Tested: The new 13-inch MacBook Pro delivers a big graphics upgrade

New $1,799 laptop features a tenth-generation Intel Core i5 processor, faster memory, and new graphics.

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Earlier this week, Apple announced updates to the 13-inch MacBook Pro. All models now have the new Magic Keyboard and more starting storage, but the $1,799 and $1,999 standard configurations also get a bump up to 10th-generation Intel processors and 16GB of RAM.

Macworld has the $1,799 model and a full review is in the works, where we’ll look at the laptop’s new keyboard, 13.3-inch display, Touch Bar, and other features. But speed is an important factor of the review, and we’ve run some preliminary benchmarks for your perusal here. Keep an eye out for the full review in a few days.

Both the new $1,799 MacBook Pro and the model it replaces both have quad-core processors. The difference is that the new model uses a 2.0GHz 10th-generation Core i5 CPU, while the older model has a 2.4GHz 8th-generation Core i5 (its data in the benchmarks below is sourced from Geekbench’s database). Also included in our benchmark testing for reference are the most affordable 13-inch MacBook Pro priced at $1,299 with a 1.4GHz quad-core 8th-generation Core i5, and the 16-inch MacBook Pro with a 2.4GHz 8-core 9th-generation Core i9 CPU for $2,999.

Geekbench 5 single-core results

13in macbookpro single cpu geekbench 5 IDG

Results are scores. Longer bars/higher scores are better. Click to enlarge.

The boost in performance from the old MacBook Pro to new model looks impressive. Often, we see a 10 to 15 percent increase, but here, it’s 24 percent. The newer-generation Intel processors have lower core clock speeds and boost clocks, but the new “Ice Lake” microarchitecture delivers better performance-per-clock.

It’s also hard to ignore that a single core of the new 13-inch MacBook Pro’s processor is able to keep pace with a single core of the 16-inch MacBook Pro’s processor, despite significantly lower core and boost clock speeds. But as you’ll see, the bigger laptop separates itself when it comes to multi-core performance.

Geekbench 5 multi-core results

13in macbookpro multi cpu geekbench 5 IDG

Results are scores. Longer bars/higher scores are better. Click to enlarge.

When it comes to multi-core performance, the new MacBook Pro provides a modest increase over the model it replaces. With a Geekbench 5 score of 4480, that is just over a 14 percent improvement. When you consider that the new model has a maximum boost clock speed of 3.8GHz and the old one went up to 4.1GHz, that’s fairly impressive. 

As you can see, the 16-inch MacBook Pro leaves all the 13-inch models in the dust. It has a significant advantage with eight cores, double that of the processors in the 13-inch models.

Geekbench 5 OpenCL results

13in macbookpro opencl geekbench 5 IDG

Results are scores. Longer bars/higher scores are better. Click to enlarge.

The new MacBook Pro also has a new integrated graphics processor. The new and old graphics were both confusingly named “Intel Iris Plus” but they’re quite different. The old model’s Iris Plus had 48 execution units and 128MB of embedded DRAM. Intel's CPU database does not list a part that matches the specs of Apple's new model exactly, but it most likely features the G7 variant of Intel’s latest integrated GPU. It’s an updated architecture with better video encoding and 64 execution units.

Using Geekbench 5’s OpenCL test, which performs compute tasks using the GPU, we saw about a 10 percent performance change compared to the Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 used in the current entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro was included in testing to provide a perspective on how the Iris Plus compares to the integrated Intel UHD 630, which is in the 16-inch laptop. However, the 16-inch laptop also has a discrete GPU—either the AMD Radeon Pro 5300M or 5500M—which provides performance that leaves any integrated GPU in the dust.

Geekbench 5 Metal results

13in macbookpro metal geekbench 5 IDG

Results are scores. Longer bars/higher scores are better. Click to enlarge.

Metal is Apple’s 3D graphics and compute framework, and here we see a much more dramatic improvement by the Iris Plus of 30 percent over the Iris Plus Graphics 645. And it more than doubles the performance of the Intel UHD 630.

We’re just getting started with our review of the new $1,799 13-inch MacBook Pro. Stay tuned for more, including more benchmarks, impressions of the new Magic Keyboard, and an in-depth look at other major features.

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