2018 MacBook Pro vs M1 MacBook Pro: Should You Upgrade?

In this post, we’ll be taking a look under the hood of both the 2018 MacBook Pro and the more recent and much more powerful M1 MacBook Pro and we’ll look at whether you should upgrade to the latest chip. The M1 MacBook Pro has certainly made a big splash since it was released but you may still be wondering what the big differences are.

Specifications

Specifications 2018 MacBook Pro   MacBook Pro M1
Starting price Various deals $1499.99
Size 13.3 inches 13.3 inches
Resolution 2560 x 1600 (True Tone technology) 2500 x 1600 (True Tone technology)
Processor 2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i7/Core i9 M1 chip
Graphics Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 M1 iGPU
Memory 8GB up to 16 GB 8GB (up to 16GB)
Storage 128GB starting memory (up to 2TB) 256GB starting memory (up to 2TB)

Design

MacBook Pro 2018
Apple MacBook Pro 2018

The 2018 MacBook Pro is very similar to the 2017 model yet it comes with the Touch bar, the long strip that extends to each end at the top of the keyboard. As you may already know, this design allows you to quickly move between apps and adjust core settings as you go. The Touch Bar also allows for Touch ID.

Aside from this, the 2018 MacBook Pro is essentially identical to all MacBook Pros before it. It has a 13.3-inch screen and has a powerfully bright resolution that comes out at 2560 x 1600. Frustratingly, the design still features bulky bezels that make the screen look smaller than it actually is but with 227 pixels per inch, you still get a great experience from the actual display. The 2018 model is a very familiar MacBook to its predecessors but that’s not a bad thing at all.

Just like the 2018 MacBook Pro, the Pro M1 will not disappoint in terms of design. In fact, the M1 has a pretty much identical design to previous Pro versions too. It’s very light, weighing in at only 3 pounds so it’s easy to transport. It has a feel of quality thanks to its metal shell that justifies its price.

Opening up the MacBook Pro M1, you’ll notice that the Touch Bar returns. Whilst the design of the M1 isn’t anything new, a lot of people will argue that it doesn’t need to be because it’s already nearly perfect. The only real difference is of course the powerful M1 chip that this computer runs on. That’s where you’re going to see the big differences – in performance.

The bright Retina display beams with crisp light and won’t sap your battery life whereas the 2018 model is more likely to have a bigger drain on your battery life due to its weaker Intel processor.

Performance

2018 MacBook Pro

It’s not a secret that the 2018 13 inch MacBook Pro is powerful and for a long time it was the most powerful MacBook Pro on the market. Even though you’ll see that the MacBook Pro M1 blasts it out of the water, it still holds up in its own right.

The 2018 MacBook Pro comes with 128GB out of the box however it can be upgraded to 2TB but it’s worth noting that this has to be done when you purchase it and it will cost you a lot more money. Still, this is a great MacBook Pro for creatives. With plenty of storage space, it will be enough for the casual creator. It’s also got a fair amount of processing power. For example, the i5 model took us 7 seconds to export a 4K video from Final Cut Pro X which is nothing to sniff at. However, it’s worth pointing out that if you have larger files, you may want to close other programs when trying to render or export video as this will have a big effect on how long it takes.

2018 MacBook Pro Final Cut Pro X
MacBook Pro 2018 Final Cut Pro X performance

The battery life on the 2018 MacBook Pro is fairly standard and comes out on average at 10 hours. However, this is 10 hours of light use. If you watch videos for hours on end then you can expect the battery life to last half this time or less. The MacBook Pro 2018 model was never built for gaming but it does come with a dedicated graphics card, the Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 which isn’t as good as something like an Nvidia card of course but you’ll be able to play games like Fortnite and Minecraft with no real issues thanks to the standard 8GB memory but you shouldn’t expect to be able to play games on their highest settings if that’s what you’re aiming to do.

M1 MacBook Pro

The MacBook Pro M1 is the perfect computer for productivity with 256GB of storage out of the box. Whilst the M1 is more expensive than the 2018 MacBook Pro, it is still a better option for gaming and video editing, especially for content creation thanks to its built-in professional-grade apps and CPU workload distribution.

The M1 chip is nothing like anything else on the market and boasts a 25% higher CPU speed than even 2019 iMacs. With the M1 chip, Apple has taken processing power to the next level. The 8 core GPU system is designed to distribute power evenly to give you better performance as you go, however it won’t eat up all of your battery life. It’s been noted that the MacBook Pro M1 has up to 20 hours of battery life! Twice that of the 2018 MacBook Pro! The device does feature a fan but it is much quieter than any Intel-based computer I’ve used before.

Most people that own a Mac (no matter what model) will usually tell you they love editing videos on it. I’m no different and the MacBook Pro M1 makes it even easier and even faster. The MacBook Pro M1 comes with Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro built-in so you could end up saving money and time.

MacBook Pro M1 single-core and multi-core scores
MacBook Pro M1 single-core and multi-core scores

Video rendering is lightning fast and you can be sure 4K is supported. Exporting the same five-minute video only took four minutes. In terms of gaming, it’s still early days for the MacBook Pro M1 chip but the results so far are impressive even if gaming titles are limited. The GFXBench 5.0 benchmarks revealed that the M1 often outperforms the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti and AMD Radeon RX 500.

Should you upgrade?

MacBook Pro 2018 Pros MacBook Pro 2018 Cons MacBooks Pro M1 Pros MacBook Pro M1 Cons
Sharp resolution Bulky design Sharp resolution Design is nothing new
Fast rendering time Passable gaming experience Ideal for creators and power-intensive apps  
Cheap compared to the M1 Mostly found second-hand Huge amount of memory available  
    Impressive battery life  

The 2018 MacBook Pro is still a worthy option if you just want a great computer that is fast and reliable. It’s also worth pointing out that because it’s an older version, you can pick one up for a discounted rate if you don’t already own it. If you already own the 2018 MacBook Pro and you’re on the fence about upgrading, I would recommend doing it if you can afford it. The M1 has shown why it’s the biggest leap that Apple has taken in terms of technology. Obviously, this leap means it’s going to cost you a fair amount more but I think it’s worth it.

If you’re someone who does a lot of work on your MacBook Pro in video-editing and graphic design and you also move around a lot, you might want to upgrade due to the M1 MacBook’s battery life alone. It can handle power-intensive loads and it can handle multiple intensive apps at the same time.

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