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The MacBook Pro M1 16" comes with a 140-watt charger, with a MagSafe plug.

I vaguely recall that such a charger provides rapid charging, but so many watts are not required. I recall that this MacBook Pro can run, without fast charging, on just under 100 watts (98 or 96 W?) with a charger plugged into a Thunderbolt port rather than MagSafe.

This lower watt usage is important because if the MacBook Pro 16" tolerates under 100 watts, it can be powered from a Thunderbolt dock rather than the bundled charger.

Unfortunately, I cannot find any documentation to this point. The Apple specifications page provides no such details.

Can anyone confirm my recollection, and provide details or documentation?

2 Answers 2

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In general, you can run this MacBook Pro (and others) on very low wattage - because it has a battery. You do not need a 140W charger, or a 100W charger or anything like that.

However, there's a risk that you will drain the battery if your particular use of the laptop makes it consume more power than you can charge the battery with.

Depending on the particular model of the 16" MacBook Pro (2021) the maximum power consumption varies a lot. In practice, you'll see a power consumption of about ~5-15W when the laptop isn't doing much, and ~50-100W when you put it to work. If you really stress test the maxed out model while having the display set on max brightness, you will probably be able to reach a maximum power consumption of ~135W.

So in essence, for most people having a ~96W charger plugged into a Thunderbolt would be perfectly fine.

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  • Thanks for that. Can you cite any documentation or reliable source that the MacBook Pro’s power system can tolerate these lower wattages? Jun 30, 2022 at 22:19
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    That’s how any USB charger work. This is how MacBook Pros have worked for many, many years. It’s not some obscure, hidden fact that I have conjured up - it’s how everyone uses these computers. You do not need to worry that your computer would be “damaged” by a lower wattage charger - that’s simply not how electronics work.
    – jksoegaard
    Jun 30, 2022 at 22:32
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    Imagine you have a pool filled with water representing your fully charged battery. Now you make a hole in it at the bottom = usage of your computer. Depending on what you do this hole inecreases/decreases, i.e. you consume more or less power from the battery. The wall plug is now you filling the pool with water from a hose. Depending on how big your water hose is (i.e. how much watts the charger has) you end up filling the pool (the battery), still draining it and so on...
    – X_841
    Jul 1, 2022 at 10:54
  • what about 60w hubs, if connected to two 4k @ 60hz displays with the MBP lid open & all 3 screens at 100% brightness? user would have daily Mail, Messages, Cal, Notes, etc & have multiple Safari & Firefox windows/tabs open. Photoshop & small Final Cut Pro prjects & Handbrake to convert videos etc. none of which is running hot/heavy for long periods at a time. Mar 31, 2023 at 1:14
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I know it's late but just to add, I dock my Macbook Pro m1 Max 16inch and use an external monitor. Because the power consumption is low without an in-built monitor, I use a 33-watt GaN charger. I am using it for the last 1 year without any problem. Even I have used it while I am traveling as I don't want to carry a big and heavy Macbook charger. As long as the charger is a PD 3.1(Power Delivery) charger, it will work. If your Macbook is in sleep mode then you can even charge it using a PD mobile charger.

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