13-inch MacBook Pro (2020) vs 16-inch MacBook Pro (2019): Which should you buy?

16-inch MacBook Pro Blender
16-inch MacBook Pro Blender (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

The display size isn't the only thing that's different between these two MacBook Pro models. For many, however, it might be the most important reason for choosing one model over another.

Break it down now...

Before making a purchase, you should see the MacBook Pro models side-by-side and decide whether you really need the larger display found on the 16-inch model. You'll also need to determine how you're going to use your laptop regularly. Are you mostly a web-surfer who plans on using the device for writing and spreadsheet work, or are you more of the creative type who plans on using the laptop for graphics-intensive jobs? Do you plan on attaching external displays to your laptop? If so, how many?

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Header Cell - Column 0 13-inch MacBook Pro (2020)16-inch MacBook Pro (2019)
Starting price$1,299$2,399
Display13.3-inch Retina Display with True Tone16-inch Retina Display with True Tone
Processor1.4GHz quad-core 10th-generation Intel Core i5; upgradable to 2.3GHz quad-core 10th-generation Intel Core i72.6GHz 6-core Intel Core i7 processor; upgradable to 2.4GHz 8-core Intel Core i9
GraphicsIntel Iris Plus Graphics 645 or Intel Iris Plus GraphicsAMD Radeon Pro 5300M with 4GB of GDDR6 memory; AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 8GB of GDDR6 memory
RAM16GB, 32GB16GB, 32GB, 64GB
Storage256GB SSD (up to 4TB SSD)512GB SSD (up to 8TB SSD)
PortsTwo or Four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) portFour Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C)
Battery lifeApprox. 10 hoursApprox. 11 hours
Weight3.1 pounds4.30 pounds
Camera720p FaceTime HD720p FaceTime HD
KeyboardMagic KeyboardMagic Keyboard

Ultimately, we believe the 16-inch MacBook Pro is the best choice for professionals, although most folks will probably want to consider the smaller model. Pros are looking for a pro-level computer and the 16-inch MacBook Pro is packed with the latest processor, most storage and RAM, and the most advanced features your money can buy. The 13-inch model weighs and costs less, but pros will see that the 16-inch model fits your needs better.

If you do a lot of photo-editing and video work and need the speediest MBP currently on the market, the larger model is your choice. It's the one that offers more or better options when it comes to RAM, processor speed, storage, and graphics card. Plus, you get more screen real estate to work on.

You can purchase up to 64GB in RAM on the bigger model, versus the maximum of 32GB on the smaller unit. The more memory your Mac has, the more apps you can run at the same time, and the better they will perform. While 32GB is more than enough for most people, if you do video editing or other intensive tasks, more RAM is never a bad thing.

When it comes to processors, the 16-inch model is upgradeable to a blazing-fast 2.4GHz 8-core Intel Core i9, compared to the 2.3GHz quad-core 10th-generation Intel Core i7 on the 13-inch model. Storage maxes out at 8TB on the 16-inch model and 4TB on the 13-inch model.

Creators take note the 16-inch model comes standard with an AMD Radeon Pro 5300M with 4GB of GDDR6 memory and is upgradeable to the AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 8GB of GDDR6 memory for even better performance. The 13-inch MacBook Pro is only available with an Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 or Intel Iris Plus Graphics processor, which are both excellent for everyday tasks, but less so when you need to use graphics-based apps more often.

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.