Home / Technology / Hands-on: 13.3-inch Apple MacBook Pro 2.0 GHz Ice Lake – Sunny Cove cores glow

Hands-on: 13.3-inch Apple MacBook Pro 2.0 GHz Ice Lake – Sunny Cove cores glow

The new 2.0 GHz 13.3-inch MacBook Pro offers faster single-core performance than the 2019 Mac Pro - at all costs. (Source: Notebookcheck)
The new 2.0 GHz 13.3-inch MacBook Pro offers faster single-core performance than the 2019 Mac Pro – at all costs. (Source: Notebookcheck)


7;s popular 13.3-inch MacBook is back with an update, but the 14-inch redesign has not been rumored. However, Apple has made some significant changes to the 13-inch area, although the changes have been applied somewhat unevenly. For example, the entry-level models remain with the aging eighth-generation Intel chips, while the high-end models take up the latest 10th-generation chips from Intel. Fortunately, everyone gets the new Magic Keyboard.


The 13.3-inch MacBook Pro is one of Apple’s most popular products, especially as it is the first choice as a high-performance laptop for beginners for many secondary and tertiary students. The much-anticipated update for the 13.3-inch MBP is now here, although it’s a mixed bag regarding the completeness of the update with changes that vary depending on the model range. It’s certainly not the rumored 14-inch redesign, but it does bring some significant changes, though you’ll have to dig deep into your wallet to get the most out of the updates.

The magic keyboard and the revised touch bar:

The biggest change that is common in the 2020 13.3-inch MBP update is the introduction of the new Magic keyboard. The nightmare saga of the keyboard with the butterfly mechanism that has plagued Apple’s MBP line since its introduction on the now defunct 12-inch Retina MacBook in 2015 has finally come to an end. During this time, Apple has repeatedly attempted to troubleshoot the multi-iteration mechanism affecting the butterfly and has only now called time for its inherently faulty design.

Apple introduced the butterfly mechanism because of its extremely low profile, which allowed it to continue delivering ultra-thin designs (although some of them were also prone to thermal constraint issues, another self-inflicted own goal). There were also very short trips that some people liked but were certainly not very popular. The new Magic keyboard based on scissor switch eliminates these problems, offers more freedom of movement and is overall much more comfortable to use. It may not be quite as snappy, but it is undoubtedly a massive improvement over a problem of starting up yourself.

Together with the Magic Keyboard comes the revised Touch Bar. It is a bit like the butterfly mechanism, because for some it is a kind of love or hate suggestion. The biggest change is the glorious return of the physical ESC key. If the touch bar has to stay, at least one of the biggest problems for the average user with the old touch, which required at least a few more clicks to reach, would be the ESC function. Apple has also added an inverted “T” arrangement for the arrow keys. This is also a welcome addition that makes navigation easier without looking at the keyboard. The Touch Bar itself varies with programs depending on the app, with Apple’s creative apps like iMovie and GarageBand making the most of it.

Double the memory as standard:

Another standard upgrade in the new 13.3-inch MBP series is the double standard memory. This means that the range starts with a 256 GB SSD by default and is increased to 512 GB for the standard over-the-counter models. BTO only applies to storage options with 1 TB and more, which are a maximum of an impressive 4 TB. These SSDs are lightning fast even with sequential read speeds of up to 3 GB / s. From the point of view of the system architecture, the performance bottlenecks will be with the silicon and RAM combinations, since there is no model left for the hard drive performance.

Same silicon and LPDDR3-RAM of the eighth generation or Intel silicon and LPDDR4-X-RAM of the 10th generation:

The updated 13.3-inch MBP series gets a little messy when it comes to silicon. The entry-level 13.3-inch MBP models remain with the eighth generation Intel Silicon based on Coffee Lake with the Core i5-8257U (15 W) or the Core i7-8559U (28 W), which are still decent Chips are not particularly exciting. These are still offered with at least 8 GB 2133 MHz LPDDR3-RAM as standard or up to 16 GB in the BTO configuration. The chips also provide graphics performance: the i5 model is equipped with the integrated Iris Plus 645 GPU from Intel, and the i7 model uses the integrated Iris Plus 655.

The real interest is in the high-end specifications of the 13.3-inch MBP 2020 series, which are currently exclusively available for Apple. These are equipped with Intel’s long overdue Ice Lake chips, which were manufactured using the company’s 10 nm process. Our test device is the entry-level 2.0 GHz Core i5-1038G7 (28 W), while the BTO option is an upgrade to the 2.3 GHz Core i5-1068G7 (28 W) with up to 32 GB LPDDR4X -RAM includes. Both are equipped with the new Sunny Cove-based cores from Intel, which represent the first significant architectural revision of the Skylake cores from Intel. As our benchmarks in the photos below show, Intel has significantly increased single-core performance. The new 2.0 GHz model achieved 5 1264 points in Geekbench’s 5 core test. This is faster than all new Mac Pro Cascade Lake Xeon processors that achieve a maximum single-core score of 1148 – since most apps still rely on single -core performance, that’s remarkable.

The other big leap that the new Ice Lake parts offer is graphics performance. Both chips are equipped with the integrated Iris Plus G7 graphics from Intel, which has an 11th generation Iris Plus architecture. As G7 parts, both are equipped with 64 execution units (shaders), which offer around 80% better graphics performance than the Coffee Lake Iris Plus chips, which are included in the smaller 13.3-inch MBP offers. As we have noticed, this is good for playing a current game like Gear tactics in Windows 10 in Boot Camp with about 30 fps in medium detail – better than nothing we assume. Of course, older RPG titles should play reasonably well on it, but these devices are still only suitable for casual games.

First thoughts:

The new 13.3-inch MBPs bring some much-needed revisions across the board. However, if you really want to feel like you’re buying a new machine, you’ll need to spend at least $ 1,799 on our review unit, the first of two Ice Lake-based models in the range. So far, we’ve found that this is a welcome upgrade that deserves the nickname “Pro”. It is suitable for creative professionals who work with audio programs and apps such as Photoshop. However, if you don’t plan to add an eGPU to the equation, CAD designers and video editors should switch to the 16-inch MBP models with discrete AMD Radeon Pro GPUs. As always, be excited about our upcoming full and in-depth review of the new 13.3-inch MacBook Pro series.

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