Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) review


The Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) on a desk next to a notebook in front of a white brick wall

Recommended

The Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) is the line’s most powerful model to date.
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

The new M1 chip has a long battery life, and it has performed admirably in our early testing. It’s just a pity that the old design is still in use. The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) is Apple’s most anticipated laptop in years.

For

  • Huge battery life
  • Great performance
  • Can run iOS apps
  • Magic Keyboard feels great

Against

  • Design remains the same
  • Still lacks ports

Two-minute review

The 13-inch MacBook Pro (M1, 2020) is a turning point for Apple’s Pro line. That’s because, in addition to the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) and the Mac mini (M1, 2020) Instead of using Intel CPUs, which have been powering all of the company’s computers for some time, the new Apple-made processors are used. that debuted at the same time, Apple has entered a new era. M1 chip. This upgrade to the laptop line represents the first truly significant leap in a long time.

If you own a In fact, as significant as the M1 chip is, it’s the Pro 13-inch’s only significant upgrade. That isn’t to say it doesn’t resemble previous models in appearance. 2019 or even an early 2020 modelIt is, however, a significant update. For example, if you want a Pro with an M1 chip, you should probably wait a few generations. This new model is 2.8 times faster than the previous model, and it also has a longer battery life. It’s also three times faster than Windows laptops of comparable performance.

Apple has redefined what we can expect from a laptop once again. The new MacBook Pro 13-inch is a fantastic update for Apple’s top line of portables, though we would have liked to see an extra port or two and a design refresh.

(Image credit: Future)

Price and availability

The 256GB SSD/8GB RAM model of the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) costs $1,299 / £1,299 / AU$1,999, while the 2TB SSD/16GB RAM model costs $2,299 / £2,299 / AU$3,499.

The M1 chip in both models has an 8-core CPU and an 8-core GPU, and storage can be configured up to 2TB.

For comparison, the MacBook Pro (2020) We’re not seeing the price cut on the MacBook Pro that some were hoping for now that Apple has switched to its own silicon, but we applaud Apple for releasing the new version at the same price as the previous model.

Normally, we wouldn’t compare the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air, but given how similar the specs are, and the fact that the new MacBook Air includes a screen that supports the P3 color gamut, which was previously only available on MacBook Pros, some people may believe the Air is a better choice, especially since it comes with double the capacity for less money. What’s more, for $1,249 / £1,249 / AU$1,949, the new MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is available with the same M1 chip, as well as the same amount of RAM and 512GB storage.

The MacBook Air (M1, 2020), on the other hand, is fanless, whereas the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) has fans. Because there are no fans to cool the new MacBook Air, its performance is limited for how long it can run intensive tasks before it is throttled to prevent overheating.

If you plan on using your machine for long periods of time, such as rendering, the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) will be well worth the extra money.

(Image credit: Future)
Spec Sheet

The following is the configuration of the 13-inch MacBook Pro (M1, 2020) that was sent to TechRadar for review:

CPU:

Apple M1 (8-core)

Graphics:

Integrated 8-core GPU

RAM: 8GB Unified PDDR4X-4266 MHz SDRAMScreen: 13.3-inch Retina display with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 pixels (backlit LED, IPS, 500 nits brightness, wide color P3 gamut)Storage: 256GB SSDPorts: 3.5mm headphone jack, 2x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C)Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0Camera: 720p FaceTime HD webcamWeight: 3.0 pounds (1.4kg)Size: 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56cm; W x D x H; 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.61 inch

Design

Because of its new M1 silicon brains, the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) is one of Apple’s most exciting releases in a long time, but you wouldn’t know it when you first get it out of the box.

Anyone expecting a radical new look to match the radical new hardware inside will be disappointed. It looks and feels exactly like previous MacBook Pro 13-inch models. That’s because it’s nearly identical to the previous model, measuring 0.61 x 11.97 x 8.36 inches (1.56 x 30.41 x 21.24cm) and weighing 3.0 pounds (1.4kg).

It has made a big deal about how revolutionary its switch to the M1 chip is, as well as the other changes it has made. We believe Apple has squandered an opportunity here. macOS Big Sur We’d like to see Apple be just as bold with the look of the MacBook Pro 13-inch, which is a big enough change to warrant the name’macOS 11′ rather than’macOS 10.17,’ so we’d like to see Apple be just as bold with the look of the MacBook Pro 13-inch.

Apple, along with some of its fans, would probably argue that the MacBook Pro 13-inch’s design is perfect, and that it’s pointless to change it. In some ways, that’s fair – the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) is still a good-looking laptop, and it’s still impressively thin and light; however, when Apple’s competitors, such as Dell and HP, are doing innovative things with their designs, such as super-slim bezels or 2-in-1 designs that let you use the laptop as a tablet, the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)’s look starts to feel a little dated.

(Image credit: Future)

With a few tweaks, that’s pretty much what it’s done with the MacBook Pro 13-inch. Could you imagine Apple continuing to use the same iPhone design from 2016? Many people have long believed that Apple had abandoned the Mac and MacBook in favor of the iPhone.

It’s a shame, because in other ways – the revolutionary M1 chip and the enhancements to macOS Big Sur – it appears that Apple is rekindling its enthusiasm for MacBooks.

If you’re unfamiliar with the TouchBar, it’s a thin touchscreen that runs along the top of the keyboard and displays context-sensitive buttons and shortcuts based on which app or tool you’re using. Still, for the purposes of this MacBook review, the design of the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) isn’t bad; it’s simply familiar – and that familiarity is maintained when you open the laptop.

(Image credit: Future)

The left-hand escape key is once again separate, rather than being incorporated into the TouchBar, as many people who frequently use the key (such as developers) requested. When it first debuted four years ago, there was some debate about how useful it was, but we’ve grown to appreciate it over time, and as more third-party apps have added TouchBar functionality, it’s become even more useful. It’s good to see it back, and it demonstrates that Apple hasn’t abandoned this feature because of the M1 chip and macOS Big Sur.

It’s nice to see it back in the new MacBook Pro 13-inch, and it’s a joy to type on once more. The keyboard is the same Magic Keyboard that came with the 13-inch MacBook Pro earlier this year. This was a welcome change at the time, as it replaced the infamous Butterfly switch keyboard, which was notorious for its lack of reliability.

The screen, which has a Retina resolution of 2560 x 1600, is also unchanged. This produces a sharp image, but Apple is once again outclassed by competitors like Samsung. HP and Dell, who are putting higher-resolution screens on their 13-inch laptops.

The Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) screen, however, remains bright and vibrant. This eliminates a key selling point for the MacBook Pro, making the more affordable MacBook Air a viable alternative for budget-conscious creatives. It also supports the P3 wide color gamut, which provides excellent color reproduction – this is great for photographers and video editors who require accurate color reproduction, but it’s worth noting that the new MacBook Air (M1, 2020) also supports P3 wide color.

The Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) has only two Thunderbolt 3 ports (both on the left) and an audio jack on the right.

Apple, unlike Dell, does not include one in many of its USB-C only laptops. While we’re relieved that Apple’s move away from Intel hasn’t resulted in the loss of Thunderbolt 3 (it is, after all, an Intel product), the lack of ports continues to be an issue for professionals. You’ll need to buy a dongle if you want to copy photos from a memory card or use peripherals that use the older USB-A ports.

(Image credit: Future)
Benchmarks

In our suite of benchmark tests, the 13-inch MacBook Pro (M1, 2020) performed as follows:

Cinebench R23 CPU: Single-Core: 1,491; Multi-core: 7,768Geekbench 5 Single-Core: 1,732; Multi-Core: 7,590Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 13 hours and 22 minutes

Performance

Apple boasted that the M1 chip’s CPU is 2.8 times faster at building Xcode projects, twice as fast vector performance in Affinity Photo, 5.9 times the 3D title render speeds in Final Cut Pro, and 2.9 times the performance in Shadow of the Tomb Raider thanks to its GPU. The performance of the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) impressed us during our time with it.

We had to take these claims with a grain of salt for a fair MacBook review because Apple is vague about some of its tests, and when it comes to GPU performance, it’s comparing it to a base MacBook Pro 13-inch from the previous generation, which uses an older 8th-generation Intel processor with integrated graphics.

We tested native M1 apps as well as older legacy Intel Mac apps, and both performed admirably. We used macOS Big Sur to open and switch between several demanding apps at the same time, and it didn’t miss a beat. We can dig deeper into the performance of the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) now that we’ve had it for a while. They quickly opened, and switching between them was nearly instantaneous.

Microsoft offers a version of Windows 10 for ARM-based laptops, including its own. As we mentioned in our review of the MacBook Air (M1, 2020), the fact that Apple has switched to an ARM-based chip while still allowing you to run older apps without major issues thanks to its Rosetta tool is commendable. Surface Pro X, but it’s limited to only running apps from the Microsoft Store that are built for ARM architecture – which means many popular apps aren’t compatible with Windows 10 on ARM.

The fact that Apple is not only ensuring that almost all older Mac apps will run on the M1-equipped MacBook Pro 13-inch, but is also ensuring that newer Mac apps will run on the M1-equipped MacBook Pro 13-inch thousandsThis, combined with the lack of iOS apps, exemplifies Microsoft’s poor effort with Windows 10 on ARM. It needs to step up its game significantly.

Unlike the new MacBook Air (M1, 2020), which runs quietly thanks to its fanless design, the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) has fans, which do come on after a while when you’re doing some intensive work on the device. The fans, on the other hand, are never too distracting, and you’ll never hear them in everyday use. At times, the back of the laptop gets a little warm.

As a result, the Pro is a better choice for professionals who perform long-term intensive tasks, such as rendering complex 3D animations. Because it has fans, the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) can work harder and longer than the MacBook Air (M1, 2020). The new MacBook Air has to throttle performance (by lowering the speed of the M1 chip) to avoid overheating due to its fanless design.

The benchmarking results were also outstanding. We’d witnessed leaked Cinebench scoresIt was suggested that the M1 chip could defeat powerful Intel 11th generation chips, and it was proven correct. The fact that the laptop costs $2,399 (£2,399 / AU$3,799) and has a dedicated graphics card puts the performance of the cheaper MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) in a different light. That puts it well ahead of the performance of the entry-level MacBook Pro 16-inch with a six-core Intel Core i7 processor from the 9th generation. The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) scored 7, 768 points in the multi-core test of the demanding Cinebench R23 benchmark. very positive light.

The Geekbench 5 results also show how much faster the M1 chip is than the previous model, which had a quad-core Intel Core i5-1038NG7 processor running at 2.0GHz. The M1’s CPU’s extra four cores (it’s an octa-core chip) are clearly doing some heavy lifting here. It outperforms the previous model, which scored 1,268 and 4,490 in the single-core tests and 1,732 and 7,590 in the multi-core tests, respectively.

The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) performed admirably, allowing us to scrub through the footage while simultaneously displaying a video preview. The app did crash on us once while we were adding some titles and fancy effects, but it seemed to be an isolated incident. We also tried out Final Cut Pro, Apple’s video editing software that has been updated to work with the M1 chip, and used it to edit an 8K video with multiple sources. It was truly remarkable.

Overall, the video editing performance of the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) was outstanding, with the M1’s GPU allowing for 8K video editing.

Battery life

Again, these are big claims from Apple, and you’ll probably use the MacBook Pro 13-inch for more intensive tasks than that, but we’ve found Apple’s battery claims to be pretty accurate in the past.

Until the battery dies, we play a looped 1080p video with the screen set to 50% brightness. The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) lasted 13 hours and 22 minutes in our battery life test. While this isn’t quite as impressive as Apple’s claim of 20 hours, it’s still a significant improvement over the earlier 2020 Intel model, which lasted 8 hours and 31 minutes in the same test.

It’s also longer than the previous one. That’s about a 5-hour increase – that’s incredible.

MacBook Pro 16-inch‘s previous record of 11 hours and 41 minutes, as well as the most recent record of 11 hours and 41 minutes. Dell XPS 13 model, which scored 11 hours.

Even so, this is quite impressive. The Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) has such a long battery life that we were able to use it right out of the box and didn’t plug it in until a few days later. This was for light use – browsing the web and sending emails – so when it comes to much more intensive tasks, the battery life will deplete much more quickly.

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if…

You want a powerful (and small) MacBookThe new M1 chip has given the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) a significant performance boost. What Apple has accomplished here is truly remarkable.

You want excellent battery lifeNormally, powerful laptops have to make do with short battery lives, but the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) manages to strike a balance between performance and battery life that lasts well past the workday.

You want to edit ultra-high definition videosThe MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) has enough power to handle 4K – and even 8K – videos with ease. This is truly amazing.

Don’t buy it if…

You’re on a budgetMeanwhile, the new MacBook Air (M1, 2020) provides comparable performance in many areas for a significantly lower price. The MacBook Pro 13-inch is the least expensive MacBook Pro, but it’s still quite pricey.

You want a graphical powerhouseWhile the 13-inch MacBook Pro isn’t a slouch in terms of performance, it still uses integrated graphics, which means it’s not up to serious graphical tasks.

You don’t like Apple’s designsApple hasn’t made any significant changes to the MacBook Pro 13-inch’s overall design. It’s been a few years, and if you didn’t like it before, this isn’t going to change your mind.

Senior Computing editor

Matt (TwitterMatt has written for a variety of publications, including PC Plus, PC Format, T3, and Linux Format, and is passionate about all aspects of technology, particularly computing and PC gaming. ) is the Senior Computing Editor at TechRadar. Send him a message on Twitter if you’re having trouble with your PC or Mac and need some help.