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13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display (2013) review

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mbp13retinareview1When Apple updates its MacBook laptops you might not be able to notice the difference on the outside but it sure is a major change on the inside.

The latest update for the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display has really taken the device to another level.

On the design side the device is identical to the previous model but under the hood is where the changes have taken place.

Starting with the new Intel fourth generation dual core 2.4Ghz or 2.6Ghz processor, the 13-inch MacBook Pro has seen a noticeable performance upgrade.

The quad core processors can be found on the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display.

This computer can sit shoulder to shoulder with a desktop and match it pound for pound when it comes to running heavy-duty applications like movie and picture editing software, design programs and the latest computer games.

But even just navigating the MacBook Pro’s operating system you’ll notice a smoothness when doing things like scrolling through thousands of emails in your inbox, scrolling a webpage and moving between open applications.

Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Speaking of the operating system – OS X Mavericks, which is pre-installed on the latest 13-inch MacBook Pro – can also take some of the credit for that speed and smooth operation.

Other pre-loaded software includes Apple’s own powerful apps – Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand.

The real strength comes from the fact that Apple makes the hardware to run the software and the software that runs with the hardware.

This gives the company a distinct advantage over its competitors because this arrangement can optimise things across the board including performance and battery life.

Speed is also enhanced because the onboard storage – available in 128GB, 256GB or 512GB – is flash-based so accessing data is much faster than you would on a regular hard drive.

And what’s even more impressive is that all of these powerful features are all contained within a chassis that’s just 1.8cm thick and weighing 1.57kg.

One mistake people make is assuming that a device that’s as small and light as the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display isn’t powerful enough.

This computer proves one thing without a doubt – sleek does NOT mean weak.

What you’re not going to get with the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display is a DVD optical drive but users can purchase Apple’s external USB Superdrive ($99) if you still need one.

But there are still plenty of connectivity options including an SD Card slot, A HDMI port, two USB 3.0 ports and two Thunderbolt 2 ports.

The new Thunderbolt 2 ports are now capable of transfer speeds of up to 20Gbps which is handy for every type of user whether you’ve connected a hard drive for back ups or a professional transferring content on or off the MacBook Pro.

Also aboard the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display is the faster 802.11ac wi-fi which is up to three times faster than the previous standard.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display is thin (1.8cm) and light (1.57kg)

We’re still scratching our heads, though, trying to work out why Apple chose not to include 802.11 ac on the recently released iPhone 5S and the iPad Air and iPad Mini with Retina Display.

Next year’s iPhone and iPads will hopefully include this feature but it’s good news to have it onboard the MacBook Pro now.

One of the standout features is the one that was introduced last year – the dazzling Retina Display.

The screen has a 2560 x 1600 resolution and 226ppi (pixels per inch) so if you’re new to the Retina Display, it will certainly hit you between the eyes.

The Retina Display is also backed up by the Intel Iris Graphics – a feature that can do the heavy lifting when it comes to common tasks or graphics-intensive applications and keep things running smoothly.

This also makes it easy to handle being connected to one or two external monitors.

Images, web pages and text are sharper than ever on the 13-inch MacBook Retina Display.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display has plenty of connectivity options

If you’re used to looking at Retina Displays on other Apple devices like the iPhone or the iPad then you’ll welcome the ultra sharp screen on this computer as well.

This ultrasharp display is also perfect for high-end users like photographers and videographers so they can see their work in the finest detail while they are creating, editing and finalising their project.

But the one thing a laptop lives and dies by is its battery performance.

The good news is Apple has seriously upped the ante with the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display.

This model can power through up to an incredible nine hours of battery life between charges which can easily cover an entire work day.

A combination of processor efficiency and the OS X Mavericks operating system optimisation results in a battery boost that power users will welcome with open arms.

In our testing we worked on the device from the early hours of the morning till the evening before we needed to reach for the charger.

And our usage included writing, picture and video editing, web browsing, viewing videos and email and all of those other tasks we perform each day and the battery handled it with ease.

VERDICT

If you’re in the market for a new laptop computer that is a delightful combination of design and performance you can’t go past Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display.

It is a perfect union of software and hardware that no other company can match.

13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Price: From $1,599

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