Review: Apple MacBook Pro 13 inch (no Touch Bar)
4.3Overall Score

Price (RRP): $2199
Manufacturer: Apple

As we reported three months ago, Apple has recently released a whole new replacement range of MacBook Pro computers. The MacBook Pro is the higher end of Apple’s notebook computer range, which start with the MacBook Air, then the MacBook, and then the Pro.

But not all is the same within even the Pro range. There are two sizes – thirteen and fifteen inch screens – and an entry level model. That’s what I’m reviewing here: the thirteen inch entry level MacBook Pro.

Features

This model is priced at $2199 and comes as standard with an i5 processor running at 2GHz, the CPU’s built in Intel Iris Graphics 540 and a healthy 8GHz of RAM. The SSD – yes, we’re all one hundred per cent solid state now – runs to 256GB.

This model differs from all the other MacBook Pro models in lacking the new Touch Bar, a kind of soft-keys bar which sits where the function keys sit on this computer. Consequently is also misses out on the fingerprint sensor which is on the right hand end of the Touch Bar. It’s available in Silver or Space Gray.

headphone microphone USB-Type C macbook pro 13 inch no touch bar

The other models have two USB-Type C ports next to the headphone/microphone socket

Likewise it has two external ports rather than the four of the other models. Both are USB Type-C. Either can be used to charge up the computer. And there’s also a 3.5mm socket for headphones and microphone. There is no SD card slot, nor any other physical input/output.

Apple doesn’t go on about CPU model numbers, but it’s widely reported that the particular processor is the Intel Core i5-6360U, one of the Skylake line. Twin core and with evolutionary rather than revolutionary advances over the i5-5xxx series, it has plenty of horsepower for most activities, especially given the decent 8GB RAM and fast solid state storage.

The screen is a Retina model with 2560 by 1600 pixels of resolution for 227 pixels per inch. Brightness is up over previous models to 500 nits. The screen also implements the P3 colour space. That is, it covers a greater proportion of the visible colour spectrum than standard monitors. P3 is also the colour space specified by the Digital Cinema Initiative.

USB Type-C charging macbook pro 13 inch no touch bar

Two USB Type-C ports, either of which can be used for charging

It scores proper 802.11ac WiFi and of course supports Bluetooth. The USB Type-C ports include Thunderbolt 3 support, in addition to DisplayPort output. In addition to the built in display, the computer will drive one of Apple’s 5K displays, or two 4K displays at the same time. Display adaptors are required of course. It will even work with a VGA analogue video adaptor.

Something that has received a massive upgrade is the touchpad. The best touchpads in Windows computers aspire to be as good as those in MacBooks, and sometimes they can even approach it for reliability and effectiveness, but the forty-plus per cent increase in size has blown them away. This thing is massive.

Of course, it’s multi-touch, and supports up to four finger swipes and five finger taps.

Factory upgrade options include 512GB or 1TB SSDs and an increase in memory to 16GB.

Performance

All apps looked excellent on this computer’s screen. In the world of Windows, some apps use old coding so that icons, text or other details employ fixed size bitmaps. Run them on a display significantly more detailed than full HD and those things become tiny, hard to see and hard to use. Apple apps all appear to use scalable fonts and graphical details, so they looked the proper size and nicely detailed on this high res display.

In addition to being very bright and very smooth, it was also surrounded by a bezel that was quite thin: less than a centimetre at the sides and a little over at the top. That tended to make the screen feel larger than it was.