MacBook Pro Overview Updated March 18, 2021

MacBook Pro: The biggest and baddest Mac laptops

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August 2010 - April 2021

MacBook Pro has been the product name for Apple’s high-end laptop since early 2006 when the transition to Intel processors began. It has a storied history with many different models, and has lived through at least distinguishable generations. Here’s everything you need to know about the MacBook Pro at a high level, including a brief history and look at the most recent models.

MacBook Pro history

The aluminum build of the first generation models was significant, while the second generation took that innovation to the next level with a metal unibody. Then, the third generation MacBook Pro line introduced the famed Retina display, while the fourth generation brought the infamous Touch Bar and USB-C ports. The fifth generation models brought back the Magic Keyboard after years of Butterfly Keyboard madness, and the most recent sixth generation models brought the laptops into modern times with Apple Silicon.

Current generation 16-inch MacBook Pro

In November of 2019, Apple released a new high-end 16-inch MacBook Pro which replaced the 15-inch lineup. The model brings the return of the scissor switch mechanism with a ‘Magic Keyboard’, a six-speaker system, up to 8-core processor, and up to 64GB RAM.

In a statement, Apple VP Tom Boger described it as featuring a “larger display, blazing-fast performance, the biggest battery possible, the best notebook keyboard ever, awesome speakers and massive amounts of storage”.

The laptop brought a larger display, great performance, the biggest battery physically possible (literally — it’s the largest battery you can still carry on a plane), and high performance speakers. The keyboard is great, bringing back the inverted T arrow key.

While it’s not an Apple Silicon model (those are rumored to be coming later), Apple improved the thermal performance in the 16-inch model. The new models feature 6- and 8-core CPUs and up to 64GB RAM, and GPUs that offer up to 2.1 times faster graphics performance than the previous standard configuration.

Apple is claiming this is the first notebook in the world to offer an 8 TB option for internal storage. As standard, it now comes with 512GB SSD — double the previous generation. With the release of the 16-inch MacBook Pro, Apple discontinued the older 15-inch model.

16-inch pricing

There are two main base models for the 16-inch MacBook Pro: an i7 model with 512GB of storage and an i9 model with 1TB of storage. You can check Amazon prices below, or configure your own at Apple.

16-inch MacBook Pro i7 (Check Amazon)

  • 2.6GHz 6-core 9th-generation Intel Core i7 processor
  • Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz
  • AMD Radeon Pro 5300M with 4GB of GDDR6 memory
  • 16GB of 2666MHz DDR4 memory
  • 512GB of SSD storage¹
  • 16-inch Retina display with True Tone
  • Magic Keyboard
  • Touch Bar and Touch ID
  • Four Thunderbolt 3 ports

16-inch MacBook Pro i9 (Check Amazon)

  • 2.3GHz 8-core 9th-generation Intel Core i9 processor
  • Turbo Boost up to 4.8GHz
  • AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 4GB of GDDR6 memory
  • 16GB of 2666MHz DDR4 memory
  • 1TB of SSD storage¹
  • 16-inch Retina display with True Tone
  • Magic Keyboard
  • Touch Bar and Touch ID
  • Four Thunderbolt 3 ports

Current-generation 13-inch MacBook Pro

Apple recently refreshed the 13-inch MacBook Pro, and with that refresh came one of the biggest changes to Apple’s lineup of laptops in quite some time: Apple Silicon. For right now, the difference between the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the 16-inch model are pretty major, and it all comes down to how the laptops fare in CPU performance. Both in raw performance and heat/battery consumption, the 13-inch models are better.

13-inch pricing

There are two main models for the 13-inch MacBook Pro: an M1 model with an 8-core CPU and 256GB of storage, and an M1 model with an 8 core CPU and 512GB of storage.

13-inch MacBook Pro 256GB (Check Amazon)

  • Apple M1 chip with 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine
  • 8GB unified memory
  • 256GB SSD storage¹
  • 13-inch Retina display with True Tone
  • Magic Keyboard
  • Touch Bar and Touch ID
  • Force Touch trackpad
  • Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports

13-inch MacBook Pro 512GB (Check Amazon)

  • Apple M1 chip with 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine
  • 8GB unified memory
  • 512GB SSD storage¹
  • 13-inch Retina display with True Tone
  • Magic Keyboard
  • Touch Bar and Touch ID
  • Force Touch trackpad
  • Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports

Differences between 13-inch and 16-inch models

In terms of size, the 16-inch is noticeably larger and heavier. In addition to the overall increase in footprint to accommodate the larger display, the 16-inch model is also around 1-pound heavier. You will notice slightly smaller bezels on the 16-inch model compared to the 13-inch. Here are all of the details:

Both the 13-inch and 16-inch are available in silver and space gray.

As mentioned, the biggest difference between the two MacBook Pro models sold by Apple is the CPU. Apple Silicon is a whole new ballgame, and until Apple launches a 16-inch model with the M1 or M2 chip, you might want to hold off on buying the larger one.

There’s also the display: the 16-inch MacBook Pro features a resolution of 3072×1920, which equates to a density of 226 pixels-per-inch (PPI). The 13-inch MacBook Pro features a resolution of 2560×1600, which equates to a density of 227 pixels-per-inch (PPI). Both displays feature things like Apple’s True Tone display technology for adaptable color temperature, a P3 color gamut, and more.

Perhaps a more apt comparison — apples to apples, no pun intended — would be the 13-inch MacBook Pro compared to the 13-inch MacBook Air. Both sport the M1 chip, and you can read about the differences here.

MacBook Pro Stories April 9

The Brydge MacBook Vertical Dock is the latest incarnation of what used to be Henge Docks. Brydge acquired the company back in 2019 and has continued to develop new models since then.

The concept of a laptop dock has been around for decades now. The basic idea is that you use the laptop as a standalone machine when mobile, then snap it into a dock when you return to your desk, to effectively turn it into a desktop computer. There are, though, two different takes on the idea …

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MacBook Pro Stories April 7

Intel shows off MacBook Pro in an ad for a processor Apple doesn’t use

Intel has been throwing a lot of shade at Apple since the company started the shift to its Apple Silicon chips with the first M1 Macs last fall. The most recent series of its “Go PC” ads even feature former “I’m a Mac” star Justin Long mocking the new M1 Macs. In an ironic move, Intel is now using the MacBook Pro in a new ad to promote “The world’s best processor on a thin and light laptop” that’s not found in any of Apple’s notebooks.

MacBook Pro Stories April 1

A federal judge has ruled that Apple is assumed* to have knowingly sold defective Macs, in response to an application for a class action lawsuit against the company. The lawsuit is over the MacBook Pro “stage light” fault, in which the backlight takes on the appearance of stage lighting at the bottom of the screen before later failing completely.

*Update: Legal commentators have pointed out that the judge has not ruled that Apple did so, but in deciding that there is merit to the case, he in law assumes the allegations to be true.

The judge said the court would also consider allegations that Apple deleted forum posts complaining about the issue …

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MacBook Pro Stories March 30

An Apple patent granted today describes a MacBook with a solid-state keyboard using an all-touch surface which can be reconfigured as the user desires.

A user working with numbers might opt for a large numeric keyboard, for example, while an artist might instead choose a large area for drawing …

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MacBook Pro Stories March 23

Apple has long been on a mission to make MacBooks ever thinner, and a new patent granted today describes how a retractable keyboard could help.

Earlier patents suggest that Apple’s long-term goal is a completely solid-state keyboard, which uses electrostatic charges to allow users to “feel” keys so that touch-typing remains possible, and haptic motors to simulate key presses for the feel of a physical keyboard …

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MacBook Pro Stories March 22

A judge has officially certified a class action lawsuit against Apple over its controversial butterfly keyboard design that plagued the MacBook lineup for years. As reported by the Verge, the lawsuit covers all of the MacBook models that feature a butterfly keyboard.

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