MacBook Pro (2021) vs MacBook Pro (2020): Clear choice?

M1 Pro and M1 Max arrive

14-inch MacBook Pro (2021)

From $1999 at Apple

Pros

  • New design
  • Choice of SoC
  • More CPU, GPU, and everything else

Cons

  • Doesn’t have a Touch Bar
  • Less battery life
  • Expensive
  • Heavier

The 14-inch MacBook Pro is a beast with all of the latest Apple laptop features. Still, it’s going to cost you at least two grand to get started and much more than the 13-inch model.

Still a powerful choice

13-inch MacBook Pro (2020)

From $1299 at Apple

Pros

  • Decent starting price
  • Comes with Apple M1 SoC
  • Has Touch Bar
  • More battery life

Cons

  • Older model
  • Less of everything except battery life

Display size isn’t the only thing separating this model and the newest one. That doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t consider this one, however. This option still packs a punch a year after its debut.

The 2020 MacBook Pro with M1 is already one of the best MacBook on the market. No doubt, once the reviews come out, the 14-inch MacBook Pro (2021) will also join the list. The newer model has a lot more bells and whistles than the older one. However, it should, given its much higher price that only grows as you add more advanced specs.

14-inch MacBook Pro (2021) vs. 13-inch MacBook Pro (2020): Breaking it down

When it comes to the 14-inch MacBook Pro (2021), nearly everything is better than the 13-inch MacBook Pro (2020), from its display size and quality to its system-on-a-chip to its memory and storage options. The result is perhaps one of the biggest jumps between two MacBook Pro models in the history of the product.

14-inch MacBook Pro (2021)13-inch MacBook Pro (2020)
CostFrom $1999From $1299
Display14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display13.3-inch Retina
Resolution3024 by 1964 pixels2560 x 1600 pixels
SecurityTouch IDTouch Bar with Touch ID
CPUUp to 10-core8-core
GPUUp to 32-core8-core
Memory16GB M1 Pro
32GB M1 Pro
64GB M1 Max
8GB M1
16GB M1
Storage512GB
1TB
2TB
4TB
8TB
256GB
512GB
1TB
2TB
PortsThree Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports
HDMI port
SDXC card slot
Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports
Camera1080p FaceTime HD camera720p FaceTime HD camera
AudioHigh-fidelity six-speaker sound system with force-canceling woofersStereo speakers with high dynamic range
Headphone jack3.5 mm headphone jack with advanced support for high-impedance headphones3.5 mm headphone jack
Dimensions0.61 x 12.31 x 8.71 inches0.61 x 11.97 x 8.36 inches
Weight3.5 pounds3.0 pounds
Battery Life17 hours20 hours
MagSafe & Fast ChargingYesNo

On the newer model, you’ll find an M1 Pro or M1 Max, which includes CPU up to 10-core and GPU up to 32-core. This compares to 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU on the older model. Moving onto memory and storage, the 2021 model offers 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of memory vs. 8GB or 16GB on the 13-inch model. Storage sizes on the new version include 512GB, 1TB, 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB. On the earlier model, your choice comes down to 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 4TB.

There have also been significant updates to both the display and available ports on the newer model. In addition, the 14-inch MacBook Pro (2021) has the first Liquid Retina XDR display on a MacBook Pro with a resolution of 3024 by 1964 pixels. On the 13-inch model, it’s a general Retina display with 2560 x 1600 pixels.

The 2021 MacBook Pro also includes a better FaceTime camera system and an improved headphone jack. And yes, MagSafe is back on this model, alongside three Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports, an HDMI port, and an SDXC card slot.

There are a few areas where the 13-inch MacBook Pro bests the newer model. First, the older version is 0.5 pounds lighter. Second, it also offers three more hours of battery life between charges. However, it’s the newer model that comes with MagSafe 4, which provides fast-charging up to 50% in just 30 minutes.

Finally, there’s Touch Bar, a long-suffering MacBook Pro feature that’s not found on the newer models. It’s up to you to decide whether this is a pro or con. For this writer, the removal of Touch Bar is disappointing.

14-inch MacBook Pro (2021) vs. 13-inch MacBook Pro (2020): Which should you buy?

It’s obvious which of the two MacBook Pro models is better — and it’s not the older one. From a more prominent and better display to significantly improved internals, the 14-inch MacBook Pro (2021) is a cutting-edge beast that now becomes (along with the all-new 16-inch model) the best MacBook Pro on the market.

And yet, there’s no denying the cost of admission is much higher for the 14-inch model. At the entry point, you’ll save $700 by going a little bit smaller. For that, you’ll still receive an M1 series SoC and one excellent laptop.

Who should buy the 14-inch MacBook Pro (2021)?

For most folks, spend the extra cash and go with the newest model. As a result, you’ll own the latest and greatest and have more ways to customize your purchase. Yes, you’ll be spending more, but if more speed, memory, and storage are needed, it will be worth it.

Who should buy the 13-inch MacBook Pro (2020)?

If you’re looking to save some cash, don’t need 4TB or 8TB of storage or increased memory, and really like Touch ID, go with the year-old model. Better still, watch for a discount that will bring the price down even further. But, of course, you’ll still find an M1 inside and even get more battery life between charges.

Powerful computing for all

14-inch MacBook Pro (2021)

The newest and best

From $1999 at Apple

The 14-inch MacBook Pro (2021) comes with an M1 Pro or M1 Max SoC that’s fast, secure, and available with the most memory and storage options. Did we mention that incredible display and that it comes with MagSafe?!

More budget-friendly

13-inch MacBook Pro (2020)

There’s still reason to love

From $1299 at Apple
From $1200 at Amazon
From $1300 at Best Buy

The 13-inch MacBook Pro (2020) offers better battery life, Touch Bar, and significant savings versus the newer model. It comes down to what you want and how much you wish to spend.

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