MacBook Pro 2020 and 2021, what are their real differences? — 2022

Apple's 2020 and 2021 MacBook Pro lineups have many similarities, but also many differences. In this comparison we analyze all this so that you completely clear up your doubts about it and you can make a correct purchase decision. How much does it affect performance comparing the M1 chip with the M1 Pro and M1 Max, the differences in design, how is the battery… All that and more, we compare it.

Most important technical specifications

They are actually three different computers. On the one hand, the MacBook Pro from the end of 2020 with an M1 processor with a 13.3-inch screen. On the other hand, the 2021 models with M1 Pro and M1 Max chips are divided among themselves into two sizes (14.2 and 16.2 inches), although they are essentially the same as you can see in the following table of characteristics.

macbook pro m1 vs m1 pro y m1 max



CharacteristicMacBook Pro (2020 - M1)MacBook Pro (2020 - M1 Pro and M1 Max)
Colors-Space Gray
-Silver
-Space Gray
-Silver
Screen13.3-inch Retina (IPS)14.2-inch XDR Display (miniLED)
16.2-inch XDR Display (miniLED)
resolution and brightness2,560 x 1,600 and brightness up to 500 nits-3-024 x 1,964 (14.2 inches) and brightness up to 1,600 nits
-1,456 x 2,234 (16.2 inches) and brightness up to 1,600 nits
refresh rateUp to 60HzUp to 120Hz
Dimensions1,56 x 30,41 x 21,24 cm-1.55 x 31.26 x 22.12 cm (14.2 inches)
-1.68 x 35.57 x 24.81 cm (16.2 inches)
Weight1,4 kg-1.6kg (14.2 inches)
-2.1kg (16.2 inches)
ProcessorApple M1-Apple M1 Pro
-Apple M1 Max
RAM-8 GB
-16 GB
-16 GB
-32 GB
-64GB (M1 Max only)
Internal storage-256 GB
-512 GB
-1 TB
-2 TB
-512 GB
-1 TB
-2 TB
-4 TB
-8 TB
Sound2 stereo speakers6 stereo speakers
connectivity-Wi-Fi 802.11ax (6th gen)
-Bluetooth 4.0
-Wi-Fi 802.11ax (6th gen)
-Bluetooth 4.0
ports-2 Thunderbolt ports (USB 4)
-1 3.5mm jack port for audio
-3 Thunderbolt ports (USB 4)
-HDMI port
-SD card slots
-MagSafe
-1 3.5mm jack port for audio
BatteryUp to 20 hours of autonomy-Up to 17 hours of autonomy (14.2 inches)
-Up to 21 hours of autonomy (16.2 inches)
Others-TouchBar
-Touch ID
Touch ID
Release dateNovember 2020October 2021
PriceFrom 1,449 euros-From 2,249 euros (14.2 inches)
-From 2,749 euros (16.2 inches)

In the end, these technical data are certainly indicative, since it is not always easy to know to what extent it affects performance. We will analyze it more extensively in the following sections, but first we can already advance some key differences between these two generations of MacBook Pro:

    Design:everything related to the form factor, dimensions and weight has changed from one year to another, being one of the most drastic changes in the range in recent years. Of course, the colors remain the same. Screen:beyond the increase in dimensions, the resolution and materials used for the construction of the panels is very different between the two. Chip:Although it is true that the M1 Pro and M1 Max start from an M1 chip like the 2020 model, in the end they are more advanced versions that make a difference that will ultimately be key. RAM:changes in every way, because while the M1 started from 8 GB and had only the option to expand to 16, in 2021 that is the base capacity and it can be expanded up to 32 GB and even 64 GB if it is an M1 Max. ROM:the 2021 models not only have a higher base storage capacity, but are capable of reaching 4 and 8 TB, while the 2020 models reached 2 TB in their maximum version. Ports:Very appreciable is the change that is introduced in the most recent models by adding ports that these laptops stopped implementing at the time and that, specifically the 2020 one, did not have. Price:a key factor on many occasions and that leaves us starting with a difference of 800 euros between both versions, which goes to 1,300 if we compare it with the 16-inch model.

Design

As you have already been able to see in photos and we have anticipated previously, this is a very differentiating point between them. Is it the most important? Probably not, but at the end of the day it is still relevant and the first aspect that one can contemplate before even trying the device.

Form factor and portability

It must be said that these two computers are not so different if we look at their form factor and general aesthetics, although there are notable details such as the M1 is much thinner and lighter . It is perhaps not as much as it may seem in the photo, but it is something to consider, since the M1 Pro and M1 Max have increased their thickness to accommodate larger components and be able to integrate more ports.

The cover apple logo It also changes, being larger in the case of the 2021 MacBook Pro and being located on a completely flat lid, unlike the slight curvature of the 2020 model. In the same way, at the bottom we can meet the macbook pro legend in large text, which in the previous model is integrated in a more restrained size just below the screen.

macbook pro dimensions

Focusing now on what these devices provide on a day-to-day basis, there is no doubt that those of 2021 are more tedious to transport . It is not that it is something complicated, as long as you have a suitable case, backpack or briefcase, but in the end it is a greater weight that you carry, in addition to a greater space occupied. Of course, they do not stop being portable in every way and in sporadic use on the knees and others they are not uncomfortable, although the 16-inch model does tend to be more cumbersome depending on the circumstances.

The 2020 model isn't as blatantly light as the 'Air' range, but it doesn't stray too far. It is considerably less heavy and this is noticeable both in transport and in the use that can be made of it traveling on public transport or using it on the knees while on the sofa or in bed.

Screen

This is probably already a more striking point than the design of the device itself. In the MacBook Pro of 2020 we find a screen of IPS-LCD technology 13.3-inch that, regardless of size, has a good resolution and seems more than suitable for all kinds of ambient light situations. However, compared with that of its predecessors, it can be seen that take less advantage of the front and it has thicker frames that, despite not being annoying, are noticeable.

In those of 2021 we find a technology miniLED which already represents a quantitative leap in quality, having more colors and much sharper and of higher quality. Although it is true that the M1 does not look bad at all, in these we are already referring to a screen of the highest division.

macbook pro 2020 screen

It is also worth noting that, apart from miniLED technology, they also incorporate 120Hz refresh rate that although it is true that they are not yet optimized throughout the system, little by little it is being integrated and the sensation of fluidity that it provides is unique. If it is also combined with the editing or viewing of multimedia content with this refresh rate, it is a very appreciable technology.

Of course, we must also talk about the notch that the MacBook Pro of 2021 have, since it is an element that has given much to talk about. This is an aesthetic resource that Apple resorted to on its iPhone in order to have fewer bezels on the screen and integrate the camera, speaker, and Face ID sensors. However, in these computers only the camera and an LED are integrated that indicate if it is active without a trace of facial recognition. Therefore, there are many theories as to why Apple did not choose to place the camera in another way.

macbook pro 2021 screen

What you should know about the notch for practical purposes is that it acts as if it did not exist. Not because you get used to it over time, but also because when you pass the pointer over that area it hides behind it as if it weren't detected. It can also be problematic in some apps in which the actions of the menu bar are also hidden behind, although with the successive updates that are released, it does not happen as much as in the launch of these MacBooks.

keyboard and trackpad

These two essential elements in a laptop have hardly changed at a technical level, since they have the same mechanism which is known as scissors and which Apple calls Magic Keyboard . They have a good path and are comfortable to write for hours, much appreciated if you are used to performing office tasks on them.

Although there is something key in them at a functional level and that is that only the M1 has a TouchBar . This is a touch element located on the top line of the keyboard to replace the classic function keys, but keeping the esc key on the left and Touch ID on the right. It is very useful to have one-touch keyboard shortcuts in some apps or to access the timeline, for example, when editing video or audio.

keyboard macbook pro 2020

However, it may be that the lack of use by developers made Apple prefer to withdraw it after 5 years and therefore the MacBook Pro 2021 do not have it. Instead they incorporate that already mentioned line of keys focused on specific functions such as increasing brightness, pausing, increasing volume, etc.

The biggest difference that exists in the end between them is the background color . In all of them the keys are black, but while the MacBook Pro M1 has a metallic background in silver or space gray (depending on the color of the equipment), in the most recent ones it is a black color identical to that of the keys themselves. , giving a feeling of greater size, although it really is not.

keyboard macbook pro 2021

The trackpad it does have a change in size and while in the 14-inch model of 2021 there is not much difference with the 13-inch one, if we look at the 16-inch one we do see a trackpad of considerable size. In the end, this is based on taste and they are the same at the level of operation, only if it is larger it gives you more space, and it can also be uncomfortable at times.

M1 changes with the M1 Pro and M1 Max

We now fully analyze the differences in the hardware of these computers, led by the chips they assemble and that despite all coming from the same matrix, add their particular differences.

RAM

Something to keep in mind in these three teams, also being a difference from previous generations with Intel, is that the memory is integrated into the chip . At the performance level, this provides more advantages than disadvantages, highlighting that the processes are usually faster because there are fewer intermediate obstacles between the chip and the memory, thus favoring their rapid communication.

One of the main disadvantages of this integration is that cannot be increased unless the chip is completely changed. And while it is true that in versions with memory on the board it was a problem because disassembly was not easy or authorized by Apple, in these computers not even the most handyman will be able to try to do so.

chips m1

It must also be said that the fact that the chips are ARM They favor in a way that less RAM is needed. That is why the 8 GB base of the MacBook Pro M1 is not as short as it may seem at first, although logically it will not be the most suitable for very demanding uses.

That said, these are the capacities that can be chosen from these format memories SDRAM-DDR4 are the following:

    MacBook Pro (2020)
    • Chip M1:
        8 GB 16 GB
    MacBook Pro (2021)
    • Chip M1 Pro:
        16 GB 32 GB
    • Chip M1 Max:
        32 GB 64 GB

CPU and GPU cores

The changes at the CPU level in the 2021 MacBook Pro are very remarkable, although more striking is the improved graphics thanks to the integration of up to 64 GPU cores in some versions. In the MacBook Pro with M1 we find a powerful chip for these areas and even valid for demanding actions if the 16 GB of RAM are added, but in the end they are well below the others in global terms.

The configuration supported by each chip is as follows:

    Chip M1:
      CPU:8 cores GPU:8 cores Neural Engine:16 cores
    Chip M1 Pro
      CPU:8 or 10 cores GPU:14 or 16 cores Neural Engine:16 cores
    Chip M1 Max:
      CPU:10 cores GPU:24 or 32 cores Neural Engine:16 cores

With respect to Neural Engine , this does not cease to be a neural engine as an aid to the chip that allows not only to provide these processors with greater speed, but also serves to enhance the machine learning of the machines.

Other relevant data in this section, we find that the CPU cores of the M1 are divided into 4 performance and 4 efficiency. Meanwhile, the M1 Pro and M1 Max have up to 8 dedicated to performance and 2 to efficiency.

graph m1

graphic gpu m1

Performance in everyday tasks

To be honest, those looking for a MacBook to perform very trivial tasks such as using office applications, checking emails or browsing the Internet will find a excess power on any of these teams. Obviously they will work well and they will not have any complaints, but acquiring a lower performance equipment would be more appropriate, especially for the savings it entails.

Now, if for some specific feature you want to have one of these or you want it for the future and hypothetical intensive uses such as video, photo or audio editing... Yes, these are good devices. Although even in this situation the 2021 ones would be too big for you, in the end the purchase of the 2020 model with an M1 chip and 8 GB RAM would be more optimal, unless you think it necessary to invest in 16 GB.

In advanced uses

This is where we find more doubts and each user profile should be analyzed in detail. They are all trained for high-performance tasks, but it always depends in the end on what one expects to find. With the M1 you will find full capabilities for anything and at no time will you be stuck, although the rendering times or fluidity when performing these tasks will be lower than the M1 Pro and especially the M1 Max.

If you consider yourself a heavy user of MacBooks and you need high power, those of 2021 will be more suitable. If you also want to specialize in graphic scope , the M1 Max will be the chip that will promise you the best experience due to the number of cores that can be configured. In any other situation, we consider that with the M1 Pro it can be enough.

macbook pro 2021

temperature management

Unlike what happens with the 'Air' range, throughout this 'Pro' range we find heatsinks and fans that help regulate high temperatures no need to reduce performance , although in sporadic peaks (especially in M1) it can happen. However, we already assure you that it is in very specific cases.

The M1, in general and including the 'Pro' and 'Max', are chips very energy efficient . Therefore, you will never notice that it overheats, something that can affect internal components such as the battery. In the same way that if you use the computer on your knees, you will not notice that they burn you.

Autonomy

In this matter, none of them have a bad battery and the efficient management of consumption that the chips do is remarkable. However, it must be said that there is one of them that shines especially, the 16-inch model, although it must be with the M1 Pro chip, since with the M1 Max its autonomy decreases by around 1-2 hours.

    MacBook Pro (2020):up to 20 hours MacBook Pro (14″ 2021):up to 17 hours MacBook Pro (16″ 2021):up to 21 hours

These data are those provided by Apple itself and we can attest that they are met, although logically will depend on several factors such as the tasks that are being used, if in between the equipment is left to sleep, if time has passed and the battery has been wearing down... These are ultimately elements that interfere with the duration and can make the data shown above be lower.

Other highlights

Storage, camera, sound and even price. There are other very relevant characteristics of these computers that are worth noting, especially because we also find differences between them.

Storage capacity

The memory SSD that these computers have is also worth mentioning and is that in the end it will be essential for local storage. And it is that, even if you have a good cloud, it will never be as efficient as having everything stored. In this sense, we would give a scratch approval to the 2020 MacBook Pro, which has a base 256 GB, while the 2021 ones already have at least 512 GB.

Regarding maximum capacities You can't complain about any of them. The model with M1 reaches 2 TB, more than enough capacity for most users, no matter how professional they are. However, if there was still someone who needed more, the M1 Pro and M1 Max support up to 8 TB of capacity with which it will be rare to find someone who misses more.

face time camera

Starting with the camera, you should know that in all three there are shared aspects like a signal processor Y computational treatment of the image that makes it look good even in adverse circumstances. Nevertheless, there are differences in resolution , having a 720p lens on the 2020 model and a 1,080p lens on the 2021 ones.

And yes, it is true that they are not the best cameras on the market for a computer, but the improvement it is palpable in the most recent models. And this is especially noticeable in low light situations, where these teams work their magic and manage to offer a sharp image with hardly any noise, something that is very noticeable in the previous model.

macbook pro camera

microphone and speakers

The audio pickup is in the end identical in all three, since they have the same technology with three bidirectional microphones high signal-to-noise ratio that Apple calls studio. And well, it is true that they are great quality microphones to capture audio and even occasionally use them for a podcast. Although being fair, they are not the most suitable for these professional actions because they do not have as much quality and less so in environments that are not silent.

in what is already sound reception by speakers if we find more than notable differences. In the MacBook Pro M1 we find two stereo speakers that are even compatible with Dolby Atmos. Well, without further ado, since they comply but without excesses. However, it is in the most recent models that there is a considerable improvement in this area.

The M1 Pro and M1 Max offer up to six stereo speakers that, in addition to being compatible with Dolby Atmos, are also compatible with Spatial Audio. They are hi-fi and feature force-canceling woofers. Therefore, playing musical content, a series or movie on them is a real joy. Also in the 16-inch, due to its size, the experience improves even more.

number of ports

For some reason that was never explained, Apple decided as of 2016 to remove some ports from MacBooks that had been essential until then, and for this it opted for Thunderbolt-compatible USB-C ports. The MacBook Pro with M1 is proof of that, having only 2 ports.

macbook pro 2020 ports

While it is true that it may be more than enough on time, in the end it falls short. Simply having the computer charging you are already spending a port, so in the end it is done almost necessary to have a hub that allows to have a greater number of connections. Not to mention that there are still many accessories that require their own ports and that can only be achieved with those dongles.

The 2021 MacBook Pros, for their part, incorporate a sufficient number of ports so that no user misses more, although you never know and in the end hubs can also be a solution for them. In the professional field, it is appreciated that they have an HDMI port for connection to external monitors, in the same way as the card reader for photography and video professionals.

macbook pro 2021 ports

If we take into account that these also incorporate up to three USB-C compatible with Thunderbolt 4, the versatility is multiplied even more. And it is that in addition to having one more than the 2020 one, one does not necessarily have to be wasted for charging, since they are compatible with the long-awaited MagSafe, a port that returns in this range and that despite being only focused on charging, it is beneficial for freeing up one of those USB-C.

Prices

You have already seen the cost of these starting computers in the initial table, but they have a very relevant breakdown if you wish configure better features . And it is that the price is increasing based on it, therefore having the following prices:

    MacBook Pro (2020) from 1,449 euros

prices macbook pro 2020

    • M1 chip (8-core CPU and 8-core GPU and 16-core Neural Engine)
    • RAM:
      • 8 GB
      • 16 GB: +230 euros
    • Storage:
      • 256 GB
      • 512 GB: +230 euros
      • 1 TB: +460 euros
      • 2 TB: +920 euros
    • Pre-installed programs:
      • None
      • Logic Pro: +199.99 euros
      • Final Cut Pro: +299.99 euros
    MacBook Pro (2021 – 14 inches) from 2,249 euros

prices macbook pro 2021 14

    • Chip:
      • M1 Pro (8-core CPU, 14-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine)
      • M1 Pro (10-core CPU, 14-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine): +230 euros
      • M1 Pro (10-core CPU, 16-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine): +290 euros
      • M1 Max (10-core CPU, 24-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine): +500 euros
      • M1 Max (10-core CPU, 32-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine): +730 euros
    • RAM:
      • 16GB (M1 Pro only)
      • 32 GB: +460 euros
      • 64GB (M1 Max only): +920 euros
    • Storage:
      • 512 GB
      • 1 TB: +230 euros
      • 2 TB: +690 euros
      • 4 TB: +1,380 euros
      • 8 TB: +2,760 euros
    • Power adapter:
      • USB-C de 67 W
      • USB-C de 96 W: +20 euros
    • Pre-installed programs:
      • None
      • Logic Pro: +199.99 euros
      • Final Cut Pro: +299.99 euros
  • MacBook Pro (2021 – 14 inches) from 2,749 euros

prices macbook pro 2021 16

    • Chip:
      • M1 Pro (10-core CPU, 16-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine)
      • M1 Max (10-core CPU, 24-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine): +230 euros
      • M1 Max (10-core CPU, 32-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine): +410 euros
    • RAM:
      • 16GB (M1 Pro only)
      • 32 GB: +460 euros
      • 64GB (M1 Max only): +920 euros
    • Storage:
      • 512 GB
      • 1 TB: +230 euros
      • 2 TB: +690 euros
      • 4 TB: +1,380 euros
      • 8 TB: +2,760 euros
    • 140W power adapter:
    • Pre-installed programs:
      • None
      • Logic Pro: +199.99 euros
      • Final Cut Pro: +299.99 euros

Therefore, the higher prices that could be reached would be, respectively, these: 3,098.98 euros, 7,158.98 euros and 7,338.98 euros. And yes, they are extremely high prices, but in the end they are reserved for a very, very professional public that demands maximum power by having configured all the customizable parameters to the maximum.

The differences that we find in any case between the 2020 version with M1 and those of 2021 with M1 Pro or M1 Max are more than considerable. Those 800 euros The starting point that separates them can be decisive when deciding on one or the other.

Conclusions, which one should you buy?

Yes You are already a user of the MacBook Pro M1 , it probably won't pay you to take the leap. And it is that, despite the improvements that we find in the new models, in the end we must bear in mind that it is not a jump that is worthwhile for all profiles. If you are a professional user who works frequently in very demanding activities and feel that the MacBook Pro M1 falls short, it will be justified.

In fact, you will be able to continue selling the computer at a very good price, since it does not lose much value and with this you will finance part of the purchase of an M1 Pro or M1 Max. Now, even in those cases where you perform intensive tasks, it might not compensate you if the equipment has not fallen short and continues to give you a good feeling.

However, if you don't have any , you have already analyzed your profile and yes or yes you need to have a MacBook from the 'Pro' range, the matter is not so simple. You should assess the economic aspect and it is that if it is a great effort for you to buy the 2021 ones, you should know that with the M1 you will not go wrong either. It is true that you will not have as productive an experience as with the M1 Pro and M1 Max, but it is still a very efficient chip that will allow you to save money on the purchase.

If you already from the first parts with the idea of ​​wanting the most advanced, there is no doubt that those of 2021 will more than compensate you. But in short, you should know that in the end any of these three computers are absolute giants and that they offer a tremendously positive user experience in the most professional field.