13-Inch vs. 14-Inch MacBook Pro: Is the M1 Pro Chip Worth the Extra Cost?
Apple has launched a MacBook Pro in an entirely new, 14-inch size, with significant design changes and massive performance upgrades. However, the company still sells its popular 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro alongside the 14-inch M1 Pro MacBook Pro.
Hence, if you’re in the market for a new portable MacBook Pro, you may have trouble choosing between the 13-inch and the 14-inch models. Is the extra inch, along with all the bells and whistles, worth the huge price difference? Well, here we will compare both models so that you can decide which one’s best for your use case.
13-Inch vs. 14-Inch MacBook Pro: Design Differences
The 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro features a design that Apple first introduced in 2016. This design refresh paved the way for the Touch Bar, which is no longer a feature on the new 14-inch models. While both the 13-inch and 14-inch models have the same thickness, the 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro appears thinner due to its shape, whereas the 14-inch M1 Pro MacBook Pro goes for function over form.
Apple replaced the sharp edges with slightly rounded edges on the 14-inch MacBook Pro. When you open and power it on, you’ll find the new iPhone-style notch that houses the camera hardware. The side bezels have shrunk by 24%, whereas the top bezel is now 60% thinner than the 13-inch model to give off a much more modern appearance.
Apple replaced the controversial Touch Bar with physical function keys on the 14-inch MacBook Pro. Not everyone was a fan of it, but if you enjoyed using the Touch Bar, the 13-inch MacBook Pro might be one of the last MacBooks to include it.
13-Inch vs. 14-Inch MacBook Pro: The Display
The 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro models sport a 13.3-inch IPS display with a resolution of 2560×1600 pixels, giving you a pixel density of 227 pixels per inch. The newer 14-inch model features a gorgeous 14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display with a resolution of 3024×1964 pixels. At 254 pixels per inch, this display is crisper than the previous models, but resolution isn’t even the talking point.
If you aren’t aware, the Liquid Retina XDR display uses the same mini-LED display technology that Apple uses in the 12.9-inch M1 iPad Pro. This panel uses 10,000 mini-LEDs to deliver excellent detail with vibrant, true-to-life colors. Watching HDR content is a joy on the Liquid Retina XDR display, as the peak brightness can go all the way up to a whopping 1,600 nits. The 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro, that only goes up to 500 nits, stands no chance in this competition.
Besides the mini-LED backlighting, Apple also brought ProMotion technology to the new MacBook Pro models, which allows them to dynamically adjust the refresh rate from 24Hz to 120Hz, depending on the content you’re watching. As a result, the 14-inch MacBook Pro is the first model with a high refresh rate screen. On the other hand, the 13-inch MacBook Pro still uses the good old 60Hz panel that we’ve seen for years.
3. 13-Inch vs. 14-Inch MacBook Pro: CPU and GPU Performance
People generally expect high-end performance when they buy a MacBook Pro, but there’s a huge disparity in performance between the 13-inch and 14-inch models. While the 13-inch MacBook Pro is a solid performer for most casual users, the new 14-inch MacBook Pro scales everything up and takes the performance to a new level, thanks to its M1 Pro or M1 Max chip.
According to Apple, both the M1 Pro and the M1 Max deliver up to 70% more CPU performance than the M1 chip. However, the GPU department is where the two new processors truly shine. The M1 Pro is twice as powerful as the M1 in graphics performance, whereas the flagship M1 Max, with 32 GPU cores, is four times as fast.
If you plan to use your Mac for any creative or rendering work, the 14-inch model is easily the better option, but the most regular users would be more than fine with the 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro.
4. 13-Inch vs. 14-Inch: Ports and Connectivity
The new 14-inch MacBook Pro brings back all the ports that Apple took away from its notebooks back in 2016. You get an SDXC card slot, an HDMI port, a headphone jack, and an all-new MagSafe 3 port with support for fast charging. Besides these, you get three Thunderbolt 4-enabled USB-C ports for high-speed data transfer.
The 2020 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro only gives you two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports and a headphone jack, meaning you may need to purchase adapters to connect all your accessories.
If you plan to connect your Mac to a monitor, the 14-inch model may be a better fit as it can support up to four displays, depending on the processor you select. The M1 Pro lets you connect up to two external displays, whereas the flagship M1 Max supports up to four. You’ll need to use the HDMI port for the fourth display, however.
The M1 chip in the older 13-inch model limits you to just one display.
5. 13-Inch vs. 14-Inch MacBook Pro: Battery Life
Whether you buy the 13-inch or the 14-inch model, you’ll get exceptional battery performance. However, if we have to pick a winner here, it’s the 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro, that gives you up to 20 hours of video playback. In comparison, the 14-inch MacBook Pro delivers up to 17 hours of video playback, but that’s because it packs the more power-hungry M1 Pro or M1 Max chip.
These three additional hours may matter to some users, but the 14-inch MacBook Pro makes up for this with its new fast charging feature. You can charge it to 50% in just 30 minutes using the new MagSafe 3 charging port or the USB-C port.
6. 13-Inch vs. 14-Inch MacBook Pro: Price
A comparison between two great products ultimately comes down to the price, doesn’t it? Well, let’s start by saying there’s a price gap of roughly $700 between the 13-inch and 14-inch models.
The 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro starts at $1,299 for 256GB of storage and 8GB of unified memory. However, if you opt for 512GB of storage and 16GB of unified memory, the price goes up to $1699.
Comparatively, the base model 14-inch MacBook Pro comes with 512GB of storage and 16GB of unified memory and starts at $1999, with a catch: this base model MacBook Pro uses an unbinned 8-core M1 Pro chip, that loses roughly 20% of the performance Apple advertises.
To get the advertised claims of 70% improvement in CPU performance and twice the GPU performance, you need to spend an extra $300 for the 10-core M1 Pro chip with 16 GPU cores, bringing the cost of the 14-inch MacBook Pro to $2299. That’s a difference of about $600 for the new design and the full power of the M1 Pro chip. And if you want the top-of-the-line M1 Max, you’ll need to shell out $3099 on a custom configuration with 32GB of unified memory.
The 14-Inch MacBook Pro Isn’t For Everybody
Despite all the hardware upgrades and performance improvements that the 14-inch MacBook Pro models bring to the table, the 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro remains a solid choice for most users. Unless you’re a creative professional who uses software like Final Cut Pro, Blender, or DaVinci Resolve, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll benefit from the extras GPU cores on the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips.
But anyone can benefit from the hundreds of dollars saved by going for the 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro.
Torn between the M1 Pro and the M1 Max chips in the latest MacBook Pro? Here’s a detailed comparison to show you the differences between the two.
About The Author
(116 Articles Published)
Hamlin is a full-time freelancer who has been in this field for over four years. Since 2017, his work has appeared on OSXDaily, Beebom, FoneHow, and more. In his free time, he’s either working out at the gym or making big moves in the crypto space.
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October 28, 2021 at 02:26AM