Apple has just launched a new 13-inch MacBook Pro.
And, at first glance, it seems a little confusing. But, here’s what you have to understand right up front — There are really two new 13-inch MacBook Pros out now:
🚶♀️- A 2-port low-end that’s pretty much the old 13-inch but with the new Magic Keyboard, and;
🏃♂️- A 4-port high-end that has that Magic Keyboard, but also newer, higher, more modern specs.
New 13-inch MacBook Pro same as the old 13-inch MacBook Pro, at least in terms of the base design.
For all intents and purposes, it’s got the exact same chassis, available in the same silver and space gray finishes.
Which is fine, honestly, because as far as the naked box goes, I’m not expecting anything new until we get silicon that’s new.
The low-end version has two USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 / Thunderbolt 3 ports while the high-end version has 4 USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 / Thunderbolt 3 ports. All usable for charging and data.
But, yeah, the 2-port version has them both on the same side, just like the MacBook Air, which is easier to engineer for Apple but less convenient for those of us with plugs on one side or the other.
The speakers though are much improved, with high dynamic range, wide stereo audio, and support for Dolby Atmos. Which maybe won’t sound as good at the special redesigned new 16-inch MacBook Pro speakers, but like the new Air, should still startle you every time a new Marvel or Star Wars trailer hits. Also a 3-mic beam-forming array and 3.5mm headphone jack.
The panel inside the box is the same as well. 13.3-inches and 500 nits of retina density, P3 gamut IPS LCD with TrueTone. Which means it can dynamically adjust the color temperature to match the room for more natural looking whites and grays.
There were rumors of a 14-inch version, basically the equivalent of the previous 15-inch version going 16-inch. But this isn’t that, at least not yet. Whether that’s still to come in the near future, or Apple’s waiting to continue its war on bezels until it wins its war on silicon, we’ll have to wait and see.
I know that’s disappointing to some, myself include, but it’s also what happens when you get your heart set on rumors rather than releases.
What’s legit disappointing is that it still has a tiny 720p webcam, which used to be annoying but is now actively a detriment in the age of work-from-home.
Here’s the test I did on the MacBook Air and 16-inch MacBook Pro versions last month.
Hopefully, Apple is looking hard at upping that part of their game with the next release. Drop a like on the video so they can see how many of you really want that.
OK, remember when I said it was better to think of the new 13-inch MacBook Pro as two different 13-inch MacBooks Pro, well, processors are a big part of the reason why.
The low end sticks with the same old, very old by now, Intel 8th generation processors.
Baseline is a 1.4GHz Core i5, with turbo up to 3.9GHz and can go up to a 17.GHz quad-core i7 with turbo up to 4.5GHz.
Which, I can only assume, is to keep entry-level prices down with a component Apple thinks is less than stellar these days anyway. So less than stellar, we’re getting all those rumors of silicon transplants I’ve been eluding to throughout this video.
Because the new Intel 10th gens are pricey, especially when you consider Apple only takes the top of the top of the line chips, and to their specs.
Which, sadly, doesn’t even seem to include Wi-Fi 6 this time around. Which will be super disappointing to people lwho’ve been waiting on the MacBooks to go 10th gen, in part, for built-in Wi-Fi 6. And this ain’t that.
Anyway, the 10th gen start with 2GHz quad-core i5 with turbo up to 3.8GHz and can be configured up to 2.3GHz quad-core i7 with turbo up to 4.1GHz.
And before anyone even thinks of dropping the words thermal or throttling in the comments, here’s Ian Cutress of AnandTech again explaining how modern Intel architectures — and marketing! — works.
And please do the world a solid and send that to your favorite rage-tubers stat, before they palm face again.
For graphics, you’ve got Intel Iris Plus 645 on the low end and Intel Iris Plus Graphics on the higher end.
Those offer far more execution units and display stream compression, so you get much better performance and can drive up to a 6K Pro Display XDR. If that’s how you roll.
There’s also the T2 chip, which handles security for things like Touch ID and makes it way harder to even try and hack the camera and mic, does real-time encryption, and even handles things like H.265 encoding when Intel isn’t up to the task.
Storage and memory
Apple is doing with the 13-inch MacBook Pro what they’ve been doing with their other devices — doubling the base storage at the same base prices. So, now you start off with a 256GB SSD but can push it up to 2TB on the low on.
On the high end, you start with 512GB but can push it up to 4TB. Sadly no 8TB option like on the 16-inch.
These are the typical ultra-high performance SSDs Apple’s been using lately as well, the ones that are fast enough it can make swap almost feel like RAM. Almost.
Speaking of which, you get 8GB on the low-end and can go to 16GB, and 16GB on the high end, for the first time, can go to 32GB. Though not 64.
If you want the most you still have to go with the biggest.
The most important update to the new 13-inch MacBook Pros, low and high end, is no doubt the new Magic Keyboard.
Hell, I’d go so far as to say it may be the major reason for the update, in terms of both what it ended up being and when it ended up coming.
It’s the same new scissor-switch design, with keys that lock out momentarily at the top for extra punchiness, as the 16-inch MacBook Pro got last year.
It’s also rapidly become my favorite Apple keyboard. I know it’s not clickety-clackety enough for some, especially for a Pro model, but it’s also not as loosely-goosey for me
As the old scissor switches, and no matter whether you liked or preferred the feel of the the butterflies, so far it’s also been far more reliable.
I also find it more pleasant to listen to. Here’s my test from the recently also updated MacBook Air.
For me, it really is the best of both keyboard worlds.
The new 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1299 U.S. on the low end. That’s for the 2-port, 8th gen model, which can be build-to-order-optioned all the way up to $2,499 U.S.
So, basically, the same as before but with double the storage and the Magic Keyboard for your money.
The high end model starts at $1,799 U.S. That’s for the 4-port, 10th gen model, which can go all the way up to $3,599 U.S. with all the bells and whistles.
So, again, more — but in this case much more — for your money. Just more money.