13-Inch MacBook Pro vs. 14- and 16-Inch MacBook Pro Buyer's Guide

Apple recently announced a major update for its high-end MacBook Pro models, with the new machines featuring a complete redesign, the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, larger mini-LED displays with ProMotion, an HDMI port and SD card slot, full-sized function keys, and more.


In November 2020, Apple updated its popular 13-inch MacBook Pro with the first Apple silicon chip for the Mac, the M1 chip. This model remains in the MacBook Pro lineup as the low-end option.

Despite both being MacBook Pros, the M1 models and the high-end models are fairly different machines owing to their different chips, so should you consider purchasing the lower-cost MacBook Pro, which starts at $1,299, to save money, or do you need the higher-end M1X MacBook Pro, which costs at least $700 more? Our guide helps to answer the question of how to decide which of these two Apple silicon MacBooks is best for you.

Comparing the 13-Inch MacBook Pro and 14- and 16-Inch MacBook Pro

The 13-inch MacBook Pro and high-end MacBook Pro share a large number of important features such as an Apple silicon chip, wide stereo sound, and Touch ID. Apple lists these same features of the two devices:

Similarities

  • Display with P3 wide color and True Tone
  • Apple silicon System on Chip (SoC)
  • 16-core Neural Engine
  • 16GB unified memory option
  • 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB storage options
  • Ambient light sensor
  • FaceTime HD camera with advanced image signal processor with computational video
  • Wide stereo sound
  • Studio-quality three-mic array with high signal-to-noise ratio and directional beamforming
  • ‌Touch ID‌
  • Backlit Magic Keyboard
  • Force Touch trackpad
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • At least two Thunderbolt 4 ports
  • 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0
  • Available in Space Gray and Silver

Apple's breakdown shows that the two MacBooks share a large number of key features. Even so, there are some meaningful differences between the ‌M1‌ MacBook Pro and M1X MacBook Pro that are worth highlighting, including design, chip options, battery life, and display brightness.

Differences


13-Inch MacBook Pro

  • 13.3-inch display
  • LCD Retina display
  • 500 nits brightness
  • Apple ‌M1‌ chip
  • 8-core CPU
  • 8-core GPU
  • 8GB or 16GB of unified memory
  • 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB of storage
  • 720p ‌FaceTime‌ HD camera
  • Stereo speakers with high dynamic range
  • Support for Dolby Atmos playback
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • Two Thunderbolt 4 ports
  • Supports one external display with up to 6K resolution at 60Hz
  • Touch Bar
  • Integrated 58.2-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
  • Up to 20 hours battery life when playing back video
  • 61W USB-C Power Adapter


14-Inch and 16-Inch MacBook Pro

  • 14.2-inch or 16.2-inch display
  • Mini-LED Liquid Retina XDR display with ProMotion
  • Up to 1000 nits sustained (full-screen) brightness, 1600 nits peak brightness
  • Apple M1 Pro chip or Apple M1 Max chip
  • Up to 10-core CPU
  • Up to 32-core GPU
  • Media engine with hardware-accelerated H.264, HEVC, ProRes, and ProRes RAW, video decode engine, up to two video encode engines, and up to two ProRes encode and decode engines
  • 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of unified memory
  • 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, or 8TB of storage
  • 1080p ‌FaceTime‌ HD camera
  • High-fidelity six-speaker sound system with force-cancelling woofers
  • Support for spatial audio when playing music or video with Dolby Atmos on built-in speakers
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack with advanced support for high-impedance headphones
  • Three Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI port, and SDXC card slot
  • Supports two external displays with up to 6K resolution at 60Hz (‌M1 Pro‌) or three external displays with up to 6K resolution and one external display with up to 4K resolution at 60Hz (‌M1 Max‌)
  • Full-size function keys
  • Integrated 70 or 100-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
  • Up to 17 or 21 hours battery life when playing back video
  • 67W, 96W, or 140W USB-C Power Adapter
  • MagSafe 3 and fast charging

Design

Both the entry-level and high-end MacBook Pro models are available in Silver and Space Gray, but their designs vary. Although the machines are around the same thickness, the 14-inch and 16-inch models do not feature tapered edges, making them appear thicker and bulkier. The keyboard area of the high-end MacBook Pros is also all-black. The dimensions of the three machines are listed below:


13-Inch MacBook Pro

  • Height: 0.61 inch (1.56 cm)
  • Width: 11.97 inches (30.41 cm)
  • Depth: 8.36 inches (21.24 cm)
  • Weight: 3.0 pounds (1.4 kg)


14-Inch and 16-Inch MacBook Pro

  • Height: 0.61 inch (1.55 cm)/0.66 inch (1.68 cm)
  • Width: 12.31 inches (31.26 cm)/14.01 inches (35.57 cm)
  • Depth: 8.71 inches (22.12 cm)/9.77 inches (24.81 cm)
  • Weight: 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg)/4.7 pounds (2.1 kg)

The 13-inch and 14-inch MacBook Pro are very similar in size, so the dimensions of these two machines should not heavily influence your decision. The overall look and more tapered design of the 13-inch model may be a more important consideration for you.

macbook pro keyboard

Touch Bar

The Touch Bar is a small OLED Retina multi-touch display built into the keyboard where the function keys traditionally go. It is contextual and can perform a range of different functions on the Mac depending on which app is in use.

new macbookpro photoshop screen
The Touch Bar is a matte-style display that blends right in with the rest of the keys on the keyboard, and in all modern MacBook Pro machines, it supports True Tone, allowing the white balance to be adjusted to match the ambient lighting conditions. Interacting with the Touch Bar is done through taps, swipes, and other multi-touch gestures, with support for up to 10 fingers at a time.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro features the Touch Bar, while the 14- and 16-inch models simply have full-sized function keys. Given that the 13-inch MacBook Pro is now the only remaining device with the Touch Bar, it may be fully discontinued in the future. Nevertheless, if you enjoy the experience of the Touch Bar, you may prefer the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Ports and Connectivity

The selection of available ports is an area of major difference between the two machines. The 13-inch MacBook Pro features just two Thunderbolt 4 ports. The 14-inch and 16-inch models have three Thunderbolt 4 ports, an HDMI port, and an SDXC card slot.

2021 macbook pro ports
While both machines feature a 3.5 mm headphone jack, the high-end model's version is a 3.5 mm headphone jack with advanced support for high-impedance headphones.

In addition, the 13-inch MacBook Pro can support only one external display, while the high-end model can support up to four displays in total with the ‌M1 Max‌ chip.

This all makes the high-end models much more versatile in terms of connectivity, and will be of particular value to professionals who use digital cameras or need to connect to external displays.

Display Size

The entry-level MacBook Pro's display is exactly 13.3 inches in size, which is considerably smaller than the 14.2 inches and 16.2 inches of the high-end models. 13.3 inches is still bigger than the largest iPad Pro model, which comes in at 12.9 inches, and will be adequate for most users.

The 16.2-inch display will be a better replacement for a desktop machine and provide much more screen space to arrange multiple windows and use professional applications that benefit from additional display area. The 14.2-inch display is still larger than the 13.3-inch MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models from recent years, but still adds to the overall size of the machine. The larger MacBook Pros also feature slimmer bezels, a notch, and rounded top corners.

macbook pro 2021 notch
While the notch containing the webcam does eat into the display space very slightly, both high-end MacBook pro displays are larger than previous models, so there is still more display area overall. In addition, the display area below the notch has an aspect ratio of exactly 16:10, just like previous MacBook Pro models, to ensure that the notch does not impede normal display views or watching media.

On this basis, if you are concerned about the notch, you should not necessarily feel obliged to get the larger, 16-inch MacBook Pro. That being said, since the notch is the same size on both models, it may be slightly less noticeable on the 16-inch model. If you strongly dislike the notch, it may simply be easier to opt for the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Display Technology

The display technologies of both machines are also significantly different. Like most MacBooks in recent years, the 13-inch model has an LCD Retina display. The 14- and 16-inch models feature Apple's newer mini-LED Liquid Retina XDR technology for deeper blacks, better dynamic range, and improved color accuracy.

macbook pro display
The XDR display can get much brighter, reaching as high as 1,600 nits of brightness at its peak when showing HDR content. The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models also have ProMotion displays, allowing them to vary their refresh rate up to 120Hz. The 13-inch model does not have a display with a variable refresh rate.

It will be worth getting the high-end MacBook Pro models for viewing and editing HDR content, as well as watching high-framerate video such as sports. The display of the 13-inch MacBook Pro will still be more than adequate for normal daily use, but the high-end model, offering deeper blacks and smoother on-screen motion, simply offers a better experience.

Chip

The 13-inch MacBook Pro has the ‌M1‌ chip, while with the 14-inch and 16-inch models, you can choose between the ‌M1 Pro‌ or ‌M1 Max‌ chip. The ‌M1 Pro‌ and ‌M1 Max‌ are scaled-up versions of the ‌M1‌.

m1 pro vs max feature
The ‌M1 Pro‌ and ‌M1 Max‌ allow for a CPU with up to two additional CPU cores, 24 additional GPU cores, 56GB more memory, and 6TB more storage, compared to the ‌M1‌ chip. The ‌M1 Pro‌ and ‌M1 Max‌ also have dedicated media engines for hardware-accelerated H.264, HEVC, ProRes, and ProRes RAW, video decode engine, up to two video encode engines, and up to two ProRes encode and decode engines. For more detailed information about each of Apple's custom silicon chips for the Mac, take a look at our helpful guides:

There are clear performance differences between the ‌M1‌ and ‌M1 Pro‌ when it comes to Geekbench scores. The ‌M1‌ MacBook Pro earned a single-core score of 1705 and a multi-core score of 7385, along with an OpenCL score of 18480. By comparison, the 14-inch MacBook Pro earned a single-core score of 1763, a multi-core score of 9823, and an OpenCL score of 30569, which is a moderate improvement in multi-core and graphics performance.

This translates to real-world usage as well. Rendering a 4K timeline in Final Cut Pro took the ‌M1 Pro‌ MacBook Pro about 2 minutes and 55 seconds, but the ‌M1‌ MacBook Pro took 3 minutes and 40 seconds, which is a noticeable difference. The ‌M1 Pro‌ MacBook Pro was able to handle 8K footage with no problem, but the ‌M1‌ MacBook Pro struggled.

For daily tasks such as reading emails and browsing the web, the ‌M1‌ chip is more than sufficient, but for serious professional workflows, the ‌M1 Pro‌ and ‌M1 Max‌ give meaningful performance improvements.

Camera

The high-end MacBook Pro has a considerably better 1080p webcam compared to the 13-inch model's 720p camera. If you frequently use the built-in webcam for video calls, you will have a noticeably better experience with the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro.

Speakers

The 13-inch MacBook Pro has high dynamic range stereo speakers. With the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros, Apple completely redesigned its speakers with a new six-speaker system that supports spatial audio when playing music or video with Dolby Atmos.

macbook pro speakers
Both speaker setups are very capable for a laptop, but if you rely heavily on the built-in speakers, you will have a better experience with the high-end MacBook Pro models.

Battery Life

The 13-inch MacBook Pro offers three extra hours of battery life over the 14-inch MacBook Pro, but one hour less than the 16-inch MacBook Pro. According to Apple, the 13-inch MacBook Pro can deliver up to 20 hours of battery life during video playback. One the other hand, the 14-inch MacBook Pro can deliver 17 hours of battery life and the 16-inch model can deliver 21 hours of battery life.

Charging

The high-end MacBook Pros feature ‌MagSafe‌ 3 for easily connecting and disconnecting the charging cable from the machine using magnets. The 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros are also capable of fast charging.

macbook pro magsafe 3 charging

Other MacBook Options

If you are looking for a more affordable Apple silicon MacBook Pro, there is the ‌M1‌ ‌MacBook Air‌, which sports the same processor as the ‌M1‌ MacBook Pro, a 13.3-inch display, ‌Touch ID‌, and ports, as well as most other hardware features, for a price starting at $999. For casual users, this means that the additional $300 to get the ‌M1‌ MacBook Pro may be difficult to justify. It is a more consumer-oriented and slightly less capable machine compared to the MacBook Pro, but is more than adequate for most users.

‌M1‌ MacBook Pro still has a number of improvements over the ‌MacBook Air‌, offering slightly better performance, a brighter display, the Touch Bar, improved microphone and speaker quality, two extra hours of battery life, and an active cooling system. If you want slightly better performance than the ‌M1‌ ‌MacBook Air‌, as well as better battery life, display brightness, and speaker and microphone quality, the MacBook Pro is the better option.

Likewise, users who intend to perform a lot of graphics-based tasks should skip the ‌MacBook Air‌ entirely and buy the ‌M1‌ MacBook Pro because the eight-core GPU ‌MacBook Air‌ configuration is only $50 less than the MacBook Pro, but this is only the case if you don't need more than 256GB of storage, because a storage upgrade would further push up the MacBook Pro's price.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is the best option for normal consumers. The 13-inch MacBook Pro is actually more akin to a ‌MacBook Air‌ than its high-end siblings, being more than good enough for the needs of casual users. It is lighter, smaller, and more portable than the 14-inch MacBook Pro. Starting at $1,299, the 13-inch MacBook Pro should be the default choice for the average consumer who is looking for something that is a little more than the ‌MacBook Air‌.

Professionals who require larger and more accurate displays, additional ports, more memory and storage, hardware acceleration for media, and a very high level of performance should look to the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro, and the $1,999 and $2,499 price points of these machines reflects this. These high-end MacBook Pros are not targeted at everyday consumers, being clearly tailored for creatives and professionals who rely heavily on the capabilities of their machines.

macbook pro sizes space gray
If you want the best possible performance, connectivity, display technology, and speakers, the high-end MacBook Pro is the best option. The 16-inch MacBook Pro in particular is also potentially a good desktop replacement machine due to its large display.

The 14-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,999, which is $700 more than the $1,299 starting price of the 13-inch MacBook Pro. That being said, if you are looking to configure the 13-inch MacBook Pro with 16GB of memory and at least 512GB of storage, which also brings it closer to parity with the 14-inch base-level model, it costs $1,699. For the additional $300, it will be worthwhile for these users to get the 14-inch MacBook Pro instead.

Related Forum: MacBook Pro

Top Rated Comments

rjd517 Avatar
6 weeks ago
One major difference you left out that is critical for some users is the ability to drive multiple monitors out of the box. The newly-released hardware has that capability, whereas the 13" M1s require additional hardware to make use of multiple monitors. You're out of luck if you have an external multi-monitor setup with a 13" machine. For me this is the most important difference.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

macbook pro 14 16 2021

14-Inch MacBook Pro vs. 16-Inch MacBook Pro Buyer's Guide

Tuesday October 19, 2021 8:19 am PDT by
Apple recently announced a major update for its high-end MacBook Pro models, with the new machines featuring a complete redesign, the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, larger mini-LED displays with ProMotion, an HDMI port and SD card slot, full-sized function keys, and more. The redesigned MacBook Pro is available in all-new 14-inch and 16-inch sizes. Despite both being high-end models, the 14- and...
Flat 2021 MacBook Pro Mockup Feature 1

14-Inch and 16-Inch MacBook Pros: Everything We Know

Saturday January 16, 2021 10:00 am PST by
October 18: Apple has announced the new MacBook Pro models, which are available to order now ahead of an October 26 launch. This guide will be updated shortly. Apple introduced a new M1 MacBook Pro in November of 2020, but the new model didn't include any design changes. That's going to change in 2021, with rumors suggesting Apple has a major MacBook Pro design refresh in the works. Subscr ...
Ports 2021 MacBook Pro Mockup Feature 1 copy

What to Expect From October 18 'Unleashed' Apple Event: New MacBook Pros, AirPods 3 and More

Friday October 15, 2021 2:10 pm PDT by
Apple's first fall event of 2021 focused on the iPhone and the Apple Watch, but the second, set to be held on Monday, October 18, is expected to be Mac-centric. The upcoming event will see the debut of the highly anticipated 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro models, plus we could also get refreshed AirPods and a new Mac mini. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. This guide...
maxresdefault

M1 Pro vs. M1 Max Buyer's Guide

Tuesday October 19, 2021 11:32 am PDT by
Apple recently announced a major update for its high-end MacBook Pros, with the new machines featuring a complete redesign, larger mini-LED displays with ProMotion, an HDMI port and SD card slot, full-sized function keys, and more. The new machines contain one of two all-new scaled-up variants of the M1 System on Chip (SoC), the M1 Pro or the M1 Max. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel ...
m1x feature dark blue

Apple M1X Chip Rumor Archive

Tuesday October 12, 2021 1:44 pm PDT by
The M1X was one of the rumored names for the Apple silicon chips that followed the M1. These chips actually turned out to be called the M1 Pro and the M1 Max, and Apple did not use the "M1X" nomenclature. Though the naming was wrong, the rumors about the chip were accurate, and this guide serves as an archive for all of the rumors about the M1X prior to the launch of the new MacBook Pro...
MBA Mock White Front Blue

Apple's 2022 MacBook Air: Everything We Know

Monday November 8, 2021 2:52 pm PST by
The next-generation MacBook Air refresh coming in 2022 will see Apple introduce the biggest design update to the MacBook Air since 2010, which is when Apple introduced both 11 and 13-inch models. We're expecting a total overhaul of the look of the machine, and this guide aggregates all of the rumors that we've heard so far. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design ...
m1 pro chip

16GB vs. 32GB MacBook Pro: How Much is Enough?

Wednesday November 3, 2021 4:25 pm PDT by
Apple's high-end 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro offers the M1 Pro chip with 16GB of RAM as standard, but you can upgrade to 32GB of RAM for $400. When choosing your M1 Pro MacBook Pro configuration, should you upgrade to the 32GB memory option and does it justify its cost? Our guide helps to answer the question of how to decide which of these two memory options for the high-end MacBook Pro...
m1 pro chip

Apple's M1 Pro Chip: Everything You Need to Know

Friday October 29, 2021 1:13 pm PDT by
Apple in October 2021 introduced its second-generation Apple silicon chips, the M1 Pro and the M1 Max, which follow the M1 and are available in the 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro models. This guide focuses on the M1 Pro, which is an improvement over the M1, but not quite as powerful as the M1 Max. M1 Pro Explained The M1 Pro is Apple's second System on a Chip (SoC) developed for use in Macs, ...

Popular Stories

Mac Notebook Upgrade Program

Apple Introduces New MacBook Upgrade Program for Business Partners

Monday November 29, 2021 7:38 am PST by
In association with CIT as the financing partner, Apple has launched a new Mac Upgrade Program for small businesses and Apple business partners that allow companies to easily distribute and upgrade their fleets of MacBooks at an affordable price to all of their workers. As outlined on CIT's website, shared by Max Weinbach, Apple Business Partners can distribute the 13-inch MacBook Pro,...
General cyber monday 20 sale feature

Best Cyber Monday Deals for AirPods, Apple Pencil, iMac, More

Monday November 29, 2021 4:19 am PST by
With Black Friday over, Cyber Monday 2021 is now in full swing and you can find many of the same sales as last week on Apple products like AirPods, Apple Pencil, and iPad Pro. In this article we're focusing on the best Cyber Monday discounts on Apple products like these and more. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we...
2017 apple tv

Cyber Monday: Original Apple TV 4K Drops to $99.99 for Amazon Prime Members

Monday November 29, 2021 12:01 pm PST by
We've been tracking Apple product and accessory deals for Cyber Monday 2021 today, and now Woot is offering a solid discount on the previous generation 32GB Apple TV 4K. You can get this device in new condition for just $99.99 if you're an Amazon Prime member. Note that this sale will last for one day only. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a...
iPhone SE Cosmopolitan Clean

New iPhone SE Reportedly on Track for Release in First Quarter of 2022

Tuesday November 30, 2021 8:08 am PST by
Apple plans to release a third-generation iPhone SE in the first quarter of 2022, according to Taiwanese research firm TrendForce. If this timeframe proves to be accurate, we can expect the device to be released by the end of March. As previously rumored, TrendForce said the new iPhone SE will remain a mid-range smartphone with added support for 5G:In terms of product development, Apple is...
maxresdefault

Five Features to Look Forward to in the 2022 MacBook Air

Tuesday November 30, 2021 1:51 pm PST by
In 2022, Apple is going to release an updated version of the MacBook Air with some of the biggest design changes that we've seen since 2010, when Apple introduced the 11 and 13-inch size options. In the video below, we highlight five features that you need to know about the new machine. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. No More Wedge Design - Current MacBook...
telsa cyberwhistle

Elon Musk Urges Customers to Buy 'Tesla Cyberwhistle' Instead of Apple Polishing Cloth

Wednesday December 1, 2021 4:01 am PST by
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has encouraged customers to buy the "Cyberwhistle" for $50 instead of Apple's much-discussed Polishing Cloth. The product page, which Musk shared on Twitter on Tuesday evening, offers a limited edition stainless steel whistle with the same distinctive design of the Tesla Cybertruck:Inspired by Cybertruck, the limited-edition Cyberwhistle is a premium collectible made from ...
General cyber monday 20 sale feature 2

Best Cyber Monday Apple Accessory Deals Available Today

Monday November 29, 2021 6:41 am PST by
We started sharing deals on Apple products for Cyber Monday 2021 earlier today, and now we're tracking deals and bargains available from all of the best Apple accessory companies. Similar to Black Friday, you can expect Cyber Monday savings from Twelve South, Nomad, Belkin, Casetify, and many more. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and...
iphone holiday

Best Black Friday iPhone Deals Still Available

Friday November 26, 2021 4:58 am PST by
Cellular carriers have always offered big savings on the newest iPhone models during the holidays, and Black Friday 2021 sales have now carried over into Cyber Monday as well. Right now we're tracking notable offers on the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro devices from AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. For even more savings, keep an eye on older models like iPhone SE. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate...
airpods prototype translucent

Transparent AirPods and 29W Power Adapter Prototypes Surface in Photos

Tuesday November 30, 2021 7:16 am PST by
Images of transparent prototype AirPods and a 29W Apple power adapter have been shared on Twitter by Apple device collector Giulio Zompetti. The prototypes, which appear to be either first-generation or second-generation AirPods, feature clear plastic along the stem and around the outer side of the earbud, with the normal white plastic on the inner side of the earbud. Transparent casings are ...