This is one of 5 articles dedicated to Apple’s Macbooks:

1. How to choose the best Apple Macbook 12″
2. How to choose the best Apple Macbook Air 11
3. How to choose the best Apple Macbook Air 13
4. How to choose the best Apple Macbook Pro 13 (this article)
5. How to choose the best Apple Macbook Pro 15

Who is the Macbook Pro 13 ideal for?

Anyone who wants a laptop that offers great performance, with an outstanding display, great sound quality, an excellent backlit keyboard and trackpad, that’s solid, light weight, without the bulk, price nor requirement of the higher performance of the Macbook Pro 15.

What is the Macbook Pro 13 good for?

– Web browsing, office work (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc.), social media, e-mails
– Listening to music as well watching TV/movies from local files or streaming.
– Audio/photo/video editing. Are you a pro working with heavy files and demanding programs? You may want to consider the more powerful Macbook Pro 15.

Basically the Macbook Pro 13 can handle most workloads, except for more demanding audio, photo, video and 3D editing, which run more smoothly on the more powerful Macbook Pro 15, which is equipped with a quad-core CPU and a dedicated graphic card.

The Macbook Pro 13.3", Retina display, solid, reliable, .6" thick and 3lbs.

The Macbook Pro 13.3″, Retina display, solid, reliable, .6″ thick and 3lbs.

Why do you want the Macbook Pro 13: Pros

– Outstanding display: 2560 x 1600 13.3″ Retina, high maximum brightness (500 nits) and a calibrated IPS panel for accurate colors with DCI P3 color space support and great viewing angles.
– High-performance memory (RAM)
– Very high performance, reliable and shock resistant PCIe solid state drive storage.
– Better performance than the Macbook 12: Dual-core CPUs with much higher frequencies, resulting in better performance.
– Only 3 lbs and 0.59″ thick. Not as thin nor as light as the Macbook Air or 12″, but still very portable for such a powerful laptop.
– It’s an Apple computer: macOS, Time Machine backup, many built-in apps, highly reliable, excellent customer service.
– Excellent keyboard, great for typing
– Backlit keyboard
– High-end performance storage makes your computer feel more responsive.
– Outstanding speakers: They get very loud, have great dynamic range and solid bass. It doesn’t get much better than that on a 13″ class laptop.
– Very quiet: The fan is hardly audible, unless you push the CPU to 100% for a long time.
– Long battery life: 10 hours of web browsing
– Solid chassis: All-aluminum unibody
– Solid screen hinge
– Pretty much the best trackpad available on a laptop, very large surface, with great multi-touch support
– Bluetooth 4.2
– Latest generation 802.11ac WiFi

Why you might not want the 13.3″ Macbook Pro: Cons

– Expensive: Starting at $1279.00
– Limited amount of ports: 2 or 4 Thunderbolt 3/USB Type-C is all you get. You’ll most likely require an adapter (dongle), USB hub or a dock for your older USB Type-A devices, memory cards and such.
– Good, but not the best CPU performance: The Macbook Pro 13.3″ is equipped with a dual-core CPU. Not ideal for heavy photo/video editing, heavy multitasking or demanding programs where high sustained CPU performance is required. You’ll want the Macbook Pro 15.4″ if performance is your #1 priority.
– Limited GPU (video card) performance. Not ideal for fast video editing or 3D rendering: you want the Macbook Pro 15 with its dedicated video card for that.
– Webcam is limited to 720p HD (0.7 Megapixels). Disappointing when compared to the Ipad or Iphone.
– No LAN RJ-45 port. You can a USB adapter for 10/100 speed, or a Thunderbolt adapter for Gigabit speed.
– No optical drive. Normal on a 13″ laptop. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
– No Numpad: Again, not a surprise on a 13″ laptop
– The Macbook Pro 13 RAM cannot be upgraded: It’s soldered.
– The SSD storage cannot be be upgraded on the Macbook Pro 13 with touchbar: it’s soldered.
– SSD storage can be upgraded only on the non-touchbar models, if you can find a SSD that fits the proprietary connector, have the right tools, don’t mind following a guide to disassemble your Macbook Pro and a guide to copy your data.

How to Choose your Macbook Pro 13

What you need to know:

What’s better on the Mid 2017 models compared to the Late 2016 models:

Faster CPU, improved integrated graphics, faster RAM on non-touch models

1. Higher performance CPU: You get the newer, higher performance, 7th generation Intel Core CPU architecture, Kabylake. Thanks to architecture optimization such as faster clock speed changes (improved Speed Shift technology): it takes less time for the CPU to transition from one frequency to another, e.g. from a low-power state to a high-performance state – consequently this may bring an increase in performance and responsiveness. Expect 10 to 30% more CPU performance.
2. Higher performance graphics: You now get Intel Iris Plus 640 (non touchbar models) or Iris Plus 650 (touchbar models) 650 instead of the Intel Iris 540 or 550. Expect 5 to 40% better performance. Final Cut gets a big performance boost, 35-40% faster render and encode speed.
3. Non touch models get higher performance memory (RAM): Just like the touch models, non touch models now get LPDDR3 2133MHz RAM, as opposed to 1866MHz on the late 2016 non touch models.

Mid 2017 Apple Macbook Pro 13 models:

All the Mid 2017 models have this in common:

Dimensions: Width x Thickness x Depth: 12.0 x 0.59 x 8.4″ / 30.5 x 1.5 x 21.3 cm
Weight: 3.00 lbs (1.36kg)
RAM: LPDDR3 2133MHz
Screen: 2560 x 1600 13.3″ Retina display, with an IPS panel for accurate colors and great viewing angles.
Storage: High performance PCI-Express based SSDs (Solid State Drive) storage. This offers you a better computer experience because it responds to your inputs much more quickly. Programs launch far more quickly, the Operating System starts in seconds and resumes from sleep instantaneously. No noise, no vibration, higher reliability and higher resistance to shocks. See the SSD FAQ for more details on SSDs.
Ports: With Touch bar: 4 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C) Ports, 3.5mm combo jack. Without Touch Bar: 2 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C) Ports, 3.5mm combo jack
Networking: 802.11ac 2×2:2, Bluetooth 4.2
Battery: Up to 10 hours
OS: macOS Sierra, with many built-in apps. Windows through Bootcamp, if needed.

The 5 differences between all the models:

touchbar

1. Touch Bar or No Touch Bar:
Number of Ports, CPU & GPU performance and Price

You have the choice of buying your Macbook with the Touch Bar or the classic row of function keys (F1, F2, etc.).

The Touch Bar is basically a thin and wide touchscreen above the number row, with useful shortcuts that are based on the app that you are using, that can be customized as you wish.

On the far right side, it features a touch ID sensor, for secure login and secure purchases.

Some people love it, some people hate it. I think that it’s a matter of getting used to it, so that it becomes a second nature to take advantage of it.

That said, it’s optional on the new Macbook Pro 13, so you can choose to get it or not.

Be aware that having a touch bar or not also affects 4 other things on the Mid 2017 models!

1- Number of Thunderbolt / USB Type-C Ports
Models with the touch bar have twice the number (4x) Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C) Ports, while the models without the touch bar are limited to two Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C) Ports. Keep in mind that charging your Macbook uses one of those ports.

2- CPU performance
Models without the touch bar are limited to lower performance CPUs, while models with the touch bar are equipped with higher performance CPUs. See the section below for more details about this.

3- Graphics performance
Models with the touch bar are equipped with faster Intel Iris Plus 650 GPU, while models without the touch bar are equipped with the Intel Iris Plus 640 GPU.

4- Price
Finally, the models with the touch bar are more expensive than the ones without it.

2. Choose between 2 or 3 levels of CPU performance:

You see, depending on whether you choose a Macbook with or without a touch bar, it will be equipped with different CPUs.

Basically, the models that are equipped with the touch bar offers higher CPU performance, with significantly higher base frequencies.

Macbook Pro 13 Mid 2017, no touch bar, from the lowest to highest performance:
– Intel Core i5-7360U Kaby Lake, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.3-3.6GHz
– Intel Core i7-7660U Kaby Lake, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.5-4.0GHz

Macbook Pro 13 Mid 2017, with touch bar, from the lowest to highest performance:
– Intel Core i5-7267U Kaby Lake, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 3.1-3.5GHz
– Intel Core i5-7287U Kaby Lake, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 3.3-3.7GHz
– Intel Core i7-7567U Kaby Lake, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 3.5-4.0GHz

The difference is in the base and Turbo clock frequencies (speed). Higher frequencies (number in GHz) mean higher performance.

3. Four storage capacities:
128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB (1024GB)

Unsure about how whether you want 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB (1024GB) of storage?

Read our article on How to choose the right SSD storage capacity and pay less for your computer to figure it out.

4. Choose between 8GB or 16GB of memory (RAM)

4GB_RAM_macbook_airYou have the choice between 8GB and 16GB of memory.

Is 8GB of RAM enough for you or do you want 16GB?

It depends on what you intend to do with your Macbook Pro.

If you only use your MacBook Pro to run a few basic programs at once, like email, some Excel, Word, a web browser, and iTunes, 8GB is plenty of memory.

On the other hand, if you run multiple programs at once, run heavier programs (audio/photo/video/3D), like to multitask and have no time to lose, 16 GB is the wiser option.

If you intend on keeping your Macbook Pro for many years, going with 16GB is a good idea, seeing as memory usage keeps increasing, with newer versions of programs using more and more memory.

Keep in mind that the memory is soldered in the Macbook Pro computer, so you cannot add memory to upgrade your computer.

5. Color

It’s available in either Silver or Space Grey.

Macbook 13 Mid 2017 without a touchbar:

Base models:
– Core i5 2.3-3.6GHz, 8GB RAM, 128GB storage: $1279.00 at B&H
– Core i5 2.3-3.6GHz, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage: $1,479.00 at B&H
– Core i5 2.3-3.6GHz, 8GB RAM, 512GB storage: $1,699.00 at B&H
– Core i5 2.3-3.6GHz, 8GB RAM, 1TB storage: $2,099.00 at B&H

Base level CPU, with twice the RAM:
– Core i5 2.3-3.6GHz, 16GB RAM, 128GB storage: $1499.00 at B&H
– Core i5 2.3-3.6GHz, 16GB RAM, 256GB storage: $1,699.00 at B&H
– Core i5 2.3-3.6GHz, 16GB RAM, 512GB storage: $1,899.00 at B&H
– Core i5 2.3-3.6GHz, 16GB RAM, 1TB storage: $2,299.00 at B&H

Faster CPU, but not as fast as the CPU found in the touchbar models:
– Core i7 2.5-4GHz, 16GB RAM, 256GB storage: $1,999.00 at B&H
– Core i7 2.5-4GHz, 16GB RAM, 512GB storage: $2,199.00 at B&H
– Core i7 2.5-4GHz, 16GB RAM, 1TB storage: $2,599.00 at B&H

Macbook 13 Mid 2017 with a touchbar

Base touchbar model:
– Core i5 3.1-3.5GHz, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage: $1769.00 at B&H
– Core i5 3.1-3.5GHz, 8GB RAM, 512GB storage: $1979.00 at B&H
– Core i5 3.1-3.5GHz, 8GB RAM, 1TB storage: $2399.00 at B&H

Slightly higher performance model:
– Core i5 3.3-3.7GHz, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage: $1899.00 at B&H
– Core i5 3.3-3.7GHz, 8GB RAM, 512GB storage: $2099.00 at B&H
– Core i5 3.3-3.7GHz, 8GB RAM, 1TB storage: $2499.00 at B&H

Touchbar base level of CPU performance, but with twice the RAM:
– Core i5 3.1-3.5GHz, 16GB RAM, 256GB storage: $1999.00 at B&H
– Core i5 3.1-3.5GHz, 16GB RAM, 512GB storage: $2199.00 at B&H
– Core i5 3.1-3.5GHz, 16GB RAM, 1TB storage: $2599.00 at B&H

Slightly faster CPU with 16GB of RAM:
– Core i5 3.3-3.7GHz, 16GB RAM, 256GB storage: $2099.00 at B&H
– Core i5 3.3-3.7GHz, 16GB RAM, 512GB storage: $2299.00 at B&H
– Core i5 3.3-3.7GHz, 16GB RAM, 1TB storage: $2699.00 at B&H

Highest-end Macbook Pro 13 configuration. Fastest CPU and 16GB of RAM:
– Core i7 3.5-4.0GHz, 16GB RAM, 256GB storage: $2299.00 at B&H
– Core i7 3.5-4.0GHz, 16GB RAM, 512GB storage: $2499.00 at B&H
– Core i7 3.5-4.0GHz, 16GB RAM, 1TB storage: $2899.00 at B&H

Late 2016 Apple Macbook Pro 13.3″ models:

All the Late 2016 models have this in common:

Dimensions: Width x Thickness x Depth: 12.0 x 0.6 x 8.4″ / 30.5 x 1.5 x 21.3 cm
Weight: 3.00 lbs (1.36kg)
Screen: 2560 x 1600 13.3″ Retina display, with an IPS panel for accurate colors and great viewing angles.
Storage: High performance PCI-Express based SSDs (Solid State Drive) storage. This offers you a better computer experience because it responds to your inputs much more quickly. Programs launch far more quickly, the Operating System starts in seconds and resumes from sleep instantaneously. No noise, no vibration, higher reliability and higher resistance to shocks. See the SSD FAQ for more details on SSDs.
Ports: With Touch bar: 4 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C) Ports, 3.5mm combo jack. Without Touch Bar: 2 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C) Ports, 3.5mm combo jack
Networking: 802.11ac 2×2:2, Bluetooth 4.2
Battery: Up to 10 hours
OS: macOS Sierra, with many built-in apps. Windows through Bootcamp, if needed.

The 5 differences between all the models:

touchbar

1. Touch Bar or No Touch Bar:
Number of Ports, CPU, Graphics and RAM performance, Battery Life and Price

You have the choice of buying your Macbook with the new Touch Bar or the classic row of function keys (F1, F2, etc.).

The Touch Bar is basically a thin and wide touchscreen above the number row, with useful shortcuts that are based on the app that you are using, that can be customized as you wish.

On the far right side, it features a touch ID sensor, for secure login and secure purchases.

Some people love it, some people hate it. I think that it’s a matter of getting used to it, so that it becomes a second nature to take advantage of it.

That said, it’s optional on the new Macbook Pro 13, so you can choose to get it or not.

Be aware that having a touch bar or not also affects 6 other things!

1- Number of Thunderbolt / USB Type-C Ports
Models with the touch bar have twice the number (4x) Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C) Ports, while the models without the touch bar are limited to two Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C) Ports. Keep in mind that charging your Macbook uses one of those ports.

2- CPU performance
Models without the touch bar are limited to lower performance CPUs, while models with the touch bar are equipped with higher performance CPUs. See the section below for more details about this.

3- Memory (RAM) performance
Models with the touch bar are equipped with faster 2133MHz RAM, while models without the touch bar are equipped with 1866MHz RAM.

4- Graphics performance
Models with the touch bar are equipped with faster Intel Iris Plus 650 GPU, while models without the touch bar are equipped with the Intel Iris Plus 640 GPU.

5- Battery life
Models with the touch bar are rated for one hour less of battery life, due to the higher power requirements of their higher performance CPU and the power required for the touch bar.

6- Price
Finally, the models with the touch bar are more expensive than the ones without the touch bar.

2. Choose between 2 or 3 levels of CPU performance:

You see, depending on whether you choose a Macbook with or without a touch bar, it will be equipped with different CPUs.

Basically, the models that are equipped with the touch bar offers higher CPU performance, with significantly higher base frequencies.

Macbook Pro 13 Late 2016, no touch bar, from the lowest to highest performance:
– Intel Core i5-6360U Skywell, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.0-3.1GHz
– Intel Core i7-6660U Skywell, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.4-3.4GHz

Macbook Pro 13 Late 2016, with touch bar, from the lowest to highest performance:
– Intel Core i5-6267U Skywell, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.9-3.3GHz
– Intel Core i5-6287U Skywell, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 3.1-3.5GHz
– Intel Core i7-6567U Skywell, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 3.3-3.6GHz

The difference is in the base and Turbo clock frequencies (speed). Higher frequencies (number in GHz) mean higher performance.

3. Three storage capacities:
256GB, 512GB or 1TB (1024GB)

Unsure about how whether you want 256GB, 512GB or 1TB (1024GB) of storage?

Read our article on How to choose the right SSD storage capacity and pay less for your computer to figure it out.

4. Choose between 8GB or 16GB of memory (RAM)

4GB_RAM_macbook_airYou have the choice between 8GB and 16GB of memory.

Is 8GB of RAM enough for you or do you want 16GB?

It depends on what you intend to do with your Macbook Pro.

If you only use your MacBook Pro to run a few basic programs at once, like email, some Excel, Word, a web browser, and iTunes, 8GB is plenty of memory.

On the other hand, if you run multiple programs at once, run heavier programs (audio/photo/video/3D), like to multitask and have no time to lose, 16 GB is the wiser option.

If you intend on keeping your Macbook Pro for many years, going with 16GB is a good idea, seeing as memory usage keeps increasing, with newer versions of programs using more and more memory.

Keep in mind that the memory is soldered in the Macbook Pro computer, so you cannot add memory to upgrade your computer.

5. Color

It’s available in either Silver or Space Grey.

Recommended Late 2016 Apple Macbook Pro 13 models:

While there are other models that are available, these are the only ones that I recommend, seeing as there’s enough of a discount compared to the comparable Mid 2017 models for me to recommend it.

Macbook Pro 13 Late 2016 without a Touch Bar:

– Core i5 2.0-3.1GHz, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage: $1,299.00 at B&H
A good choice if you want a Macbook Pro 13 with 256GB of storage at a lower cost.

Macbook Pro 13 Late 2016 with a Touch Bar:

Core i5 2.9-3.3GHz, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage: $1,599.00 at B&H
Core i5 2.9-3.3GHz, 8GB RAM, 512GB storage: $1,789.00 at B&H

Core i5 2.9-3.3GHz, 16GB RAM, 256GB storage: $1,799.00 at B&H
Core i5 2.9-3.3GHz, 16GB RAM, 1TB storage: $2,399.00 at B&H

Early 2015 Apple Macbook Pro 13 models:

If you aren’t a fan of the new design with only Thunderbolt / USB Type-C ports or if you wish to spend less money, an early 2015 model is an alternative.

Differences between the early 2015 models and the Late 2016/Mid 2017 models

The early 2015 model is roughly half a pound heavier, slightly thicker (.1″),

Performance wise, it’s equipped with a 5th generation Intel CPU instead of the 6th (late 2016) or 7th (mid 2017) generation.

The Core i5-5257U Broadwell, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.7-3.1GHz CPU equipped in the Early 2015 model that I recommend is a notch faster than the Core i5 in the Late 2016 non-touchbar and a notch slower than the Core i5 in the base model of the Mid 2017 Macbook Pro 13 without a touchbar. Late 2016 and Mid 2017 Macbook Pro 13 with a touchbar have significantly faster CPUs, so if you need the performance, get a newer model.

You will also get lower performance integrated graphics, so if you do video or 3D encoding or rendering, get a newer model.

Storage performance is significantly slower compared to the Late 2016 and Mid 2017 models, roughly half speed.

That said, you still get an high-performance PCIe Solid State Drive, just not one that’s as fast as the one on the Late 2016 and Mid 2017 models

Ports wise, on the early 2015 models you get a SDCX card reader, a HDMI output, 2x USB 3.0 Type-A ports, two ThunderBolt 2 ports and the MagSafe power connector, compared to two ThunderBolt 3/USB Type-C ports on the Late 2016 or Mid 2017 models without the touchbar or four ThunderBolt 3/USB Type-C ports on the Late 2016 or Mid 2017 models with the touchbar.

Early 2015 model specifications:

Dimensions: Height: 0.7″/ 1.8cm, Width: 12.3″/31.2cm, Depth: 8.6″/21.8cm
Weight: 3.46 lbs (1.57kg)
GPU: Intel HD Graphics 6100
Screen: 2560 x 1600 13.3″ Retina display, with an IPS panel for accurate colors and great viewing angles.
Storage: High performance PCI-Express based SSDs (Solid State Drive) storage. Compared to hard drives, this offers you a better computer experience because it responds to your inputs much more quickly. Programs launch far more quickly, the Operating System starts in seconds and resumes from sleep instantaneously. No noise, no vibration, higher reliability and higher resistance to shocks. See the SSD FAQ for more details on SSDs.
Ports: 2x USB3.0 (A), 2x ThunderBolt 2 (Mini DisplayPort via Thunderbolt port), 1x HDMI, SDXC card reader, 3.5mm combo jack
Networking: 802.11ac 2×2:2, Bluetooth 4.0
Battery: Up to 9 hours
OS: Mac OS X El Capitan or macOS Sierra, with many built-in apps. Windows through Bootcamp, if needed.

The only available configuration

1. Intel Core i5 2.7-3.1GHz, 8GB RAM, 128GB storage
$1199.00 at B&H

Equipped with the Intel Core i5-5257U Broadwell, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.7-3.1GHz CPU, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

Keep in mind that the RAM is soldered, so if 8GB isn’t enough for your current or future needs, opt for a newer model with 16GB of RAM.

128GB isn’t much storage but if you store your files online, stream and don’t store much on your laptop, it’s fine.

I only recommend it if you prefer the old Macbook Pro 13 design, with more ports and wish to spend as little money as possible. Keep in mind that you can get a more portable and higher performance model for less than $100 more.

Conclusion

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this article on how you can choose the ideal Macbook Pro 13.

Do you have any feedback or any questions? Are you unsure which Macbook Pro 13 is the best one for you?

Please leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.