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MacBook Pro: The biggest and baddest Mac laptops

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Apple's premium laptop comes in 13- and 16-inch screen sizes. Each model includes 2-4 USB-C ports for charging, accessories, and data transfer. Higher-end models also include the Touch Bar.

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.

16-inch macbook pro

How much is your MacBook Pro worth right now?

The MacBook Pro is one of Apple’s most popular laptops, and for good reason. With the exception of some keyboard stumbles and minor issues throughout the years, it’s certainly one of the best computers for professionals of all kinds. But as is the case with any other device we own, there comes a time to sell it or trade it in for an upgrade. In this article, we’re going to help you understand which MacBook Pro you have and check on its trade in value…

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What performance might we expect from the 2021 16-inch MacBook Pro?

2021 16-inch MacBook Pro will blow away the 13-inch model

We’re expecting Apple to launch the 2021 16-inch MacBook Pro later this year, with Apple Silicon. It’s currently unclear whether Apple will label the chip an M1X or M2, but either way, we can expect some pretty dramatic performance improvements over the current M1-based 13-inch MacBook Pro (above).

Exceeding the performance of Intel’s high-end CPUs doesn’t look like much of a challenge, but matching or beating the high-end GPUs available in build-to-order versions of the Intel machines could take more work…

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[Update: New for April] Best USB-C and Thunderbolt displays for Mac

USB-C/Thunderbolt display options have really grown over the last couple of years. While Apple is making its own monitor again with the Pro Display XDR, it’s not the best fit for the majority of Mac users with a starting price of $5,000 (without a stand). Let’s take a look at some of the best USB-C/Thunderbolt displays available in the $400-$1,300 range.

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[Update: Image] Apple ransomware leak corroborates 2021 MacBook Pro ports: HDMI, MagSafe, SD card slot

Update: The files also include an image that shows the I/O of a new MacBook Pro with USB-C, HDMI, and an SD card slot on the right-hand side of the machine.

A hacker group called REvil is currently in the process of blackmailing Apple supplier Quanta for about $50 million. The group claims to have thousands of leaked files that include information about upcoming Apple products.

9to5Mac has had a look at some of the files already released. The documents include technical specifications for Apple’s upcoming Apple Silicon MacBook Pro, with the codenames J314 and J316. These specs corroborates previous reports that the new MacBook Pro will feature MagSafe, HDMI and an SD card slot.

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Get cash in the best iPhone, iPad, and MacBook trade in deals for April 2021

It’s a new year, so perhaps you’re thinking about upgrading your suite of personal devices — or maybe you want to help a loved one do so. Whatever it is you’re planning to buy — a new iPhone, iPad, or other Apple device — it’s not an uncommon problem to not know what to do with the old devices you have laying around. Why not get some cash for them? The best trade deals for April 2021 below…

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Tested: Brydge MacBook Vertical Dock, completing my MacBook Pro desktop

Brydge MacBook Vertical Dock review

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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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.

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Apple assumed to have knowingly sold defective Macs, says judge, in ‘stage light’ case

Defective Macs suffered from stage light pattern with backlight

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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Apple patent shows how retractable keyboard could make MacBooks thinner

MacBook retractable keyboard patent

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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M1 MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro, which should you buy?

M1 MacBook Air vs Pro comparison

Apple’s M1 MacBooks bring some major performance gains and at first glance, the new MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro seem quite similar. They have the same CPU/GPU, same ports, same FaceTime camera, and more. However, let’s take a closer look at the M1 MacBook Air vs Pro to see what differentiates the two to help you decide which to buy.

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Opinion: 2021 MacBook Pro ports could be an IO dream or nightmare

2021 MacBook Pro ports dream or nightmare

Based on recent supply-chain reports, the 2021 MacBook Pro ports could turn out to be either an IO dream or nightmare.

We today got a more detailed report about what to expect in terms of 2021 MacBook Pro ports, with noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo saying we should expect both an HDMI port and an SD card slot. Coupled to his earlier report of a new MagSafe power port, that’s a pretty dramatic change to the current models, which have just USB-C ports and a headphone socket.

But whether that’s an IO dream or nightmare depends on how Apple plans to implement the change…

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M1 MacBook Pro photo editing test beats ‘beast’ of a desktop PC

M1 MacBook Pro photo editing test

An M1 MacBook Pro photo editing test found that the 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro running M1-optimized apps was faster than a ‘”beast” of a Windows desktop PC – despite the fact that the latter was specifically specced with photo editing in mind and had a massive 128 GB of RAM.

Professional photographer Andrew Hoyle said that he was “astonished” by the performance, and concludes that an M1 Mac is a safe bet for photographers looking to upgrade…

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Tested: This is the leather backpack for MacBook Pro that Apple would make

Harber London leather backpack for MacBook Pro

If Apple made a leather backpack for MacBook Pro models, I’m pretty sure it would look and feel a lot like the Harber London Slim Laptop Backpack.

Regular readers will know I’m a sucker for premium leather bags, and I’m an equal opportunity guy when it comes to different leather styles and finishes. But if you look at things like Apple’s leather sleeve for the MacBook Pro, it’s clear that the company favors extremely smooth and soft leather, at a price that reflects the quality – and that’s exactly what we get with this backpack …

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