If I am looking at the only the 13" MacBook Pros of the 2019 lineup, I see that Apple offers different (non-overlapping) CPU choices depending on whether I start out with the 2-port or 4-port base model.

For example, the 2-port model has these choices:

1.4GHz quad‑core 8th‑generation Intel Core i5 processor, Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz

1.7GHz quad‑core 8th‑generation Intel Core i7 processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz

While the 4-port model has these:

2.4GHz quad‑core 8th‑generation Intel Core i5 processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz

2.8GHz quad‑core 8th‑generation Intel Core i7 processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.7GHz

Picking the better CPU in the 2-port model turns out to cost the same as getting the lesse CPU in the 4-port model (if RAM and SSD are chosen at equal size respectively).

Is there a particular reason why the i7 as a much larger range of GHz (both at the low and high end of the scale)?

Are the number of virtual or actual cores the same in all these cases?

Is there a way to decide which one of these CPUs is better suited for a workload (in my case, software development, compiling, running VMs etc.), and also for general "snappiness"? Are there, for example, major architectural differences between the 2-port and 4-port MacBooks-pro's which are the reason for the non-overlapping CPU choice?

  • I would appreciate a comment from the downvoters so I can improve the question further (for a future time - this one already has a nice answer). I am aware that shopping questions are not welcome here, and am pretty sure that the question is not a shopping question. It is about the technical background regarding CPUs. It specifically does not ask about a buying suggestion. – AnoE Nov 25 '19 at 22:56

The reason why the i7 has a larger range in GHz is essentially that this is what you're paying for when you buying the i7 model. I.e. these CPUs can go faster than the i5 at certain workloads in certain scenarios.

All the CPUs are quad-core, and all support Hyper-Threading. So the number of virtual cores are the same, and the number of actual cores are the same in all the cases.

There are no major architectural differences between the CPUs.

The main difference between the CPUs for the 2-port version and the 4-port version is that the 2-port versions has 15W CPUs and the 4-port version has 28W CPUs. As these CPUs are all 8th gen Intel Core CPUs within the same family, this usually means that the CPUs in the 4-port version can sustain high performance for a longer duration of time before running a thermal problem (given that the thermals are designed for the TDP of the CPU).

A smaller difference between them is that the integrated GPU is slightly better with each step.

In terms of i5 versus i7 a difference is that the i5 models have 6 MB cache whereas the i7 models have 8 MB cache.

In terms of which one is better suited for a specific workload or general snappiness, you'll probably be safe to assume that the more expensive option is better than the cheaper option. Whether or not the added expense is worth it is a subjective matter for you.

  • Very nice, thank you for the comprehensive answer! – AnoE Nov 25 '19 at 22:58

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