- Featuring Apple's Retina display technology, the MacBook Pro offers stunning visuals so you can see fine details on graphics and text appears so sharp it's almost like reading a printed page. The 13' MacBook Pro features 2560 x 1600 resolution and the 15' MacBook Pro features 2880 x 1800 resolution, making the MacBook Pro ideal for professional.
- Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch with Touch Bar. The Best MacBook Pro. With some products.
- Sep 08, 2020.
If you're wondering which Mac to buy, you've come to the right place. In our 2020 buying guide you'll find everything you need to know about the MacBook Air, MacBook.
Apple laptops aren't cheap, so it's important that you consider your MacBook options carefully before parting with your cash.
We take a look at the key differences between the MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro ranges, so you can be confident that you're buying the right Mac for you.
See also:See all of our best laptopsAnswer three questions to find the best laptop for youBest Windows 10 laptopsBest laptops for students
Which MacBook should I buy?
Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (2020)
If you've got a big budget, you might have your eyes on a MacBook Pro. These are the most expensive Apple laptops around, and the latest model has a unique Touch Bar. This feature lives right above the keyboard, and it's a mini touchscreen that will display changing information, depending on what you're doing. If you're editing home videos in Final Cut, for example, the Touch Bar will turn into a mini timeline that lets you quickly navigate through your clips. If you're interested in the top-of-the-range model, see our review of the Apple MacBook Pro 2018 with Touch Bar.
Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro
This Apple is at the very top of the tree in terms of power, size and price. Putting the Pro moniker to good use, this six-core laptop is designed for the most power-hungry tasks such as video editing and computer-aided design. It will surely be overkill for anybody who doesn't do those tasks on a daily basis, though. This model has now been superseded by the 16-inch model, which we have not yet tested.
Apple Macbook Air 2020
This is the latest version of Apple's popular 13-inch laptop, which starts at under £1,000 for a model with an Intel Core i3 processor. We've testded the mid-range Core i5 model. It has a high resolution screen and a very attractive design, although keep in mind that the processor is a slower form of Core i5 than the one you'll find in the MacBook Pro.
Last updated: July 2020
See our full collection of MacBook reviews to see how else these models differ.
Mac vs Windows vs Chromebooks
MacOS, Windows 10 and ChromeOS all have their own strengths and weaknesses. MacOS is buttery smooth and is the go-to operating system for many creative industries, but it also requires you to shell out a huge amount of money on a premium Apple device.
MacBooks run smoothly and can keep viruses at bay, but they aren't cheap.
Windows, meanwhile is available on a huge range of devices from ultra-budget to super-premium and, for many, is still the operating system they know best. But it's not without its downsides: Windows 10 updates are still a major sticking point for many people, and the fact that Windows 10 doesn't run particularly smoothly on very cheap laptops.
That's where ChromeOS comes in. This operating system is little more than a fancy web browser, with web apps that work best when connected to the internet. There's a range of budget devices available, and a few premium options as well. There's no faffing with huge updates and since everything is in a browser, there shouldn't be any problems with programs crashing either.
See how MacOS stacks up against its rivals in ourMac vs Windows and Chromebookadvice guide.
What do I need to know about MacOS?
MacOS (formerly known as Mac OSX) is extra useful for people who own iPads and iPhones, with a host of clever features that lets you share and work on files seamlessly on all your devices. You can also make and receive calls on your computer; no need to reach for the phone any more. There's also the Siri voice assistant that'll let you ask questions, set reminders and issue other commands with just your voice.
The latest version of MacOS is called Catalina, which launched in Autumn 2019. This update added a host of new features, including the ability to run iPad apps on your MacBook, which will be handy for when you start a task on your tablet and then move over to your laptop. It also heavily redesigned several key Mac apps including iTunes, which has been split up into three separate programs for music, films and TV, and podcasts. Reminders, Notes and Photos have been overhauled, and you can now also use your iPad as a second screen for your MacBook. And, as ever, MacOS is arguably the best operating system to choose if you already own an iPhone; things sync and work together more seamlessly than other combinations of phones and laptops.
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For a while, loyal Apple customers were starting to get nervous the company might be abandoning the Mac. It’s still true that the iMac and Mac Pro have gone without refreshes for far too long, but Apple finally released the all new MacBook Pros in 2016.
Unfortunately, the update created even more issues for Apple. Customers have reported a number of issues ranging from poor graphics performance, inconsistent battery life, and general discontent with the lack of ports.
With all of these complaints still rolling in every day, let’s sort through the ones that are legitimate and concerning and the ones that are minuscule enough to disregard.
More importantly, I’ll attempt to address whether you should buy one at all or if the problems outweigh the perks.
Full-Speed Ahead with USB-C
Yes, the MacBook Pro has infamously gotten rid of all ports except for USB-C, but is that such a bad thing? It depends.
First, it’s worth noting that models of the new MacBook Pro without Touch Bar come with two USB-C ports. Models with the Touch Bar come with four. All come with a headphone jack as well — a bit ironic, but welcome nonetheless.
If you use a lot of ports now and are still considering a new MacBook Pro, first figure out which ports you can do without. Maybe you don’t need the SD card reader because your camera has built-in Wi-Fi, maybe HDMI isn’t a priority because you have an Apple TV with AirPlay.
For all the remaining accessories you do need ports for, you’ll have to buy dongles. Apple sells them, but you can get them cheaper on Amazon. A popular choice is the Aukey USB 3.0 to USB-C adapters; a two-pack sells for just 10 bucks.
The famous MagSafe connector is also gone with the 2016 MacBook Pro. You have to charge through USB-C, which doesn’t have a mechanism to conveniently snap the cable out should you trip over it.
That puts your Mac at some additional risk, but at least you can charge from both sides of the notebook now.
Gaming and Graphics Woes
Let’s first get something straight. If you’re looking to get any type of advanced gaming done on a Mac, you may want to think again. Macs have never been known for superb gaming performance compared to elite PC brands like Alienware. Still, I personally think it’s fair to expect at least good graphics and gaming performance out of a machine that starts at $1500.
Extreme gaming is less than ideal on these machines.
That apparently isn’t the case though. Some users have reported graphical distortions on screen, weird artifacts, glitches and crashes. Fortunately, Apple issued an official response stating that updating to the latest macOS Sierra software update should act as remedy. Ultimately, the graphics glitches shouldn’t prevent you from purchasing a MacBook Pro.
That said, extreme gaming is less than ideal on these machines. Just search through Twitter or YouTube for “MacBook Pro gaming” and you’re sure to find a lot of disappointed customers.
The cherry on top of the cake comes from EverythingApplePro on YouTube. He went all out to buy the top-tier $4300 2016 MacBook Pro only to find that many of his graphically intense games are near unplayable on it. Most of them work, but for the most intense game you’ll likely have to dramatically alter your in-game graphics settings to get a decent frame-rate. Even then, it’s disappointing to say the least.
Poor and Inconsistent Battery Life
A very weird report came out from Consumer Reports stating it could not recommend the 2016 MacBook Pro due to poor and inconsistent battery life. In some tests, it claimed the MacBook Pro would get 16 hours of battery life, in others it would get as little as three.
Apple responded essentially criticizing Consumer Reports for an inaccurate assessment. It also blamed a bug in Safari for some of the concern over battery life and released an update to fix the problem.
After the rejection from Consumer Reports sparked controversy within the tech community, Consumer Reports said it would retest the MacBook Pro after Apple released a software update. The publication kept its promise, found better results the second time around, and now recommends the MacBook Pro.
The bottom line is that battery life issues with the new MacBook Pro should be a thing of the past. Apple boasts up to 10 hours of web surfing and 30 days of standby time on one charge.
The 16GB RAM Cap
There has been a flood of disappointment surrounding the fact that the 2016 MacBook Pro isn’t expandable past 16GB of RAM. Many pro users want 32GB of RAM to handle demanding tasks and heavy multitasking.
However, unless you’re in a very niche group, this is not an issue you need to worry about. Macs and macOS excel at memory compression. If you choose to upgrade to 16GB of RAM, macOS will work its magic to make 16GB of RAM feel roomy.
The minimum nowadays should be 8GB of RAM, which is suitable for most users already. Plus, MacBooks and MacBook Pros now come standard with 8GB. A cap on 16GB of RAM is not something 99 percent of customers will have to worry about, at least not for several years to come.
Should You Buy?
Gamers should steer clear from Apple’s latest machines as should anyone who uses a lot of older or wired accessories.
Since the battery life and RAM issues really aren’t major issues, the only worthy concerns about the MacBook Pro should revolve around gaming and the lack of ports. The total switch to USB-C for connectivity and power is a deep dive. Gamers should steer clear from Apple’s latest machines as should anyone who uses a copious amount of older or wired accessories.
If you don’t fall into those categories, the 2016 MacBook Pro is a perfectly acceptable and capable machine. It’s starting at under $1400 right now on Amazon.
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