For musicians, producers, DJs and performers, the Apple MacBook Pro has long been the first choice when it comes to laptops. While Windows-based machines have seen an upsurge in popularity, for many users the buck stops with the MacBook Pro. What is it that makes it so popular? Different people will have different reasons, but for us it’s the combination of design, performance, intuitive operation and overall usability that makes it hard to beat.
Where things can become confusing, however, is knowing which is the right Apple MacBook Pro for you. Allow us to walk you through some of the options on offer today, with a particular focus on music creation, audio production and performance. Our price comparison software has found the very best cheap MacBook Pro deals online right now too.
With Amazon Prime Day on the horizon, it could be worth holding off on picking up a new MacBook Pro until the Prime Day music deals start emerging. We'll be reporting on the best offers right through to Prime Day itself.
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Latest MacBook Pro deals (UK)
Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch – 16GB RAM, 1TB Storage
Was £2,799 | Now £2,479 | Save £320
If you want bags of storage and sheer power, this model offers 1TB of space for all your sessions and an Intel Core i9 processor. Inside you'll also find a AMD Radeon Pro 5500M graphics card with GDDR6 memory.View Deal
Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch - 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD
Was £1,299 | Now £1,249 | Save £50
The second model up from the base model, this iteration of the new 13-inch MBP comes complete with Magic Keyboard and glorious Retina screen, all housed in a stylish Space Grey casing.View Deal
Latest MacBook Pro deals (US)
MacBook Pro 16-inch – 16GB RAM, 512GB, 2.6GHz Intel Core i7
Was $2,399 | Now $2,099 | Save $300
This might be the 'basic' spec of the new 16-inch model, but it's still a fantastic music-making machine that would sit comfortably at the heart of any studio setup. Right now this model, in Space Grey, is available with a hearty $300 discount.View Deal
Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch – 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD
Was $1,999 | Now $1,899 | Save $100
The discounted options in with the new 2020 13-inch spec features a 2.0 GHZ 10th Gen Intel Core i5 processor, plus all the usual Apple goodness such as Retina screen and Magic Keyboard.View Deal
MacBook Pro 13"
Midway through 2020, Apple refreshed its MacBook Pro 13” range to give it some much-needed improvements across the board. Chief among these was the aforementioned Magic Keyboard. To say the ‘board it has replaced was divisive is an understatement. Thankfully, the new Magic variant has been almost universally acknowledged as a step up which, when combined with the vastly increased storage options and bump in performance, makes the 13” MacBooks a formidable proposition.
For musicians, they still offer the perfect balance of size, speed and usability, but having refined the range in the way they have, Apple has now made the 13” MacBook Pro the perfect option for musicians, DJs and producers on the move. Of course, they can be eye-wateringly expensive – it is Apple, after all – but they bring with them a level of quality and sheen that Window-based machines struggle to match.
Price-wise, the ‘basic’ model starts at $1,299/£1,299 and offers an 8th-gen Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM and 256GB of SSD storage. The mid-range version increases the SSD storage, bringing the starting price up to $1,499/£1,499, while the top-end model is a different beast altogether. For $1,799/£1,799, you get a 10th-gen Intel i5 processor, 16GB LPDDR4X RAM and 512GB of solid-state storage. This model also bumps the number of Thunderbolt 3 ports up to four, meaning you’ll have plenty of connection points for peripherals.
Latest MacBook Pro 13" prices and deals:
- 1.4GHz Intel i5 processor/8GB RAM/128GB SSD - £1,299/$1,299
- 1.4GHz Intel i5 processor/8GB RAM/256GB SSD - £1,499/$1,499
- 2.4GHz Intel i5 processor/8GB RAM/256GB SSD - £1,799/$1,799
- 2.4GHz Intel i5 processor/16GB RAM/512GB SSD - £1,999/$1,999
MacBook Pro 16"
Read the full Apple MacBook Pro 16" review
Apple MacBook Pro 16” The new Apple MacBook Pro 16” - released at the end of 2019 - delivers the best portable Apple experience. There are two base variants - each configurable if bought from Apple - with enough power to suit demanding audio production tasks. Indeed, these models would happily operate as the beating heart of a fully-fledged studio.
The ‘basic’ version - £2,399/$2,399 - packs in a 2.6GHz Intel i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. You also get a superior graphics card to the 13” version, making it a solid choice for video production work. Above that sits the flagship model - £2,799/$2,799 - offering a 2.3GHz Intel i9 processor, 16GB RAM and a 1TB sold state drive.
For pro users, the chance to upgrade this to a maximum 64GB RAM, as well as beefing up the video card and adding up to 8TB of storage, makes this a rig that would rival many desktop computers. Fully configured to its maximum potential you’re looking at a cost of £5,769/$5,769, again only available directly from Apple.
Latest MacBook Pro 16" prices and deals:
- 2.6GHz Intel i7 processor/16GB RAM/512GB SSD - £2,399/$2,399
- 2.3GHz Intel i9 processor/16GB RAM/1TB SSD - £2,799/$2,799
MacBook Pro deals: range overview
For many musicians, the Apple MacBook Pro is ubiquitous with their work. It’s long been a cliché that Apple makes creative devices, and Windows powers business machines. Those lines are blurring somewhat now, but the Cupertino-based firm still knows how to cater to its users’ demanding requirements. The modern MacBook Pro line-up consists of two different main variants; the recently-updated 13” screen model, which offers the perfect balance between power and portability, and the 16” screen model which is geared towards performance.
Apple has always prided itself on usability. It knows there are large sections of its potential user base who aren’t computer scientists, and don’t want to spend time messing with settings in order to optimise their system. The old tagline – ‘it just works’ – still stands true today, making Apple systems easy for anyone to get to grips with. That said, it is in the small details that you can see these machines are built by an organisation that understands how people use their computers. Little things like the plug-and-play nature of most peripherals, or the way musicians can combine multiple audio interfaces. This says Apple understands its audience, and gives them the tools to carry out their work.
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One major benefit the MacBook Pro offers, specifically for musicians, comes not in the laptops or hardware, but in their associated software. Logic Pro X – still going strong thanks to regular updates – is the DAW of choice for many producers, combining as it does the features and functionality needed by the professionals with the usability for which it is famous. Not forgetting Garageband either; where once this was seen as a fairly entry-level application, it has grown immensely and now boasts many features which elevate it above a toy.
Let’s take a look at some of the options available in the current Apple MacBook Pro line-up, and see which ones are best for music production.
Features and spec
MacBook Pro deals: Key features and spec
As we mentioned, the MacBook Pro range has now been streamlined to contain two main variants. For users requiring portability – perhaps DJs or performers – the 13-inch MacBook Pro takes some beating. The smaller form factor makes it ideal for taking from studio to venue, with the right amount of power and performance to ensure you can work. The 16” MacBook Pro is clearly geared more towards the professional user, packing in much more in the way of performance.
Common across both the 13” and 16” models are a number of features, notably the infamous Touch Bar. Whether you like the Touch Bar or not is entirely your preference, but if you’re using Apple software applications like Logic Pro X or Final Cut then there are some clear benefits to getting to grips with it. The refreshed 13” range has also joined the 16” models by integrating the much-improved Magic Keyboard which, at a stroke, removed one of the major criticisms Apple has faced in recent years.
Both come future-proofed thanks to their Thunderbolt 3 ports. While anyone with a bunch of legacy USB gear might curse (dongle-anger is a thing, right) the benefits in terms of performance and speed of switching to Thunderbolt 3 make it worth the hassle.
Final mention goes to the Retina screen, which is common on both variants. Still, to this day, this is one of the finest screens we’ve come across and makes detail-heavy studio sessions a breeze to navigate around.
MacBook Pro deals: the alternatives
In terms of alternative music-making laptops, you have a few options. The main contender is the Dell XPS range, which is well positioned as a strong non-Apple device for mainstream creative work. This range is split into two main variants – a 13” version starting from £899/$949 and a 15” version starting at £1,379/$1,349. The XPS range offers similar specifications to the MacBook Pro models, with superb design and build quality throughout.
Alternatively, you might consider the Microsoft Surface Pro or Microsoft Surface Laptop. The Surface Pro models, starting at £799/$749, aren’t ideal for larger studio environments, but for portability and production on-the-go they offer an entirely unique experience.
The Surface Laptop, from £899/$999, could be seen as a direct rival to the MacBook Pro, offering its glorious touchscreen as the icing on the cake. Clearly you aren’t going to be able to access the Apple operating system, but if your needs aren’t based around it currently then this isn’t won’t matter.