MacBook Pro 2020 (13-inch) vs MacBook Pro 2019 (13-inch) – bye, bye butterfly switches

(Image credit: Apple)

There's a new MacBook Pro for 2020, and it's available to order on May 7. As usual, there are a number of incremental hardware upgrades to be found inside the 13-inch MacBook Pro 2020 model, but there’s one distinct advantage over last year’s model that outweighs any minor technical improvements. The polarizing butterfly key switches are out, and the Magic Keyboard is in.

That’s probably the main thing you wanted to know, right? But let’s take a look at the other tweaks and changes Apple has made to its latest notebook, and see if it's enough to justify a serious chunk of your change.

(Image credit: Apple)


Visually, not much has changed when compared to the 13-inch MacBook Pro 2019, other than the look and size of the keyboard. The 13-inch MacBook Pro 2020 is a fraction lighter at 3.1 pounds, and a touch taller at 1.56cm. Other than that, they’re almost identical.

The type of finish also remains the same, with either Silver and Space Gray the only options available, and the headphone jack survives another year, which is great news for audiophiles. 

Like the 2019 MacBook before it, the 13-inch MacBook 2020 keeps the Touch Bar and TouchID support – although TouchID gets its own dedicated button, rather than just being a part of the Touch Bar. The Apple T2 security chip also returns, ensuring the data you store on the laptop is safe and secure. 

The similarities continue when it comes to the display. The MacBook Pro 2020 comes with a bright, colorful Retina display, just like last year’s model. It also supports P3 wide color, so you get 25% more colors than sRGB, along with Apple’s True Tone technology, which automatically adjusts the white balance to match the color temperature of the light around you. Again, there really isn’t much to separate the two.

(Image credit: Apple)


We’ve already shared the good news above, but the 13-inch MacBook Pro 2020 finally ditches the much-maligned butterfly switches in favor of Apple’s Magic Keyboard. 

The butterfly switches have been a constant point of contention for MacBook users, yet Apple persisted with the design since 2015, despite ongoing criticism and hardware malfunctions. Apple even opted to keep the butterfly switches on the MacBook Pro 2019 13-inch, but thankfully that’s no longer the case.

The Magic Keyboard debuted on the 16-inch MacBook Pro in 2019, and we praised it for being one of the most comfortable keyboards we’d ever typed on. According to Apple, it’s designed to let you work faster and more efficiently, and features a new scissor mechanism with 1mm of travel. The MacBook 2020 also keeps the Touch Bar, though it’s been reduced in size ever so slightly, along with an escape key. You can map various shortcuts to the Touch Bar so that they’re always within reach, and also take advantage of TouchID for fast authentication.

(Image credit: Apple)


Apple wants to capture the hearts and minds of creatives and professionals with the MacBook Pro 2020, and has focused on a balance of performance and portability. The high-end model features a 10th-generation Intel processor and the Iris Plus graphics which can deliver up to 80% faster graphics performance than last generation. That means it should handle video editing, 3D rendering and gaming with aplomb. 

The MacBook Pro also comes with a solid-state drive with sequential read speeds of up to 3.0GB/s and standard configurations of the MacBook Pro 2020 come with twice the capacity of 2019’s models. You can also upgrade to 4TB of storage, and 32GB of RAM. 

The MacBook Pro 2020 also gets an upgrade to Intel's 10th-generation Ice Lake processors – up to a point. The entry level 2020 MacBook Pro – the one at that $1,299 / £1,299 / AU$1,999 price tag – is still using 8th-generation Intel Whiskey Lake processors. Raw CPU performance between the two won't change too drastically between the two, but you're going to gain a lot when it comes to battery life. 

What's perhaps the biggest upgrade between 8th- and 10th-generation MacBook Pro models is the speed of the RAM. The entry model will be packing 2,133MHz RAM, while the 10th-gen equipped version gets bumped all the way to 3,733MHz. This is a huge jump, and will be a godsend for anyone who is doing creative work on the MacBook Pro. 

(Image credit: Apple)


Starting at $1,299 / £1,299 / AU$1,999 for the base model, you get a 1.4GHz quad-core 8th-gen Intel Core i5 processor and 256GB of SSD storage, along with 8GB of RAM. That’s a slight increase in storage over last year’s model, then, but for the same price. 

If you want to step things up a bit, there’s the 13-inch MacBook Pro that comes with a 2.0GHz 10th-gen Intel Core i5 processor, 512GB of storage and 16GB RAM for $1,799 / £1,799 / AU$2,999. That’s a touch slower than the 2019 MacBook Pro equivalent, which ran at 2.4GHz, but the efficiency of the new chips will more than likely make up the difference in other areas. 

Like most MacBooks, you can upgrade to an Intel Core i7, and add additional memory and storage, but be prepared to pay a hefty premium if you choose to do so.

MacBook Pro 13-inch 2020

(Image credit: Apple)

MacBook Pro 2020 vs MacBook Pro 2019: is it worth the upgrade?

Ultimately, if you already have the most recent 13-inch MacBook Pro, the new 2020 version probably isn't worth dropping a ton of cash on again – but like anything in life it's not that simple. 

The biggest difference comes down to the keyboard, which is going to be way more comfortable and reliable. If you already have a MacBook Pro equipped with a Butterfly Keyboard and you absolutely hate it – and you're definitely not alone – the upgrade could be worth it. 

This is, after all, the first time in a long time that the 13-inch MacBook Pro has got more than just a basic spec upgrade. In fact, the spec upgrade itself might be kind of underwhelming. Intel processors in general have been kind of at a standstill when it comes to raw performance for a couple of years, so you're not missing much there if you have a MacBook Pro 2018 or newer. The increased memory speed will make a difference, but only if you're using super heavy creative applications. 

Ultimately, the people that the MacBook Pro 2020 will appeal to most are those who have an older device. If you've been waiting to replace a laptop that's a few years old, the MacBook Pro 2020 marks an excellent time to do so – especially if you were dreading using the Butterfly Keyboard. 

Adam Vjestica

Adam was formerly TRG's Hardware Editor. A law graduate with an exceptional track record in content creation and online engagement, Adam has penned scintillating copy for various technology sites and also established his very own award-nominated video games website. He’s previously worked at Nintendo of Europe as a Content Marketing Editor and once played Halo 5: Guardians for over 51 hours for charity. He is now an editor at The Shortcut.