MacBook Pro 15-inch (2016) – Review with Benchmarks (Lightroom, 3DMark, SSD Speed, etc)

I can’t use this computer for the things I do, but that doesn’t mean it is bad. Lets find out what this new wonder from Apple can do.

15 inch MacBook Pro with Touchbar

An update to the MacBook Pro lineup was long overdue. When Apple finally released the redesigned and radically changed laptop it sparked some controversy as it always does when Apple release something new.

  • Only 16GB RAM
  • No Magsafe port
  • Only USB-C (Thunderbolt 3)
  • SSD Soldered on the motherboard

It even went so far that Apple reduced price on their adapters and new displays to somewhat meet the criticism.

So with the dust settled, how does this computer really work and perform? I have used it extensively for both work and at home for about a month and here I share my highly personal opinions about this device. (That means you may disagree, and that is just fine).

Design / Build Quality

As always from Apple the build quality is top notch. It feels like a solid and well built product. The aluminum enclosure gives it a sturdy and exclusive look, it feels like this is something that can last for years. Compared to previous models this one is thinner, and it is noticeable when you pick it up and carry it.

Ports

MacBook Pro USB-C and MiniJack Port

Apple got rid of all ports and replaced them with high-speed USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports and one minijack. I welcome these ports, its about time we got some high speed I/O and USB-C / thunderbolt 3 is great for that. The only thing I miss is the MagSafe-port. Now you have to yank the cable out of the port while you hold the laptop, but with MagSafe you could just break it off and go. I guess Apple felt that more high-speed ports was worth the tradeoff compared to the convenience with MagSafe.

Display

13 and 15 inch MacBook Pro

This is by far the best display I have ever seen in a laptop. It supports wide color gamut (P3) on its LED-backlit display with IPS technology; 2880-by-1800 native resolution. macOS then scales the interface so it looks like 1680 x 1050 resolution.

Keyboard and Touch Bar

The Touch Bar is a cool thing, but I think it will take some time for people to get used to it. The thing I find most convenient with it is the Touch ID. Using my finger instead of typing the password to login is cool. Other than that I find myself not looking down on it that much. So I am not sure how useful it will be. At its default setup it requires an extra «click» for me to adjust volume and screen brightness but that can be solved with third party apps.

The trackpad is huge but as I am writing this my hands rest on the top corners of the trackpad and it works fine. No accidental clicks so far so the palm rejection AI is working very well.

The keyboard and keys feels weird, in a good sense. They give a distinct response when typing, but they are definitely more noisy compared to the older MacBook Pro. Still, I think they are pretty good to type on but you probably have to get used to it.

Performance & Benchmarks

Here are benchmarks to give you RAW data on how this computer performs. If you are missing a test. Leave a comment below and I might update this review to include new tests.

  • Model: MacBook Pro (15-inch Late 2016)
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-6820HQ
  • Memory: 16GB 2133 MHz LPDDR3
  • AMD Radeon Pro 455

Cinebench (macOS Sierra)

OpenGL: 78.68 fps
CPU: 682 cb

CineBench MacBook Pro 2016

Geekbench (macOS Sierra)

Single-Core Score: 4272
Multi-Core Score: 13324

Geekbench MacBook Pro 2016

Diablo 3 (macOS Sierra)

Although Diablo 3 is an older game, it works pretty good on the MacBook Pro 15-Inch Late 2016. Check out the 10 minute video below of some gameplay where I have it connected to a 1440p external display.

3DMark (Windows 10 Pro in Bootcamp)

I could only run the demo version of 3D Mark, I haven’t bought the full version.

Result: 1276

3D Mark MacBook Pro 2016

Metro Last Light Redux (Windows 10 in Bootcamp)

Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Quality: Medium
SSAA: Off
Texture filtering: AF 4X
Motion Blur: Off
Tesselation: Normal
VSync: Off
Advanced PhysX: Off

Avg FPS: 50.67

Lightroom Image Export (macOS Sierra)

Version: 2015.8 Release / Camera Raw 9.8

Exporting 52 RAW files to full size jpeg / 100% quality. File size is about 40-45MB for each RAW file and the files are placed on the internal storage.

  • Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch Late 2016 – 3 minute and 33 seconds
  • Windows 10 PC / Intel 5820k CPU on mechanical hard drive – 3 minutes and 13 seconds
  • Windows 10 PC / Intel 5820k CPU on Samsung 950 Pro SSD – 2 minutes and 40 seconds

It looks like the Windows 10 PC wins the image export test, even when using a mechanical hard drive! Very strange.

Lightroom Image Import (macOS Sierra)

Version 2015.10.1 / Camera Raw 9.10.1

Importing 222 RAW files (about 10GB) from a Nikon D810 and building 1:1 Previews.

Importing from SD card using Sandisk USB-C SD Card Reader. Importing to an external USB3 hard drive containing a WD 4TB 7200RPM black drive.

  • Importing 222 RAW Files (10GB) – 5 minutes and 27 seconds
  • Building 1:1 previews of 222 RAW files (10GB) – 16 minutes and 32 seconds

SSD Benchmark

Ironically I had to reboot into Windows 10 to get the correct results from benchmarking the internal SSD.

Crystaldiskmark MacBook Pro 2016

3006 MB/s read and 2238 MB/s write are great results. However the Samsung 960 Pro have up to 3500 MB/s read.

Closing thoughts

I wouldn’t have bought this computer myself, my employer helps paying for it. Performance wise it doesn’t quite work good enough with the stuff I do. Recording display while doing music production is too much for it. I also occasionally game, and for that a PC is the best option.

Still there are a lot of things to like with this device and I am sure it will be a great choice for a lot of people.

5 thoughts on “MacBook Pro 15-inch (2016) – Review with Benchmarks (Lightroom, 3DMark, SSD Speed, etc)

  1. Hey man,

    I’ve got the new MacBook Pro 2016 – top spec – and I’m seeing photo exports of around 15% slower than my 2.6Ghz 15″ system from 2013 – side by side, same libraries and images (5D III images). I’ve tried quick exports (30 images or so) and a much larger library with similar results. Could you please give me a bit more info about the images you were using? I wonder if it’s just my system (or if I’m going to get better results on the slower CPU).

    • Hey,

      RAW files from the Nikon D810 was used in this test (36MP). I will redo the test later today to see if the results are the same.

      With that said, I have also heard from others that the 2016 MBP is actually slower with Lightroom compared with the older model.

      I will add another comment when I have done the test again!

    • Tristan G:

      Sorry for the comment issues.

      I had to go back and look at the Mac export test again, and I noticed that I had set the export settings wrong in Lightroom on the Mac.

      When I ran the test again the numbers I got was very different, the Mac actually lost the export test compared to the PC. Even using a spinning hard drive. Very strange.

      How fast does your computer export 52 full size RAW files to jpeg?

  2. Just want to say thanks for including (a) Lightroom speed test. Would love to also see some speeds for total time to import 100 images, and build 1:1 previews… building previews is probably the slowest thing right now on my 2011 system… it’s held up surprisingly well (I’m almost embarassed/shocked to admit it is a 2011 machine) – although I did upgrade to 16gb ram and dual 500gb SSDs, which is what gave it new life long ago. Finally finding myself eyeing new MBPs, but honestly – I feel like 16gb ram even in the new 2017 systems is the big letdown for me. Yes, I know it’s faster ram than what I have now. But it’s still 16gb – and I get low on that when I’ve got LR, PS (with multiple editing files from the D810), safari, let alone anything else random open. I can’t imagine it’s going to be adequate in 2-3 years. So, I’m torn between holding off until Intel releases LPDDR4 in 16gb modules that can go in the MBP using Kaby Lake… or just biting the bullet now. :/

  3. Ive been on vacation and shot some photos using the D810. I took the opportunity to add a Lightroom import test to this article. In this case it was 222 photos. Building 1:1 previews took a while.

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