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Apple 16-Inch M3 Pro MacBook Pro Review: Outstanding, Inside and Out

Key Takeaways

  • The 16-inch MacBook Pro offers one of the best displays in a laptop, powerful performance with the M3 Pro and M3 Max chips, and plenty of ports for connecting peripherals.
  • The Space Black color option is a nice addition, and it is less prone to showing fingerprints compared to the Midnight color.
  • The MacBook Pro features a perfect keyboard and trackpad combination, with improved durability and a large trackpad for easy navigation and gestures.


The 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pros are incredible laptops for professionals who need a powerful and reliable tool to help them do their work, with a good selection of ports and outstanding displays. But don’t bother upgrading if you already have the M2 Pro model—there’s no performance boost.

Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro (2023)

$2299 $2499 Save $200

Apple updated its more powerful MacBook Pros to end 2023 with two new processor choices, a slightly brighter display, and a Space Black color option. The 16-inch MacBook Pro is a powerhouse that includes arguably the best display on a laptop, powerful performance with the M3 Pro and M3 Max chips, substantial battery life, and plenty of ports for you to use. It’s an outstanding laptop for any professional.

Operating System
macOS Sonoma

CPU
M3 Pro (12-core)

GPU
18-core

RAM
18GB

Storage
1TB

Battery
22 hours

Display (Size, Resolution)
16.2-inches (3456 × 2234)

Speakers
Six-speaker system

Colors
Space Black, Silver

Ports
MagSafe, Three Thunderbolt 4 ports, Headphone Jack, HDMI, SDXC

Network
Wi-Fi 6E

Weight
4.7 pounds

Price
$2,699

Brand
Apple

Model
November 2023

Display type
Mini LED

Webcam
1080p

Pros

  • Incredible mini LED, 120Hz display
  • The M3 Pro chip
  • MagSafe, HDMI, SDXC card slot on board
  • Great battery life
  • New Space Black color
Cons

  • A little heavy at 4.7 pounds

The Hefty, Premium Design

16-inch MacBook Pro Design
Will Graf / MakeUseOf

In 2021, the MacBook Pro became heavier and thicker than the previous TouchBar models. Several improvements resulted from the added weight and thickness, like adding ports and featuring better thermal performance. However, there is no getting around it—the 16-inch MacBook Pro is a big laptop.

According to Apple’s website, it measures up at 0.66 inches thick (17mm), and the M3 Pro version weighs 4.7 pounds (2.1kg). As someone who has owned both MacBook Pro sizes (14-inch and 16-inch), I can say the 16-inch is considerably less portable than the 14-inch model. However, the trade-off is worth it, given that the larger model offers more screen real estate and better battery life.

Given the benefits in the display size and battery life that bigger devices typically provide, I always tend to favor larger devices.

I do wish the 16-inch MacBook Pro was a little lighter, though. You certainly feel the heft when carrying it around if you are used to something like a previous generation 15-inch TouchBar MacBook Pro or even a comparable PC laptop. The size and weight are why multiple well-known tech YouTubers, such as iJustine and her sister Jenna Ezarik, switched from the 16-inch MacBook Pro to the smaller 14-inch model for better portability.

Besides that, the MacBook Pro continues to have one of the best laptop designs despite remaining unchanged from the previous generation. It is a premium and sturdy laptop with no flexing at all and falls in line with Apple’s other products regarding quality.

However, there is one design difference with the late 2023 model that I will cover next.

The Space Black Finish Is a Nice Touch

MacBook Pro Space Black finish
Will Graf / MakeUseOf

The M3 Pro and M3 Max MacBook Pros come in a new color: Space Black. When this color was first shown off in person at Apple’s small press event in New York City, everyone wanted to see how it held up against fingerprints. Apple said it used a new anodization process that is supposed to help prevent fingerprints from showing.

Apple learned from the Midnight color it offers on the M2 MacBook Airs, given that Midnight is an absolute fingerprint magnet and looks grimy over time, as we’ve mentioned in both our 13 and 15-inch MacBook Air reviews. I have even heard Apple retail employees warn customers about fingerprints easily showing with that color. That’s how blatant it is.

However, in my use, the Space Black finish is much better against fingerprints than the Midnight MacBook Air. It’s not immune to them, though. You can probably spot some fingerprints in the photos in this review.

Should you avoid Space Black altogether and just get Silver? I don’t think so. Space Black is also much darker than Space Gray, as you can see below.

Space Black vs Space Gray (15-inch MacBook Air and 16-inch MacBook Pro)
Will Graf / MakeUseOf

Space Black might not be a pure black shade, but it’s a great color that fits the pro theme. The color almost reminds me of the Black iPhone 7 Plus (not Jet Black).

The Excellent Liquid Retina XDR Display

16-inch MacBook Pro display
Will Graf / MakeUseOf

Since the 2021 redesign, the MacBook Pros have offered some of the best displays on a laptop by far, and the 2023 models are no different. This MacBook Pro features a 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display. It includes two specifications you can’t find on another Mac in Apple’s lineup: mini LED, and an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate.

The MacBook Pro’s display provides incredibly smooth animations and scrolling, HDR support, higher brightness levels, and more, compared to the standard Liquid Retina display found on the Air. The MacBook Pro, of course, still features a notch at the top of the display, though I don’t see it as a problem when using the computer. I rarely notice it.

Despite being largely the same this year, the display has one small difference with this late 2023 model: it can now reach an SDR brightness of 600 nits, similar to the Studio Display. Before, the maximum was 500 nits.

Overall, it’s a fantastic display, and you might find yourself wanting to use the MacBook Pro over other screens. Many people, myself included, want Apple to put the display technology that is in this laptop into an external monitor. It’s that nice.

Perfect Keyboard and Trackpad Combination

16-inch MacBook Pro Keyboard and trackpad
Will Graf / MakeUseOf

The days of broken butterfly keyboard keys on Apple’s current laptops have been long gone for some time. Even though I liked the butterfly keyboard for the most part, it was an objectively inferior keyboard in terms of durability, and many people didn’t enjoy the typing experience compared to what Apple has now on the MacBook Pro.

The newer MacBook Pro keyboards have more key travel and have proven to be more durable than the butterfly keyboard. The keyboard also has what Apple calls a black well behind the keys, unique to the MacBook Pro. That could be part of why I enjoy typing with this keyboard more than the one on the 15-inch MacBook Air. It provides a satisfactory typing experience.

The trackpad on the 16-inch MacBook Pro is massive, giving you plenty of surface area for navigating and gestures. And as you would expect, the trackpad is just about perfect. It’s incredibly responsive and using gestures and double-clicking with it are intuitive, as it has been for years now on MacBooks.

I’m still impressed with how Apple’s Force Touch trackpads work and feel. It uses vibrations to replicate a physical press, since the trackpad doesn’t actually move. With that and the other details mentioned above, Apple continues to have one of the best trackpad experiences on a laptop to date.

M3 Pro Is More Than Capable

Apple m3 lineup
Image Credit: Apple

The M3 Apple silicon chips are the flagship feature of the late 2023 MacBook Pro refresh. With the high-end MacBook Pros, you have the choice between two processors: the M3 Pro and M3 Max. For this review, we’re going to focus on the M3 Pro.

I chose the base 16-inch model, which includes the 12-core CPU, 18-core GPU M3 Pro chip, and 18GB of unified memory on board. However, I did upgrade the SSD to 1TB since 512GB was a bit too small.

The M3 Pro has spurred controversy given the supposed minimal CPU performance increase, less memory bandwidth, and fewer performance cores than the previous M2 Pro, released in January 2023. In its presentation, Apple didn’t mention how much faster the M3 Pro’s CPU is compared to the M2 Pro, leading us to believe that there isn’t much of a performance gain at all. However, there are some other notable improvements to the M-series chips this time.

The M3 chips are now built on a 3-nanometer process (the first for a computer processor) for improved power and efficiency. Additionally, they include new features such as ray tracing, similar to the A17 Pro in the iPhone 15 Pro, and what Apple calls Dynamic Caching, which is supposed to make the GPU more efficient in distributing memory for tasks.

CPU and GPU Performance

M3 Pro Geekbench Results

For the CPU, the M3 Pro consists of six performance cores and six efficiency cores. Diving into the performance, in Geekbench 6, the M3 Pro had a single-core score of 3177 and a score of 15552 in multi-core performance. According to Geekbench’s website, the M3 Pro beats the previous M2 Pro in both single-core and multi-core performance, which is good to see.

To put these results in perspective, the MacBook Pro beat my M1 Max Mac Studio in the same benchmark test, which is a desktop that I have been highly pleased with since I purchased it.

16-inch M3 Pro MacBook Pro Cinebench test result

While the M3 Pro doesn’t have as many GPU cores as the M3 Max, it still performed well in the GPU benchmark test overall. In Cinebench 2024, the M3 Pro scored 6049 points, again beating my Mac Studio (3929 points).

The M3 Pro handles everything I typically use a laptop for and more. As expected, I didn’t experience any stuttering or issues during regular use. When working on a simple seven-minute 4K 60FPS project in Final Cut Pro, the experience was super smooth. The MacBook Pro handled it perfectly, given that the M3 Pro chip is pretty capable and Final Cut Pro is optimized for Apple silicon.

External Display Support

MacBook Pro connected to multiple Studio Displays
Will Graf / MakeUseOf

The M3 Pro also provides a feature that is not available on the M3 MacBook Pro or M2 MacBook Airs: the ability to connect to more than one external display. I connected the MacBook Pro to my two Studio Displays, and it worked really well. If you already have a workspace with more than two displays, however, the MacBook Pro M3 Max version can connect to up to four displays, so keep that in mind if you plan to buy one.

So, what can you spec the MacBook Pro up to? The high-end MacBook Pros can feature up to an M3 Max chip (16-core CPU and 40-core GPU), 128GB of unified memory, and up to an 8TB SSD, which translates to an extremely powerful and capable laptop. Of course, it will cost you a lot of money: $7,199 before tax for the 16-inch model.

The Versatile I/O

16-inch MacBook Pro ports (right side)
Will Graf / MakeUseOf

With a pro laptop, having a variety of ports is arguably a necessity. Thankfully, Apple reversed its USB-C-only move with the MacBook Pros that started in 2016. The 2023 16-inch MacBook Pro offers seven ports: MagSafe, three Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, a headphone jack, HDMI out, and an SDXC card slot.

You don’t have to rely on dongles to connect simple peripherals to your laptop with the MacBook Pro, except if you need to use something with USB-A, which remains absent from Apple’s MacBooks.

Photographers can simply pop out the SD card from their cameras and put it directly into the MacBook Pro to access their photos. The HDMI port on the MacBook Pro lets you connect the laptop to various displays, including TVs. The HDMI port is 2.1, which means the laptop is able to connect to up to an 8K display or a 4K display up to 240Hz.

Therefore, you can theoretically have the same refresh rate across your MacBook’s display and a 120Hz external monitor. And thanks to the inclusion of MagSafe, you can charge the laptop without having to worry about someone accidentally yanking the cord and taking your computer down with it.

Despite being capable of charging via the USB-C ports as well, I’d recommend sticking to MagSafe since you can fast charge and possibly avoid damage to your computer. The MacBook Pro includes the necessary ports that pro users need on a regular basis, removing the extra cost and hassle of carrying around dongles to perform basic laptop functions.

Connecting different peripherals to the MacBook Pro should have always been this simple, but I’m glad it’s this easy again.

Battery Life That Compliments the Performance

MagSafe connected to the MacBook Pro
Will Graf / MakeUseOf

You probably have heard at least once by now that Apple silicon has dramatically changed the battery life in MacBooks compared to Intel versions. In 2020, I was shocked by the improvement in battery life when I first used the M1 MacBook Pro. According to Apple, the 16-inch MacBook Pro should get up to 22 hours of Apple TV video playback and up to 15 hours of wireless web browsing, though that doesn’t tell the whole story of what you can expect.

Despite having a feature-packed display and a powerful chipset, I can say that the 16-inch MacBook Pro still gets excellent battery life. During simple laptop usage, on one charge, I was able to use the MacBook Pro for about two days before it needed to be plugged in (6% remaining on the battery). If you use more power-hungry applications and have really demanding workflows, of course, you won’t get that same level of battery life, nor would you if you went with the M3 Max since it is a more powerful processor.

The 16-inch M3 Pro MacBook Pro certainly has better battery life than the M1 Pro 14-inch MacBook Pro and the 15-inch MacBook Air Ithat ‘ve used for most of 2023. And both of those machines also perform well in the battery department.

Should You Buy the 2023 M3 Pro 16-Inch MacBook Pro?

The 16-inch MacBook Pro is one of the best laptops I’ve ever used. It holds its place as a top-tier pick for anyone who needs power on the go. And now it comes in a fantastic Space Black color that compliments the professional nature of the computer. Anyone who needs to do professional work should check out the 16-inch MacBook Pro.

But don’t rush out to buy one if you already have an M2 Pro MacBook Pro, as just the new color and processors are not worth the hundreds of dollars you will have to spend to upgrade.

mbp16-spaceblack

Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro (2023)

$2299 $2499 Save $200

Apple updated its more powerful MacBook Pros to end 2023 with two new processor choices, a slightly brighter display, and a Space Black color option. The 16-inch MacBook Pro is a powerhouse that includes arguably the best display on a laptop, powerful performance with the M3 Pro and M3 Max chips, substantial battery life, and plenty of ports for you to use. It’s an outstanding laptop for any professional.

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