15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display review
Apple’s impressive new 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display is considerably thinner yet includes significantly improved performance and features.
When it was unveiled at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco there was gasps of amazement.
Tech Guide has been using it for nearly a week – and those gasps were entirely warranted.
At a glance the new MacBook Pro is a stunner but the other major feature that hits users right between the eyes is the Retina Display that’s so sharp it should come with a Band-Aid.
Apple says to create a product like the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display it had to throw everything out and start again.
The display’s layers are built into the device’s unibody and thereby by eliminated the need for an additional cover glass to save on the weight and the thickness of the product.
And to achieve the svelte design Apple had to design and create components that would deliver high performance and yet take up less space than the previous model.
Just how thin is it? It’s just 1.8cm – which is 25 per cent thinner than the regular 15-inch MacBook Pro.
When you put that beside the MacBook Air it is just 1mm thicker than the thicker end of the wedge-shaped 13-inch MacBook Air which is extraordinary.
But unlike the MacBook Air there is no wedge shape – it is the same thickness end to end.
The MacBook Pro with Retina Display weighs in at just 2.02kg.
Comparing that to a 13-inch MacBook Air at 1.35kg – which has a smaller screen and is only about two-thirds the size – pound for pound the new MacBook Pro is hard to beat.
The most notable design achievements are all under the hood – including all flash memory which takes up only 10 per cent of the space of a regular hard drive.
A good example of the sort of design innovation that went into the product are the vents on the bottom edges of the side panels.
They actually perform a few functions including drawing in air to cool the device, forming part of the structure to add strength and rigidity of the product and are the outlets for the built-in subwoofer to add even more punch to your music.
On the left edge are the new thinner MagSafe 2 charging port, two Thunderbolt ports (each capable of transferring and uploading data at 10Gbps), a USB 3.0 ports (capable of speeds of 5Gbps) and a headphone port.
Along the right edge is another USB 3.0 port, a HDMI port to connect to a flatscreen high definition TV and an SD card slot.
There is no Ethernet port but a Gigabit Ethernet adaptor is sold separately to connect an Ethernet cable for wired internet connectivity through one of the Thunderbolt ports.
While the MacBook Pro with Retina Display looks amazing, users will quickly discover the product is also a powerhouse when it comes to performance.
It has the latest quad core Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.6Ghz on the top end model along with 6MB shared L3 cache.
There is 8GB RAM which comes as standard but this can be upgraded up to 16GB.
Another thing that helps in the speed department is the onboard flash memory.
The MacBook Pro boots up in just 10 seconds and is ready to go to work for you. It also wakes instantly from sleep.
Speed should be the product’s middle name whether it’s running applications or downloading and uploading content.
The Retina Display has a resolution of 2880 x 1800 which adds up to 5.1 million pixels.
There are 220 pixels per inch – so images and text are so sharp it’s impossible to distinguish individual pixels at a regular viewing distance – hence the name Retina Display.
This is ideal for photographers, video editors and graphic designers who can see exactly what they’re working on right down to the last pixel.
The amount of detail photographers can see in their images is staggering. And even getting larger RAW images into the MacBook Pro through the SD card slot is fast as well.
We imported 101 RAW image files in less than a minute.
On the video side applications like Final Cut Pro X gain an added level of usability.
With so many pixels at your disposal, video editors can now see a full high definition view of their work just in the preview window – something that’s only possible with the Retina Display.
And on the performance side the MacBook Pro powers through the work and can handle viewing videos from multi-cameras at the same time and editing them together in seconds.
And having an ultra high-resolution screen isn’t enough – it needs a graphics processor to keep everything looking good and running smoothly whether you’re playing games, looking at images and web pages or watching videos.
The NVIDIA GeForce GT650M delivers 60 per cent faster performance to drive every single pixel on the dazzling display.
It’s so powerful it can power not only the MacBook Pro’s 15-inch Retina Display but also two other external displays.
The screen also reduces glare and has 29 per cent higher contrast ratio so images and movies look even better.
Battery life was exceptional thanks to the 95-watt-hour battery and we actually got just over seven hours before the MacBook Pro warned is we were operating on reserve power and another 15 minutes before it winked out.
In terms of pricing the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display is available from $2,499 which some may consider high.
But when you consider the calibre of features packed into the eye-catching product – it has more power and speed than the current desktop iMac – it still represents good value.
While Apple has wowed customers with their mobile products like the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, the company has shown it still knows how to make a computer that amazes with its looks and its performance
Apple said the MacBook Pro with Retina Display is the best computer it has ever made and we have to agree.
If there is a better laptop computer than the MacBook Pro with Retina Display on the market today, we haven’t seen it.
15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display
Price: $2,499 (2.3Ghz, 8GB RAM, 256GB flash memory), $3,199 (2.6Ghz, 8GB RAM, 512GB flash memory)
Five stars (out of five)