MacBook Pro With Restina Display

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Apple is well established as the laptop manufacturer of choice, but the Retina series proves it isn’t resting on its laurels. These machines, available in 13 and 15in screen sizes, are highly capable solidly built, yet slim and light enough to carry everywhere.

Macbook Pro with Restina Display 13in


Doubling the resolution of the iPhone screen was impressive; doing the same with a full-size laptop required another level of innovation. Everything on the iPhone stayed the same size, and just got more detailed. In OS X, with its complex apps, getting the balance right between the rendering of the user interface and that of the content presented a whole new set of technical challenges for both Apple and third-party developers.

This resulted in some disappointing experiences when the Retina MacBooks were first introduced in 2012. Today, support for Retina resolution, or ‘HiDPI’ as it’s known to the rest of the industry, is widespread; major OS X apps, including Apple’s and Adobe’s, present a crisp display, offering crystal clear labels and icons while showing you all the detail in your work. (H D video for example, can be previewed pixel for pixel with plenty of room for tools.) As more websites adapt to Retina, Safari looks great too. Just don’t expect the latest 3D games to push their polygons at 2880 x 1800.

The full-size 'tile' keyboard has a set of Fn keys but no numeric keypad

The screen is only one of the reasons to choose a Retina MacBook. They also offer no-compromise iMac-class performance - even beating the Mac Pro in some tests - in a portable format.

Pros and cons

As with the iMacs, the smaller and larger Retina MacBooks differ in a number of respects. The 13in is a good performer, with Core i5 processors as standard and Intel’s Iris graphics - but that's Iris, not Iris Pro. While both models have the same 16GB RAM limit, the biggest SSD option for the 13in is 512GB, rather than 1TB, except on the highest 13in configuration, starting at $2,492.39. And although there’s an i7 option for the 13in, it’s dual core; the 15in has quad-core as standard.

That 16GB RAM ceiling is the Retina MacBook Pro’s one real limitation. It’s adequate for any task, but for the most demanding users it’s not generous. Of course, we can always wish for more how about tweaking that screen to 4K in 10-bit colour? – but Apple really should have been able to support 32GB.


The Retina models are much thinner than their MacBook Pro predecessors, but can accommodate faster CPUs and GPUs than the skinny Air. The Intel Iris in the 13in performs only slightly better than the Air's HD Graphics 5000 for 3D work and games; for a real performance jump, you need to look at the 15in, which starts with Iris Pro and, on the top $3,656.28 configuration, gains a secondary discrete GPU that takes over when required. When you add up the options you’re actually getting the extra graphics processor free of charge, and the NVIDIA GeForce GT 75oM makes a huge difference. Since Iris Pro still handles everyday tasks, battery life doesn’t suffer.

MacBook Pro with Retina Display seen from left and right side

Something that won’t fit in a Retina MacBook is a hard disk, and that’s a good thing. These machines are made extra responsive by flash storage (SSD) that reaches 577.9MB/sec writing and 637.7MB/sec reading. Besides keeping everything moving as you work in any task or switch between apps, this is fast enough to work with multiple streams of video, although for such data-hungry tasks you’re likely to need external storage too. To connect that, there are two Thunderbolt 2 ports. Unlike the Mac Pro’s, these don’t offer 4K video output, but the HDMI port does, albeit at low 24-30Hz refresh rates. Do note that the 128GB SSD in the base 13in model will leave most users wishing for more internal space, and it can’t be upgraded.

To summarise, the 13in Retina is a capable all-round Mac; the lower 15in configurations are faster; and the top 15in model, with its quad-core i7 CPU and discrete GPU, is the natural choice for the creative pro. It’s quite feasible to work with 4K video on this system, for example; users report handling multiple streams of 4K in Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Premiere Pro.



·         Battery life: The 13in Retina MacBook Pro lasts 9 hours in general use the 15in 8 hours

·         Input/Output: each Retina Macbook Pro (this is the 15in) has a Face Time HD camera in the centre of the top bezel, complemented by microphones beside the keyboard. The keyboard is backlit for use in the dark, and below it is Apple’s excellent glass multi-touch trackpad. All models can run up to monitors at 2560 x 1600 at the saved time as their built-in screens

·         Dimensions: Both Retina Macbook models are 1.8cm thick. The 15in measures 35.89 x 24.71cm and weighs 2.02kg, the 13in measures 31.4 x 21.9cm and weighs 1.57kg

·         Connections: The Retina MacBooks now support thunderbolt 2, which enables the two 10gbit/sec channels of Thunderboilt to be combined into a 20Gbit/sec channel. There are also two USB 3 ports, 4 k HDMI and an SD card reader, as well as 802.11 ac wifi and Bluetooth 4.0. Ethernet requires a Thunderbolt adaptor


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