These 2019 MacBook Pro models offer best bang for your buck

By

The MacBook Pro has a Touch Bar, and a better display.
Our simple system for determining which MacBook Pro offers the most bang for the buck can help you choose the right one for you.
Photo: Apple

You need a 2019 MacBook Pro, but there are so many of configurations to choose from, with the top model more than twice as expensive as the base one. Naturally, Apple makes you pay extra for a faster processor, but is the additional cost worth it?

We took benchmarking scores for all the variations of the newest Mac laptop and divided them by the cost of each. The results might well surprise you.

We started with the multi-core Geekbench scores for the various Core i7 and Core i5 versions of the mid-2019 13-inch MacBook Pro and divided these by the price. We did the same with the 15-inch MacBook Pro Core i9 and Core i7 versions. We also threw in the 2019 MacBook Air, also taking its Geekbench score and dividing it up by price.

The result is a figure we call “Geekbench per dollar.” As the processor gets better in each version, the price goes up. The Geekbench-per-dollar (GpD) figure indicates which is going up faster. In this case, higher numbers are better: The hope is that each dollar will buy better performance.

2019 13-inch MacBook Pro value

We started with the 13-inch version of this laptop because it offers unusually clear results. The version with a 1.4GHz quad-core i5 processor has a 12.89 GpD, far better than any of the others. With a starting price of $1,299 it’s by far the most affordable, but its Geekbench score is not that much slower than its sister models.

The 2.4 GHz quad-core i5 version of the 2019 13-inch MacBook Pro gets a 9.8 GpD score. It brings a slight performance increase but at a big price jump. That’s because it’s only available with 256GB of storage, twice as much as the 1.4GHz model.

The 2.4 GHz quad-core i7 version is also slightly faster than the other two, but comes with a big price spike because it’s only available with 512GB of storage.

2019 15-inch MacBook Pro value

The comparison between Apple’s larger MacBooks is noticeably different: Their Geekbench-per-dollar scores all fall in a narrow range. This indicates that performance increases at almost exactly the same rate as the price goes up.

The best deal is for the 2.3 GHz octa-core i9 version, but its GpD score is only a bit ahead of the “worst,” the base-model 2.6 GHz hexa-core i7 version.

2019 13-inch MacBook Air value

Apple only offers the 2019 MacBook Air in one size and processor, though it can be configured in other ways. It’s on this list so potential buyers can evaluate how it compares to the MacBook Pro line.

While this is actually the most affordable of Apple’s notebooks, its 1.6 GHz dual-core i5 gives it a benchmark score less than half of any other on this list.

The resulting Geekbench-per-dollar score demonstrates once again this product has always emphasized portability over power.

Mid-2019 MacBook value comparison: Geekbench 4 score divided by price for all the 2019 MacBook models
Geekbench 4 score divided by price for all the 2019 MacBook models.
Chart: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

2018 MacBook Pro value: Final thoughts

Apple’s price list shows which is the cheapest of its new macOS laptops. The Geekbench benchmarking scores show which is the fastest. But by combining these two, we’re trying to show which is the best value.

That brings up an important point: “Value” is in the eye of the beholder. Or the purchaser, in this case. Someone who actually needs the fastest MacBook Pro available should buy the most expensive device. But for anyone who doesn’t have to have the best and the brightest, and wants to be sure they are getting their money’s worth, the Geekbench-per-dollar figure is a good indication of value.

In that same vein, we don’t really recommend using the Geekbench-per-dollar calculation to compare between the 15- and 13-inch devices. Screen size is something completely different from performance, and so it’s not reflected in the GpD figure. If you want a bigger screen, get a bigger screen.

We consider all the features of Apple’s latest laptops in our 2019 MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro: Which is right for you? comparison.