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Apple Macbook Pro 16-inch 2020 - Practical Expectations

Updated: Sep 8, 2020

After several years of keyboard horror stories, Apple has finally started to make the Macbooks better with every new iteration. It seems like they are listening to user feedback and the biggest proof of that was the introduction of last year's 16-inch Macbook Pro. The new Magic Keyboard, improved thermal design, smaller bezels, a giant battery & new audio hardware, all of these improvements were a welcome change. Apple even released new versions of the Macbook Air & the 13-inch Macbook Pro with the updated keyboard & some of the new audio hardware as well. However, all of these new devices also had a lot of stuff missing from their plate. We believe Apple will finally implement many of these missing items when they refresh the 16-inch Macbook Pro this year.

10th Gen H-series Intel CPUs

The 16-inch Macbook Pro will definitely step up the game in processing power this year with the newly announced 10th Gen Intel CPUs. Nope, not the 15W chips that ships with the 13-inch model. I am talking about the 6-core i7-10850H and the 8-core i9-10980HK. These are still 45W chips so, Apple will be able to power them with their 100W power brick. Yes, there is an 8-core i7-10875H this year but, Apple is probably not going to use it. Using a 6-core i7 & an 8-core i9 gives the i9 model, a core & thread count advantage that helps to justify the extra cost. The cooling mechanism isn't gonna change. But, considering how good it was last year, it should handle the newer chips just fine.

They'll be using a new set AMD GPUs this year. But, some of you were also expecting the 4000 series CPUs from AMD because, they are so much better this year. That ain't gonna happen either. Apple needs Thunderbolt 3 support in their laptops 'cause, a complete set of Apple products require that technology to function with the Macbook Pro. Thunderbolt 3 is exclusive to Intel and Apple cannot escape that barrier. At least, not right now. Similarly, they cannot use the new NVIDIA RTX GPUs 'cause they draw a lot of Wattage which again, is impossible to provide with a 100W charger. Compared to that, AMD GPUs draw a lot less power which is perfect for what Apple needs.

Faster RAM & Storage

Following the footsteps of it's younger sibling, the 16-inch Macbook Pro is going to get major improvements in the RAM & Storage departments. Last year's model came with up to 64GB of 2666 MHz DDR4 memory & up to 8TB of super-fast SSD storage. These are awesome numbers on their own but, there is always room for improvement.

Although the max step up in SSD capacity is going to stay at 8 Terabytes, both read & write speeds are going to get a significant bump. This is insane considering, the SSDs from last year were already pretty fast. The RAM is also getting an upgrade. We already know that it'll be running at a faster frequency & it'll be regular DDR4 instead of LPDDR4X that Apple uses in the 13-inch Macbook Pro. Now, what is going to be the frequency of the RAM and how fast will the new SSDs be? Well, that's a question for Apple to answer when they finally announce the refresh, sometime later this year.

Wi-Fi 6 & Bluetooth 5.1

One of the biggest non-keyboard flaws of the original 16-inch Macbook Pro was, not having Wi-Fi 6 (802.11 ax). When literally every competitor was hopping on Wi-Fi 6 bus for their flagship products, Apple decided to stick with the slower 802.11 ac (Wi-Fi 5) for the 16-inch Macbook Pro. The fact that was even more surprising is that, Apple shipped the new 13-inch Macbook Pro (2020) with Wi-Fi 5. Do remember that the latest $399 iPhone SE & the iPhone 11 series actually ship with Wi-Fi 6. But, surprisingly none of the Macbook Pro models have that yet.

That is hopefully going to change with the 2020 edition on the 16-inch Macbook Pro. The refreshed 16-inch Macbook Pro is expected to be the first Macbook to support Wi-Fi 6. After that, all the upcoming Macbooks will ship with the new 802.11 ax standards. This even includes the next iteration of the Macbook Air. Alongside, Wi-Fi 6, Apple may upgrade the Bluetooth version to Bluetooth 5.1. But, no strong indications in that direction just yet.

New 1080P Webcam (Desired Upgrade)

Apple has a terrible reputation when it comes to laptop webcams. The 720P webcam they ship with all the Macbooks right now, are barely usable. The quality is bad even in well-lit environments which makes video conferencing, a nightmare. There is actually a pretty simple explanation for this. The webcam is located underneath the top bezel, inside the display housing which is incredibly thin. Actually, the Display housing of Macbooks are one of the thinnest in the entire industry. So, Apple can't fit a thicker & better camera module without increasing the thickness of the display housing.

The exact same thing happened with Microsoft too. Their Surface line of products generally have the best webcams in the market but, that's not the case with their Surface Laptops. The 720P webcam that Microsoft used in the Surface Book 3 is almost comparable with the one on the Macbook Pro. If you remember, the Surface Laptops have thin Display chassis too. These go almost toe-to-toe with Macbooks so, it seems like if you have a super-thin Display chassis, you're gonna have to live with bad webcam.

However, Apple worked hard to achieve this premium form factor. They are not gonna take that away just to fit a better webcam in their laptops. So, if Apple wants to fit a better 1080P webcam there, they have to figure out a way not increase the thickness of the camera module but, still achieve the necessary improvements. Well, if anyone can do it, it's probably Apple but, I won't get my hopes up. At least, not this year. However, they can always make an external 1080P 60 fps webcam just like ASUS is doing for their flagship Zephyrus laptops. But, that'll probably cost a fortune so, let's just hope Apple can improve on their integrated webcam modules.

Is Anything Else Changing?

Apple may bring the 32GB RAM option to India this year which is a welcome change considering they only had 16 Gigs last year. But, that's actually all that's going to change in the 16-inch Macbook Pro (2020). Apple came up with the slightly updated design last year & for that, they had to spend some good R&D budget. So, for the next couple of years, you're going to be stuck with the current 16-inch Macbook Pro design. That design may end up in the 13-inch or the rumored 14-inch Macbook Pro next year but, no changes in the 16-inch model as of now.

Also, if you were hoping for Face ID, that ain't gonna happen either. Apple is definitely not looking forward to include Face ID when they already have Touch ID for biometric authentication. The good thing is, last year's model was already the best Macbook, Apple has ever made. This year, it is essentially the same thing with new internals. If you liked the original 16-inch Macbook Pro, you're gonna like the new one too.



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