Cheapest MacBook Pro is radically different from its big brothers

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Hello Again - MacBook Pro
Apple designed two different laptops to make the new 13-inch MacBook Pro.
Photo: Apple

Apple now offers two different 13-inch MacBook Pro options — one with function keys and one with a fancy Touch Bar. You might think they’d be almost identical internally, but they couldn’t be more different.

The teardown experts at iFixit have now pulled apart both machines to provide us with a close look at their insides. Apple made some interested decisions with the Touch Bar model — like adding seemingly useless speaker grilles — but that’s not all.

As noted by iFixit’s Kyle Wiens, the two variants are totally different internally. “It’s almost like they designed one first and got it completely ready to go. And then decided to start over and design another one.”

The differences are obvious when you place photos of the machines side-by-side. The Touch Bar model has two fans instead of just one, while the more affordable model with function keys has nicer speakers, which are fixed in place with vibration dampening screws and not glued down.

You will also notice that the speakers on the cheaper model are located beneath its speaker grilles, whereas the speakers on the Touch Bar model sit alongside its battery towards the front of the case, and appear to direct sound out of the air vents in the laptop’s side.

new MacBook Pro comparison
The new MacBook Pro with function keys (left) vs. the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.
Photo: iFixit

“We really like the speaker design on the function key model with vibration dampening screws,” Wiens adds. “Whereas the Touch Bar model has fake speaker grills and an unnecessarily glued down speaker.”

Another big difference between these MacBook Pros is the way Apple has fitted the SSD storage drives. On the Touch Bar model, it’s soldered to the logic board, making it impossible to upgrade. In contrast, the SSD inside the function key model can be removed.

The two models are so different that iFixit says it will have to write two different repair manuals for them. It also means the two machines don’t share the same components; even the trackpad is designed differently, despite being exactly the same size on the outside.