The new MacBook Pro models can be split into two main categories based on the processors they use (8th generation Core i processors and 10th generation Core i processors). The model we're reviewing this time is the higher-end model (Core i5/512GB storage).
Let's take a look at what's different, including the exterior.
There may have been rumors flying around about the 13-inch model being replaced with a 14-inch model, but even though that hasn't happened yet, this update is in a way just as impressive.
The deciding factor for some!? Finally, the Magic Keyboard
The biggest change to the hardware is probably the new Magic Keyboard. Starting with the MacBook Pro 16-inch model, Apple have since brought the scissor-style keys to the latest MacBook Air and Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro. This means that all of Apple's portable products have now made the switch from the thin, easy-to-type-on Butterfly switches to keyboards with the more commonly-used scissor-switch mechanisms.
▲The MacBook Pro keyboard. The ESC key has been separated, and it now uses scissor-switch keys
Apple has commented that "all of our keyboards are now made in the same way," and when using them I have to say I haven't noticed much difference between this keyboard and the MacBook Air (2020 model) that I had at hand.
There have been many changes to the area around the Touch Bar and the position of keys in the MacBook Pro 13-inch model (to bring it in line with the 16-inch model). Notably, the ESC key and Touch ID sensor have now been separated from the Touch Bar. Much like with the changes to the keyboard switches this is definitely a change in direction, but a welcome one.
The changes to the keyboard are just about the only real updates to the outside of the device. This model has 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports on each side of the chassis (compared to just being on the left side on the lower-end model). There have been no changes to the power delivery or the display specifications.
However, if you compare the spec sheets we can see that the 2019 model weighs in at 1.37kg while the 2020 model is 1.4 kg. But of course the MacBook Pro has never been a particularly light 13-inch notebook, so the difference here isn't significant.
▲Front: MacBook Air, Back: MacBook Pro. As before, I'm very much torn over which of these I would choose
Now to the most important changes, the insides. However, on this point there are a lot of differences between the lower-end and higher-end versions of the new model.
Performance is "Around Double the High-end MacBook Air"
There are 4 main types of the new MacBook Pro. They can be split into 2 lower-end models and 2 higher-end models. The biggest difference between the lower- and higher-end models is the use of Intel's older 8th generation chipsets over the newer 10th generation chips.
Looking just at the spec sheets you'd be forgiven for thinking the lower end models will perform very similarly to the 2019 models. As I'll go into more depth later, the cost performance has drastically increased, so I'll bring this back up then. However, for those of you who are looking for maximum performance from their MacBook Pro, then you'll be going for the higher-end models with their 10th generation chipsets.
However, the changes go beyond the CPU, we should also look at the GPU.
A feature of the 10th generation Core i series (known as Ice Lake) is the increased performance in the internal GPU.
The models we'll be comparing here are the MacBook Air (2020 model, quad-core Intel Core i5 high-end model) and the new MacBook Pro. As I mentioned earlier, the new MacBook Pro we used in this comparison is the high-end model with a quad-core Core i5 CPU (2GHz clock, Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz). Apple traditionally does not list the model numbers of the CPUs used in their products, but it seems this time they're using a Core i5-1038NG7. Intel's product specification page says that the product will ship in Q2 2020 with a TDP of 28W, so it is likely that the chipset was introduced in conjunction with this product line.
▲CPU screen on Geekbench 5. Equipped with the Core i5-1038NG7
The differences are clear in the benchmark results. Comparing the high-end models of both the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro shows around double the performance in both CPU and GPU tests.
▲Comparing the CPU performance in Geekbench 5. MacBook Air in white, MacBook Pro in black. Single-core performance is only around 30% better, but this increases to almost double in the multi-core test.
▲Similarly, it is the same in the OpenCL GPU test from Geekbench 5. Once again the Pro (black) is about double the Air (white).
▲Comparing the GPUs with the Metal score. Here again the Pro gets almost double the Air score.
Incidentally, we also ran the same tests on the iPad Pro (2020 model, 12.9-inch model). It seems we now live in a world where the iPad Pro is nearly as powerful as the MacBook Pro.
▲For reference, the Geekbench 5 test results for the iPad Pro
I wanted to find a more eye-catching way of comparing the difference... so I decided to see how well each model ran Fortnite. Fortnite isn't a particularly graphic-intensive game, and can easily be run even on notebooks that don't have an external graphics card.
The Difference Becomes Clear when Comparing with Fortnite. However, what does this Difference mean?
The settings I used for this video were: full screen, 1440×900, 60fps, graphics set to auto. In order to keep the performance hit of recording the video to a minimum I used screen capturing software. I also didn't want to be a bother to the other players so I chose to play in Creative mode for the video.
▲Comparing the performance in Fortnite. This should be no problem for the MacBook Pro
The results are clear in this test, too. Compared to the obvious stuttering from dropped frames on the MacBook Air, the MacBook Pro was buttery smooth.
However, there are numerous subtleties in play when comparing 3D performance. We can't deny that there's a difference between them, but what is important is the question "What does this mean?"
It's clear that the Pro has better 3D performance. But how much better? Obviously even the MacBook Pro can't compete with the MacBook Pro 16-inch models and Windows gaming PCs that come with external GPUs. So if gaming is important to you then you are still much better off by going with a Windows machine.
When not being used for gaming or 3D graphics, the GPU is currently only used for connecting to external displays and imaging/video applications that are designed to use it. These things aren't so important when you're "mobile." However, if you're buying the MacBook Pro to be your daily computer then it's a different story. In applications like those then the performance is what matters.
Above all, I'm just glad that the new lineup of Apple products have actually come down in price even though they now have more storage and memory. Even if you go for the 512GB SSD you'll be saving money, making it a more practical choice. In my opinion the best value for money in this lineup is the model with 512GB storage.
The new Model's Biggest Advantage? Its Increased Storage. Making Performance and Cost Comparisons with the 512GB Models
In other words, out of the MacBook Air lineup I recommend the 130,000 yen model and I recommend the 180,000 yen MacBook Pro model. As I mentioned earlier, for just 50,000 yen extra you get double the performance and 8GB of memory. Even the display is a little brighter.
However, if price is your main concern then the MacBook Air is a better choice for you than the MacBook Pro. That applies more than ever this year. However, if you're upgrading your main PC, then that "second-best" 13-inch MacBook Pro is hard to ignore. You're able to upgrade the CPU to a Core i7, but the GPU performance won't change all that much. After all, they both have the same GPU. Which is why I think that this model is the best of the bunch. After that you then just have to decide whether it's worth dishing out the extra 20,000 yen for more performance and storage.
This article was originally written in Japan. The images and content are as they were in Japan at the time of writing.