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.
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.
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 PCIe SSD storage makes your Macbook feel more responsive, is reliable and shock resistant.
– 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 backlit keyboard, great for typing
– 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 and screen hinge: All-aluminum unibody
– Pretty much the best trackpad available on a laptop, very large surface, with great multi-touch support
Why you might not want the 13.3″ Macbook Pro: Cons
– 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 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:
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.
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)
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.
It’s available in either Silver or Space Grey.
– Core i5 2.3-3.6GHz, 8GB RAM, 128GB storage: $1199.99 at B&H
– Core i5 2.3-3.6GHz, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage: $1,399.00 at B&H
– Core i5 2.3-3.6GHz, 8GB RAM, 512GB storage: $1,679.00 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: $1479.00 at B&H
– Core i5 2.3-3.6GHz, 16GB RAM, 256GB storage: $1,679.00 at B&H
– Core i5 2.3-3.6GHz, 16GB RAM, 512GB storage: $1,879.00 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: $2,179.00 at B&H
– Core i7 2.5-4GHz, 16GB RAM, 1TB storage: $2,599.00 at B&H
Base touchbar model:
– Core i5 3.1-3.5GHz, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage: $1599.00 at B&H
– Core i5 3.1-3.5GHz, 8GB RAM, 512GB storage: $1799.00 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: $1949.00 at B&H
– Core i5 3.1-3.5GHz, 16GB RAM, 512GB storage: $2179.00 at B&H
– Core i5 3.1-3.5GHz, 16GB RAM, 1TB storage: $2479.00 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: $2279.00 at B&H
– Core i7 3.5-4.0GHz, 16GB RAM, 512GB storage: $2479.00 at B&H
– Core i7 3.5-4.0GHz, 16GB RAM, 1TB storage: $2879.00 at B&H
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.