For a lot of things, a two-inch difference may not seem much, but when it comes to the MacBook Pro models, there’s more to it than just a difference in size. If you’re looking into buying a MacBook Pro but you’re not sure whether to go for the MacBook Pro 13-inch or 15-inch model, we’ve compiled an overview of the similarities and differences among the different versions and what they mean to casual users who do not speak the “techie” language to help you choose.
- MacBook Pro 13-inch
- The $1,299.00 version
- The $1,499.00 version
- The $1,799.00 version
- The $1,999.00 version
- MacBook Pro 15-inch
- The $2,399.00 version
- The $2,799.00 version
- MacBook Pro 13-inch
- Retina Display
- Playback Time
- Wireless Standards
- Web Camera
- Operating System
- Built-in Apps
- Accessibility Tools
- MacBook Pro 13-inch vs. Other MacBook Pro 13-inch
- Touch Bar
- Touch ID
- Thunderbolt Ports
- Memory storage
- MacBook Pro 15-inch vs. Other MacBook Pro 15-inch
- MacBook Pro 13-inch vs MacBook Pro 15-inch
- Memory Card
The MacBook Pro 13-inch model comes in four versions while the MacBook Pro 15-inch model comes in two. Each version differs slightly from the others in certain aspects despite bearing the same name, but you can differentiate one from the other with one look by referring to their price tags.
- MacBook Pro 13-inch
- The $1,299.00 version – The cheapest among the MacBook Pro 13-inch models and half of its two lower-end models. Often conveniently distinguished from its higher-end relatives by not having a Touch Bar.
- The $1,499.00 version – The second cheapest among the MacBook Pro 13-inch models and the other half of its two lower-end models. Also often conveniently distinguished from its higher-end relatives by not having a Touch Bar.
- The $1,799.00 version – The second of the higher-end MacBook Pro 13-inch models and the cheaper between the two. Often conveniently distinguished from its lower-end relatives by having a Touch Bar.
- The $1,999.00 version – The first of the higher-end MacBook Pro 13-inch models and the more expensive between the two. Often the model being referred to when people discuss the 13-inch version. Also distinguished from its lower-end relatives by having a Touch Bar.
- MacBook Pro 15-inch
- The $2,399.00 version – The lower-end version of the MacBook Pro 15-inch model. It also has a Touch Bar.
- The $2,799.00 version – The more expensive version between the two MacBook Pro 15-inch models and the one often being referred to when people talk about the 15-inch MacBook Pro. It also has a Touch Bar.
Despite having six different versions split among the MacBook Pro 13-inch and 15-inch models, there are some features that are the same for each one.
- Retina Display – All MacBook Pro 13-inch and 15-inch models have retina display. If you are not familiar with the retina display yet, it is the term used by Apple to refer to monitors that have resolutions and pixel densities high enough to make it difficult for the average man to tell individual pixels apart when the monitors are being viewed from normal viewing distances — making images appear clearer and sharper on the screen.
- Playback Time – All MacBook Pro models offer up to 10 hours of video playback time. For the average Mac user, this should be enough to last a regular eight-hour work or school day, especially if you would only be doing tasks that are not particularly power-consuming such as casual web browsing or document processing (This was based on Apple’s iTunes movie playback test. Results may vary depending on individual user’s computer use).
- Wireless Standards – All MacBook Pro 13-inch and 15-inch models come in the same upgraded wireless standards — Wi-fi 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.2 — allowing for faster wireless connection speeds and wider signal range compared to older MacBooks that use earlier versions.
- Web Camera – For active FaceTime users, web cam display is also the same for all MacBook Pro 13-inch and 15-inch models, with each one equipped with a 720p
FaceTime HD camera.
- Operating System – All six versions run on macOS Sierra by default.
- Built-in Apps – All six versions come packaged with popular apps such as iPhotos, iMovie, GarageBand, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Siri, Safari, and a couple of others.
- Accessibility Tools – All six versions also offer key accessibility tools such as VoiceOver, Zoom, Increase Contrast, Reduce Motion, Siri and Dictation, Switch Control, Closed Captions, and Text to Speech.
Now that we’ve found out the similarities across the different MacBook Pro 13-inch and 15-inch models, let’s take a look at what sets them apart. Below is a quick snapshot of each version’s technical specifications and how they compare with the others.
MacBook Pro 13-inch vs. Other MacBook Pro 13-inch
While they carry the same name, the four versions of the MacBook Pro 13-inch have some slight differences from one another.
- Touch Bar – Probably most known for granting Mac users quick access to a range of commonly used emoji during the early days of the marketing campaign built around it, the Touch Bar is actually a multi-functional virtual keyboard that lets Mac users customize the keys that appear on the place traditionally designated for the function keys.
Depending on what app you are using, Touch Bar options can let you do anything from sending mails, displaying favorite tools, manipulating system controls, managing your iTunes playlist, or activating Siri among other things.
The Touch Bar feature is only available on the higher-end versions of the MacBook Pro 13-inch model.
- Touch ID – The Touch ID, on the other hand, works both as a quick access tool for turning on your computer and for verifying your identity when you are logging in to your computer account or when you are trying to make purchases via iTunes or Apple Pay.
Like the Touch Bar, the Touch ID feature is only available on the higher-end versions of the MacBook Pro 13-inch model.
- Thunderbolt Ports – Aside from the exclusion of the Touch Bar and the Touch ID from its list of features, the two lower-end MacBook Pro 13-inch models also offer only two Thunderbolt 3 ports compared to the four that the two higher-end MacBook Pro 13-inch models do.
- 4. Memory storage – Memory also differs from one version to another. The highest-end among the four (the $1,999.00 version) offers a base SSD storage of 512 GB, the mid-range versions (the $1,499.00 and $1,799.00 versions) 256 GB, and the model at the lowest end (the $1,299.00 version), 128 GB.
- 5. Processors – Lastly, the two lower-end MacBook Pro 13-inch models run on a 2.3GHz dual-core 7th-generation Intel Core i5 processor. In comparison, the two higher-end versions run on 3.1GHz dual-core 7th-generation Intel Core i5.
MacBook Pro 15-inch vs the Other MacBook Pro 15-inch
As with the case with the MacBook 13-inch models, there are slight differences between the two 15-inch MacBook Pros despite having the same name.
These differences include:
- Processor – The more expensive between the two 15-inch MacBook Pro models, the $2,799.00 version, runs on a 2.9GHz quad-core 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost of up to 3.9GHz.
The less expensive one, the $2,399.00 version, on the other hand, runs on a 2.8GHz quad-core 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost of up to 3.8GHz.
- Storage – For storage, the higher-end MacBook Pro 15-inch model comes with a 512GB SSD storage while the lower-end version comes with 256GB.
- Graphics – Both 15-inch MacBook Pro models come with an integrated Intel HD Graphics 530 and a dedicated Radeon Pro graphics card. The higher-end version, however, offers the Radeon Pro 455 version in place of the lower-end version’s Radeon Pro 450.
MacBook Pro 13-inch vs MacBook Pro 15-inch
As you would probably expect by now, there are some important differences between the MacBook Pro 13-inch and 15-inch models. Below are some of the most important and how they can affect your experience as a computer user.
- GPU – GPUs or Graphics Processing Units are responsible for handling any computer operations that involve graphics of some sort, like loading pictures or playing videos. There are two types of GPUs: integrated GPUs and discrete GPUs (also known as dedicated graphics cards).
Integrated GPUs don’t have a memory of their own and rely on your computer’s RAM to perform assigned tasks. Discrete GPUs, on the other hand, have their own memory and can work independently without interfering with other computer applications.
Because of this, computers equipped with dedicated GPUs can perform more graphic intensive tasks like running high-quality video games, streaming high-definition movies, or using professional image or video editing programs compared to computers equipped with integrated GPUs. Also, because discrete GPUs don’t eat up your computer’s RAM the way integrated GPUs do, it’s easier to run multiple programs at the same time without causing noticeable slowdowns.
If you are an avid gamer who intends to run a lot of high-quality games or a design professional who will be working with image processing programs on a regular basis, you might want to go for either of the two MacBook Pro 15-inch models which both have dedicated GPUs aside from the default integrated one. If not, the MacBook Pro 13-inch models’ integrated GPUs should be enough to meet your basic needs.
The MacBook Pro 15-inch models are a bit way ahead of the lower-end MacBook Pro 13-inch models, so for convenience’s sake, we will mostly be comparing the 15-inch models with the higher-end versions of the MacBook Pro 13-inch models.
Both MacBook Pro 13-inch models run on a 3.1GHz dual-core 7th-generation Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost of up to 3.5GHz while the MacBook Pro 15-inch models run on a 2.8GHz quad-core 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost of up to 3.8GHz and 2.9GHz quad-core 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost up of to 3.9GHz.
At first glance, the MacBook Pro 13-inch model’s 3.1GHz may look higher than the MacBook Pro 15-inch model’s 2.8 and 2.9 GHz’s, but if you’ll take a closer look, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is a dual-core model powered by Intel’s i5 processor while the 15-inch MacBook Pro is a quad-core model powered by the i7.
If you’re not familiar with cores, they are independent processing units that receive and carry out a computer user’s commands. The more cores a computer processor has, the faster that it will be able to read data and carry out instructions (like open a program or save some files, for example) because the burden of the workload will be spread out.
This means that while 2.8 GHz is lower than 3.1 GHz, four of the former running at the same time is still essentially more powerful than two of the latter running simultaneously.
Add to that the higher Turbo Boost which allows the computer to work beyond its normal limits and you can see a noticeable difference.
Also being a newer technology than i5, i7 has some features that make it slightly faster and more efficient in running tasks than its older relative.
- Monitors – The average computer user live their lives only ever needing one monitor; however, there are some users who may prefer or need to hook up an extra monitor or two to their laptops for an optimum viewing experience. If you have hobbies or jobs that require multiple monitors, the MacBook Pro 15-inch models might be your best bet as it will allow you to use up to four monitors with your laptop. If you don’t need that many and you’re looking for a cheaper option, you can also go for the higher-end versions of the 13-inch MacBook Pro models which both allow the connection of up to two monitors.
- Memory Card – Your MacBook’s memory card determines how much RAM your computer will be running on. Your RAM, in turn, will determine how much temporary data your computer can store so that information that you frequently use will be retrieved and processed faster the next time that you need them. Generally speaking, the higher your computer’s RAM is, the better.
The 15-inch MacBook Pro models both offer 16GB of RAM by default while the 13-inch models offer 6GB.
- Configurations – Not everyone needs (or can afford) top-of-the-line products. Some users are more than happy with laptops with the most basic features as long as they can do the job that they were meant to; however, there are also some who would be happy to spend a few more dollars for a feature that they frequently use to make the most of them. The good news is when you buy a MacBook Pro from the Apple store, you can customize your order to have certain parts upgraded while keeping the rest the way they are.
Among the parts that you can upgrade in the MacBook Pro models are the processors, the storage, the memory card, (applicable to all MacBook Pro 13-inch models) and the GPU (applicable only to the lower-end MacBook Pro 15-inch model).
- Display – If you just need a handy and durable laptop for processing documents, playing a few low-resolution games, or just casually browsing the web, the display would probably not be of particular concern to you; however if you’re constantly working with images and would like the best possible screen display that you can get, the MacBook Pro 15-inch models come in slightly higher display specifications than the 13-inch MacBook Pro models at 2880-by-1800 native resolution at 220 pixels per inch compared to the latter’s 2560-by-1600 native resolution at 227 pixels per inch.
- Dimensions – Also not a particular concern if what you are after for in a MacBook are performance and durability, but if you prefer your laptop as portable as possible, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is slightly thinner, narrower, and lighter than its 15-inch counterparts.
If you are on a limited budget and have no particular need for a faster processor, a dedicated graphics card, or multiple monitors, the lower-end MacBook Pro 13-inch models should be enough to meet your needs, or you can just upgrade a part or two that you will be using the most for an extra two hundred dollars or so.
If you would be doing a lot of multitasking and running a lot of graphic-intensive programs, though, the 15-inch MacBook Pro with its quad-core i7 processor, dedicated graphics card, larger storage, and ability to work with multiple monitors might suit your needs better.
Should you need further details on each version’s technical specifications, please get in touch with the Apple’s official customer support site or your favorite Apple retailer so that they can provide you with inside advice.