Which MacBook Professional 13 Ought to You Purchase? We Break it Down

The MacBook Pro 13 is the Apple device of choice for professionals looking for an extra portable laptop that can handle more demanding tasks. However, choosing the right configuration is not always easy.

Apple currently offers four starting points, each with its own customization options. These four are essentially divided in the middle: the two cheaper starting points use older 8th generation Intel CPUs, while the other two offer newer, more expensive 10th generation CPUs.

However, you cannot easily configure a component. With the 8th generation MacBooks you have up to four configuration options with the CPUs, memory and storage options offered by Apple. You have up to five on the 10th generation MacBook.

However, allow us to recommend the best configuration and why we chose it.

Overall best: 1.4 GHz quad-core processor, 512 GB memory ($ 1,499)

Dan Baker / Digital Trends

The 13-inch MacBook Pro for $ 1,299 has a 256 GB SSD, which may be too small for long-term storage. This is especially true if you download a lot of music and films. You want a laptop that will not be full after a few years and will force you to buy external storage.

While you can configure the storage to 2TB, this increases the price by $ 800, which means things get very expensive. The 4TB SSD is only available in the two higher starting points and increases the final price by a whopping $ 1,000. Ouch.

The next starting point, the $ 1,499 configuration with 512 GB of storage, should be more suitable for most MacBook users on a budget. It also offers the ability to configure a better processor, more RAM, and more memory, so you can use a more powerful computer for demanding tasks if necessary.

All in all, it corresponds to the minimalist ideals of the MacBook and at the same time offers the right amount of performance and memory.

Everything about storage

Stock photo of MacBook Pro

It is important to choose the right amount of memory when purchasing a MacBook Pro, as you cannot manually update the SSD later.

There are three standard storage options from the MacBook Pro 13's four starting points: 256 GB, 512 GB and 1 TB. However, these can be increased to 2 TB or 4 TB if you need more storage space depending on the starting point selected.

All storage options are PCIe-based SSDs. This means that reading and writing of data is considerably faster compared to older SATA memories. Most of the smaller ultrabook-style laptops are being switched to SSD storage due to these advantages. So this is not a big surprise.

Are these memory-related decisions important to you? Let's split the support question into two different situations:

You don't need a lot of space

As seen in our top selection, choose the 512GB option. You get the amount of storage you need and avoid the risk of filling your SSD before you can switch to another laptop.

While the 256GB capacity is cheaper, you also need to consider MacOS, the Mac App Store apps, the desktop software, and the games you want to install. Let's not forget all the fun things you want to store locally, like photos from your iPhone and iPad backups. 256 GB may not be enough.

However, both of these may be suitable for work-oriented MacBooks that don't need to store large video or music files.

You need a lot of space

In this case, you have two main options: you can either bite the bullet and invest in a larger, more expensive SSD while configuring your Mac, or buy a secondary external hard drive (HDD) with less capacity.

However, there are a few things to consider when making this selection.

First, Apple's PCIe SSDs are significantly faster than an external hard drive. This may not be a problem if you use the hard drive to store files that you rarely access. However, if you use it frequently, you can feel the slowdown.

Second, the MacBook Pro currently only has Thunderbolt 3 ports (via USB-C). So if you buy an external hard drive, make sure you buy a compatible one. Also buy an external SSD that supports Thunderbolt 3 so you can take advantage of the fast transfer speeds of 40 Gbit / s.

Additional hardware

In addition to choosing the right amount of memory, Apple offers the ability to customize the memory and processor of your MacBook Pro before purchase.

As mentioned earlier, Apple divides the four starting points into two halves: the bottom two are based on older 8th generation Intel CPUs, while the other two use newer 10th generation Intel CPUs.

In particular, the first two begin with the Core i5-8257U quad-core chip, which you can reconfigure with the Core i7-8557U quad-core chip. These configurations only offer two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports.

The second two starting points offer the newer Core i5-1038NG7 quad-core chip as standard, which you can reconfigure to the Core i7-1068NG7 quad-core chip. These configurations include four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports.

If you need to run a lot of sophisticated software on your Mac for work or school, choosing a more powerful chip can be worth it. However, keep in mind that these options increase your final cost between $ 200 and $ 300. If you're not interested in processor speed or software, don't reconfigure the base CPU just because you can. Save the money.

The same rule applies to RAM. The base 8 GB of RAM is probably the total memory that the average laptop user needs. Configuring the MacBook with 16 GB RAM can be helpful when running many complex programs like AutoCAD. However, if you did, you probably wouldn't buy the 13-inch MacBook Pro through its 16-inch sibling. Do not choose more RAM just because the number is larger. It is only good if you have a specific reason for it.

A short word about the retina

MacOS Catalina to touch | Macbook ProDan Baker / Digital Trends

A look at these four starting points shows that all are Retina MacBooks with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 pixels. "Retina" is Apple's trademark for the latest generation of computer screens, but does not represent a fixed resolution or number of pixels.

So what is it?

Simply put, "retina" means that the pixels are too small to be seen from a reasonable viewing distance. According to Apple, this means a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 at 227 pixels per inch (ppi) for the MacBook Pro 13.

This changes with other devices. For example, the MacBook Pro 16 has a resolution of 3072 x 1920 at 226 ppi. The iPhone 11 Pro Max has a resolution of 2,688 x 1,242 at 456ppi.

In general, Apple calculates this based on how far you are from the screen in general use. We tend to keep our phones much closer to our faces than our computers, which is why the MacBook Pro 13 has fewer pixels than the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Don't worry – this retina label means it still looks nice and crisp, which we found in our review.

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