The new 13in MacBook Pro introduced in May 2020 offers an improved 10th generation Ice Lake processor, a standard 16GB RAM (up to 32GB RAM), and storage options up to 4TB. The other important change is that Apple has replaced the problematic butterfly keyboard in the smaller model with the new Magic Keyboard first seen in the 2019 16in MacBook Pro.
As before there are four 13in MacBook Pro models, however only the two mid-range MacBook Pro models saw processor update in May (the two entry-level 13in models have also been updated, but only with increased storage). We review the 2020 2.0GHz MacBook Pro here.
The update means the gap between the 13in and 16in models has, potentially, narrowed slightly compared to what it was when Apple updated the 16in models in November 2019. Prior to the May 2020 launch, the best specced 13in MacBook Pro offered up to 2.4GHz Quad-Core 8th generation i5 processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz, while the entry-level 16in model offered 2.6GHz 6-core 9th-generation i7 Intel Core i9 processor (4.5GHz Turbo Boost).
Now the flag-ship 13in offers 2.0GHz Quad-Core 10th-generation Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz. You'll notice that the clock speed is less than before - but note that the processor generation is now newer than the 16in model, which presumably will make a difference to performance, but we'll have to wait until we can run tests on the new model. The increased RAM - which is also faster RAM than before - should also make a big difference compared to the 2019 13in models.
As in 2019 the only difference between the two entry-level MacBook Pro models is the amount of storage - now in 2020 that has doubled to 256GB and 512GB, bringing those models into line with the 2020 MacBook Air and Mac mini models, which also saw their standard storage offerings doubled in 2020. This means that there is no longer a new Mac offering a paltry 128GB storage. It's no surprise that Apple has made the same move with the 2020 MacBook Pro.
The extra storage is still the only reason to choose the £200/$200 more expensive model, though.
May 2020 MacBook Pro specs
Here's how the specs compare across the 2020 13in MacBook Pro range:
- 1.4GHz Quad-Core Processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz, 256GB Storage, 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory, Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645, (was 128GB storage). £1,299/$1,299
- 1.4GHz Quad-Core Processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz, 512GB Storage, 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory, Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645, (was 256GB Storage). £1,499/$1,499
- 2.0GHz Quad-Core Processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz, 512GB Storage, 16GB 3733MHz LPDDR4X, Intel Iris Plus Graphics, (was 2.4GHz Quad-Core Processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz, 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory 256GB Storage). £1,799/$1,799
- 2.0GHz Quad-Core Processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz, 1TB Storage, 16GB 3733MHz LPDDR4X, Intel Iris Plus Graphics, (was 2.4GHz Quad-Core Processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz, 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory, 512GB Storage) £1,999/$1,999
The additional storage in the entry level model may be attractive for many, but it is disappointing that Apple hasn't improved the processors in those models - especially since the 2020 MacBook Air does offer 10th generation Ice Lake processors, making these older 8th generation processors in the MacBook Pro look less impressive.
We will cover the new components in more detail below.
You may be wondering whether all the 13in MacBook Pro models get the new keyboard - especially since the entry-level models haven't seen much of an update beyond the increased storage. The good news is that they have indeed all been equipped with the new style keyboard.
Tom Boger, Apple's senior director of Mac and iPad Product Marketing, said: "With these updates, our entire notebook lineup features the Magic Keyboard."
This means all the new MacBook Pro models now sport the same scissor-switch keyboard design seen on the 16in MacBook Pro that launched in November 2019. That keyboard design isn't actually that new - it was based on past Mac laptops and the Magic Keyboard that ships with the iMac. What really matters is that the new keyboard design replaces the problematic butterfly mechanism design used for Apple laptop keyboards since around 2016.
The butterfly mechanism enabled Apple to make the keyboard (and therefore Mac) slimmer but it seems that the design caused problems with dust getting trapped under keys and requiring expensive repairs. Read all about those MacBook keyboard problems here.
Apple admitted to the keyboard issue and offered free repairs to those affected, but the well-publicised keyboard-related problems are sure to have prevented some sales of Mac laptops. So it's no surprise that Apple has now rectified the problem - and our tests of the new style keyboard do seem to suggest as much.
Our reviewer of the 16in MacBook Pro had a lot of praise for the new keyboard design, writing: "It's softer on the fingers, and if you had sore fingers after a long typing session on the butterfly keyboard (like me), you won't have that experience on the Magic Keyboard."
The two mid-range MacBook Pro models now offer 10th generation Intel processors - you'll also find 10th generation processors in the 2020 MacBook Air (including a 1.1GHz Quad-Core Core i5 processor, Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz).
The surprise is that Apple hasn't updated the processors inside the entry-level MacBook Pro, so those models still offer the 8th generation 1.4GHz Quad-Core Processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz.
This suggests that the gap between the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro isn't as large as it once was, so if you are choosing between the £1,299/£1,299 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models the differences aren't all that large. You can read more about how these two MacBook models compare here.
The lack of 10th generation processor in the entry-level MacBook Pro is surprising given that Apple is actually quite late to using the 10th generation chips - many of its competitors (Acer, Asus, Dell, Lenovo, HP and so on) have already introduced 10th Ice Lake generation processors.
The entry-level MacBook Pro models have always been a step behind their more powerful siblings though. Previously those models could go for years without an update. We assume that Apple will update them at some point this year - perhaps when the rumoured 14in MacBook Pro arrives. More on that here: 14in & 16in MacBook Pro Release Date.
The addition of 16GB RAM as standard is potentially just as big as the arrival of 10th generation processors in the new MacBook Pro. Not only is this twice as much RAM this is faster 3733MHz memory compared to the 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 that used to feature (and still features in the entry-level models.)
Even the MacBook Air now offers 8GB 3733MHz LPDDR4X memory as standard, making those entry-level MacBook Pro's (which still only offer 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 RAM) even less enticing.
The new 2.0GHz Quad-Core models now offer Intel Iris Plus Graphics rather than Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655. The entry-level models still offer the Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645. These new graphics that come integrated with the Ice Lake processor is essentially the new version of the old graphics card. Apple says the new graphics are "80% faster performance over the previous generation 13in MacBook Pro for 4K video editing, faster rendering, and smoother gameplay". Needless to say we will be running tests.
The 2019 MacBook Air also features the Intel Iris Plus Graphics so it will be interesting to see how these machines compare.
It's great to see a boost to the storage in the MacBook Pro from 128GB to 256GB and 512GB, but that's not the only improvement to the storage offering.
There is now a 2TB SSD build to order option for an additional £600/$600 – snd a 4TB SSD build to order option for an additional £1,200/$1,200.
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