2020 13-inch MacBook Pro review roundup: It's all about the keyboard

2020 13-inch MacBook Pro review roundup: It’s all about the keyboard


The reviews are in. Apple's new Magic Keyboard gets the spotlight.
Photo: Apple

The first reviews of the new 13-inch MacBook Pro all praise the laptop’s Magic Keyboard and laud the demise of the pesky butterfly keyboard.

Across the board, reviewers love the keyboard upgrade. But they also appreciate the faster processor and doubled storage in the long-overdue update. Here’s a roundup of the very first reviews of the 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro, which Apple released on May 4.


“The Magic Keyboard is stupendously responsive, which makes it exhilarating to type on,” said CNN’s Jacob Krol. “The responsiveness of the keys wins us over and we think you’ll find typing on it to be an enjoyable experience … The key caps are plastic and feel quite tactile … Graduation gift shoppers and students entering college in the fall should take notice.”


“If it ain’t broke, give it a new keyboard,” said Mashable’s Brenda Stolyar. “In comparison to the Butterfly Keyboard, the Magic Keyboard has an additional .3mm of key travel. While I know that sounds like a minor improvement, it really makes a world of a difference. The keys are the perfect height — they’re not too high to require much extra effort, but also not too low.”

Apart from the keyboard change, Stolyar sees another highlight: “The real star of the show here is, of course, the model with the beefiest base processor (and a price tag to match).”

Marques Brownlee

“This is truly a very minor revision” to the 13-inch MacBook Pro, according to Marques Brownlee. “Goodbye Butterfly switches. You won’t be missed.”

Brownlee was not overly wowed by the new laptop, except to say, “I’m just glad they finally did an update that was long overdue and I kind of wish Apple was more on time with more frequent updates in general.”


“Sure, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro adds 10th-gen Intel CPUs and doubles the storage, but the really big thing is that Apple finally fixed the keyboard,” wrote lead CNET reviewer Dan Ackerman. Never a huge fan of the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar, Ackerman said “many MacBook shoppers would rather have their traditional function keys back, and I can’t really argue with that.”


“The boost in performance from the old MacBook Pro to new model looks impressive,” according to Macworld’s Roman Layola. He concentrated little on the new keyboard for his pre-review and instead focused on the processor speed. “Often, we see a 10 to 15 percent increase, but here, it’s 24 percent. The newer-generation Intel processors have lower core clock speeds and boost clocks, but the new ‘Ice Lake’ microarchitecture delivers better performance-per-clock.”

The Verge

“The new 13-inch MacBook Pro has a Magic Keyboard and the option to get a 10th Gen Intel Core processor,” wrote The Verge’s Deiter Bohn. “Apple has finally killed the butterfly keyboard. In our early testing, it performs way better than expected. This is more than a spec bump … By all indications, Apple has delivered an update to the 13-inch MacBook Pro that does the things most people would expect a good laptop to do.”


“The 13-inch MacBook Pro is probably my new favorite MacBook,” said CNBC’s Todd Haselton. “It’s perfect if you want a lightweight workhorse that can do some photo and video editing, run several external displays at the same time and run lots of apps without slowing down … One thing that stood out to me compared with the MacBook Air is that the fans can get pretty loud at times.”

PC Magazine

“The new keyboard in the MacBook Pro is better than both the previous generation one … and the one from two generations ago that had a bit more of a wobbly keystroke,” according to PC Magazine hardware analyst Tom Brant. “If you were holding out for a new 13-inch MacBook Pro for several years, this could be the one to buy.”


“The new MacBook would be a fairly standard MacBook upgrade [if not for the keyboard change],” said TechCrunch’s Brian Heater in his review. “For most users, the Air should be plenty for most tasks. For those who need more power without breaking their backs or banks, however, the 13-inch model is still a strong and safe bet that’s now much easier on the fingers.”


According to Judner Aura, the real question is the balance between portability and power, depending on your needs. “This is still the same overall 13-inch model that we’re used to,” he said. As for the new keyboard design, “You just get a better typing experience,” Aura said. “It just feels more tactile.”


“What can I say? it’s a lovely typing experience,” said Engadget reviewer Dana Wollman. “Between this review and the MacBook Air that came out earlier this spring, I’ve twice now had to switch back to my work Mac after testing a newer one. It’s a letdown every time.”

She expressed no love for the Touch Bar, however. “I still wish it weren’t there, but I’ve mostly made peace with it,” she wrote. “For shoppers who have been holding out for a new MacBook Pro with a more usable keyboard, you can upgrade now, confident you’re making a good choice.”


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