, you’re sort of backed into a corner.

16-inchMacBook Pro: Why you should wait

We expect a big update to the MacBook Pro in the fall of 2021. Not only is it expected to feature an M1X processor that’s a lot faster than the M1 and the 2.6GHz 6‑core Intel Core i7 in the current 16-inch MacBook Pro, but it’s also rumored to have a new design and a bunch of new features.

If the rumors are true, we’re looking at a return of the SD card slot and maybe HDMI port, a MagSafe charger (though maybe it’s some sort of new MagSafe thing?), a display with mini-LED backlighting which will probably support HDR, and thinner bezels. And the Touch Bar might be going away.

In other words, we may be a few short months away from a massive improvement to the MacBook Pro, and it’s worth waiting to see what that is before you drop a big chunk of money on something you’ll keep for years. The new version might carry a higher starting price, but it’s expected to be such a huge all-around improvement that it’ll be worth it.

Macworld recommends: WAIT

A new MacBook Pro is a big investment, and the 16-inch model means spending at least $2,400 (and often much more). You’re probably going to hang on to this thing for four or five years, the last thing you want to do is buy it just a couple of months before a vastly better version lands.

Unlike the MacBook Air, which is both more affordable and will probably not be updated as soon, the MacBook Pro is a bigger expense with a shorter wait for the new version. So we recommend you wait until the fall of 2021 to see if Apple does unveil the new 16-inch MacBook Pro as expected before spending all that money. So if you want the MacBook Pro Apple makes, you have even more reason to wait—the current 16-inch model is practically a dinosaur.

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