M1 MacBook Pro 13 vs iMac 24 inch compared

If you can’t decide between the 24-inch iMac and the 13-inch MacBook Pro, you’re not alone. Both computers run on Apple’s M1 processor, and both cost around $1,299. The choice comes down to features and form factor. Want a big screen that’s comfortable to use for hours on end and easy to share with the whole family? Or do you want a laptop that you can move around the house, to the airport or to a coffee shop without any problems?

We’ll point out exactly what sets the 24-inch iMac apart from the 13-inch MacBook Pro so you can make the call.

Buy the MacBook Pro 13 for $1,299 at Amazon

Buy the 24-inch iMac for $1,299 at Amazon

Performance and speed

Credit: Betsey Goldwasser / Revised

The MacBook Pro 13 and the iMac have identical processors.

Because the MacBook Pro 13 and the iMac share the same M1 processor, their performance is virtually identical. Compared to most laptops running on midrange AMD and Intel processors, Macs have better performance and longer battery life than the competition. If you need a Mac for high productivity and lightweight 3D applications, such as Adobe Creative Cloud software, you should have no problem with either Mac desktop.

However, there is a caveat. The base 24-inch iMac has fewer graphics processing cores than the MacBook Pro 13 (seven cores instead of eight cores). In real-world applications, this missing kernel makes little difference – it averages about three fewer frames per second in World of Warcraft on medium settings, for example, but this could affect your workflow if you use your computer a lot for graphics-intensive applications. Conversely, you can always upgrade the MacBook Pro 13 to the MacBook Pro 14 or MacBook Pro 16 if you need more power, as the 14-inch and 16-inch models offer the M1 Pro and M1 Max processors.

Our choice : To design

Portability and Sharing

Picture of a laptop

Credit: Revised / Betsey Goldwasser

The iMac is very thin and light for an all-in-one PC, but the MacBook Pro won out on portability.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest differences between the iMac and the MacBook Pro come from their form factor. The iMac is an all-in-one desktop computer: it always has to be plugged into a power outlet, but in return you get a 24-inch screen and very powerful speakers. If you want a PC you can share with the family, the larger screen and tethered location makes more sense.

Meanwhile, the MacBook Pro 13 is a laptop with a 13-inch screen. There’s nothing stopping you from sharing the MacBook Pro with other people, but you might lose the laptop or take it out of the house with you when the other person needs it. That’s also the advantage of a laptop: you’re not tethered to a desk, which means you can work from your favorite cafe or your bed if need be.

The MacBook Pro 13 is particularly good for portability, as it’s thin, light and has a 13-hour battery life. Even if you have to use Adobe Premiere all day, you’ll still get a full day of laptop use before you need to recharge. Right now, it’s one of the longest battery life laptops on the market.

Our choice : To design

Ports and Features

Back of a desktop PC

Credit: Revised/Jackson Ruckar

The upgraded iMac has four Thunderbolt ports and an Ethernet port.

Even though the iMac and MacBook Pro are aimed at very different use cases, their feature set is surprisingly similar. The base model for the iMac and MacBook Pro only comes with two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a headphone jack. For wireless connectivity, they support Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi 6. Because they use the same processor, they also share the same screen support. Each computer can run a 6K resolution display at 60Hz and a 4K display at 60Hz simultaneously. From there, things start to diverge a bit, starting with port selection.

However, if you don’t mind spending a little more money on an upgraded model, the $1,499 iMac adds two Thunderbolt 3 ports and an Ethernet port. You won’t miss your MacBook’s keyboard or mouse either: the iMac comes with the Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse, and Magic Trackpad. The upgraded Magic Keyboard has TouchID, and the Magic Mouse and Trackpad have swiping functionality identical to the trackpads on MacBooks. The one feature you won’t find on an iMac is the Touch Bar, which is still a MacBook Pro 13 exclusive.

One of the features that the iMac upgrades over the slightly older MacBook Pro 13 is the webcam. The MacBook Pro 13 has the same old 720p webcam as the last generation MacBook Pro 13. Meanwhile, the iMac features an upgraded 1080p webcam with better-than-ever AI camera to bring crisp, vivid video to your calls. The iMac and MacBook Pro 13 both have Retina displays, but the iMac is brighter and bigger, so it may be the best choice for stationary content creators.

Our choice : To design


Person swipes on the touch bar using a finger

Credit: Revised / Betsey Goldwasser

The MacBook Pro 13 has been around longer than the iMac, so retailers are more willing to sell it at a discount.

The 24-inch iMac and MacBook Pro 13 cost $1,299, but you’ll have an easier time finding a discount on the MacBook. We have seen it go as low as $1,099. We haven’t seen such deep discounts on the iMac yet, but the upside is that the iMac comes with a lot more color options than the MacBook Pro 13 (both MacBook and iMac come with the same hardware options).

Our choice : To design

And the winner is…

The person is using an iMac

Credit: Revised/Jackson Ruckar

The iMac is perfect for sharing with others, while the MacBook Pro 13 is perfect for fitting into one person’s lifestyle.

It is impossible to declare a winner here. The 13-inch MacBook Pro and 24-inch iMac perform identically and offer all the features you’d expect from their intended experience. The MacBook Pro 13 is an ideal travel companion because it’s thin, light, and its battery lasts virtually indefinitely. Meanwhile, the iMac makes a great desktop computer, as its larger screen, speakers, and comfortable mouse and keyboard make it a pleasure to use at home. They both sell for the same price.

That choice comes down to whether you want a laptop or a desktop. If you need a PC you can take anywhere, prefer to work with smaller screens, or hate desktops, the MacBook Pro 13 is for you. On the other hand, if you plan to share your PC, want a big screen to play videos and images, or like working from your desk, the iMac will provide a better experience.

Buy the MacBook Pro 13 for $1,299 at Amazon

Buy the 24-inch iMac for $1,299 at Amazon

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.

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