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Apple MacBook Pro 13 M1 with more than 20 hours battery runtime, but no performance advantage over the MacBook Air

Apple MacBook Pro 13 2020 M1
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2020 M1
Apple also equips the entry-level MacBook Pro 13 with its new M1 processor. The battery runtime is really good, but the MacBook Pro 13 does not really have a performance advantage over the MacBook Air.

We have already reviewed the MacBook Air 2020 with Apple's own M1 processor, ans especially the removal of the annoying chassis fan is a step in the right direction. The entry-level MacBook Pro 13 with 2x Thunderbolt ports also got the M1 update, but it keeps the active cooling solution. The Pro is also equipped with the Touch Bar and a slightly bigger 58.2 Wh battery. We have initial test results, but we are a bit surprised by the performance figures.

CPU and GPU Performance

It is obviously no secret that Apple uses identical M1 chips with 8 CPU and 8 GPU cores for the MacBook Pro 13 as well as the MacBook Air. However, there is no difference between the two models in the initial benchmarks. We expected more headroom for the processor due to the fan, but the active cooling unit only seems to be ensuring the consistency of the performance (which it does). This means most users will never notice a difference between the two MacBooks.

Cinebench R23
CPU (Single Core)
Apple MacBook Air Late 2020 (M1, 8 Core GPU, 8 GB RAM)
M1 8-Core GPU, M1, Apple SSD AP0512
1516 Points ∼100% 0%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
M1 8-Core GPU, M1, Apple SSD AP0256
1513 Points ∼100%
CPU (Multi Core)
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
M1 8-Core GPU, M1, Apple SSD AP0256
7811 Points ∼100%
Apple MacBook Air Late 2020 (M1, 8 Core GPU, 8 GB RAM)
M1 8-Core GPU, M1, Apple SSD AP0512
7714 Points ∼99% -1%
3DMark - Wild Life Unlimited Score
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
M1 8-Core GPU, M1, Apple SSD AP0256
17731 Points ∼100%
Apple MacBook Air Late 2020 (M1, 8 Core GPU, 8 GB RAM)
M1 8-Core GPU, M1, Apple SSD AP0512
17731 Points ∼100% 0%

Battery Runtime

Compared to the MacBook Air (49.9 Wh), the MacBook Pro 13 has a slightly bigger 58.8 Wh battery pack, so the battery runtime is also a bit longer. We recorded more than 20 hours in our Wi-Fi web browsing test at 150 nits, which is great. Similar to the MacBook Air, we see a roughly 50 % shorter result when we repeat the test at the maximum brightness setting (which is also higher than MBA at >500 nits). This result once again confirms that the display is the biggest consumer in these kinds of scenarios.

Battery Runtime
WiFi Websurfing 1.3
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
M1 8-Core GPU, M1, Apple SSD AP0256 (Safari)
1223 min ∼100%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
M1 7-Core GPU, M1, Apple SSD AP0256Q
960 min ∼78% -22%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
M1 7-Core GPU, M1, Apple SSD AP0256Q (Fullscreen)
914 min ∼75% -25%
WiFi Websurfing 1.3 max Brightness
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
M1 8-Core GPU, M1, Apple SSD AP0256 (Safari)
612 min ∼100%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
M1 7-Core GPU, M1, Apple SSD AP0256Q
508 min ∼83% -17%

The battery runtime seems to the be the only real advantage of the new MacBook Pro 13 over the MacBook Air so far. The performance is pretty much identical, only sustained workloads will benefit from the active cooling in the Pro. However, the performance drop is not that severe on the passively cooled MacBook Air, so we really don't think this will be a deciding factor for the target audience. We are still running our tests and the full review of the MacBook Pro 13 will clarify whether the MacBook Pro 13 with the M1 CPU is a good upgrade or if you should just get the less expensive MacBook Air.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 12 > Apple MacBook Pro 13 M1 with more than 20 hours battery runtime, but no performance advantage over the MacBook Air
Andreas Osthoff, 2020-12- 7 (Update: 2020-12- 7)
Andreas Osthoff
Editor of the original article: Andreas Osthoff - Managing Editor Business Notebooks - andreas_osthoff - 1236 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2013
I grew up with computers and modern consumer electronics. I am interested in the technology since I had my first computer, a Commodore C64, and started building my own PCs after that. My focus here at Notebookcheck is the business segment including mobile workstations, but I also like to test new mobile devices. It is always a great experience to review and compare new products. My free time is filled with a lot of sports, in the summer mainly on my bike.
contact me via: andreas_osthoff, LinkedIn