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CNN —  

Apple announced the 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro just a few days ago, but we’ve already spent about the last 48 hours with the latest Mac. And not just one of them, two: the $1,299 8th-Gen Core i5 and the $1,799 10th-Gen Core i5.

Price is a key difference, but the processor, amount of RAM and storage size are key as well.

These are an improvement over the previous generation, and notably, feature the Magic Keyboard. That’s the same keyboard that wowed us on the 16-inch MacBook Pro, 2020 MacBook Air and the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro. There’s also more value at these price points with double the storage, and in the case of higher-end models, a better processor and RAM configuration.

Both still run faster than the 2020 MacBook Air, and you’ll see even more improvements with the $1,799 model, given it’s powered by a 10th-gen Core i5.

Here’s our first take after two days with these new MacBook Pros.

The Magic Keyboard is as responsive as ever

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The big deal here is that the Magic Keyboard is standard on both models. It’s akin to the experience we had on the 16-inch MacBook Pro and 2020 MacBook Air, and pretty darn close to the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro (both 11- and 12.9-inch models).

The Magic Keyboard is stupendously responsive, which makes it exhilarating to type on. You get 1 millimeter of key travel across these, thanks to an Apple-designed switch mechanism and a rubber dome under the keycap that enables this responsiveness. There’s a certain recoil with each keypress, but you don’t feel the keys bottom out at all.

The keys are sturdy, and the corners are slightly raised with a gradual slope going toward the center. You can easily find the keys, and even a press closer to one corner quickly registers.

The key caps are plastic and feel quite tactile; you’ll know when you engage one. And as we said in the 2020 MacBook Air review, this isn’t a cramped layout. The Magic Keyboard on the 13-inch is the same as the 16-inch. You have ample space between keys — we didn’t accidentally tap adjacent keys.

The other good news is that the physical Escape key has returned. It’s the same width as other core keys and about half the height (making it equal to the Touch Bar width). It’s easy to tap and handy to have always available.

The Touch Bar doesn’t feel too cramped either, and provides quick access to application shortcuts. It’s great for texting, with easy access to emojis or to a tapback. The right side of the Touch Bar is complemented with the Touch ID sensor, and authentication with unlocking, setting permissions and using Apple Pay was fast.


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There’s a difference in performance between the $1,299 and the $1,799 models.

Even though both are faster than the MacBook Air, there’s a different architecture at play in each: The MacBook Air uses a 10th-Gen Core i3, while the MacBook Pro has an 8th-Gen Core i5 or a 10th-Gen Core i5. We noticed a speed improvement when testing Migration Assistant, making edits in Photoshop and exporting a file in iMovie.

There are also differences between the 8th-Gen Core i5 and the 10th-Gen Core i5. The $1,799 model has a newer chip, which is noticeably quicker. The fan kicked in less and it completed tasks faster — from opening several dozen tabs in Google Chrome to installing Slack and running Photoshop exports. The overall experience was quite responsive.

Both of these can handle everyday core tasks (we’re talking large Photoshop exports, iMovie creations, light gaming and even intense formulas). You’ll notice that these tasks are faster on the 10th-Gen Core i5, especially when paired with double the RAM. It has more of a runway for these tasks and remains more responsive during high-performance tasks.

We made the fan kick on both models, but it never reached the point where they were too hot to touch.

It’s a similar design

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Apple didn’t change much in terms of design, once again proving that if it’s not broken, you don’t need to fix it.

All models of the 13-inch MacBook Pro still pack an expansive trackpad. We’re big fans of the larger space — it’s great for gestures, dragging and dropping files, and navigating between multiple monitors.

You’ll also get the same aluminum unibody design; silver or space gray are the color options. These ship with a 61-watt USB Type C power adapter and a 2-meter USB Type C charging cable.

The $1,299 model includes only two Thunderbolt 3 USB Type C ports on the left side, while the right side features the headphone jack. There are four Thunderbolt 3 USB Type C ports on the $1,799 model, along with a headphone jack.

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There’s still a built-in 720p camera, something we hoped Apple would have updated by now. We’re also still watching the clock while waiting for Apple to include Face ID and a True Depth camera system on Macs.

The 13.3-inch Retina display is vibrant as ever and is bright at 500 nits. Creative professionals will appreciate that colors are realistically presented. It also has no issues displaying images that feature both bright and dark colors.

Final thoughts

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The Magic Keyboard is definitely our favorite feature after 48 hours. The responsiveness of the keys won us over, and we think you’ll find typing on it to be an enjoyable experience. We’re just happy it made its way to the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

These are responsive and quickly handled our tests and tasks. You’ll notice an improvement over the previous gen with the $1,799 model, and both of these new models are faster than the MacBook Air.

We’ve quickly become fans and think these deliver a big value. You get double the storage across the board (compared with the previous model), and with the education discount, these are just $1,199 and $1,699. Graduation gift shoppers and students hoping to enter college in the fall should take notice.

Even the base $1,299 13-inch model will give you more of a runway for high-performance tasks than the MacBook Air, especially if you’re doing photo edits, spreadsheets and even graphic design or rendering.

And in case you’re wondering, this was written on the new 13-inch MacBook Pro — well, technically, two of them.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed price at the time of publication.