13-inch MacBook Pro

13-inch MacBook Pro
 
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The 13-inch MacBook Pro acts as a placeholder between the MacBook Air and high-end pro models. It uses the M1 processor and is the last Apple computer with the Touch Bar. The future of this laptop isn't clear due to its awkward placement in the lineup.

● 2560 x 1600 13.3-inch Retina Display
● Apple M1 processor
● Touch Bar and Touch ID
● Latest Magic Keyboard
● 8GB or 16GB RAM, storage up to 2TB SSD
● Up to 17 hours battery life
● Two Thunderbolt 3 ports
● Find great 13-inch MacBook Pro deals
● Discounted prices start at $1,199

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Apple announced the 13-inch MacBook Pro with an M1 processor on November 10, 2020. It joined the new MacBook Air and Mac mini as the first Macs with Apple Silicon.

The entry-level MacBook Pro, with 256GB of storage and Apple M1 chip, makes a compelling step up from the MacBook Air. You can configure this variant with up to 2TB of storage, though the processor is identical regardless of the model chosen.

Apple has released high-end models of the MacBook Pro sporting the M1 Pro and M1 Max processor. The 14-inch MacBook Pro and 16-inch MacBook Pro are priced substantially higher than their M1 counterpart, but the price reflects the performance and feature set of those models.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro holds a redundant placement in Apple's lineup. For $300 less, customers can get a MacBook Air with similar performance, and those that need more power would likely opt for the 14-inch MacBook Pro anyway. The future of this model isn't clear.

Rumored 13-inch replacement

Apple could move the 13-inch MacBook Pro to a 14-inch model design Apple could move the 13-inch MacBook Pro to a 14-inch model design

Rumors shared in January 2022 suggest that the 13-inch model will be replaced with a 14-inch MacBook Pro running an M2 processor. This machine would have the same starting price and offer a more reasonable entry point for prosumers.

Apple would remove premium features like mini LED backlighting and ProMotion to keep costs down. It could also use a different port arrangement, like having two Thunderbolt 4 ports versus three.

A conflicting report in mid-February says the March event would reveal the updated 13-inch MacBook Pro with an M2 processor. However, it would retain the same design and features as the existing M1 model, possibly even the Touch Bar.

The timing for the February rumor doesn't line up with other industry predictions placing the M2 announcement at the end of 2022. EEC database filings revealed a 13-inch model with a new M-series processor, but these database filings sometimes occur months before a product release.

13-inch MacBook Pro features

M1 processor

After years of powering the iPhone and iPad, Apple's custom processors now also power the Mac. Rather than merely upgrading an A-series processor Apple chose to create an all-new series of chips starting with the M1.

The entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro uses the M1 processor with an eight-core CPU and an eight-core GPU. Apple says the new notebook is up to 2.8x faster with 5x faster graphics when compared to the previous Intel model.

Apple's custom silicon: M1, M1 Pro, and M1 Max Apple's custom silicon: M1, M1 Pro, and M1 Max

Previously, Apple sold two variants of the 13-inch model — one with two ports and one with four. Rather than repeat this configuration style, Apple has replaced the high-end four-port model with the 14-inch MacBook Pro.

While the newest MacBook Air doesn't have a fan, the late 2020 MacBook Pro retains an active cooling system to allow the M1 processor to handle greater workloads. This is the one advantage of choosing the MacBook Pro over the MacBook Air.

The new processor also greatly improves the battery life during normal use. Web browsing or other general tasks should be able to last up to 20 hours on a single charge — doubling the previous battery life expectations for Apple's laptops.

The M1 processor was the first in Apple's transition to custom silicon in its Mac lineup. It continues to iterate on that chipset with more powerful versions like the M1 Pro and M1 Max. Next, Apple is expected to release an "M2" processor sometime in 2022. However, it isn't clear if Apple will renew or retire the 13-inch pro model due to its awkward placement in the lineup.

Magic Keyboard

The 13-inch MacBook Pro is the last one with a Touch Bar The 13-inch MacBook Pro is the last one with a Touch Bar

The Magic Keyboard has finally propagated through Apple's product line, with the 13-inch MacBook Pro being the last to receive it in May 2020. Even with multiple revisions, the Butterfly keyboard couldn't shake its issues with sticky keys and higher failure rates.

Apple has balanced travel and stability in the Magic Keyboard, and no reliability issues have surfaced in the new scissor switches.

Apple revealed its latest keyboard design with the 16-inch MacBook Pro in the fall of 2019. In 2020, the firm updated the MacBook Air and even iPad Pro with the new keyboard.

A few other popular additions accompanied the return of the scissor-switch mechanism. The physical escape key returned, with the Touch ID button flanking the Touch Bar on the other side. The new keyboard also uses inverted-T arrow keys.

The Touch Bar may not be included in future MacBook Pro updates The Touch Bar may not be included in future MacBook Pro updates

Apple has begun phasing out the Touch Bar in its keyboards, however, in favor of a full-sized row of function keys. The 13-inch MacBook Pro is the last model still being sold with the Touch Bar. It is expected that the 2022 updates will eliminate the Touch Bar from the 13-inch model.

720p Webcam

The late 2020 model with M1 chip offers improved video-chat capabilities. While the laptop still has a 720p webcam, the M1 uses Apple’s updated image signal processor for improved image quality.

The new ISP adds greater dynamic range, better noise reduction, and superior auto white balance and machine-learning-enhanced face detection. This can combine to make you look clearer in FaceTime or Zoom calls.

Future releases are expected to incorporate 1080p webcams with Apple's latest webcam technology: Center Stage. Apple has yet to introduce this feature to its Mac lineup, but it is still relatively new. The feature requires an ultra-wide camera for it to follow the user's face during calls.

13-inch MacBook Pro versus other computers

13-inch versus 14-inch

After a year with the M1 processor in various Macs, Apple unveiled the next step in its Apple Silicon transition — the M1 Pro and M1 Max. These processors were included as options in the newly updated 16-inch MacBook Pro and 14-inch MacBook Pro.

We examined how the 14-inch model compared to the existing M1 13-inch MacBook Pro. Apple previously sold a high-end 13-inch model with more ports and higher processing capabilities, but it appears Apple has replaced this with the 14-inch MacBook Pro.

Rather than throw the new processor type into existing laptops, Apple released full redesigns of its high-end MacBook Pro line. But, the 14-inch MacBook Pro is much more expensive than the $1,299 13-inch model, so Apple kept the cheaper one around with its lower entry price.

The MacBook Pro lineup The MacBook Pro lineup

The new 14-inch MacBook Pro is different in nearly every way from the 13-inch model it replaced. The display extends all the way to the edge in a similar-sized chassis, but it accomplished this by adding a notch for the camera housing. The new display is also backlit by mini-LEDs and has a 1,000 nit peak brightness, compared to only 500 nits in the older model.

The ports are also more varied on the 14-inch model with HDMI, SD card slot, and MagSafe in addition to three Thunderbolt 4 ports. The M1-based MacBook Pro has only two Thunderbolt 3 ports.

Then there are the processors. The M1 Pro or M1 Max build upon the foundation set by the M1 with more power, more graphics, and more memory. Of course, these chips are much faster, but the specific specs show yet another huge leap in performance year-over-year. The M1 Max is up to four times faster than the M1.

Read the entire spec comparison and feature breakdown in our full report.

M1 versus Intel

Intel and M1 models have identical external designs Intel and M1 models have identical external designs

Comparing the early and late 2020 models, the processing is the most significant difference. The late 2020 two-port variant uses Apple Silicon, with its M1 chip offering big speed, graphics, and battery-life boosts.

Apple says the new notebook is up to 2.8x faster with 5x faster graphics. The M1 also boosts battery life, with the company estimating up to 20 hours of video playback. This doubles the 10-hour estimate in the Intel variants. The two Thunderbolt 3 ports also see an upgrade in the M1 model, now supporting USB 4.

The design wasn't changed when moving from Intel to Apple Silicon for this model. Instead, Apple chose to keep things simple so customers had a clearer picture of what had changed between the machines.

The two Thunderbolt 3/USB 4 ports found in the M1 model are a slight upgrade with some caveats. Users cannot connect more than one external monitor, even when daisy-chained over Thunderbolt. This is a limitation of the M1 later resolved in the M1 Pro and M1 Max.

Get the full spec breakdown and comparison in our full report.

13-inch MacBook Pro Review

The transition to Apple Silicon

Apple didn't wait around to update its 13-inch MacBook Pro to Apple Silicon. Despite a processor bump in May, Apple unveiled yet another model change in the fall — this time with the M1 processor. Couple that with macOS Big Sur, and the Mac felt fresh and new despite no new outward appearance changes.

The new architecture iterates on Apple's prowess with chip building it gained from making custom iPhone and iPad processors. Every interaction feels quick and responsive, like the instant start-up when opening the lid.

We've only seen custom Apple processors in iPhones, iPads, and Apple TV until now, so thermal limits and operating system requirements held the processors back. With the M1 in the 13-inch MacBook Pro, the power and efficiency of the chip are on full display.

Software

Software optimized for Intel ran without issue on the M1 thanks to Rosetta 2 Software optimized for Intel ran without issue on the M1 thanks to Rosetta 2

A chipset transition would be meaningless if users couldn't bring their software with them. The extended battery life, iOS apps, and fast performance don't mean much if work isn't being done.

We've seen other processor changes or cheaper chipsets being used in computers from Microsoft or Linux netbooks. These ultimately failed because the software couldn't run on the cheap processors being used.

Apple didn't make the same mistake. Not only is the M1 processor powerful and efficient, but it is also capable of running any existing Mac software thanks to Rosetta 2. We have found that some apps actually run better on the M1 processor despite having to be translated live from the Intel-based code during use.

So, customers could run Intel software, Apple Silicon software, and a suite of iPhone and iPad apps all on the same machine. This also meant virtualization environments for developers were massively improved.

Performance and Efficiency

The M1 brings much-needed performance improvements to an aging form factor The M1 brings much-needed performance improvements to an aging form factor

We tested video processing on the M1 with 16GB of RAM versus a machine running an Intel Core-i9 with 32GB of RAM. The video was finished on the M1 model in a little over four minutes while it took over six minutes on the Intel model.

During the test, the 13-inch MacBook Pro running the M1 processor never got hot and didn't turn on its fan. The Intel model started its fans after a couple of minutes, and continued running fans for minutes after the task was complete.

Using an infrared thermometer, we determined the M1 MacBook Pro reached a peak surface temperature of 97F (36C), while the i9 MacBook Pro was already at 104F (40C) just sitting at idle, and crept up to 114F (46C) after 5 minutes into the task.

This shows the efficiency of the M1 processor for even intensive tasks like video processing. The temperature of a laptop can make or break some workflows since keeping a 114F piece of aluminum in your lap may not be an easy task.

It is also notable the MacBook Air uses the same M1 processor without a fan. While it won't have the same peak performance since it doesn't have active cooling, the machine will still perform well under load.

13-inch MacBook Pro Pricing

The 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,299 for a version with an M1 processor, 256GB storage, 8GB RAM, and 256GB storage.

Top 13-inch MacBook Pro deals button with piggy bankUnlock Insider 13-inch MacBook Pro Prices button
M1 MacBook Pro 13 Inch in Space Gray

M1 MacBook Pro 13-inch Prices

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Configurations                 Discount
M1, 8GB, 256GB (Space Gray)
$1,299.00  
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$100.00
M1, 8GB, 256GB (Silver)
$1,299.00  
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$100.00
M1, 8GB, 512GB (Space Gray)
$1,499.00  
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$250.00
M1, 8GB, 512GB (Silver)
$1,499.00  
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$98.01
M1, 8GB, 1TB (Space Gray)
$1,699.00  
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$150.00
M1, 8GB, 1TB (Silver)
$1,699.00  
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$150.00
M1, 8GB, 2TB (Space Gray)
$2,099.00  
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$200.00
M1, 8GB, 2TB (Silver)
$2,099.00  
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$200.00
M1, 16GB, 256GB (Space Gray)
$1,499.00  
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$110.00
M1, 16GB, 256GB (Silver)
$1,499.00  
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$110.00
M1, 16GB, 512GB (Space Gray)
$1,699.00  
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$150.00
M1, 16GB, 512GB (Silver)
$1,699.00  
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$160.00
M1, 16GB, 1TB (Space Gray)
$1,899.00  
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$150.00
M1, 16GB, 1TB (Silver)
$1,899.00  
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$200.00
M1, 16GB, 2TB (Space Gray)
$2,299.00  
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$250.00
M1, 16GB, 2TB (Silver)
$2,299.00  
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$200.00
 

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