The 2020 MacBook Pro is best told as a tale of two devices.
You see, Apple’s 2020 refresh on the 13-inch MacBook Pro isn’t a redesign. It’s still housed in its now-classic aluminum unibody design. There are USB Type-C ports. The headphone jack is still on board. It has Intel power processors and a solid state drive. And it keeps a 13-inch Retina display.
So what’s new? Every 13-inch MacBook Pro now sports a Magic Keyboard, the processors are quicker and storage is doubled across all preconfigured models (which is a huge value).
Let’s dive into what we found while testing out the 2020 MacBook Pros, and, like most tales, we’ll begin with what you first see.
With the lid closed on the 13-inch MacBook Pro, you wouldn’t know if it’s the 2020 or the 2019 model. The 2020 MacBook Pro is slightly thicker to accommodate the Magic Keyboard, but by all accounts, this looks like a MacBook Pro.
The base $1,299 model features two USB Type-C ports on the left side and an audio jack on the right. The $1,799 has four USB Type-C ports, split between two on the left and two on the right, plus a headphone jack on the right side. That’s the only way to tell the difference.
Opening the lid presents you with the Retina display that still has bezels around every side. Above the display is a 720p webcam. It works well enough, but we’re eagerly waiting for Apple to update this. Allow us to quickly make a plea to Apple: Please — pretty please — put a True Depth setup with Face ID here next time.
And then there’s the Magic Keyboard in all its glory. Fun fact: Did you know the Magic Keyboard on the 13-inch is the same size as the one on the 16-inch? That’s good news because it won’t feel cramped. You have speaker grilles with drilled holes on the left and right side of the keyboards. The expansive trackpad is at the bottom.
The hinge for the display feels quite sturdy and you don’t need to strain your hand or wrist when moving it to whatever degree works best for you. And coming down from the 16-inch MacBook Pro as our daily drive, it’s remarkable how light the 13-inch MacBook Pro is in your hand. It weighs just north of 3 pounds, and even with the Magic Keyboard, it’s less than an inch thick. And if you’re upgrading from a previous model, this still fits snuggly in the Apple-made 13-inch MacBook Pro sleeves.
Apple didn’t change much here. You get a Retina display with True Tone, which allows it to intelligently adjust the color temperature of the display to your environment. It reads the room with the ambient light sensor.
The overall picture will be vivid with any use case and it leads to an immersive feel. It can present millions of colors and it supports the P3 Wide Color gamut. This notion is important for some pro workflows and creative tasks, and you can appropriately and effectively handle color grading. The MacBook Air doesn’t support this and the MacBook Pro display also gets brighter than the Air at up to 500 nits.
Visuals are great on both models. You’ll see a vibrant end result that takes good care of both brighter tones and darker tones to generate contrast. As we do with most devices, we tested Elsa’s ocean during “Frozen II” streamed via Disney+. It’s a good test, as there’s Elsa with her bright white skin and a sparkly outfit against a dark sea background. It’s a mixture of black, navy and dark blue waves — tinged with white sea foam — crashing during a storm. The MacBook Pro was up for the challenge and delivered an immersive experience. Compared to the MacBook Air, we found that the blacks and darker blues offered a deeper color level — likely a result of the P3 support and a larger range of brightness to move within. Additionally, with Elsa and her dress there was a wider range of whites and silvers being depicted. With a live action film like “Austin Powers: Goldmember,” the vibrancy of the outfits was depicted quite well. They didn’t appear overly vibrant or saturated as happens with some displays. The Retina display, overall, presents a more realistic visual experience.
Anyway you slice it, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is still a Pro device.
In comparison with the MacBook Air, it’s a faster chipset out of the box —- even if the base 13-inch is sticking with an 8th Gen Core i5. And the $1,799 with 10th Gen Core i5s offers serious power. The interior thermal architecture works to keep the internals cool and ensures a safe operating experience. It also allows you to push these without buckling or hearing the fan kicking into overdrive during run-of-the-mill tasks. Or, at worst, causing a computer shutdown (which we didn’t experience).
As with any Underscored review, we ran a series of benchmarks that put the devices t