Apple MacBook Pro 13 (2022) vs MacBook Pro 14 (2021): Which to buy?

Apple revealed the MacBook Pro 13 (M2) during the main keynote of WWDC 2022. Unfortunately, this addition to the Mac line doesn’t feature a design overhaul similar to that of the M2 MacBook Air 13 (2022). This means you won’t get advantage of the webcam improvements, MagSafe 3 charging, and the more modern design. The “new” MacBook Pro 13 has the exact same body Apple has been using for the past few years. One of its perks is the Touch Bar that the company dropped on 2021 Pro models. If you don’t care about the Touch Bar, you can buy refurbished units of the MacBook Pro (2021) for a relatively cheap price. This is the MacBook Pro 13 (2022) vs MacBook Pro 14 (2021) — the battle between two very different Pro Apple notebooks.

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Apple MacBook Pro 13 (2022) vs Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2021): Specifications

Apple MacBook Pro 13 (2022) Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2021)
  • Apple M1 Pro (8-Core CPU)
  • Apple M1 Pro (10-Core CPU)
  • Apple M1 Max (10-Core CPU)
  • Apple M1 Pro (14-Core GPU)
  • Apple M1 Pro (16-Core GPU)
  • Apple M1 Max (24-Core GPU)
  • Apple M1 Max (32-Core GPU)
  • 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.61 inches
  • 3lbs
  • 12.31 x 8.71 x 0.61 inches
  • 3.5lbs
  • 13.3-inch Retina display (2560 x 1600), up to 500 nits peak brightness, True Tone technology
  • 14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display (3024 x 1964), up to 1600 nits peak brightness, True Tone technology, ProMotion technology for adaptive refresh rates up to 120Hz
  • Two Thunderbolt 4 ports
  • Headphone jack
  • Three Thunderbolt 4 ports
  • SDXC card slot
  • HDMI port
  • MagSafe 3 port
  • Headphone jack
  • 58.2Whr battery
  • Up to 20 hours of video playback
  • 67W charger
  • 70Whr battery
  • Up to 17 hours of video playback
  • 67W charger
  • Stereo speakers with wide stereo sound and spatial audio support when playing Dolby Atmos content
  • High-fidelity six-speaker sound system with force-cancelling woofers and spatial audio support when playing Dolby Atmos content

Design: 2021’s Pro humiliates that of 2022

m2 MacBook Pro 13-inch

Let’s start by analyzing the two MacBook’s designs. Despite it being a very subjective matter, we can objectively make some observations in this department. The MacBook Pro 13 (2022) features a very outdated chassis when compared to the MacBook Pro 14 (2021). Apple has resorted to the same body it has been using on similar models for the past few years. So you get a Touch Bar, thick screen bezels, no port variety, no MagSafe charging, a 720p camera, and a dated display.

M1 Max MacBook Pro from the back side

The MacBook Pro 14 (2021), on the other hand, introduces an HDMI port, SD card reader, a MagSafe charger, and more. This allows you to depend less on dongles and docks and unleash the full potential of your MacBook Pro. Additionally you get an upgraded screen with elegant, rounded corners, thin bezels, and a top notch that houses a 1080p webcam. Both devices are available in the same two finishes. However, only one of them looks like it belongs in 2022. Spoiler alert — it’s not the one released in 2022.

Display: The top-notch display displays a notched top

The notch on the new MacBook

As mentioned in the Design section, these two MacBook Pro models have two very different screens. The MacBook Pro 14 offers a larger 14.2-inch one, while the MacBook Pro 13 goes for 13.3 inches. On the former you get a higher resolution of 3024-by-1964 that defeats the latter’s 2560-by-1600. That’s not to mention that the 2021 model has a higher peak brightness of 1600 nits that defeats 2022’s 500 nits.

One of the most prominent differences between the displays of the MacBook Pro 13 and MacBook Pro 14 is the refresh rate. Those who want to take advantage of the ProMotion technology will need to get the 14-inch model. For the unfamiliar, this technology unlocks refresh rates that can go up to 120Hz. This makes scrolling, transitions, and other animations look smoother. The 13-inch model settles for 60Hz only.

Performance: Don’t let the 2 in M2 fool you

Apple M2 specifications graphic

Many people justifiably assume that the M2 chip is the most powerful Mac chipset from Apple. This makes sense — considering it’s the latest and greatest has a 2 in its name — compared to 1. The truth is, though, the M2 is an upgrade to the base M1 chip — not to the entire M1 family that includes the Pro, Max, and Ultra variations. By buying the MacBook Pro 14 (2021), you’re getting better CPU, GPU, and battery performance than those of the MacBook Pro 13 (2022).

Apple's M1 Pro and M1 Max chip logos

By going for the 2021 Mac, you don’t only get the better performance and longer battery life. You also take advantage of the wider port variety, the higher resolution camera, more than double the maximum memory and storage, and up to three external displays instead of just one. The MacBook Pro 14 makes the 13-inch model seem like an Air instead of a Pro. The 2021 model truly is the real Pro.

Bottom Line: Affordability vs Quality

As we’ve broken down in the sections above, the MacBook Pro 14 (2021) dominates the MacBook Pro 13 (2022) from all perspectives. You get a larger, better display, a clearer webcam, more RAM and SSD options, a wider port variety, a longer battery life, a modern design, MagSafe charging support, a faster processor, and more. The 2022 Mac has two advantages only — the Touch Bar and its price tag.

Personally, if I had to choose one of these two, I would certainly go for the 2021 model. The 2022 MacBook Pro feels like a half-done assignment. I personally don’t think it belongs in the Mac line anymore. Apple should’ve at least introduced a similar design overhaul instead of simply swapping the M1 chip with an M2 one. Ultimately, those on a limited budget can save $700 by getting the smaller MacBook Pro. This would make sense for students who can’t afford the higher-end model but also need a notebook for Pro tasks. It’s yet to be seen whether the company will finally overhaul its chassis next year or not.

    Apple MacBook Pro 13 (2022)

    The 2022 MacBook Pro 13-inch offers a classic design, reintroduces the Touch Bar, and packs the M2 chip.

    Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2021)

    The 14-inch MacBook Pro is a mighty beast powered by the Apple M1 Pro or M1 Max chip. It has a wide variety of ports and features a top notch.

Which Pro Apple notebook will you be buying, and why? Let us know in the comments section below.

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