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Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch Review

If you’re looking for technological advancement, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro isn’t for you. But if you’re searching for a laptop that’s gone through some necessary incremental improvements, you’ve come to the right place. The $1,799 MacBook Pro offers reliable performance, fast SSD, and Apple’s ever-elegant design. Besides, the company has closed the chapter on the Butterfly keyboard, bringing the fantastic Magic keyboard into the mix. What’s more, you get twice as much storage space. It’s not the jaw-dropping change you want; it’s the experience MacBook fans need. This is our MacBook Pro 13-inch review.


MacBook Pro 13-inch
CPU:2-GHz Intel Core i5-1030NG7
Storage:512GB SSD
Display:13.3-inch, 2560 x 1600-pixel Retina display
GPU:Intel Iris Plus Graphics
Battery life:10 hours and 15 minutes
Size: 12 x 8.4 x 0.6-inches
Weight: 3.1-pounds

MacBook Pro 13-inch review: design

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Last updated on January 15, 2021 2:53 pm

The latest MacBook Pro looks identical like its predecessor, which is fine. However, I was hoping for a little change, like thinner edges or new colors. But no, the MacBook Pro retains the elegant, familiar look of the previous notebooks. You’ve got your all-aluminum Space Gray chassis that’s also available in silver.

MacBook Pro 13-inch Review

Open the laptop, and you’ll be greeted by the huge Force Trackpad, which sits directly under the keyboard. Above it, you’ll find the Touch Bar with the power button/Touch ID on the far right. And speaking of the keyboard, it has been replaced by the Magic keyboard, which closes the chapter on the Butterfly keyboard.

The MacBook does not have many ports, but it makes up for it with Thunderbolt 3 ports, of which four to be precise. There are two on each side with a headset connector on the right.

The MacBook Pro (12 x 8.4 x 0.6-inches) is a bit on the heavy side, weighing 3.1 pounds. Both the HP Spectre x360 (2.7-pounds, 12.1 x 7.7 x 0.7-inches) and Dell XPS 13 (2.8-pounds, 11.6 x 7.8 x 0.6-inches) are a lot lighter.

Keyboard and touchPad

So, about that keyboard. After consumer complaints, Apple has finally said goodbye to the uncomfortable Butterfly keyboard in favor of the Magic Keyboard. It’s clicking with solid feedback, which makes for a very comfortable typing experience. I drove past my typical 70 words per minute typing average on the 10 fast fingers test, reaching 76 wpm.

MacBook Pro 13-inch Review

As expected, the MacBook is equipped with a large Force-trackpad. At 4.4 x 2.6-inches, I never had to worry about a lack of space to navigate. And although my palms accidentally came into contact with the trackpad, the cursor maintained its position thanks to the excellent palm rejection. The edges of the trackpad have reliable feedback when you right or left-click.

MacBook Pro 13-inch review: display

Apple knows how to make a beautiful screen, which is why every system, including this one, has a 2560 x 1600-pixel Retina display. The 13.3-inch panel is gorgeous in its own right. Still, like other modern MacBooks, this Pro True Tone has a utility that, when turned on, automatically adjusts the color temperature to the environment, so you can enjoy optimal shades, whether you’re in natural or fluorescent lighting, or a darkened room.

When I played the trailer for Bad Trip, I was thrilled by the Pepto Bismol Ford Taurus actor Erik Andre was working on. The details were so sharp that I could see the individual sparks flying when he placed the starter cables on the wrong part of the car’s engine.

I was surprised to discover that the MacBook Pro was 114% below the average 124% sRGB color gamut for top laptops. It was livelier than the 109% Spectre, but just behind the 115% XPS 13.

The MacBook Pro makes up for the lack of vividness with impressive clarity. The laptop’s panel averaged 485 nits, exceeding the average of 370 nits, as well as the XPS 13 (417 nits) and the HP Spectre x360 (369 nits).

I must say I’m more than disappointed that Apple didn’t do anything to shrink those thick edges. In this day and age, when the XPS 13 has eliminated all of its bezels, Apple is still clinging to these incredibly thick bezels. If Apple could shrink those edges, they could fit a much larger screen into that small chassis, which would give the company a lot of praise, especially since many people counted on a 14-inch MacBook. Well, better luck next time.

MacBook Pro 13-inch review: audio

It’s not the six-speaker setup as that of the 16-inch MacBook Pro, but this 13-inch notebook can get pretty loud. My little living/dining room was filled with warm, balanced audio when I listened to Tony! Toni! Tone! Play “Whatever you want. The bass was rich, the synths were measured, the drums were nice and clear, and the vocals floated gently through it.

MacBook Pro 13-inch review: performance

The Apple MacBook Pro is equipped with a 2 GHz Intel Core i5-1030NG7 processor with 16 GB RAM. The laptop chewed through 30 open tabs from Google Chrome while looking at Black Butler on Netflix. The laptop did pretty well on our synthetic benchmarks. When we did the Geekbench 5.0 test, an overall performance benchmark, the MacBook achieved 4,399, exceeding the average of 4,171 premium laptops. He also beat the Spectre and his Core i7-1065G7 CPU, which scored 4,074. However, it was no match for the Dell XPS 13 (Core i7-1065G7 CPU), which scored 4,648.

During the handbrake video transcoding test, the MacBook ran a 4K video to 1080p in 12 minutes and 43 seconds. That was much faster than the average of 18:52. The XPS 13 was almost second fastest at 15:40, while the Spectre completed the task in 21:13. That’s impressive because both Dell and HP have Core i7 processors compared to the MacBook’s Core i5 CPU.

We also ran the PugetBench Photoshop benchmark, running 21 different photoshop tasks three times per run. The MacBook Pro achieved a score of 569, beating the average of 553. However, it was not enough to overthrow the XPS 13, which reached 657.

In the Blackmagic benchmark, the MacBook’s 512GB SSD had a reading time of 2,060.2 megabytes per second, shattering the average of 1,421.9 MBps. The SSD also crushed the average of 1,198.7 MBps with a blistering score of 2,315.9 MBps.

MacBook Pro 13-inch Review

Equipped with an integrated Intel’s Iris Plus Graphics, the laptop will not play graphics-intensive games, but it can do some video and photo editing. The MacBook Pro achieved 18 frames per second on the Sid Meyer Civilization VI: Gathering Storm test. That was enough to beat the average of 13 fps, but not the 19 fps of the XPS 13.

MacBook Pro 13-inch review: heat

The MacBook Pro is one cool customer. After playing a full-HD video for fifteen minutes, we measured several locations on the laptop. The touchpad measures a solid 79 degrees Fahrenheit. The center of the keyboard and the bottom of the system measured 86 and 91 degrees, respectively, both below our comfort threshold of 95 degrees. The hottest point of the laptop, just above the heat dissipation, was only slightly above the threshold, at 96 degrees.

MacBook Pro 13-inch review: battery life

The MacBook Pro delivers all-day performance that lasts 10 hours and 15 minutes on our battery test, which includes continuous Internet browsing over Wi-Fi with 150 nits of brightness. That’s longer than the average 9:05 performance laptop. However, it is not nearly as long as the XPS 13 and the Spectre, which clocked 12:39 and 13:19, respectively.

Price and configuration options

The base MacBook Pro is currently available for $1,299 and features a 1.4 GHz quad-core 8th Gen Intel’s Core i5 processor with 8GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD, and an Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 GPU. You can configure it with an 8th Gen Core i7 CPU, 16 GB RAM, and a 2 TB SSD. I took the $1,799 model for a spin, which has a 2GHz Intel’s quad-core 10th Gen Intel Core i5 processor with 16GB RAM, a 512GB SSD, and an Intel Iris Plus Graphics GPU. This model can also be configured as a wazoo with a 10th generation Core i7 CPU, 32 GB RAM, and a massive 4 TB SSD.

The pricing for each configuration has not changed, but the storage amount has. For the price, Apple gives you double the storage space of previous versions. The company has also increased the ante on the RAM so that consumers can configure it with a generous 32GB. And as usual, every MacBook configuration gets a $100 discount for people in the education field.

MacBook Pro 13-inch review: Conclusion

Okay, Apple has not made any monumental changes to the MacBook Pro this time. However, it has dispelled some of the concerns of customers who will surely make the MacBook-loving crowd stand up and cheer. Apple has not only doubled the maximum storage space and RAM but also put the last nail in the Butterfly keyboard’s case, paving the way for the comfort of the Magic keyboard. Throw in an incredibly fast SSD, and you have a winner — all for $1,799.

However, if you’re looking for longer battery life, a slightly livelier display, and better performance, the $1,749 Dell XPS 13 is the one to go for. Overall, the 13-inch MacBook Pro, with its seemingly small improvements, is a crowd-pleaser for students or creative professionals.

8 Total Score
Our Verdict

The 13-inch MacBook Pro offers double the storage with great performance and the excellent Magic Keyboard, but battery life can be better.

  • Elegant design
  • Solid performance
  • Great keyboard
  • Excellent SSD speeds
  • Powerful speakers
  • A bit heavy
  • Thick bezels
  • Battery life could be better
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