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12-inch MacBook vs 13-inch MacBook Pro (TB)

Today, I want to share with you my comparison of the 12-inch MacBook and the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar.

Posted by @EldarGezalov on September 8, 2017
macbook 12 macbook pro 13 inch touch bar
12-inch MacBook (2017) alongside the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.

At the beginning of the year, I have published the comparison between the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. This time around, I am going to compare the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar to the maxed out version of the newest 12-inch MacBook.

These are the specifications of the machines I am going to compare:

13-inch MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar (Late 2016 model)
2.9GHz dual-core 6th-generation Intel Core i5 processor
16GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory
512GB SSD storage

12-inch MacBook (2017 model)
1.4GHz dual-core 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor
16GB 1866MHz LPDDR3 memory
512GB SSD storage

As you might know from my older posts, I have always been a big fan of 12-inch MacBook. This time, I have the maxed out version of 12-inch MacBook, because 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage are essential to me.

I have used both 12-inch MacBook and 13-inch MacBook Pro for a few months now, and I am ready to make my choice between these two devices.

DESIGN

I prefer the 12-inch MacBook’s simple design, but both machines look amazing and have the best-in-the-class build quality.

12-inch: 10
13-inch: 9

PORTABILITY

When it comes to portability, nothing can beat the iPad-like portability of the 12-inch MacBook. 13-inch MacBook Pro has improved a lot compared to the earlier generations, but it is nowhere near the 12-inch MacBook.

12-inch: 10
13-inch: 8

PERFORMANCE

This is where 12-inch MacBook has surprised me. Before sharing my thoughts on performance, let me share some of benchmarks results with you.

Geekbench 4 CPU Test
Probably the most popular benchmark currently available. Because I had the entry-level CPU on my 13-inch MacBook Pro, 12-inch MacBook has outperformed the bigger model:

12-inch MacBook’s average scores: 4400 single-core and 8100 multi-core
13-inch MacBook Pro’s average scores: 4000 single-core and 8000 multi-core

Geekbench 4 GPU Test
Both MacBooks have integrated Intel graphics, so I wasn’t expecting a fantastic performance. MacBook Pro outperformed the 12-inch MacBook here.

12-inch MacBook’s average score: 19000
13-inch MacBook Pro’s average score: 30000

Cinebench R15 simple tests
I have completed two types of tests with Cinebench R15. Check out the results below to see the exact numbers, but in summary, the average scores were as follows:

12-inch MacBook: 27 fps graphics, 255 multi-core CPU, and 120 single-core CPU
13-inch MacBook Pro: 40 fps graphics, 340 multi-core CPU, and 130 single-core CPU

Cinebench R15 complex tests
Because 12-inch MacBook doesn’t have the active cooling system, there are situations when it has to throttle the performance to cool down. In addition to simple testing, I have completed the long repeated testing using the Cinebench R15. The following graph shows that in my test 12-inch MacBook didn’t show a massive decrease in performance.

Cinebench R15 — Continued Tests
Both machines kept the similar scores throughout testing. In conclusion, the performance of the maxed out 12-inch MacBook was better than I expected. I felt this not only while doing these tests, but also when using it every single day in recent months.

In cases when 12-inch MacBook was struggling a bit (like exporting the 4K video from Final Cut Pro), 13-inch model wasn’t that much better anyway, but keep in mind that the MacBook Pro I was using has the last year’s CPU.

12-inch: 8
13-inch: 9

PORTS

13-inch MacBook Pro has four Thunderbolt 3 ports compared to just one USB-C port on 12-inch MacBook. I use Apple’s multi-port adapter, which gives me HDMI and USB 2.0 port, so I have never felt any limitations, but 13-inch MacBook Pro easily wins when it comes to ports.

12-inch: 7
13-inch: 9

DISPLAY

The quality of the Retina displays on both models is excellent, but when you put them side-by-side, the newer display on 13-inch MacBook Pro model easily wins, because it has much more vibrant colors and better brightness. And, let’s not forget that an extra inch also makes a lot of difference.

12-inch: 8
13-inch: 10

SPEAKERS

Speakers are great on both, but the speakers of the 13-inch model sound a bit louder and have a full range, making it the winner in this category.

12-inch: 9
13-inch: 10

BATTERY LIFE

There has been a lot of talk about the battery life of the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. I didn’t have any problems with both devices, but I would say that getting the full 10 hours from the 13-inch model is much harder compared to the 12-inch model. On average, I am getting about 10 to 11 hours on the smaller 12-inch MacBook and about 8 to 10 hours on the bigger model.

12-inch: 10
13-inch: 8

SOFTWARE

The operating system on both models feels stable, but the addition of the Touch Bar brings some troubles with it. I have experienced the freezing of Touch Bar quite a few times over the recent months.

12-inch: 10
13-inch: 9

SSD SPEEDS

13-inch MacBook Pro easily wins here, but to be honest, you won’t notice any difference in regular use, because 12-inch MacBook also has crazy fast speeds. Check the test results below.

12-inch MacBook SSD Speeds: Write — 1252 MB/s, Read — 1329 MB/s
13-inch MacBook Pro SSD Speeds: Write — 1785 MB/s, Read — 2218 MB/s

12-inch: 9
13-inch: 10

KEYBOARD

12-inch MacBook has the updated keyboard compared to the earlier generations, but it still doesn’t offer as much key-travel as the 13-inch model but feels more steady. Overall, both keyboards are perfectly fine for me.

12-inch: 9
13-inch: 9

TRACKPAD

I have never thought that I would prefer a large trackpad before the release of MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, which has an enormous trackpad. Now, I quite like it. 12-inch MacBook’s trackpad is still one of the best on any laptop, but the bigger size makes the MacBook Pro a winner in this category.

12-inch: 9
13-inch: 10

SPECIAL FEATURES

MacBook is silent, while MacBook Pro has a Touch Bar. For me, having a completely silent device is way more important than having a Touch Bar.

12-inch: 10
13-inch: 8

12-ich MacBook vs 13-inch MacBook Pro Summary

Final scores: 109 vs 109

Conclusion

The total score for both 12-inch MacBook and 13-inch MacBook Pro is 109 points, but for me, the better portability and longer battery life of the smaller MacBook mean that it is going to be my primary computer for now. Fortunately, the performance I am getting out of this incredibly small laptop is more than enough for what I am using it for.

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