MacBook Pro 13-inch (2020) Review

MacBook Pro 13-inch (2020) Review

Last Updated on July 14, 2021 by Macsoftbox

Apple has updated the 13-inch MacBook Pro this 2020 with an improved keyboard and more storage capacity, we analyze the mid-range models that have gained 10th generation processors and 16 GB of RAM. Find out if this is enough to justify its price.

13-inch 1.4GHz MacBook Pro (2020): is it worth your purchase?

Our Decision

2020 2.0 GHz MacBook Pro is a world apart compared to the 1.4 GHz models, but there are plenty of other reasons to celebrate its arrival.

Retail price (RRP)

$1,299 (256GB) | $1,499 (512GB)

13-inch MacBook Pro (2020) Review

Having updated the MacBook Air in March 2020 it was only a matter of time before Apple updated the 13-inch MacBook Pro as well, that Mac laptop was losing quite a bit due to half the storage, its slower RAM, and its two generations older processors. Then the 2020 MacBook Air.

Of course, just over a month later, Apple updated the 13-inch MacBook Pro with twice the storage and crucially a new keyboard, meaning all Apple laptops now feature the Magic Keyboard or Magic Keyboard instead of the keyboard with the butterfly mechanism that has caused some frustration for Mac users.

The surprise has been that while the two mid-range MacBook Pros got new 10th generation 2.0 GHz quad-core processors and 16GB of RAM as standard, the two entry-level MacBook Pros (the ones that compete most closely with the MacBook Air) didn’t see any changes beyond storage and keyboard as mentioned.

This means that the 1,499, 1,749 and 2,129 euro models have not changed enough to justify their price compared to the MacBook Air, which lowered the cost of its most basic model (€ 1,119).

There’s only one reason that might lead you to choose the MacBook Pro over the Air: if you need to carry out more graphics-intensive tasks.

Design

You can tell if a 13-inch MacBook Pro is one of these 2.0 GHz quad-core models from the 10th group, rather than a 1.4 GHz MacBook Pro from the 8th group, by looking at the sides.

MacBook Pro Design

The entry-level MacBook Pro has just two Thunderbolt ports, while the 2.0 GHz model has four (two on one side, two on the other). There is no other visual difference between the 13-inch models.

All 13-inch MacBook Pro laptops have a Touch Bar (they have since July 2019) However, this time there is a change: the ‘escape’ key is now a separate physical key from the Touch Bar. We will talk more in-depth about the Touch Bar below.

There is also a small, almost indiscernible difference between this generation and the previous one that we assume is the result of the new keyboard design. The 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro is thicker and heavier than it was:

  • 2020 MacBook Pro 13’’: 30,41cm (11,97in) x 21,24cm (8,3in) x 1,56cm (0,61in), 1,4kg (3,1lb)
  • 2019 MacBook Pro 13’’: 30.41cm (11.97in) x 21.24cm (8.3in) x 1.49cm (0.59in), 1.37 kg (3.02lb)

You might be disappointed that there hasn’t been a significant change to the MacBook Pro’s design. In the run-up to the launch of the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, there were rumors that Apple would reduce the bezels around the display to incorporate a 14-inch display. . This has not happened. Not yet.

Other design elements include a choice of color finishes: Space Gray and Silver. (If you want an Apple Gold laptop, you can only use the MacBook Air.)

Keyboard and Touch Bar

The biggest physical change is, of course, the keyboard. The butterfly keyboard saga has been around since 2016 when in an attempt to slim down the MacBook Apple designed a slimmer keyboard that used a “butterfly” mechanism instead of the traditional “scissor” mechanism.

Unfortunately, this latest design did not quite work. Many users did not enjoy the typing experience because there was not much key travel, but the biggest problem was that dust could get trapped under the keys, and the only way to remove it was to completely replace the keyboard.

The problem was so widespread that Apple began a free keyboard replacement plan (after a series of well-publicized court cases).

The good news is that this keyboard is just as comfortable to type on as the Magic Keyboard we normally use with our Mac – and it should be how Apple has basically brought the Magic Keyboard design to its Mac notebooks. Now it looks just like the MacBook Air keyboard. and the 16-inch MacBook Pro. We found the keys to be touch-sensitive enough without being annoyingly loud, typing is comfortable, and you don’t have to hammer the keyboard so your fingers don’t get tired.

MacBook Pro Keyboard

Above the keyboard is the Touch Bar, a touch-sensitive strip that features various shortcuts and controls. It is a unique feature of the MacBook Pro (no PC manufacturer has an equivalent feature).

Unfortunately, at best the Touch Bar is a gimmick with some useful features like auto text, at worst it gets between you and what you want to do.

For example, if you want to increase the volume, you should touch the volume control icon and then move your finger to the left to touch the volume increase button. We are used to pressing the ‘F’ key a couple of times.

In addition to the frustration, we don’t necessarily have to look at the keyboard to find the volume control keys, but we always have to look at the keyboard to use the Touch Bar.

Like the MacBook Air, the MacBook Pro has a Touch ID built into the power button. It’s a handy feature that means you won’t have to keep typing passwords.

Below the keyboard is the TouchPad. This has not changed in this generation. It’s a decent-sized touchpad that produces haptic feedback for multiple taps, and you can use iPhone-like swipes and gestures to move around the screen.

It offers some great features, like the ability to hard-click an icon on the ‘Desktop’ to see a preview. Sometimes we find that we grab it without the wrist and make the cursor move, which is frustrating.

There is another way to control the cursor and get some extra functionality that we want to mention here because we haven’t been able to use it so far (our regular Mac is too old to support it).

The sidecar is a feature that made its way to macOS Catalina and means that you can use a supported iPad as a second screen or as a graphics tablet. All you need to do is log into the same iCloud account on both devices and you can mirror your screens or use the iPad as an extension of your screen. This is the closest thing to a touch screen on the Mac.

Display

The MacBook Pro screen hasn’t changed, it’s still a 2560 x 1600 pixel screen (which is somewhere between high definition and 4K). It’s not really a surprise that Apple hasn’t improved the display – we expected to see display improvements on the 16-inch model first and the new 16-inch isn’t 4K yet.

The screen resolution is the same as the Air, but here are a couple of differences that differentiate the Air and the Pro. Only the Pro offers 500 nits of brightness and wide color (P3) – features that will be a benefit to users designers, photographers, and creative users.

The colors are bright and vivid in our photos, the text was sharp, when we watched videos the contrast between deep blacks and bright whites really understood the detail.

True Tone is another feature that will benefit designers and creatives, but it’s also a benefit for any Mac user. True Tone measures ambient light and adjusts color temperature and brightness so colors stay vivid and looking natural and the screen is comfortable to see.

We tested this sitting in the garden on a sunny day and were able to happily use the laptop, view photos and video, and write this very review without squinting to see what was on the screen. It also works well in a dark room, which will help prevent eyestrain.

![MacBook Pro Display](display.jpg)

Webcam and audio

We’re disappointed to report that the MacBook Pro’s webcam is still only 720p. Maybe it’s because we’re all so reliant on video conferencing right now, but Mac’s poor webcam quality has turned into something we’d like Apple to improve on. iPhones and iPads have offered Full HD 1080p front-facing cameras for some time, it’s about time the Mac caught up.

The audio deserves a mention, although there are no changes to the model we reviewed. What is significant is that the audio on this mid-range MacBook Pro is superior to that of the lower-end models. This model offers excellent stereo sound and bass thanks to its dedicated tweeters and woofers (which the cheaper model lacks).

The audio deserves a mention, although there are no changes to the model we reviewed. What is significant is that the audio on this mid-range MacBook Pro is superior to that of the lower-end models. This model offers excellent stereo sound and bass thanks to its dedicated tweeters and woofers (which the cheaper model lacks).

Specifications and performance

Much of what we’ve discussed so far are available on all 13-inch MacBook Pro laptops. But while these four 13-inch Macs look identical but aren’t the same – there are some big differences on the inside.

Processor

The most obvious difference is that mid-range MacBooks have 10th generation 2.0GHz quad-core i5 processors, while lower-end models have 8th generation 1.4GHz quad-core chips.

Those 1.4 GHz chips are unchanged from the previous generation, but 2.0 GHz processors replace the eighth’s 2.4 GHz ones. You might think 2.0 sounds worse than 2.4, which would be fair, but we’d expect some performance improvements and other benefits from a next-gen chip, and Apple says the new 2.0 GHz processors are up to 2.8 times higher. fast compared to the previous model.

We can confirm that the performance of the new MacBook Pro processor is better than that of the previous generation. We’ve run the Geekbench 5 cross-platform benchmark on the 2.0GHz MacBook Pro and the previous generation 2.4GHz MacBook Pro. 2020 1.1 GHz MacBook Air lags behind. The result of the multiple cores was as follows:

13in MacBook Pro (2020) benchmarks

MacBook Pro 2020 benchmarks Infogram

However, we can confirm that this Mac’s processor is slightly worse than that of the 8th Gen 2.7GHz quad-core i7 which was a build-to-order option for the 2018 13-inch MacBook Pro. In that case, we have the results from Geekbench 4 as seen in the graph above.

This suggests that if you can choose the i7 processor build option for the 2020 MacBook Pro (an extra 300) you are likely to see significant benefits. The i7 processors offer Hyper-Threading which in simple terms means that all four processors can act as eight processors.

RAM

Another key difference between the two types of 13-inch MacBook Pros is the amount of RAM. The base models still have 8GB, but the 2.0 GHz models have 16GB of RAM as standard, and you can add 32GB as a custom build option. We believe that 16GB of RAM is the minimum required for a professional machine.

It’s not just the amount of RAM that is different – the RAM in the 2.0GHz model is faster. The basic RAM is 2133MHz LPDDR3 while the alternative is 3733MHz LPDDR4X RAM. Even the MacBook Air has the fastest 3733 MHz LPDDR4X RAM, so the entry-level MacBook Pro seems a bit sloppy in this regard.

Storage

Apple has doubled the storage capacity of all MacBook Pros, so now the entry-level models offer 256GB and 512GB and the mid-range 512GB and 1TB.

The machine we are testing has 512GB. We tested the read and write speed of the SSD using the AJA system test with the 5K RED setting and a 4GB test file size.

13in MacBook Pro (2020) SSD benchmark

Here we compare the 512GB SSD to the 256GB SSD in the 2020 MacBook Air, as you can see the results are quite different. We’ve also included the 2018 bespoke build option, which outperforms the new model.

Graphics

All 13 on the MacBook Pro have integrated graphics instead of discrete ones. Integrated graphics share a memory with the CPU, while discrete graphics cards have their own memory.

If you are an average user of applications such as Mail, Safari, Photos, and Apple Arcade games, the integrated graphics will be adequate. But if you’re likely using graphics-intensive apps or games, then you’ll benefit from discrete graphics and might want to look at the 16-inch MacBook Pro or iMac as an alternative.

That said, the Intel Iris Plus graphics on the 2.0GHz models offer improvements over the previous generation. Apple says these new Intel Iris Plus graphics offer up to 80% faster performance compared to the Intel Iris Plus 655 graphics they replaced (the entry-level MacBook Pro still has Intel Iris Plus 645 graphics).

What’s really interesting here is that while the in-air graphics are the same as the Pro’s, the scoring was not. This is not really a surprise – performance will depend on the CPU it is embedded in – clock speed and L3 cache will have an impact. The RAM will also have an effect on the results.

We also did another test related to graphics: the simulation of the game Unigine Heaven (click on the graphic above to see the results). Here we can show that the new graphics are better than the old ones with a higher score and a higher maximum FPS.

Battery

The battery is unchanged from the previous generation and based on Apple testing you should expect around 10 hours of video playback.

Our battery life test involved running a crosshair video and we saw 9 hours and 42 minutes of battery life. The same test lasted 9 hours and 19 minutes on the 2020 MacBook Air and over 12 hours on the 16-inch MacBook Pro.

The best result we’ve seen is 13 hours and 7 minutes on the 2019 MacBook Air.

Software

All Macs come with the latest version of macOS (currently Catalina). Several apps come with macOS such as FaceTime, Messages, Find My, Mail, Music, Notes, Books, iMovie, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, and GarageBand, Photos, Safari, and the TV app.

There is also iCloud, which in addition to keeping all your data synchronized on all your Apple devices, offers you up to 2 TB of space in the cloud (for a fee) so you don’t have to worry about not having enough space in your SDD and you can access always to what you need wherever you are.

Also noteworthy is Apple Arcade, which you can subscribe to for € 4.99 per month and play more than 100 free games. And just buying a new Apple product also gives you a free subscription to Apple TV +. All good reasons to buy a Mac.

## Price

Now, considering the very expensive price of the MacBook Pro, is it worth it? Certainly, there has never been so much difference between the two types of 13-inch MacBook Pros, so maybe it would be worth paying the extra 300 to get more capacity.

These are all the prices for the 13-inch MacBook Pro:

  • 1.4 GHz quad-core processor (up to 3.9 GHz with Turbo Boost) 256 GB of storage. Touch Bar and Touch ID: € 1,499
  • 1.4 GHz quad-core processor (up to 3.9 GHz with Turbo Boost) 512 GB of storage. Touch Bar and Touch ID: € 1,749
  • 2 GHz quad-core processor (up to 3.8 GHz with Turbo Boost) 512 GB of storage. Touch Bar and Touch ID: € 2,129

Decision

They may all be called MacBook Pro, but Apple’s six “professional” notebooks couldn’t be more different. The one that we have reviewed in this article is in the middle of a fairly wide range of Macs, which together with the MacBook Air will satisfy the needs of a large group of people, from home users, office workers, creatives, and those who need the power. of a work station.

But what about 2020 2.0 GHz MacBook Pro reviewed here? It’s wonderful to see 16GB of RAM, and our tests suggest that the graphics have improved over the previous generation, as has the standard processor.

If you need a new MacBook Pro, we definitely recommend this model over the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro that’s still packed with 8th-gen processors.

It’s a hefty price tag, but the 2020 MacBook Pro would be a great investment. If that’s too much for you, we suggest you wait for Apple to properly update the base models or take a look at the MacBook Air instead.