13-inch MacBook Pro vs. 12-inch MacBook (2016)

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New Atlas compares the features and specs of the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with the cheaper 12-inch MacBook

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In the last two years, Apple has revamped its MacBook line with new aesthetics and a different outlook on how you connect accessories. We lined up the 2016 MacBook Pro with the latest 12-inch MacBook, to compare their features and specs.

Note that we aren't including the 15-inch model of the new MacBook Pro, since it's much less of a rival to the smaller MacBook.

Size

The new MacBook Pro is a radical departure from MacBook Pros of old, getting smaller, lighter and thinner, while revamping its port situation. It's essentially Apple taking the lineup and injecting it with a healthy dose of the 12-inch MacBook.

Compared to its design muse, though, the new Pro still comes out 8 percent taller, 8 percent wider and 14 percent thicker.

Weight

The Pro is also 49 percent heavier than the feathery MacBook.

Build

As we mentioned, the look and feel of the new Pro move more towards that of the 12-inch MacBook, but aluminum unibody designs have been the norm for years.

Colors

Apple offers a couple of flashier, more consumer-y color options for the 12-incher, while sticking to more muted "Pro" colors (gray and silver) on the Pro.

Display size

While you get a smaller device in the 12-inch MacBook, you also get a 19 percent smaller screen.

Display resolution

Pixel density is nearly identical, though the new MacBook Pro display improves in other ways, like better contrast, color gamut and brightness.

Trackpad

Apple is weeding out its old physically-hinged trackpads in favor of the new Force Touch ones, which don't move but use haptic feedback and pressure sensitivity to feel like they do.

The trackpad on the new Pro is much bigger though, adding onto what was already a pretty spacious touchpad on the 12-inch model.

Touch Bar

The higher-end models of the new MacBook Pro get a new Touch Bar to replace the strip of Fn keys at the top of the keyboard. It adds contextual, multitouch shortcuts that vary depending on which app you're using.

It's a little sliver of smartphone coming to the Mac, and a middle-ground between traditional laptop and the touchscreen notebooks that are popular on the Windows side of the aisle.

Unfortunately it's also absurdly expensive, requiring an US$1,800 minimum investment for a Touch Bar model.

Fingerprint sensor

The Touch Bar models of the new MacBook Pro also bring a Touch ID fingerprint sensor to the Mac for the first time. The entry-level (non-Touch Bar) MBP isn't so lucky.

Ports

Apple revamped the port situation on the MacBook Pro series this year, to the great dismay of some who wonder just what "Pro" means today. But the biggest victim is the entry-level Pro, which only has two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports.

That still doubles the 12-inch MacBook's lone USB-C port, which is also used for charging. For either machine, but especially the 12-incher, prepare for adapters.

Standalone charging port

As we mentioned, neither notebook has a standalone charging port, using USB-C instead. On the Touch Bar models of the MacBook Pro, this could be a good thing, since you can now plug in on either side of the device.

Processor

The Pro has the much faster processors, as the MacBook's Core m-series chips are designed for lighter, more consumer-oriented work and play.

We didn't list them in the graphic, but there are faster/higher-end processor configs for both models that Apple will sell you if you pay more and order online.

RAM

This 8 GB of RAM is standard on both laptops, though you can buy a made-to-order config of the MacBook Pro that has 16 GB RAM.

Storage

Storage options are even, but the custom config pops up here too: You can also order a Pro with a 1 TB SSD.

Graphics

All versions of both notebooks have the integrated Intel graphics that correspond to their respective processors, giving the Pro (again) the advantage.

Fanless

One advantage of the lower-end MacBook is that it's completely fanless, eliminating one of the clunkier through-lines pointing back to PCs of old.

Battery

Apple is supplying the same battery estimates for both notebooks.

Headphone jack

Rest easy: Apple may be on a headphone-jack-killing rampage with the new iPhones, but it spared the new MacBooks.

Webcam

Apple put a surprisingly low-res webcam in the 12-inch model.

Software

Both notebooks run macOS Sierra.

Release

The non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro launched late last month, while the Touch Bar models will start shipping soon.

Starting price

It's a little surprising the 12-inch MacBook didn't get a price drop, as it's looking a lot less interesting compared to the entry-level Pro. For an extra $200 you can get a bigger and better screen, much better horsepower, an extra port and a build that's still very light and sleek.

We'll be reviewing the Touch Bar model of the new MacBook Pro soon, but we already have some early (mostly positive) impressions of the non-Touch Bar version. For more on the 12-inch MacBook, you can revisit our review of the original model from 2015.

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