Comparison of MacBook Pro 13 on Intel (2020) vs MacBook Pro 13 on M1 Apple Silicon (2020)


The new 13-inch MacBook Pro based on the M1 chip (processor review) is an important part of Apple’s laptop line, especially since this model takes its rightful place among the current ones in terms of their performance. In this article, we will compare the new Apple-to-chip MacBook Pro versus its sibling, the 13-inch Intel-based MacBook Pro.

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MacBook Pro 13 on Intel (2020) and MacBook Pro 13 on M1 (2020)

Apple has decided to stick to its announced two-year schedule to move all of its Macs from Intel to Apple Silicon. As part of this, it was promised to release the first model based on Apple Silicon by the end of 2020, which happened in November.

The design of the 13-inch MacBook Pro is already a classic in the laptop market. Housed in an aluminum case with austere features, the MacBook Pro with the Apple logo on the lid is recognizable among all other models.

Macbook Pro

Both 2020 MacBook Pros share the same design, dimensions, and weight.

Dimensions: 30.41 × 21.2 cm, thickness – 1.56 cm, weight – 1.4 kg.

MacBook Pro Dimensions

Both generations of notebooks are available in two colors: Silver and Space Gray.

MacBook Pro 13 Colors 2020

The main innovations touched the insides of the device.

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Display MacBook Pro 13 on Intel (2020) and MacBook Pro 13 on M1 (2020)

MacBook Pro 2020 display

As with the design, nothing new about the display has changed for the model with the M1 chip. The screen of this laptop has the same specifications, resolution and functions as its predecessor. This is the same 13.3-inch LED-backlit IPS display with a resolution of 2560 by 1600 pixels and a pixel density of 227 PPI.

The screen is capable of up to 500 nits of brightness, and supports Wide color (P3) and True Tone, Apple’s system to automatically adjust the display color to match changes in ambient light.

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Processor MacBook Pro 13 on Intel (2020) and MacBook Pro 13 on M1 (2020)

The 13-inch Intel MacBook Pro lineup is best split into two different lines with the same name for some specifications. It will not be difficult to distinguish between the lower and upper levels, determined by whether they have two (at the bottom) or four (at the top) Thunderbolt 3 ports.

Each level has its own variations in the specification, starting with processors. The lower tier models use 8th generation Intel processors, while the upper tier uses 10th generation versions, with a difference of two generations clearly indicating a difference in performance between one model of different specifications.

The lower tier (MacBook Pro with two Thunderbolt 3 ports) uses an 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8257U, 1.4GHz quad-core, 3.9GHz Turbo Boost, and Core i7-8557U, quad-core chip with increased frequencies. It has a base frequency of 1.7 GHz and Turbo Boost runs at 4.5 GHz.

In the upper models (MacBook Pro with four Thunderbolt 3 ports), the 10th Gen Intel Core i5-1038NG7 quad-core processor has a base frequency of 2 GHz, which is increased to 3.8 in Turbo Boost mode. Finally, the Core i7-1068NG7 is also available at this level, again with a quad core, but with a base clock speed of 2.3 GHz and 4.1 GHz in Turbo Boost mode.

In both cases, the Core i5 has a smaller L3 cache size of 6MB, while the Core i7 has 8MB.

The M1 chip in the new model is the first chip released as part of the Apple Silicon project to replace Intel in Mac computers (details). The chip contains 16 billion transistors and is manufactured using a 5-nanometer process technology.

Apple's M1 processor

Apple says data is processed by 8 cores, four of which are high performance and the other four are energy efficient. In this case, the cores can both replace each other and work simultaneously.

Apple M1 processor

The new unified memory architecture will also help improve performance, and the built-in 16-core Neural Engine, capable of up to 11 Trillion operations per second, will help solve problems using machine learning.

Neural processor M1

According to Apple, the processor of the new MacBook Pro is up to 2.8 times faster than the previous generation.

Apple's M1 processor

There are already the first results of the M1 chip in the Geekbench test for a certain 2020 MacBook Pro. They show that the processor scored about 1690 points in the single-core test, and about 7291 in the multi-core test.

These results demonstrate a significant superiority of the MacBook Pro with the M1 chip over its Intel-based counterparts.

Geekbench Single Core Test:

Processor MacBook Pro 13 on Intel (2020) and MacBook Pro 13 on M1 (2020)

Geekbench multi-core test:

Processor MacBook Pro 13 on Intel (2020) and MacBook Pro 13 on M1 (2020)

There is, of course, an important caveat about application compatibility.

Apple includes Rosetta 2 in macOS Big Sur. It is an emulation software tool that allows applications designed to run on Intel processors to run in a similar way on Apple Silicon. It is stated that there is no need to pre-recode or recompile programs. While Rosetta 2 will provide the ability to use familiar apps on the M1 laptop, app developers are already working on compatible versions. In the meantime (before the release of updated applications) the system will consume some resources for additional processing of incompatible applications.

In addition, it should be noted that it is temporarily impossible to install Windows on MacBook Pro M1 using BootCamp (Parallels, etc.). According to Apple, this issue directly depends on Microsoft’s decision.

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Graphics MacBook Pro 13 on Intel (2020) and MacBook Pro 13 on M1 (2020)

Unlike the 16-inch MacBook Pro models that offer both discrete and integrated graphics, the 13-inch MacBook uses only integrated graphics. But since there are two generations of Intel processors, there are also two GPUs.

The 8th generation processors use Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645, while the 10th generation chips have the confusing name Intel Iris Plus Graphics. Despite the unusual name, the unnumbered version is newer and better than the numbered version in this case.

According to the results shown in the GFXBench 5.0 test within the Metal API, Intel Iris Plus Graphics can produce 1322 frames of screen graphics in the usual Aztec Ruins test and 919 frames in the advanced version. Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 can deliver 1,454 frames in the regular test and 948 in the advanced one.

Apple uses its own GPU in the M1 version, which is the eight-core version of the SoC.

Graphic Apple M1

The manufacturer claims its performance is five times faster than the previous generation, and with the capabilities of the Neural Engine, it can perform tasks such as rendering complex 3D scenes in Final Cut Pro up to 5.9 times faster than before. …

Preliminary GFXBench 5.0 results show the M1 can hit 3859 frames under the same Aztec Ruins routine benchmark. The High Tier version also produces a high number of frames – 3492.

The results definitely indicate that the M1 performs much better with graphics under load, with other benchmark suites showing similar levels of superiority, around 3-4x.

Depending on the GPU, the 13-inch Intel MacBook Pro can handle external displays with varying levels of video output:

  • The lower-end model can handle one external 5K display with 5120 x 2880 resolution at 60Hz or two 4K displays with 4096 x 2304 resolution.
  • The top-level option supports one external 6K display at 6016 at 3384 @ 60Hz or two external 4K displays.

As for the M1, Apple simply states that the laptop can drive one external 6K 60Hz display, but nothing is said to support dual 4K monitors.

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Interfaces in MacBook Pro 13 on Intel (2020) and MacBook Pro 13 on M1 (2020)

The 13-inch Intel MacBook Pro has either two Thunderbolt 3 ports or four, depending on the version. More is found on models with 10th Gen Intel processors. These ports are also used to charge the MacBook Pro, so if the dock is not used to supply power, then users plugging the charger directly into the MacBook Pro will at times actually lose the ability to use one of the few ports.

Next to two or four Thunderbolt ports is a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Apple has placed just two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports on the M1, which support the same USB-C Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.1 Gen 2 connections as the previous model. The audio jack is preserved.

Interfaces in MacBook Pro 13 on Intel (2020) and MacBook Pro 13 on M1 (2020)

For wireless networking, Apple has provided 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support on all Intel models. The M1 has support for Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), which is one generation newer than 802.11ac.

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Storage and memory in MacBook Pro 13 on Intel (2020) and MacBook Pro 13 on M1 (2020)

There are slight differences between the two tiers of Intel-based MacBook Pros in both storage capacity and memory.

The lower tier starts with 256GB of SSD storage, and can be expanded to 512GB, then up to 1TB and up to 2TB. The upper range starts with a 512GB SSD, but there are 1, 2, and 4TB options available.

Apple offers two configuration levels for the M1 version, one starts with 256GB storage and the other starts with 512GB, with all other specs being identical. Other storage options available are 1TB and 2TB.

As far as RAM is concerned, there are again two tiers allocated for the Intel version. The lower-end model has 8GB of 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory upgradeable to 16GB, while the upper-end model has a base 16GB of 3733MHz LPDDR4X memory with optional expansion to 32GB.

Apple included a unified memory architecture in the M1 that combines high-bandwidth, low-latency memory into a single pool, allowing different SoC elements to access the same data without placing them in different memory pools.

Apple offers the M1 model with a base 8GB “pooled memory” upgradeable to 16GB.

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Battery and autonomy in MacBook Pro 13 on Intel (2020) and MacBook Pro 13 on M1 (2020)

Apple has equipped the lower-end 13-inch Intel MacBook Pro with a slightly larger 58.2 Wh battery than its higher-end 58 Wh battery. Apart from this slight difference, the rest of the specs are identical.

Both Intel MacBook Pros are said to provide up to 10 hours of wireless internet access or 10 hours of movie playback on the Apple TV app, and up to 30 days of standby time. Both laptops come with 61W USB-C power adapters for charging.

Apple retained the 58.2Wh battery for the M1 model, as well as the 61W USB-C power adapter.

Battery and autonomy in MacBook Pro 13 on Intel (2020) and MacBook Pro 13 on M1 (2020)

Although the battery capacity remains the same, the battery life has improved significantly. All thanks to the energy efficiency of the SoC M1, which allows you to work longer. According to Apple, the battery will last for 17 hours of wireless internet access or up to 20 hours of movie playback. We can talk about actually doubling the battery life!

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Other characteristics

Both generations of notebooks have stereo speakers with high dynamic range and support for Dolby Atmos playback. The microphone system consists of three beamforming microphones, updated to a “studio quality” version.

Above the MacBook Pro’s display is a regular 720p FaceTime HD camera, but the M1 delivers improved quality with an updated image signal processor.

Both generations of the 2020 MacBook Pro also feature a Touch Bar and Touch ID for biometric authentication.

TouchBar in MacBook Pro 2020

Touch ID in MacBook Pro 2020

Finally, it remains to mention the backlit Magic Keyboard, complete with scissor keys and Force Touch trackpad.

MacBook Pro keyboard

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Prices for MacBook Pro 13 on Intel (2020) and MacBook Pro 13 on M1 (2020)

  • MacBook Pro: (8th generation quad-core Core i5 with a clock speed of 1.4 GHz, 256 GB of RAM, 8 GB of RAM, two Thunderbolt ports) – 119,990 rubles;
  • MacBook Pro: (8th generation quad-core Core i5 with a clock speed of 1.4 GHz, 512 GB SSD, 8 GB RAM, two Thunderbolt ports) – 139,990 rubles;
  • MacBook Pro: (10th generation quad-core Core i5 @ 2 GHz, 512 GB SSD, 16 GB RAM, four Thunderbolt ports) – 173,990 rubles;
  • MacBook Pro: (10th Gen quad-core Core i5 @ 2 GHz, 1 TB SSD, 16 GB RAM, four Thunderbolt ports) – 193,990 rubles.

That being said, Apple no longer sells the lower-tier model on its website. For a while, the younger version of the Intel-based MacBook Pro can still be obtained from a third-party reseller, but not in the official retail of the manufacturer.

The base 13-inch MacBook Pro M1 costs 130,000 rubles and includes 8GB of storage and a 256GB SSD. An upgrade of RAM up to 16 GB will cost customers an additional 20,000 rubles.

The cost of upgrading storage, starting with the 256 GB version, is 20,000 rubles for 512 GB, 40,000 rubles for 1 TB and 80,000 rubles for 2 TB.

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MacBook Pro 13 on Intel (2020) vs. MacBook Pro 13 on M1 (2020) Specifications

13-inch MacBook Pro based on M1 13-inch Intel-based MacBook Pro, 2 Thunderbolt ports, 2020 13-inch Intel-based MacBook Pro, 4 Thunderbolt ports, 2020
starting price 130,000 rubles 120,000 rubles 174,000 rubles
Dimensions 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56 cm 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56 cm 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56 cm
Weight 1.4 kg 1.4 kg 1.4 kg
CPU Octa-core Apple M1 8th Gen Quad Core i5 1.4GHz

8th Gen Quad Core i7 @ 1.7GHz

10th Gen Quad Core i5 2.0GHz

10th Gen Quad Core i7 @ 2.3GHz

Graphic arts Octa-core Apple M1 GPU Intel Iris Graphics 645 Intel Iris Graphics
RAM 8 or 16 GB 8 or 16 GB 16 or 32 GB
Network Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
Storage device 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB, or 2 TB 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB, or 2 TB 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, or 4TB
Display 13.3 inch IPS with a resolution of 2560 × 1600 pixels 13.3 inch IPS with a resolution of 2560 × 1600 pixels 13.3 inch IPS with a resolution of 2560 × 1600 pixels
Ports 2 Thunderbolt 3 / USB 4 ports, 3.5mm audio 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports, 3.5mm audio 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports, 3.5mm audio
Biometrics Touch ID Touch ID Touch ID
Touchbar there is there is there is
Battery 58.2 Wh, up to 17 hours of Internet use 58.2 Wh, up to 10 hours of web browsing 58.0 Wh, up to 10 hours of web browsing

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Potential line improvement

As with the Mac mini and MacBook Air updates, the introduction of the M1 chip in the 13-inch MacBook Pro is pretty much a story about internal changes. Outside, everything remains the same, the only difference is what controls the device.

The M1 certainly has the potential to outperform its Intel sibling in not only basic computing, but graphics as well, and that’s without considering the addition of the Neural Engine. As part of a cohesive design project, the M1 should allay any doubts about Apple’s ability to move its chip design from mobile devices to personal computers.

Perhaps the biggest factor here is whether the target audience will accept the 13-inch MacBook Pro over the new MacBook Air, given that both models offer virtually the same SoC and memory options. Since the Pro line is actively cooled and the Air is not, this should theoretically allow the M1 to run at top speed for much longer periods of time. This is exactly what makes the M1 version of the MacBook Pro a pro device.

Since Pro users are probably more concerned with software compatibility, Apple doesn’t just need the Mac Catalyst and Rosetta 2 features in macOS Big Sur, but also really fast to ease any potential issues.

At the same time, Apple is also trying to attract potential MacBook Pro customers who prefer proven Intel chips. That is why on the official website you can find the top-tier Intel model next to the new M1. In fact, the M1 MacBook Pro replaced Intel’s entry-level model despite the potential performance gains.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 is probably Apple’s best way to demonstrate the potential of converting notebooks to a new architecture. The company did this by still keeping the familiar and tried-and-true option with Intel on sale for those users who have yet to be convinced.

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