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(Pocket-lint) - The 13-inch Intel MacBook Pro was upgraded with the latest specs in early 2020 to bring it in line with 2019's MacBook Pro 16-inch.

However, there's also a version - released in November 2020 - with Apple's own M1 processor. However, we're only looking at Intel machines in this guide. If you want to think about an Apple Silicon Mac instead, check out our bigger MacBook guide

All these Macs run Apple's latest version of its Mac operating system - macOS 11 Big Sur

So which is the model for you - the larger 16-incher or the more manageable 13-inch? Let's find out!

Intel MacBook Pro 16-inch vs MacBook Pro 13-inch: Design and build

  • All models have Touch Bar and Touch ID
  • New style keyboard - dubbed the Magic Keyboard

Both sizes of MacBook Pro are available in silver and space grey and have the Touch Bar and Touch ID for fingerprint. Every MacBook Pro now has a Touch Bar.

The 13-inch models measure 304.1 x 212.4 x 15.6mm and weighs 1.4kg. That means it's slightly thicker and heavier than the older model which was 14.9mm thick/1.37kg. 

The larger 16-inch models all measure 358 x 246 x 16.2mm and weigh 2kg. Despite the larger screen size, the new 16-incher is only marginally bigger than the 15-inch it replaced. 

The keyboard has been completely redesigned on both models after mass criticism of Apple's previous Butterfly design (that was present on now end-of-life 15-inch models and pre-2020 13-inch MacBook Pros). That older keyboard design remains the subject of an ongoing recall program

The Magic Keyboard is designed to be much more durable and with better travel for more comfortable typing. The physical Escape key has also returned.

You'll get two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports on the two lower end 13-inch models, and four on the top-end pair of models. Yep, there are four standard models of the 13-inch MacBook Pro. 

The 16-inch models all have four. Every MacBook Pro retains its 3.5mm headphone jack and there's the Force Touch trackpad, too. 

Intel MacBook Pro 16-inch vs MacBook Pro 13-inch: Display

  • New MacBooks offer True Tone display
  • 13-inch size and resolutions remain the same 

The 16-inch model has a resolution of 3,072 x 1,920 pixels (226ppi), with almost six million pixels on board. The 13-inch model has a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 pixels (227ppi), the same as older 13-inch MacBook Pros. 

All MacBook Pro displays boast True Tone, 500 nits of brightness and a wide P3 colour gamut. True Tone is a tech that was first introduced on the iPad Pro, adjusting the screen to match the colour temperature of the lighting in the room. 

Intel MacBook Pro 16-inch vs MacBook Pro 13-inch: Processor, graphics and storage

  • 8th and 9th generation Intel Core processors for 16-inch
  • 10th generation Intel Core processors for 13-inch
  • Radeon Pro graphics for 15-inch
  • 15-inch gets 6-core i9 option 

The 16-inch MacBook Pro has 8th generation Intel Core processors and adds some 9th generation options. Everything on the bigger model has either 6 or 8 cores. It has the 'basic' option of a 2.6Ghz Intel Core i7 with six cores, but there are two Core i9 processors you can get in the range, too, clocked at 2.3Ghz or 2.4Ghz with Turbo Boost speeds of 4.5 or 5Ghz respectively. 

The 13-inch MacBook Pro boasts a quad-core Core i5 processor as standard - a 10th generation chip clocked at 2.0 or 2.3Ghz. You can also configure up to 10th generation Core i7 at 2.3GHz with maximum Turbo Boost speed of 4.1Ghz. 

The MacBook Pro 16-inch uses AMD Radeon graphics with the AMD Radeon Pro 5300M or 5500M with 4GB of GDDR6 memory and automatic graphics switching between that and the integrated Intel graphics. 

Unfortunately, there's no discrete graphics option on the 13-inch, but Intel's Iris Plus graphics chips are no slouch and are way better than the integrated graphics of yesteryear. They aren't a patch on the 16-inch, however. 

The 16-inch model can be topped up to 64GB of memory, while the 13-inch can have up to 32GB. 8GB of 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory is standard on the 13-inch and 16GB of 2666MHz DDR4 memory is standard on the 16-inch. 


The storage tops out at a whopping 8TB on the 16-inch and 4TB on the 13-inch but starting at 512GB. Adding more internal storage at the time of purchase ups the cost significantly. 

The MacBook Pro lineup all has Apple's own T2 chip. This is a chip dedicated to security that handles Touch ID and some other capabilities such as powering Siri. 



The 16-inch MacBook Pro is a real step up in terms of the power and options it offers, but you have to really need the larger screen, dedicated graphics and sheer power to justify the expense. It's a machine for people who edit video, photos, chop between projects and need a do-anything machine with the power to match. 

The 13-inch model is still our pick for most users but with the MacBook Air now much more powerful, it's always worth seeing if that's actually the 13-inch laptop that you need. 

Remember that Apple is transitioning all its laptops over to Apple Silicon, so Intel versions won't be available too much longer. 

Writing by Dan Grabham.