Home / Laptop Reviews / Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch M1 review: The iPhone of laptops

Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch M1 review: The iPhone of laptops

Apple MacBook Professional 13-inch M1 evaluate: The iPhone of laptops

“Powered by the M1 chip, the brand new MacBook Professional 13-inch is probably the most thrilling Mac in years.”

  • M1 is insanely quick
  • Lovely show, as at all times
  • Improbable battery life
  • Audio system sound good
  • High-notch keyboard and trackpad
  • Solely two Thunderbolt ports
  • Contact Bar remains to be irritating

Solely Apple would dare promote a laptop computer in 2020 primarily based solely on its processor. Its major viewers aren’t precisely chip-heads who make buying choices primarily based on core counts and efficiency per watt.

And but, Apple has managed to drum up an enormous quantity of hype surrounding its new M1 chip and the acquainted outdated Macs that run on it.

The design of the brand new MacBook Professional 13-inch itself hasn’t modified in any respect with the M1 model. It’s equivalent to the Intel-based mannequin that got here out earlier this 12 months. However the M1 processor guarantees one thing new paint job by no means may. It’s poised to remodel the MacBook Professional 13-inch from simply one other laptop computer to one thing new. One thing distinctly Apple. And sure, lastly, one thing higher.


The MacBook Professional 13-inch is the among the many first of a brand new technology of Macs that additionally contains the brand new MacBook Air and Mac mini. All of them run on the identical M1 chip, although efficiency will fluctuate between the three methods. The Professional’s efficiency is meant to sit down in between the Air and mini in efficiency. At the very least, that’s the concept.

The MacBook Professional 13-inch was already probably the most highly effective laptop computer in its dimension. The custom-made 25-watt Intel chip Apple makes use of already has extra juice in it than the standard 13-inch laptop computer. You may nonetheless purchase this Intel mannequin, but it surely begins at $1,799. Don’t hassle with it. It options two further Thunderbolt ports, however Apple’s personal eight-core 5nm ARM processor blows Intel’s out of the water in all of the ways in which matter.

The MacBook Professional 13-inch remains to be actually quick. The scores it posted in benchmarks made me do a double take, whether or not that’s Geekbench 5 or Cinebench R23. In single-core efficiency, it’s neck and neck with the quickest Intel and AMD chips, such because the Core i7-1165G7 within the Dell XPS 13. Multi-core efficiency is the place the M1 actually shines. With eight cores, it simply outpaces the quad-core laptops it’s priced towards. The one laptops with quicker multi-core scores in Geekbench 5 are massive, 45-watt laptops just like the Dell XPS 17 or Acer ConceptD 7 Ezel.

That translated to related leads to Cinebench R23 as properly. Single-core scores are on the high of the pack, and multi-core scores are far forward of the competitors. However keep in mind: The MacBook Air options this similar M1 chip. Regardless of not having a fan in a barely thinner chassis, it’s solely 11% behind the MacBook Professional on this benchmark. There’s solely a $300 worth distinction between the Air and the Professional, however efficiency distinction is smaller than it was once.

After all, these benchmarks have already been optimized for the M1. That’s not true of the overwhelming majority of the accessible apps on the market. However that doesn’t imply you’ll essentially discover these which are unoptimized lagging behind, particularly in case your primary workflow consists of primary internet searching and phrase processing.

The MacBook Professional isn’t technically fanless, however I’ve but to listen to the followers spin up.

What you will discover, although, is how this laptop computer is cooled. You’ll discover it while you boot up a Zoom name and never should shout over the fan noise. Or perhaps when you will have a few 4K screens plugged in and are multitasking with out it even getting heat. In contrast to the MacBook Air, the MacBook Professional isn’t technically fanless — it has a fan in there that may spin up when wanted. However I by no means heard it spin up as soon as. Not as soon as. That’s a far cry from the MacBooks of yore.

Good luck operating a recreation like Fortnite on an Intel MacBook. Not solely does it run poorly as a result of lame built-in graphics, it additionally turns your MacBook into a transportable area heater. Your palms are sweaty, the keyboard is sizzling to the contact, and the followers are spinning up like they’re attempting to forestall a nuclear meltdown.

On the MacBook Professional 13-inch M1, the expertise couldn’t be extra completely different. First off, it hits 60 frames per second (fps) at medium settings with no drawback. Extra importantly, it does so with out even barely warming up. Even $2,000 gaming laptops can’t pull that off.

There are limitations to gaming, after all. These are built-in graphics, in any case, however they’re a significant leap forward of what both AMD or Intel is ready to supply. Like with the iPad or the iPhone, the M1 built-in graphics lastly rework the MacBook Professional 13-inch into an honest gaming machine.

Take all that with a grain of salt, although. The efficiency you possibly can anticipate from the M1 MacBook Professional relies upon extremely on what functions you want. So, let’s deal with the massive elephant within the room: App compatibility.

App assist

As beforehand acknowledged, the M1 chip marks a dramatic departure from Intel and conventional x86 methods. Such a drastic flip makes app compatibility a significant hurdle to leap. Apple hasn’t shied away from making large claims about its options, however you’re proper to be skeptical. Look no additional than Microsoft’s app catastrophe with the unique Floor Professional X for an instance of how poor this kind of transition may very well be dealt with.

The quick reply is almost each app or piece of software program you may probably want will run on M1 Macs.  That doesn’t imply it’ll run superfast, after all, but it surely’s a promise you possibly can take to the financial institution. And thus far, improvement assist has been off the charts.

It’s no shock that the MacBook Professional is insanely quick at Apple’s personal proprietary apps which were compiled natively for this new structure. In case you’re operating Safari, GarageBand, and even Last Reduce Professional, you’ll discover that the MacBook Professional delivers professional-level efficiency. Need to do some music manufacturing or video modifying on the facet? No drawback. The MacBook Professional 13-inch has you lined, particularly in case you keep on with Apple’s software program. From what we’ve seen, even the MacBook Air can deal with these workflows with ease.

However in case you’re a artistic skilled or hobbyist, you in all probability have already got your chosen functions you’re employed with — and they may not all be from Apple. As a result of the M1 is an ARM-based processor, it might probably’t run software program that was written for x86, which is many of the functions you possibly can obtain off the online. There are a handful of key builders which have already optimized their apps for the M1. Microsoft, for instance, has already introduced over its Workplace suite. The identical goes for Google Chrome. For many individuals, that covers the vast majority of what they use every day.

There are some holes, although. Adobe’s artistic suite is crucial instance. Native variations of Premiere Professional, Photoshop, and Lightroom received’t be prepared till someday in 2021. They’re coming, however for now, the M1 has to run an emulated model. However don’t fear. Apple has managed to make these apps work significantly better than you may suppose. Apple’s resolution is an app translation course of known as Rosetta 2 — and it’s mind-blowing how properly it really works.

Builders are rapidly updating software program to be compliant with the M1.

The MacBook Professional 13-inch can export a video challenge in Premiere simply as quick your common x86-based 13-inch laptop computer, together with the Intel model of the MacBook Professional. Meaning you possibly can safely swap to the M1 MacBook Professional with out having to fret about efficiency in nonnative apps.

After all, there’ll at all times be exceptions. I attempted downloading the Epic Video games Launcher, for instance, and oof. It’s extraordinarily sluggish. When you load up a recreation, it’s nice — however the launcher and storefront itself lags. Previous software program tied to particular equipment or may need related points.

It was additionally dreadfully gradual at encoding video in Handbrake. It took 5 minutes and 28 seconds to finish a 4K video encode to H.265. That’s, till Handbrake launched a brand new model (1.four), which was optimized for the M1. Now? That encode time is down to simply two minutes and 38 seconds. That’s 15% quicker than the 10th-gen Intel Core i5 MacBook Professional 13-inch in finishing the identical encoding activity. It goes to indicate simply how rapidly builders are updating software program to be compliant.

Battery life

After all, the advantages of the M1 processor prolong far past simply efficiency. The laptop computer begins up lightning quick while you open the lid — and even connects to exterior shows quick. The best high quality of life enhancement you’ll expertise with it, although, is battery life. The MacBook Professional 13-inch has by no means been a battery life champion, simply barely squeaking by sufficient to be thought of sufficient. However not with the M1.

This MacBook Professional 13-inch has a few of the finest battery life I’ve ever examined on a laptop computer, regardless of having only a 58-watt battery. In mild internet searching, the MacBook Professional 13-inch lasted properly over 16 hours on a single cost. That’s a heck of a whole lot of screen-on time. It beats lots of the finest Home windows laptops, such because the Dell XPS 13 or the HP Spectre x360. On a lighter load like native video loop, the MacBook Professional may even final over 21 hours. Whew.

Almost doubling battery life with out altering battery dimension is a large accomplishment.

The perfect half? Simply because the battery low notification comes up, it doesn’t imply you’re doomed. The MacBook Professional 13-inch can final one other hour or so, particularly in case you flip down the brightness a bit.

Processors with ARM designs are identified for excessive effectivity, so I wasn’t too shocked to see the MacBook Professional excel on this space. Even so, almost doubling the battery lifetime of earlier fashions with out altering the dimensions of the battery is a large accomplishment.


A laptop computer is much more than only a processor, after all. The show, keyboard, trackpad, audio system, port choice, portability, and battery life are all equally vital. Not a lot has modified in that regard, but it surely’s nonetheless the place the MacBook Professional excels. For probably the most half.

The chassis is zero.61 inches thick and weighs precisely three kilos. In 2016, when this design was first used, it was breaking new floor. As of late, it’s par for the course. You’ll discover thinner, lighter, and each bit as sturdy laptops on the market, such because the Dell XPS 13, HP Spectre x360, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, and Microsoft Floor Laptop computer three.

Nonetheless, it’s a supremely well-engineered laptop computer, with no trace of flex or bend — and that features within the lid.

There’s room for enchancment, although. I would like nothing greater than a MacBook Professional with some modern-looking bezels. Laptop computer designers have made large strides on this division, however Apple has appeared content material to go away issues as is. To make issues worse, the 720p webcam housed in that fats bezel isn’t a lot good in any case.

I anticipate all that to vary in 2021 with the launch of a 14-inch MacBook Professional to exchange this one. However in case you’re shopping for a MacBook Professional immediately, that received’t assist you a lot.

This specific MacBook Professional contains simply two USB-C/Thunderbolt ports, each on the left facet. These deal with DisplayPort, charging, and knowledge transfers as much as 40Gb/s. I personally favor to have a charging port on each side of the laptop computer for comfort, corresponding to on the Dell XPS 13.

The 4 Thunderbolt ports on the Intel model of the MacBook Professional is actually its solely benefit over the M1 model.

Show and audio system

There’s by no means been a lot room for criticism with the MacBook Professional’s display. The two,560 x 1,600 “Retina” show is sharp, vibrant, and color-precise. With the abundance of 4K screens accessible in laptops, the MacBook Professional compared is lacking some pixels. Not that you just’ll discover, after all. Simply don’t be shocked if subsequent 12 months Apple makes a giant deal about surpassing 5K with its pixel depend. It might even use mini-LED expertise!

One caveat to make: I couldn’t get our colorimeter software program to run. It’s an excellent instance of a distinct segment piece of software program that simply refused to run on the M1. I confirmed with Apple, nonetheless, that this was an equivalent panel to the earlier mannequin, which included a max brightness of 485 nits, a distinction of 1470:1, and 91% AdobeRGB shade area.

The M1 chip permits Apple to do the audio processing all by itself.

The 16:10 side ratio has been utilized by Apple for a few years, but it surely’s now lastly being picked up by corporations like Dell and HP. Clearly, Apple has been proper all alongside.

The audio system are one more space the place Apple has at all times been within the lead. No opponents even come shut. On this new mannequin, Apple has taken it additional, making some tweaks to the tuning of the audio system. The M1 chip permits Apple to do the audio processing all by itself, opening up alternatives to tinker with the stereo unfold and the equalization. This was dealt with beforehand with the T2 chip, however tighter management means extra alternative for tuning.

The result’s improbable audio high quality, particularly when listening to music. In contrast to most laptops, it’s really a pleasure to take heed to music on. The audio system get lots loud with out crackling or distortion, and there’s even a good quantity of bass. It’s a marvel contemplating how small these audio system are, however Apple’s further engineering takes them to the subsequent degree.

Keyboard and touchpad

I received’t spend an excessive amount of time complimenting Apple on the fix-up of its keyboard. Gone are the times of the unreliable and uncomfortable butterfly keyboards. Apple’s Magic Keyboard, which makes use of a extra standard scissor-switch, debuted within the MacBook Professional 13-inch from earlier this 12 months. It’s nonetheless right here, and it’s nonetheless improbable.

The identical goes for the trackpad, which is further massive and responsive. The Drive Contact expertise means there’s no bodily mechanism beneath the glass — only a extremely delicate sequence of motors that replicate the sensation of movement.

In the meantime, I’ll proceed to bemoan the missed alternative that’s the Contact Bar. I virtually by no means use it. And once I do, corresponding to to regulate quantity or display brightness, it’s annoying. My solely hope is that Apple now has improved instruments for a greater implementation sooner or later, however for now, it doesn’t add as much as a lot of a characteristic.

Our take

The $1,299 MacBook Professional 13-inch M1 is a recent begin for the Mac. The bodily design will catch up ultimately, however for now, what now we have is the start of a season for the Mac the place it is going to be arduous to compete with.

Are there any alternate options?

The closest competitor is the Dell XPS 13. I favor the slim-bezel design of Dell’s laptop computer, in addition to the choice for a 4K mannequin. The MacBook Professional 13-inch M1 is a extra highly effective laptop computer now, although, and beats it in battery life.

In case you don’t want the additional efficiency afforded by the Professional, the MacBook Air ought to be thought of. It makes use of a barely lower-powered model of the M1, however solely begins at $999 (or $899 with scholar low cost).

How lengthy will it final?

Being constructed on Apple’s new system structure, the MacBook Professional 13-inch M1 is a secure buy. It’ll be supported for a few years. That being mentioned, a significant redesign of the MacBook Professional is alleged to be launching in 2021, although it could be some time till we hear extra.

All of Apple’s MacBooks include a typical one-year restricted guarantee. After all, you possibly can get pleasure from Apple’s glorious AppleCare+ service for as much as three years, although it’ll price you further.

Do you have to purchase it?

Completely. Greater than any MacBook Professional up to now few years, Apple has lastly made one which has an simple benefit over its rivals.

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