13-inch MacBook Pro
Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro is the company's entry-level Pro notebook, representing the best combination of price and performance in the range. For $300 more than the MacBook Air, you get a quad-core Intel Core i5 processor instead of a dual-core Intel Core i3. There is an option for a quad-core Intel Core i7 and this variation doubles the Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports to four. Maximum SSD storage is 4TB and the MacBook Pro includes a Touch Bar. It has battery life at up to 10 hours and it still has the latest Magic Keyboard.
● 2560x1600 13.3-inch Retina Display
● 1.4GHz Intel Core i5 or 2.3GHz Intel Core i7
● Touch Bar and Touch ID
● Latest Magic Keyboard
● 8GB or 16GB RAM
● Storage up to 2TB SSD
● 10 hours battery life
● Stereo speakers with high dynamic range
● Two or four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports
The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Magic Keyboard, updated 10th generation Intel processor, and doubled storage capacities was announced on May 4, 2020. This was the final MacBook in need of the new keyboard and now Apple's entire laptop lineup no longer has the troublesome Butterfly Keyboard.
There are more expensive versions of this MacBook Pro which give yet better performance, more storage and four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports instead of the two of the MacBook Air. The entry-level version of the MacBook Pro, with 256GB of storage and an 8th generation Intel i5 processor makes a compelling step up from the MacBook Air.
Of course if you want even better performance options, you'll likely be looking at the 16-inch MacBook Pro.
13-inch MacBook Pro features
AppleInsider reviewed the latest model and gave it a 3.5 out of 5.
The new Magic Keyboard has finally propagated through Apple's entire product line, with the 13-inch MacBook Pro being the last to receive it. Even with multiple revisions, the Butterfly keyboard just couldn't shake its issues with sticky keys and slightly higher fail rates.
No reliability issues have come to light about the Magic Keyboard, however, and seems to be the perfect balance between travel and stability. Apple revealed their latest keybaord design with the release of the 16-inch MacBook Pro in fall 2019. From there they released the revised MacBook Air with the keybaord, and even the iPad Pro got an all new keyboard case. The 13-inch update was a long time coming, and is finally here with all the features you'd want from a modern Mac keyboard.
The return of the scissor-switch mechanism was accompanied by a few other welcome additions. The physical escape key is back, with the Touch ID button on the other side, sandwiching the Touch Bar in the middle. The new keyboard also features the inverted-T arrow keys.
The updated MacBook Pro did not change from the baseline processors used in the 2019 model, but did include a new 10th-generation Intel processors for the most premium model. The MacBook Pro starts with a 1.4GHz quad-core 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, which can be turbo boost to 3.9GHz. This costs just $1,299 for the 256GB model.
For more performance, the base model of the MacBook Pro can also be configured with a 1.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 which can turbo boost to 4.5GHz. This is the new middle tier processor, having been pushed down from the top spot. This configuration with 256GB of storage is $1,599 but you may be better off getting the more expensive option.
The model with four Thunderbolt 3 ports comes with 10th-generation Intel chipsets. The quad-core i5 clocks at 2.0GHz and boosts to 3.8GHz when needed. It's when you work on the machine for extended periods that you feel the difference in the processor and how that clock speed affects your work.
A maxed out model with a 10th-generation Intel quad-core i7 2.3GHz processor, 32GB of RAM, and 4TB of storage will cost $3,599. While this is deep into 16-inch MacBook Pro pricing, or even a good iMac Pro price point, you cant beat the portability of this machine with that amount of power.
The screen on the refreshed MacBook Pro has the same 13.3-inch LED-backlit screen with IPS and running at a maximum resolution of 2560x1600 pixels. The MacBook Pro features a Retina Display with True Tone and a P3 color gamut. If you've used a Retina device before, there will be no surprises here.
2019 MacBook vs 2020 MacBook
At a glance you'll find differences between the two models immediately. The change from a Butterfly Keyboard to the Magic Keyboard is immediately apparent. The physical escape key and inverted arrow keys are most noticeable, the other differences will be found when you start typing. The butterfly mechanisms offer less travel and feel mushy vs the scissor-switch keys.
After the keyboard, the differences become harder to find. Apple didn't do a full processor revision, but did update the top of the line with the latest 10th-generation chipsets. The 2020 model does have double the storage for the same price across the board, which means new customers are better off getting the newer model for memory alone.
MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro
Since these devices have the same keyboard and screen size, its best to look at design differences and processing power. The MacBook Air is meant to be the smallest and lightest MacBook for sale, which means some sacrifices had to be made for that thinness.
The baseline MacBook Air starts at $999 for the base model, which comes with a 10th-generation Intel i3 at 1.1GHz and 256GB of storage. Any upgrades to this model bring you right into MacBook Pro pricing, so the only advantage such a purchase would be is absolute thinness and portability.
The $999 price point is the killer feature of the MacBook Air, and the MacBook Pro just cannot compete with that. Those who need portability or budget above all else already know what they need.
16-inch vs 13-inch
Physical size would be the biggest difference here at first glance, but there are major tradeoffs between the two MacBook Pro models. The 16-inch MacBook Pro is the most powerful, portable Mac on the market and offers discrete GPU options and massive storage as well. You'll likely be in the market for this as a video professional or intensive app developer.
The 13-inch wins out when it comes to size and weight alone, giving users a powerful machine that can fit in most situations. The lack of a discrete GPU can be remedied with an external GPU however, due to the Thunderbolt 3 ports.
You'll be spending nearly double just to get in the door for the 16-inch model though, so likely users who need this device are already prepared to pay the price. It has not been updated in 2020, therefore it doesn't have the 10th-generation Intel processors. This hardly matters though as the base configuration comes with a 6-core Intel i7 processor at 2.6GHz, and a dedicated GPU.