13-inch MacBook Pro
Last updated: 1 month ago
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 faster performance and longer battery life. Maximum SSD storage is 2TB and the MacBook Pro includes a Touch Bar. It has battery life at up to 17 hours and it still has the latest Magic Keyboard.
● 2560x1600 13.3-inch Retina Display
● Apple M1 chip
● 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
● Starting at $1,299
The entry-level version of the MacBook Pro, with 256GB of storage and Apple M1 chip, makes a compelling step up from the MacBook Air. You can configure this model with up to 2TB of storage, though the processor is identical regardless of model.
If you want a bigger screen, more ports, or faster chipsets, the 16-inch MacBook Pro has not received Apple's custom silicon yet. The Intel variants are still for sale, but it may be wise to wait and see what Apple does for this machine.
13-inch MacBook Pro features
Apple's custom processors have powered iPhone and iPad for years, and now they are being used in the Mac. The company isn't using the same mobile processors in the new Macs as Apple has a specific system-on-a-chip architecture for desktop-class machines called the M1.
The entry-level models of the new 13-inch MacBook Pro use the Apple-made M1 chip, which improves performance over the 10th-generation Intel chips in the early-2020 equivalents. The version of the M1 in the new MacBook Pro has an eight-core CPU and an eight-core GPU. Apple says the new notebook is up to 2.8x faster with 5x faster graphics than its early 2020 counterpart.
Apple didn't update the higher-end variants with four Thunderbolt 3 ports for late 2020. The company is still selling the early 2020 models with 10th-generation Intel Ice Lake chips for those tiers. Apple says it will take two years before fully completing its transition from Intel to Apple Silicon. Some speculation suggests Apple may introduce a four-port 14-inch MacBook Pro running a higher-powered M1 processor in 2021.
While the newest MacBook Air is completely fanless, the late-2020 MacBook Pro retains an active cooling system to allow its M1 chip to handle greater workloads.
Apple made its first custom chips out of necessity because Intel did not want to design chips for the iPhone. Forced to make its own silicon, this allowed Apple to vertically integrate its chips to optimize performance for its devices and software. The Apple A-series chips became the most powerful and efficient mobile chipsets available, and Qualcomm and even Intel could not keep up.
Apple says the late 2020 MacBook Pro delivers the longest battery life of any Mac in history. The company estimates the new M1 model will offer up to 17 hours of battery life for wireless web browsing, and up to 20 hours for video playback.
Those estimates are up to 10 hours beyond what the early 2020 Intel-based models provided. Early tests and benchmarks show these claims are accurate.
The Magic Keyboard has finally propagated through Apple's product line, with the 13-inch MacBook Pro being the last to receive it in the early-2020 update. Even with multiple revisions, the Butterfly keyboard couldn't shake its issues with sticky keys and higher fail rates.
No reliability issues have come to light about the Magic Keyboard, however, and it seems to provide an ideal balance between travel and stability. Apple revealed its latest keyboard design with the release of the 16-inch MacBook Pro in fall 2019. From there, they released the revised MacBook Air with the keyboard, and even the iPad Pro got an all-new keyboard case. The 13-inch MacBook Pro update with Magic Keyboard finally arrived in May.
The return of the scissor-switch mechanism was accompanied by a few other welcome additions. The physical escape key also returned, with the Touch ID button on the other side, sandwiching the Touch Bar in the middle. The new keyboard also uses inverted-T arrow keys.
The late-2020 model with M1 chip offers improved video-chat capabilities. While the laptop still has a 720p webcam, the M1 chip uses Apple’s newest 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 to make you look clearer in FaceTime or Zoom calls.
While the entry-level variants with two Thunderbolt 3 ports use the M1 Apple Silicon, Apple still uses Intel chips in the higher-end models. Those four-port models include a 10th-generation "Ice Lake" Intel processor.
For more performance, users can configure the Intel models with up to a 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 which can turbo boost to 4.1GHz.
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 can't 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.
Late 2020 vs Early 2020 MacBook Pro
Comparing the early and late 2020 models, 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, compared to 10 hours in the Intel variants. The two Thunderbolt 3 ports also see an upgrade in the M1 model, now supporting USB 4.
The two models' designs are identical, and Apple offers the same RAM and storage options.
2019 MacBook Pro vs early 2020 MacBook Pro
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.
Early 2020 MacBook Air vs Early 2020 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.
Late 2019 16-inch vs Early 2020 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.
Common 13-inch MacBook Pro questions
When will Apple update the 13-inch MacBook Pro?
Apple updated the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Apple Silicon in November 2020. The next update in 2021 may include a larger 14-inch display.
How many ports does a 13-inch MacBook Pro have?
The 13-inch MacBook Pro can be configured with two or four ports depending on the processor selected. The Apple Silicon models come with only two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports, while those configured with 10th-generation Intel processors have four ports.
How do you factory reset a 13-inch MacBook Pro?
If you want to set up your 13-inch MacBook Pro from factory defaults or sell it to someone, you’ll want to perform a factory reset.
- Back up your Mac.
- Sign out of TV, Music, Messages, iCloud, the App Store, and FileVault.
- Restart the Mac, hold down CMD+R until you see the Apple logo.
- Click Disk Utility, then Continue, then Startup Disk.
- Select the Internal drive running macOS, likely Macintosh HD. Select edit, then choose Delete APFS Volume.
How much does a 13-inch MacBook Pro cost?
13-inch MacBook Pro prices start at $1,299 and max out at $3,599 depending on the selected configuration.
13-inch MacBook Pro Pricing
The 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,299 for a version with M1 chip, 256GB storage, 8GB RAM, and 256GB storage.