Apple MacBook Pro 13 Review (2020)

by birtanpublished on November 28, 2020

The 13-inch MacBook Pro is a very important laptop in the overall Mac lineup in fact I think it sits at the heart of what Apple has always tried to do or at least how it brands itself as what it's trying to do and it's not as a device for creative professionals it has products for those like the 16 inch MacBook Pro but this one specifically their most popular laptop is for the amateurs the hobbyists the aspiring creative professionals so throughout this review keep that in mind if I'm going to see if this laptop actually lives up to the what what it's trying to do and it's actually a good tool or not

For those people let's start with the design because more than anything else the MacBook Pro wants to make you feel something wants to make you feel like you're using a powerful device that can enable you to do the creative things that you want to do and there are still a few ways in which this current MacBook Pro does those things better than any other laptop and that's saying something because this is a chassis that's over four years old at this point but things like the build quality and the materials used here this unibody aluminum chassis

That's been in use for a while now it's still the most premium laptop you can buy it still feels the most premium when you hold it in your hands when you put it on your lap when you're using it that cold aluminum structure just feels really good to hold I'm also not gonna complain about the size of this thing because even though it's not the thinnest laptop in the world anymore it still really feels like a slim laptop even next to the XPS 13 which is technically thinner because of the way it's designed with that really thin lid and just that unibody structure it kind

Of seems like a slimmer laptop even though it isn't and look a lot of laptops have tried to replicate what Apple did with this design over the past four or five years and even again like this is an old design none of them have really replicated in the way that matches what Apple has done here a couple other examples of where the MacBook Pro kind of still sits above a lot of the other laptops out there the trackpad which is really large and just really really responsive like I don't know if it's a mixture between the hardware and the software but there's

Really not a trackpad that's better than this MacBook Pro combined with Mac OS that just makes you feel like your cursor and your finger moving it just it's all one fluid motion and the gesture support here is fantastic obviously as Mac OS is known for and then there's the speakers which you just cannot find a laptop with speakers quite like this and you're gonna have to do the comparison yourself sit this laptop next to the XPS 13 or really any other premium laptop out there at least in the 13 inch space and it's really in a completely different league there's just

So much more bass there more full-bodied sound listening to music on this thing is actually really enjoyable and so is watching movies on it and in case you're wondering it is slightly better than the MacBook Air speakers that model was updated pretty recently but this one just has a little more bass and it's a little more full-figured in the sound profile that it has but again because it's been years since Apple has really refreshed to the look of this there are definitely some areas where it feels a little long in the tooth and I mean the most obvious one are the bezels and I'm

Not gonna talk about this endlessly because I feel like I talked about it with pretty much every MacBook that has come out recently but these things are just not fit for 20/20 you can tell that this laptop was not designed in 2020 or even in 2019 because it wouldn't have Bessel's like this and really it's more than just an aesthetic thing it's not just that small bezels look better it's really a matter of efficiency it's just a waste of space and you think about how much you can do with a thin bezel design you can either increase the size of the screen or you can decrease the site

Overall footprint of the laptop both things are great options and when you look at the 16 inch MacBook Pro that's exactly what Apple did they reduced the size of the bezels and added more screen and if you're a creative professional if you're using creative applications more screen space is always good once again point to the leader in this space the Dell XPS 13 but it's not just that one pretty much every other premium laptop out there the spectre x360 for example these are laptops that have really thin bezels and really efficient designs if you believe the rumors a 14 inch MacBook

Pro is on the way and it's said to take some of those design inspirations from the 16 inch macbook pro bigger screen thinner bezels so it looks like you're gonna have to wait a lot longer for that it's probably not gonna be a 20/20 release probably 2021 so in the meantime this is kind of what we're stuck with for the next year I'm also gonna throw the display in this section because even though this is still a really high resolution great display with you know great color game and great color accuracy high contrast really bright although great things it

Just doesn't have the same lead as it used to have over those premium Windows 10 machines that is at least not on the high end because at $12.99 you're getting the most high resolution screen you can get for that price but at $2,000 or in that area you're probably better off getting a 4k option from Dell or HP in fact if you look at that Spectre x-360 it even comes with an OLED option for this 13 inch laptop that's 4k has better color gamut than the MacBook Pro and it also has the benefit of OLED which is those really crazy deep black in the crazy high contrast all of that

And it's $500 cheaper than this MacBook Pro when you compare it spec for speck and actually configure it the same way but let's get to the actual change that's happening with this model because none of that is new what's new here is the magic keyboard which replaces the old butterfly style keyboard and again I'm not going to get too far into this because technically we've already seen this keyboard on the MacBook Air and the 16 inch MacBook Pro and suffice to say it's an excellent keyboard to type on and it really is worth pointing out because I can count on one hand how many

Times Apple has actually reversed a design or engineering decision really publicly like this one I mean this is a conventional keyboard and if you go back to that 2015 MacBook Pro there are some slight tweaks that Apple has made since then to actually improve the experience for example the keycaps if you remember that old laptop the the key caps were just a little wobbly if you remember that experience of typing on it and here that kind of made the whole thing just a little more stable and each of the key presses feel a little clicky ER and it just is a really satisfying typing

Experience this time around so kudos to you Apple for realizing that you may have gone down the wrong path with the keyboard and actually fixing it and making it better this time around now I don't think that butterfly keyboard was the last time that we're gonna see some wild experimentation on the keyboard from Apple I think there's some interesting stuff being worked on that's you know for down the road what we get for now is a very conventional but very comfortable and more importantly than anything else

Quiet typing experience of course aside from the keyboard there is some big changes under the hood and this is where we have to really dig into the configurations and the processor options because Apple has made this very very confusing unit I have here starts at 1799 and really this is the laptop that you'd expect to see from Apple in a annual laptop update cycle it comes with Intel's latest 10th agenda it comes with faster RAM more storage a lot of those quality of life and really life extension updates that you get every year from pretty much every laptop

Manufacturer there is one glimmer of hope in this configuration mess that Apple's created and that's with storage because the base $12.99 model now comes with 256 gigabytes of SSD storage it's kind of become the norm lately but before you know just a couple weeks ago it was selling MacBook Pros at that base model with just 128 gigabytes of storage which is really lame so I'm glad to see them update that to match what they have with the MacBook Air and my configuration here the 17 $99 model comes with 512 gigabytes and you can go up from there I'm gonna get to the

Performance of this particular machine in a second but I have to cover some of these entry-level configurations because I am really not happy with the way Apple has set this up basically what you are getting for $12.99 is Intel's 8th gen processors which is only a year behind don't get confused there's no ninth gen in this particular processor category but 8th gen processors and slower memory that might not sound like a huge trade off to you when you consider the price difference but really that is completely outside of what the entire industry does no other laptop

Manufacturer is gonna update a laptop with old processors for the same price and really this is not even something that Apple typically does I mean can you imagine if they released a new iPhone with an old processor in it in fact apples doing the exact opposite of that they're releasing old phones with new processors on it and that actually makes a lot more sense like good luck trying to parse out whether or not you should get an eighth gen core i7 or a tenth gen Core i5 and which gives you a better performance per dollar amount like who

Knows right you're gonna have to look at every single laptop and every configuration or to figure that out what I can tell you though is that this 1799 configuration with the 10th gen Intel processors is a really solid performing laptop for this size in fact it's the fastest 13-inch laptop in terms of actual real life performance that I've ever tested just a few weeks ago dell launched its XPS 13 and updated it for 2020 and when i tested that thing out I quickly proclaimed it as the fastest 13-inch laptop you could buy I was really impressed by the performance you

Could get on it but now this 13-inch MacBook Pro had just slightly edges it out in real life performance test where that processor is really pushed and the reason Apple can do that because like in the past with other 13-inch MacBook Pros they use a custom 25 watt processor from Intel it's not a processor you can get really anywhere else of course it's based on the same chip that's in you know the XPS 13 and other 13-inch laptops but because that higher wattage Apple is able to push it a little more and get some extra processor strength out of it and that does result

In slightly better performance in real life tests in real applications than other laptops even the XPS 13 like if you're gonna try and do creative applications and those kinds of workflows on a 13-inch laptop the MacBook Pro really is the best one for them and really this comes back to the heart of what this laptop is for it is for those aspiring creative professionals people who won't necessarily mind that their render in Premiere takes twice as long as it would on the 16 inch MacBook Pro or people that don't mind there's gonna be some

Stuttering if they're running logic and running a bunch of plugins and whatnot in their music production and really the types of people we're talking about are those that are not gonna spend twenty four hundred dollars on a 16 inch MacBook Pro or even more if they want to get up to that eight core version and because these people are not in these creative applications all day their livelihood does not depend on how fast they get through a video render you know they're not gonna mind having to wait a little longer to get through them again it's a

Tricky thing to navigate because Apple doesn't want you to know that they are marketing this towards those types of people they want you to think that this is a professional-grade laptop with all the performance you need to kind of get through those creative applications but the truth is it's really not but if you are you know let's say a youtuber who's doing that on the side or maybe you do some freelance graphic design or photography or music production or something like that this is still one of the better options in terms of a 13-inch laptop but if you're the other side of

The spectrum and your daily workflow looks more like Google Chrome you know web apps Spotify Netflix YouTube that sort of thing I would recommend taking away the MacBook Air cuz that's probably gonna give you enough performance for what you need and it's gonna save you a few hundred dollars to if you really do need that extra performance you can jump up to the 16 inch MacBook Pro which is crazy expensive and it's quite a bit bigger than this laptop but it does have that performance if you really need it and this 13-inch MacBook Pro specifically the 17 $99 model that I

Have here falls somewhere in between and it is the sweet spot for Apple in terms of selling units and marketing but whether or not it's the right sweet spot for you as a laptop buyer that's a little less clear because although this is a good option it's certainly not the only option out there for people who want to do some of that content creation on the side the XPS 13 is one I points you a lot but it really is almost as powerful as this one but it has the benefit of better battery life more display options so you can choose which ones you want and I really love the look

And design of that XPS 13 it's also a new crop of a Rison 4000 powered laptops that are coming out that bring eight core performance to 13 and 14 inch sizes really really interesting stuff happening there and kind of changing this whole dynamic of how much performance we can expect from these small laptops but that hasn't really come to fruition yet and we're still waiting for some of those more premium designs to come out beyond just the feeling that this laptop tries to give you Apple has squeezed just enough extra

Performance out of this laptop this time around to call itself a MacBook Pro and I think for a lot of people combined with that redesign keyboard that's going to be just about enough

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