When Apple unveiled the M3 line of processors at its “Scary Fast” hardware event, they took the opportunity to bring some much-needed continuity to their revered line of laptops.
They did this by discontinuing the 13-inch MacBook Pro, a device that struggled to find a place next to the Air and Pro laptops. However, its replacement is not without some quirks of its own, so let’s talk about that.
Out With the Old
I’ve written about the 13-inch MacBook Pro before. For me, it was always hard to justify its inclusion in Apple’s lineup. It was a MacBook Pro in name only and lacked many of the features found in the cheaper MacBook Air.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro had an old design with thick bezels around the screen. The screen was smaller than the M2 MacBook Air, and the 720p webcam just couldn’t cut it anymore.
Then, there was the Touch Bar. A technology that Apple introduced in 2019 and did absolutely nothing with for the years that followed. The Touch Bar had fans, but Apple wasn’t one of them. For two years, the 13-inch MacBook Pro was the only Apple device with a Touch Bar.
In With the New
Apple’s replacement for the 13-inch MacBook Pro makes sense, to a point. They added the M3 processor to the 14-inch MacBook Pro and dropped the starting price to $1,599 (down from $1,999 earlier this year). That’s $300 more than the 13-inch MacBook Pro, but $400 less than the previous entry-level 14-inch MacBook Pro.
However, this new MacBook Pro comes with a few caveats. For instance, the base model only comes with 8GB of RAM. It’s 2023, and Apple is selling a $1600 pro laptop with just 8GB of RAM. I’m kind of lost for words.
The new M3 MacBook Pro is also restricted to two USB-C ports, and can only run one external monitor. Does that sound like a pro-laptop to you? Or are we back to just calling things Pro because they are more expensive than the alternatives?
But it has a new chip, right? Yes! The M3 has an 8-core CPU and a 10-core GPU that, according to Apple, make it about 15% faster than the M2. It’s not 15% faster than the M2 Pro or the M2 Max, just the base M2. Still, faster is better, so it’s definitely an improvement on the now departed 13-inch MacBook Pro.
Should You Buy the M3 MacBook Pro?
You absolutely could. In fact, the same people who bought the 13-inch MacBook Pro are probably the ones that Apple is targeting with the M3 MacBook Pro. It’s a fine computer that will be plenty fast enough for most people. However, it’s not your only option.
For the same money, you can get an Apple refurbished 14-inch MacBook Pro with 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, three USB-C ports, and an M2 Pro chip with a 10-core CPU and a 16-core GPU. This computer also supports two external monitors at up to 6k resolution.
In case you were wondering if Apple’s refurbished products are any good, they are. Each product is tested, cleaned, and repackaged with all original accessories. Refurbished products also come with the same 1-year warranty that a new laptop does. I’ve bought them before, and they look and work like new.
I understand that refurbished products aren’t for everyone, but this one makes a compelling alternative.
Despite my reservations about the M3 MacBook Pro, I’m glad the 13-inch model has finally been discontinued. It was the odd one out and was too similar to the MacBook Air. The new M3 MacBook Pro offers something different.
But is it different enough for you?