For as long as we can remember, for musicians, producers, DJs and performers, the Apple MacBook Pro has been the first choice laptop. While Windows-based machines have seen an upsurge in popularity in recent years, for many users the buck stops with the MacBook Pro.
What is it that makes the MacBook Pro 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 latest options on offer today, with a particular focus on music creation, audio production and performance. Our price comparison software has found the very best MacBook Pro deals online right now too.
With Black Friday incoming at the end of November, it could be worth holding off until the Black Friday MacBook Pro deals emerge. We'll be reporting on the best offers (plus the best Black Friday music deals) right through the month.
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Early Black Friday-MacBook Pro deals
Latest MacBook Pro deals (UK)
Buy the 13-inch MacBook Pro at Amazon:
Leagues ahead of the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro, this model comes with an Intel Core i5 processor,16GB RAM, 512GB SSD and four ThunderBolt 3 ports, and all at a £150 saving.View Deal
Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch – 16GB RAM, 1TB Storage
Was £2,799 | Now £2,470 | Save £329
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
Black Friday MacBook Pro deals: 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
Black Friday MacBook Pro deals: 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
Black Friday MacBook Pro: 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.
Black Friday MacBook Pro: 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.
The impact of Apple Silicon
Much has been made of Apple’s announcement that it will be transitioning to its own in-house silicone chips in the near-future. The announcement won’t have been a surprise to many, considering how the firm’s phones and tablets have been using them for a while, but incorporating the ARM technology into laptops and computers is a different proposition. What does it mean for musicians?
The answers are both simple and unclear. If you’re using Apple’s Logic Pro X, then the chances are it will be a seamless, happy transition full of improvements in performance and energy efficiency. Apple claims it’s been testing on Logic for a while now and the results have been overwhelmingly positive. If, on the other hand, you use other DAWs or applications from third-party vendors, then you should be prepared for a few small snags along the way.
Each time Apple has updated its main OS, there have been stories of developers struggling to ensure compatibility, but they usually get there in the end. Our advice? It may be worth allowing some of Apple’s famous ‘early adopter’ crowd to get in there first to road test the new chips. This way, you can have more confidence your existing library of software and apps will work when you do eventually make the change.