Apple’s (AAPL) MacBook Pro line of notebooks has long been a favorite of professionals, those who want a premium laptop and, of course, Apple fans. The Retina Display models are at the top of the chain of Apple laptops. In its latest MacBook Pro review, CNET calls Apple’s line of aluminum-clad, portable OSX PCs a “favorite premium laptop for power-users.”
But for much of 2013, the MacBook Pro with Retina Display was at a disadvantage compared to competing laptops from Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and other PC manufacturers, as well as Apple’s popular (but less expensive) MacBook Air. It lacked the latest generation Intel (INTC) processors.
Apple finally rectified that situation at its October iPad event, where the refreshed MacBook Pro with Retina Display was unveiled and quickly reclaimed the throne among Apple laptops.
Here’s what you can expect from the latest version of the most powerful Apple laptop available, the 2013 MacBook Pro with Retina Display.
MacBook Pro Review: Now With Haswell Inside
PC processor upgrades have become evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Unless your use wrings every ounce of performance out of a computer, there’s seldom a compelling reason to buy a new one just because it has the latest and greatest CPU in it.
Intel’s 4th generation Core processors — the Haswell chips — may just be the exception to the rule. You don’t need to read a MacBook Pro review to learn everything the Haswell chips can do to improve Apple’s flagship laptop. According to Intel, Haswell benefits include:
- Visual enhancements
- Smarter multi-tasking between cores
- Improved security
- Turbo-boost technology for dynamic performance improvement
- “Amazing” battery life (Just how amazing is it? Well…)
MacBook Pro Review: Gigabit Wi-Fi, Faster and Longer Battery Life
The primary gain of that Haswell chip any MacBook Pro review will highlight is the improved battery life. The 2012 MacBook Pro with Retina display 13-inch model was rated at 7 hours of battery life, while the new Haswell-equipped version boats 9 hours. That’s enough for all-day use.
Even more remarkable, while the 2012 model was widely reported to have “real life” battery performance of only 6 hours, Engadget ran a MacBook Pro review where it found the 2013 edition would last for more than 11 hours of continuous video playback. That’s better than Apple’s claim and better than many tablets can manage.
Besides the improved battery life, the latest MacBook Pro with Retina display is more powerful than previous Apple laptops, it gains Gigabit Wi-Fi (up to three times faster than 802.11n), switches storage to an even faster SSD, it’s a little thinner and lighter and the 13-inch model is a little cheaper.
MacBook Pro Review: Specs
Specifications are for the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display. For full specs on the 15-inch model, check out this MacBook Pro review from Ars Technica.
- 13.3-inch LED backlit display at 2560 x 1600 pixels
- Up to 2.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 (Haswell) CPU
- Intel Iris Graphics
- Up to 16GB RAM
- Up to 1TB PCI Flash Storage
- 720p FaceTime camera
- 2x Thunderbolt 2, 2x USB 3.0 and HDMI ports
- Wi-Fi 802.11ac
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Stereo speaker, dual microphones
- Full-sized, backlit keyboard
- 71.8 watt-hour lithium polymer battery
- Runs OSX 10.9 (Mavericks)
- 0.71 inches thick and 3.46 pounds
- Starts at $1299 (version usually tested in a typical MacBook Pro review will be the midrange model that begins at $1499)
MacBook Pro Review: Conclusion
Apple lost the resolution war it started with the MacBook Pro with Retina Display once Google (GOOG) released its Chromebook Pixel.
But as a MacBook Pro review comparing the Chromebook Pixel to a Retina Display 13-inch model shows, the Apple laptop boasted a serious CPU advantage, far more storage and more ports.
The MacBook Pro also smoked the Chromebook on battery life — and that was before the October upgrade that saw Haswell chips boost battery performance to 8 hours or more on a charge. The Apple laptop also performs just as well offline as it does connected to the Internet, while the Chromebook Pixel gives up some functionality when the web isn’t available.
Anyone looking for a laptop that offers performance, battery life, a high resolution display, light weight and good looks to top it off, should check out the 2013 MacBook Pro with Retina Display.
If you’re worried about Microsoft (MSFT) Windows support, there’s a Mac version of Office. For the full Windows experience, the Mac can run Windows natively using Apple’s Boot Camp feature. In fact, in a MacBook Pro review comparing Apple laptops to competition from leading PC manufacturers, CNET reported that a 13-inch MacBook Pro placed first in Windows 8 performance.
Even if you have a 2012-era MacBook Pro with Retina Display, the October upgrade may be enough to convince you it’s time to buy a new Mac laptop — the additional battery life, Gigabit Wi-Fi support and faster SSD may just be enough to justify the purchase. The fact that you’ll save a few hundred bucks compared to the price of the model it replaces is just icing on the cake.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.