Which MacBook Should You Order in Early 2020 – Apple has recently released their brand new 16” MacBook Pro, so we’ve now got Apple’s complete lineup of MacBooks that shouldn’t change at all until at least the end of Spring, starting with the MacBook Air for $1100. The base 13” MacBook Pro for $1300, the higher-end 13” Pro for $1800, and the new 16” MacBook Pro for $2400. To make it even better, each one of these MacBook Pros is now around $100 off from Amazon with free Prime shipping if you use the special coupon.
Now let’s get started with comparing literally everything we can between all of these MacBooks, starting with portability. In terms of weight, the 16” Pro is now 4.3 pounds. And it’s very noticeable compared to the rest of the lineup. From above, the Air is basically just as large as the 13” Pro, so portability should be pretty similar. And the 16” Pro is even less portable than the old 15”. The MacBook Pros also have more of a flat slate shape compared to the MacBook Air. Which has a wedge design that gets thinner near the front end?
Each of these MacBooks has a high-quality Retina resolution display, but the Air’s screen isn’t as lovely. It’s quite a bit dimmer than the Pros that each has an incredible 500 nits of brightness. And it’s definitely not as color accurate since every MacBook Pro has P3 wide color gamut. Which has about 25% more colors than 100% sRGB, which is a must-have for photo editors? As far as display sharpness, they all have around the same Retina-quality 227 pixels per inch. And every MacBook in the lineup comes with True Tone technology, which adjusts the white balance of the display to match the environment around you.
The significant change this year is that the new 16” Pro now gets smaller bezels that actually look quite a bit nicer and more modern compared to the rest of the lineup. Speaker quality and volume is a huge deal for some people, especially to me. We noticed that the Air has slightly worse speakers than the base 13” Pro, and the higher-end $1800 13” Pro gets even better speakers. But the standout model is the 16” with a new 6-speaker design with incredibly good sound quality and bass. So definitely buy the 16” if you love great speakers. It also features new studio-quality microphones.
Now onto the keyboards, the 16” Pro finally packs Apple’s latest Magic keyboard compared to 4th-gen butterfly keys on the rest of the MacBooks. There is seriously a light and day difference between the two. You get so much more key travel, and it’s a much better typing experience on the new 16”. There are rumors that the rest of the MacBook lineup should be upgraded to the new Magic switches next year. But it most likely won’t happen until at least Spring-time. Apart from that, the MacBook Air’s keyboard slopes downward towards the front edge. So it’s actually a bit more comfortable to type on compared to the Pros.
Every single MacBook in the lineup comes with a Touch ID sensor built into the power button. Which makes it really convenient to log in. Use Apple Pay online and install apps off the web without having to enter your password. However, every MacBook Pro comes with the Touch Bar. An OLED display that replaces the top row of keys and is fully customizable. But not many people like it because it’s more challenging to do things like adjusting display brightness and volume. And a benefit of the 16” Pro is that it actually gets a physical escape key. So if you’re a programmer or someone who uses that key a lot, definitely go for the 16” Pro.
Now let’s talk about the ports. Every port on every MacBook this year supports Thunderbolt 3. But both the 13” MacBook Air and lower-end MacBook Pro come with only two of these ports. Compared to four ports on the more expensive Pros. If you’re a primary user that doesn’t connect to external displays or connect external devices very often. You’ll probably be okay with one of the two-port models. And you also have the choice of buying a Thunderbolt 3 hub just in case you do need more ports. But having four ports from the get-go is definitely more convenient, especially for those who use their ports often.
Now, if you love large trackpads, the 16” Pro has the biggest one of them all. Followed by the 13” Pro and then the Air has a slightly smaller trackpad. Concerning battery life, this latest MacBook Air is rated at 12 hours compared to 10 hours on the 13” MacBook Pros. And 11 hours on the 16” MacBook Pro. So while the Air is the best option for battery life, the 16” Pro is still a great choice.
Getting into performance, the base $1300 MacBook Pro finally gets a quad-core processor. So the MacBook Air is now the only one in the lineup with a dual-core CPU. The $1800 Pro has a faster quad-core, and the 16” Pro has a six-core that can actually be upgraded to an 8-core if you’re willing to spend another $300. Looking at raw processing power using Geekbench 5’s multi-core test. We can see that the MacBook Air with its dual-core CPU is way behind the MacBook Pros.
And surprisingly, the $1300 Pro performs almost the same as the $1800 model. And the 16” gives you a pretty good jump in performance as well. So we decided to look at performance per dollar using the full retail price of each MacBook. And the new $1300 base MacBook Pro comes out way ahead, with incredible amounts of raw power for the cash. With the Air being a terrible value, performance-wise.
One thing that you won’t find on the spec sheet is that the $1300 base MacBook Pro has only one fan. Just like on the MacBook Air. while the more expensive $1800 and $2400 Pros have dual fans. And the 16” Pro also has upgraded cooling this year. So it should be performing better for more extended workloads. To test that, we ran Cinebench R20, a more realistic benchmark that is long enough to heat the systems up and see how well the cooling systems work. And surprisingly, the single fan on the $1300 Pro didn’t really limit performance like we thought it would, so we’re really impressed with it. And the 16” was the clear winner in terms of performance.
We then tested graphics performance using Geekbench 5’s Metal test. And the 16” Pro completely destroyed the rest of the MacBooks because of its new AMD Navi dedicated graphics chip. It almost triples the graphics performance of the $1800 Pro, which is insane! And you can see this when looking at graphics performance per dollar. The 16” Pro now destroys the rest of the lineup in terms of value for graphics power. And since the 16” Pro has such a sound graphics chip. We decided to test gaming performance using Unigine Heaven’s Extreme preset. And it completely obliterated the rest of the lineup, with more than 4x the gaming performance of the $1800 Pro. So if you want to do some gaming on the side, buy the 16” Pro!
We also tested SSD speeds, and here, we see a pretty big difference when going to the more expensive MacBook Pros. especially the 16” Pro because it comes standard with a 512GB SSD. But even the less expensive models are still fast enough for most people. So if you’re still confused about which MacBook you should buy. Let me break it down for you. The $1300 base 13” MacBook Pro is by far the best choice if you want to spend less than $2400 on a new MacBook. Thanks to its excellent performance per dollar and overall MacBook experience.
Now, if you don’t really need a great display or high performance. And you’d instead save a couple of hundred bucks. You can go for the MacBook Air instead. The Air is excellent if you’re a writer, a student, or someone who just wants a premium reliable laptop for doing basic computer tasks. Like web browsing, working with documents, and sometimes watching some Netflix. As well as getting some extra battery life out of it. But to be honest, I’d personally cough up the additional $200 and just get the Pro anyway. Since you get a better display, better speakers, and excellent bang for your buck in terms of performance.
Now the $1800 13” Pro is in a really tough spot because it honestly isn’t that much more powerful than the $1300 Pro. It just has a few luxury improvements. Like an extra two thunderbolt 3 ports, faster SSD speeds, new cooling fan, and better speakers. The only downside of the $1300 Pro is that it only comes with a 128GB SSD. I still think it’s a better value to upgrade to 256GB for an extra $200 instead of getting the higher-end 13” Pro. I would honestly recommend everyone to completely ignore the $1800 Pro and buy the new 16” Pro instead. Because you’re getting so much more with the thinner bezels, the much better Magic keyboard, the better microphones, better cooling, and MUCH more performance with the 6-core processor.
And you actually get a 512GB SSD at the base $2400 price instead of spending an extra $200 to get it on the high-end 13” model. The only reason you should buy the $1800 13” Pro is if you absolutely must have a 13” Pro for portability. And you don’t think the $1300 model is enough for you. And even then, I would still recommend just buying the $1300 Pro or going straight for the $2400 16” Pro. Which gives you incredible value for the price. It’s got the best speakers, the best microphones, and most importantly, much more performance. With options of an 8-core CPU, up to 64GB of RAM, and a massive 8TB of storage. So there you have it!