Customer Reviews: Apple MacBook Pro MC975LL/A 15.4-Inch Laptop with Retina Display (OLD VERSION)
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VINE VOICEon September 20, 2012
I bought a Macbook because I needed a new laptop. I'm a PC power user and I also work in the IT field. I've never hitched my wagon to one horse. I use Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. I normally purchase Windows PCs but in all honesty, I wasn't very impressed with the Windows 8 preview and until I see how this radically new Windows version pans out, I'm afraid to invest in a new Windows machine. I've already gotten burned (badly) when I was an early adopter to both Windows ME and Vista. I'm not eager to go through the same headaches yet again after dishing out four figures for a new PC. Besides, I needed to replace an aging iMac and I like to have at least one up-to-date Mac in the house, so instead of another Mac desktop, I chose a Macbook as my new laptop. Two birds, one stone. And if I want, I can run Win 7 virtually on my new Mac.

It's not perfect and it's not the world's most fantastic and ridiculously powerful laptop as some would have you believe but it's a pretty decent laptop in its own right. It's powerful enough to handle pretty much anything you can throw at it, be it video encoding, photo editing, gaming, whatever. The screen is absolutely gorgeous, despite all the stories you've heard about everything from image retention to fuzzy graphics. Don't get me wrong, the machine is not without it's issues (more on that later) but it's still a great machine and I have absolutely no buyer's remorse.


I put the word "MY" before my pros and cons because these are features important to me. Other features such as USB 3, HDMI, and Thunderbolt aren't really pros to me because on a laptop costing this much, it had BETTER have at least USB 3 and an HDMI out port...

MY Pros:

Guts - The CPU, SSD and GeForce combo in the base model is very powerful and more than sufficient for most of my computing needs. Quad-core Ivy bridge CPU mated with fast SSD drive means ultra-fast boot times. I boot in 15 seconds or less. It also means faster responsiveness from some apps. Everything flows so smoothly and I rarely see the spinning beach ball. I don't normally do a ton of multitasking. I prefer to open windows as I need them instead of having a million windows open at once all over the place in a cluttered and confusing array. Therefore, the 8GB of standard RAM is more than sufficient for me. I mostly dabble on the programming side, so I don't need this for any beefy work-related projects. I mainly use it for video editing, photo editing, household management and other personal tasks. I occasionally play a game or two as well.

Size - Size is very portable. Although it's a little heavy (more on that below), the thin size still makes it easily transportable.

Cooling - The design of the laptop makes it run cooler than traditional Macbooks. This is something you can see/feel for yourself. Go to the nearest brick and mortar store with both the retina and non-retina 2012 Macbooks on display and feel them. The non-retinas feel much warmer. This thing runs cool even when encoding video. I have yet to hear my fan kick in during an intensive task.

Power Supply - I know a lot of former Macbook owners are angry with the new power adapter but it's my first Macbook, so I'm speaking from that perspective. It magnetically attaches and detaches to the Mac. Now, I've seen the old Apple ads where laptops got accidentally pulled off of tables etc due to tripping over cords. I've tripped and snagged my fair share of PC cords and most popped right out of the port instead of ripping the laptop off the table, so this isn't so much a necessary safety measure as it is a cool feature. The Magsafe adapter itself is huge. I wish it were a little smaller but compared to the typical power brick of as PC, I still love it. It resembles an over-sized iPad power adapter.

Body - I won't lie. The aluminum body is a thing of beauty. I like looking at it almost as much as I like using it. I will admit, the sleek aluminum Macs are a welcome relief to the usual drab slate grey metallic bodies of the business laptops I work with daily at work and the cheap-looking plastic covered consumer grade laptops around my home.

Display - I saved the screen for last because you've already heard enough about it. It has to be seen in person to be truly appreciated. I realize it's scaled-down to a lower resolution (depending if you select the default resolution setting best for retina") but whatever Apple is doing makes the image razor sharp, which I'm sure aging eyes like mine likely appreciates a lot more than most younger eyes.

Now for...

My Cons:

Completely and totally non-upgradeable. I see what Apple is doing, fusing the iPad and Mac to eventually become one, but it doesn't mean I like it. I had to really think long and hard about getting a rMBP. The reasons that led to me deciding on it are explained below. Just realize, whatever you buy initially is what you will be stuck with for the life of the computer. I use multiple computers and this is primarily for personal home use, but if you are buying one for commercial or really intensive power usage, think long and hard about what you need before ordering (If you even decide a rMBP is even still right for you).

Lack of Ethernet port. Sure... WiFi suffices for most needs, but what about bandwidth intense needs, like content-heavy VPN or Citrix sessions? WiFi is not a catch-all solution for everything. Judging by the body dimensions, I'm hard-pressed to figure out why they omitted it. It begins to diminish the portability factor, which I'm assuming was the primary reason they omitted so many standard ports in the first place, if I have to walk around with adapters for everything (firewire, ethernet, etc).

Battery is sealed, glued, and otherwise stuck in there forever. Wish it were replaceable or at least capable of being disconnected for maintenance. I guess the fact that you can't do any maintenance makes that a moot issue anyhow... But at least Ibattery life seems on par with my other laptops. I don't throw battery times out there because everyone uses their laptop differently. My usage may yield only 3 hrs whereas yours might give you twice that. I average at least 3-4 hrs of moderate usage on battery. If I use it lightly (email, web browsing and nothing more power-hungry than office programs), I can get a couple hours per day for about three or four days before needing to recharge.

Weight - As thinner and smaller as the rMBP is when compared to the non-retina, once you pick it up, that advantage quickly dissipates. Imagine dating a super-model with a super-model body and when you go to lift her in your arms, you discover she somehow manages to weigh 200 lbs under seemingly skin and bones. It's sleek, lean, mean and heavy. It's not super heavy like some mobile workstations, but as my super-model analogy shows, the form factor is slightly deceiving. Don't expect it to be light as, well... Air

No K-slot. What good is a transportable friendly laptop if they give you no way to lock it down temporarily while on the go? When I was away, I'd loop my lock cable around an immovable object like a piece of furniture or something that would require much more work than a casual thief would be willing to invest. If they wanted my laptop, they'd have to cut the cable with bolt cutters or disassemble whatever I had the laptop attached to. Now they can freely walk in and either grab the laptop or locked case I store it in because Apple has given us no other way to secure it.

Display - Yes, the infamous retina display makes both the pro and con list. The reason it makes the con list is because I have already returned one rMBP due to a yellowish hued screen. The second screen was much better. Although I haven't experienced any image-retention issues, I'm still a little paranoid because I have an LG panel. Everyone says "try to get a Samsung panel" but you'll be hard-pressed to find a rMBP without an LG panel. And I'm not obsessive nor petty enough to go through five or so Macbooks trying to get a Samsung panel. If I experience any IR issues down the road, I'll handle it. Otherwise, life goes on. As for other issues, yes, some web sites, apps, and other content do occasionally appear fuzzy or blocky. It's not anywhere near as bad as some are making it out to be and it really a non-issue for me, especially considering that the overwhelming majority of items that render badly are usually those spammy ads alongside the web page.

Intangibles - like most first gen Apple products, there are the bugs. The display issues are widely known but some lesser known issues exist as well, like WiFi and Bluetooth. Whenever I tried to boot with both enabled, my WiFi would not connect. So, I disabled Bluetooth. I've had a few other weird anomalies but nothing that has tempted me to pack everything up and make a beeline for the Apple store. One thing I'd like to mention is the feud between Apple and Adobe appears to have mad its way to the laptops as well. There is no Flash installed out the box. So, unless you want to see a lot of error messages, I suggest either going straight to Adobe for Flash or downloading Chrome which has a much safer and more stable sandbox Flash.

So, why did I ultimately decide on the rMBP? Well, Apple almost forces your hand to buy the rMBP. Here's why

1) The standard resolution of the non-retina Macbook Pro is too low to justify the price. 1,440 X 900 is so... 2008. Sadly, Apple's own retina Macbook does a wonderful job of showing just how choppy and ugly that resolution is. Even after paying a $100 premium to upgrade to the Apple high-res screen option (matte or glossy), the 1680 X 1050 resolution still pales compared to the 1920 X 1080 resolution of most comparable Windows laptops. Even though the "optimal for retina" display is scaled lower, the screen still looks incredibly sharp when next to a non-retina Macbook, which looks grainy by comparison.

2) The size of the new retina Macbook makes it almost more comparable to a Macbook Air than a traditional Macbook but for those thinking "I'll just get the Air", you could, but it would be less capable machine. I was ready to return my rMBP and exchange it for an Air but by the time I configured an Air I was happy with, it was the same price as the baseline rMBP. Although it had the same amount of RAM and a 512GB SSD, I lost the screen, extra ports, extra two inches of screen size, discrete graphics and quad-core CPU. Although the air is lighter and more portable, I prefer the power of the rMBP over the extra 256GB of SSD and slightly better portability of the maxed-out Air. If I weren't buying this as a desktop replacement for an iMac, I might have gone with the Air.

So there you have it. Should you buy it? Well, if you're in the market for a desktop replacement or high-end Macbook and can live with the tradeoffs (non-upgradable, limited storage, first-gen issues), then go for it. You can't go wrong. If you already have a capable Mac with discreet graphics that can handle your power needs and are considering buying this as a mobile companion PC, then go for the Air. You really can't justify the price of this thing if you aren't a power user or already have a capable Mac. If you have a 2011 Macbook, I strongly advise just upgrading to Mountain Lion and awaiting the second generation rMBP. I think you'll ultimately be very happy you did. Just take this one fact away: Apple designed these things to be disposable, like tablets.
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on September 23, 2012
I've had mine for just under two months, and had to have it replaced twice. If you do a quick google for Macbook Pro Retina Image Retention you'll see what I'm talking about. Apparently, Apple uses two manufacturers to supply their displays, Samsung and LG. The Samsung ones are fine, the LG ones show ghosting or image retention (IR) after a month or two of use. Both my first one and the replacement had LGs and the IR problem. They are no longer offering to repair or replace the LGs, stating instead that it's "expected behavior" and "within specs." I'm a huge fan of Apple, but this whole process has left a pretty bad taste in my mouth.

Other than the display being sub-par, the computer is fast, light, and all-in-all a nice machine. But the display is the headline feature, and you have a fifty percent chance of getting a good one. I can't stand knowing that someone else paid the same amount of money, but got a superior product.

Update: The truly awful Apple customer service I've had to deal with the past week has prompted me to drop my rating from 3 stars to 1. Until the issues are resolved, this product is not worth it.
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on June 25, 2012
UPDATED 9-21-12...Systems in use for 3 months.

Pros: A total powerhouse, best laptop display ever made, perfect for professionals, AppleCare, portability, quad core Ivy Bridge processors in a laptop, USB 3.

Cons: You pay for quality, expensive for casual use.

Who it's for: Professionals, designers, media-heavy users, video and photo editors, travelers, students, performance-minded users, anyone needing both performance and portability.

Who it isn't for: Casual or light users, those who think they'll need to expand, people who hate Apple and just don't like their products regardless.

Why 5 stars: It's easy to criticize a device for its shortcomings, but in the end Apple has designed one of the best laptops ever sold. Its performance and value are off the charts, and it would be disingenuous to penalize it for the minor "wish list" we could draw up. It succeeds in the most important areas (like CPU power), sacrificing in relatively unimportant ones (no ethernet connection).

The new Macbook Pro Retina

This is a review from a real owner, not opinion...not discussion. I work in a design company (web, print, video, apps). What I look for in a system is reliable, efficient performance at the best value. The new MacBook scores off the charts in these areas - let's look at why.

POWER: I had two designers who'd outgrown their iMac i7s, running 90% CPU capacity (three words: Adobe Master Suite). The new machine represents a massive performance boost with the new CPUs. It's nice to see Apple include the quad core Ivy Bridge on times they've been slow to update the CPUs on the MacBooks. And although the display gets all the press, it's really the other hardware that makes the system. It SCREAMS, and can handle a massive amount of abuse (we tested editing video AND using Photoshop AND streaming Netflix AND running a dozen other programs in the background - try that with most machines and watch them curl up and die). If you're animating the latest Pixar release you might want to look at alternatives, but for anything else this is a perfect business machine, and we really like the added "oomph" when editing video or running intense graphics.

DISPLAY: The display is amazing, but more importantly it's useful. You can now edit video in full 1080p while leaving room on the desktop for any necessary toolbars, etc. And my designers tell me that this is the first MacBook they can design on in terms of display correctness - previous models didn't really live up to their standards for that, and they'd have to double-check designs on their desktops. UPDATE NOTE: Over the summer, there were some reports of image retention on LG-produced screens. I researched this, and could find no major tech site reporting this issue as substantial. Our two units are LG and have been turned 'on' ten hours a day for the past three months. We have no image issues. The complaints I could find are generally posted in open forums, so I'm not sure how accurate the info is...but we're not worried due to the awesomeness of AppleCare and the guys at our local Genius Bar.

Some nerdy talk about the display: Mostly for pros, here are some features of the display as reported by independent sources. This unit diplays 99% of the sRGB color space, a significant spike from earlier MacBooks (71%). It also incorporates a new LCD surface, doing away with the cover glass and substantially decreasing glare while preserving contrast. Users will want to be extra-careful since damage to the display surface is now to the LCD directly, but the tradeoff is that this system is massively anti-reflective (something we noted right away). And Apple has left the viewing angle very wide - most other brands use a narrow angle on their laptops to save battery. Imagine a 'cone of brightness'...the wider this is, the more power is consumed by the display. If you make this narrower the battery lasts longer, but the display is less reliable for design since the image distorts as you move to the side, even by a couple of inches. The designers here at my company confirm that you can rely on the display - they report that you have to move pretty far to the side before it changes. Overall...for a designer...the new display is a bar above anything else, even the high-end monitors we have here (including Apple and other brands).

DESKTOP/LAPTOP HYBRID: We were also sold on the portability. We liked that these have the power of a desktop (and we needed that power), but we also love the portability. My designers like the ability to easily move workstations, and I like being able to send their work home with them (don't tell them I said that, ha.)

UPGRADABILITY: Some will gripe that you can't easily open this machine. They'll moan that you'll want to expand and upgrade. I don't presume I can build a better system than Apple's design team, and the iPad has been wildly successful without upgrades. The future of computers seems to be systems that won't allow much in the way of hardware upgrades, which really raises the ire of some. But when I do the math, it feels like we've reached a price point in computers where it almost never makes financial sense to upgrade. We press our computers into service for about two years, and almost universally I've found selling an older machine and buying a new one to be about 40% less costly than upgrading...and this option gives us the latest CPU, display, new AppleCare, etc...not just a RAM boost.

VALUE: With an entry-level price tag of $2199, the new MacBook is a bit spendy. This price point seems to be based on the usual Apple value, adjusting upward for the cool new features (display, CPU power, portable with a very slim form factor). In order to warrant the expenditure, a buyer really should have a use for all three of these. The bottom line is that this system isn't cost effective for casual users, who would be better suited with the other MacBooks in the lineup, but its a steal if you can use the power. While we upgraded the designers here, I stuck with my iMac, looking forward to the late 2012 new models for my next system...I don't need retina or portability on my personal system, so I'm sticking with the iMac line for now.

And price is the biggest caveat with this system. I see several reviews criticizing the cost of this machine. This isn't logical, and their complaints are largely the result of buying (or offering opinion on) a system they don't really need. They should be buying and reviewing the entry-level laptops or the iPads, which will meet 99.9% of what they need a computer for. For the design work we do, we need the power, display and portability, and for us these systems are a superb value.


Overall, this is a fantastic computer, but it's not for everyone. This system fills a gap in the Mac lineup for users who work above the current iMac capabilities, or those who need portability with desktop power. Those who don't require this performance might want to look at other Macs, but if you run graphic-intense programs, do video editing, watch a lot of media via your computer, Apple has really delivered.

3 Month Update: Having put these into service for three months, I looked through my review and updated it accordingly. We pretty much feel the same way about this's been awesome to use and has exceeded expectations on every level. It runs Adobe Master Suite better than any computer we've ever used, which is what we most wanted the power for. My two designers say they'd buy this system again if they needed a new computer, where I'm still holding out for a super new 21.5 (or...fingers crossed...24" desk won't hold a 27", ha) iMac.
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on July 2, 2012
There is only one Macbook Pro to consider getting this season and it's the Retina Version. The question is if you need to. I've had enough time to exploit some real flaws of Apple's new water cooler hit but make no mistake that I do believe that this is the best Mac ever. Now, let's see if you need it.

The Macbook Pro Retina (MBPr) is a powerful machine loaded with the best combination of power and mobility. The base 2.3 ghz Ivy Bridge CPU is a beast capable of netting a Geekbench 64-bit score of 12,061 in my test and for some perspective there is not a desktop iMac on the list that scores higher. The Kepler nVidia GT 650m is clocked higher and has more memory than the new non-retina models that help it display that 5 megapixel or 2880 x 1900 screen. It's also capable of driving 4 external monitors via 2 thunderbolt, 1 hdmi (a first for Apple) and it's own. Newer games can run at the full resolution though expect frame rates to hover around 20fps at medium settings. I've loaded up Modern Warfare and Borderlands and this machine barely breaks a sweat at my old Macbook Pro's resolution of 1440 x 900. It uses ram that's twice as fast as previous models and the Samsung SSD (with probably to best/most stable controller for a Macbook) is also twice as fast as the Toshiba SSD Apple installed on my last Macbook Pro. The bottom line is this one of the most powerful computers period, consumer desktops included.

Do you need that power? To be honest, up until I started editing video in Final Cut, my last Macbook Pro was more computer than I needed. Any Macbook with a Core Series Intel chip and 4gb of ram will easily handle word processing, Photoshop, Aperture, and 1080p streaming. If the Macbook has a solid state drive like my old MBP then the system as a whole will feel lightening quick and iPad like with instant wake from sleep and a sub 18 second boot time. My move was going to be, and the one I would recommend if you have a similar workload, getting a Core Series Macbook Air.

Do you need to render HD videos longer that 5 minutes or pixel rich RAW images? When I began doing just that my 2010 Core i7 Macbook Pro would take nearly an hour to export a 10 minute video clip and the machine got hot as it was also pushing a 27 inch Cinema Display. It lagged even more if I wanted to stream Netflix while I waited for the video to finish. My machine was a first generation i7 with a dual core chip. All Macbook Airs at this point have dual core cpus, so expect similar export times and the eventual need for a Pro model. You can also eliminate the 13 inch version of the Macbook Pro as that's a dual core as well. Ultimately, if you edit videos you're looking at the 15 inch Macbook Pro that sport quad-core cpus.

Did you know that the Macbook Pro Retina is the cheapest 15 inch Macbook Pro you can buy new? Let's give this a walk through with the base models. SSD's are the future of all computer storage so now or later you'll have one. Besides that it's the single greatest upgrade you can do for your computer. Plus 4gb ram is pushing it and becomes a bottle neck if you edit videos and large file photos. So a conservative 256gb SSD and 8gb ram upgrade from Apple will cost you $450 added to the $1799 base price, which come standard on the base model Retina version. So for $2399 you get a machine that's slower (MBPr nVidia GPU is clocked 275 ghz higher with 512 mb more memory) and doesn't have the Retina Display. Suddenly, that $2199 price tag for the Macbook Pro Retina looks more than reasonable, it looks good. Now you do lose the superdrive, gigabit ethernet, firewire 800 and future expandability/repairability (iFixit rates it 7/10 MBP and 1/10 MBPr, higher the better) but you do gain a sleeker design that runs significantly cooler. You can also buy an external super drive for $79 and a thunderbolt-to-ethernet adapter for $29, still putting you below a similar specced non-Retina MBP.

Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge, Haswell, Broadwell, and beyond. Sandy was a tick. a huge step forward for mobile computing basically doubling what was capable before as the first quad-core CPU to fit inside a Mac 15 inches or larger. Ivy is a tock, which takes Sandy and gives it a die shrink making it more power efficient. Intel has mapped out this tick tock sequence well into the future so we know a few things. We know the ticks are the major updates, the one that changes the game. We know Haswell is the next tick. We know Apple and Steve Jobs had been pushing Intel to get Intel into mobile GPUs, even threatening to run it's own ARM processor at the Macbook Level. The Ivy Bridge CPU and it's integrated GPU are still joined as two separate islands on one board. Haswell looks to have significantly increase internal graphics performance while residing on the same "island" as the CPU. This leaves extra space for a larger battery. Speaking of, battery life is the significant leap that makes Haswell the next "tick." We're talking 24 hour battery life, 10 days connected standby time, and general iPad-like charging is an after thought. Intel's recent demo showed the Haswell chip running of the illumination from a single light bulb. It dispenses more power than what's needed for it to run. If you have anything prior to Sandy Bridge, then upgrade away, this Ivy Bridge Macbook Pro Retina is going to be an unbelievably powerful machine to you. If you do have a Sandy Bridge then you might as well wait for the next release as they get more powerful, run for much longer without a charge and run without all the quirks of this year's model.

The Retina display is the much ballyhooed feature of the this "next generation" Macbook. Why does Apple give it this nick name? Why aren't they available across the board of Macbook Products? Well, Apple new it was going to be costly and they knew the IPS panels themselves are hard to make. It's also the major culprit of performance issues. There are numerous reports of consumers seeing image ghosting where the residual outline of say Safari will remain on the screen upwards of 5 minutes. My personal performance experience was more pleasant with my older Macbook for everything but Video encoding. The current hardware is supremely powerful by today's standards but those bars didn't factor in driving a 2880 x 1800 display. This results in laggy web browsing as it has to load and then redraw pages. You get barely playable frame rates at full resolution with games like Diablo 3 and you want to because 2880 x 1800 is just stunning. There just aren't enough things that take advantage of it as Developers are making a miserable turn scrambling to find scaling algorithms that make sense when factoring in a Retina Display. Apple's own iWork Suite lacks Retina support and looks fugly upon close inspection. Scrolling and zooming on a web page now becomes CPU intensive and results in a less than smooth experience. I've also seen the spinning beach ball more times in the past week than I did in the year and a half I owned my last Macbook. Final Cut Pro X crashed twice on me. The screen is also dim. I used to be able to work with brightness set to half and now I have no choice but to go full brightness during the day on my MBPr. So though the Ivy Bridge CPU is more power efficient than last years model, the fact that more of it, along with the the GPU, is being stressed to push a display that needs to be set at full brightness results in 5 hour battery life under a diet of youtube, word processing and light photo editing. You can get over 7 hours in a non-retina version and the Macbook Airs. Mountain Lion will address many of these issues on the software side utilizing more of the GPU and Haswell should clear up any hardware throttles, so it seems Apple had a purpose in designating it the "next generation" Macbook as it's not really ready to exist now.

So it's the best Mac ever made? It is. The design, while subtle, harbors enough changes that makes working with it for a full day a significantly better experience than the old model. It's thinner yes, but it feel more solid, with the old one's feeling like I had lots of empty space between my hands. The screen is gorgeous with apps that utilize it. It's a glimpse at resolution independence. If everything was displayed at the full 2880 x 1800 icons would look tiny and text would be illegible. So everything looks like the standard 1400 x 900 setup but all the extra pixels are used to give insanely crisp images. I almost don't want to use my Cinema Display because it's just not as good. The real key is when an app like Final Cut Pro X gives you a user interface that gives you the standard layout in super sharp fashion and then processes the video footage as separate entity. Let me explain, in a standard Final Cut Pro X UI the video window is down-scaled to fit the pixels in that window. In the MBPr, there's no need to down-scale, that little window can display a full 1080p resolution. The same goes for Aperture which is Retina ready. So instead of the entire app rescaling images to make them fit the available pixel space, a Retina Display can scale the UI elements to make them fit while other parts can be viewed without altering. In practice, it means I spend less time time going into full screen mode to see how a shot or a photo looks and more time editing scenes. Workflow is greatly reduced as I weed out good photos from bad ones because the thumbnails pack so much detail.

It is the little things that count. Things like the asymmetrically spaced fan blades that I can report indeed have a quieter effect, if they even get a chance to spin. The MBPr definitely runs cooler. Exporting a 1080p video yielded 100 degree celsius temperatures on the old model and I clocked the Retina version at 49 degrees rendering the same clip. The glare on the screen is reduced but the gloss still give colors that "pop." The speakers sound fuller and slightly louder than before. HDMI was a surprise feature but the two USB 3.0 ports were sorely needed and appreciated. The SDXC card slot is reliable now and fuss-free, not the case in older ones. Importing 40 photos literally took half a second. At first glance, it doesn't look all that much different but its after daily use that you truly start to appreciate its svelte physique. The amount of thought put into this machine is obviously high and the more I use it, the more grateful I am of it.

You should consider buying:
-video editing more than 5 minute clips
-photo editing large RAW files
-increase productivity via screen real estate otions

You should consider waiting for Haswell version:
-have a Sandy bridge version
-want the 13 inch version of a quad core chip

You should consider the new Macbook Air:
-if you don't fit any of the above

I bought mine here and didn't have to pay tax. Saved me $219 which I used to buy a $187 2tb external USB 3.0 drive here.Western Digital My Passport 2 TB USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive -WDBY8L0020BBKNESN (Black)
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on August 11, 2012
Ok... I'm sure you've already read tons of other review before you read mine. And that's a good thing that you're doing that because this computer is quite a big investment. I got mine about a month after release because of the long delay apple had on manufacturing such a large number of orders and plus, I customized my mac to 16gb ram (if you don't know what that is, you shouldn't even be reading this review and maybe get a macbook air instead?). Anyways... I'm sure you've read all the other helpful reviews out there so i thought I'd provide something different... something you wouldn't normally find in other reviews (since I've been testing this out for about a month now). Oh, and skip to only the parts of the review you're interested in.

After paying such a painful amount of money. You finally get home and WOOHOO open this thing. At first, you'll be stunned with the thinness (it's a lil heavy for it's size, very packed). Then you'll notice the wonderful display. And you setup your mac and there you go, it's yours now. The first few things you'll want to do with your mac is: 1. update apps and os 2. install your necessary apps that you'll use with this powerful computer 3. Sync your iTunes stuff 4. Configure your trackpad settings. Your mac is amazing... so far.

You realizes that the speakers are amazing but you also notice your macbook's bottom makes scary cracking sounds (I think it's the screws). You also notice that the screen is quite fragile and attract dusts. You'll find yourself realizing that you need to charge and the advertised 7hr battery time feels a little too short. When you use your non-retina apps, you sees that the quality isn't perfect as you used to thought it was. The computer also gets quite hot when you're working on videos and animations (or other things that stresses the CPU). But other than that... You're happy with your mac because those were small problems that other computers experiences with too and this portability:power ratio just surprises you so much that you don't care.

Forgetting the costs... this no longer feels new. You ditches your other computers because of their horrible displays compared to this one. Or... you might find yourself forced to use those other computers however... but also suffering partly because of the display. DISPLAY DISPLAY DISPLAY... ok I get it. The displays will look bad... now what? Overall, you're happy with your purchase and you love the amazing power packed into this lil machine.


Fan problems: I found a free software called Fan Control and it allows you to make your fans spins faster at lower temperatures. This really made a huge difference, even though it gets a bit noisier than usual (usually no noise at all when internet surfing)

Battery problems: Well... there's really nothing you can do about this. But UPDATE your mac frequently because Apple recently released an update for the new MacBooks to fix the battery problems, I find it extending my usual 2~4hr time to 4~7hr. The battery really depends on how you uses it. Your brightness, keyboard backlit, and your volume all affects your battery time.

Battery life: Now that's the big picture. Your battery time may be short, but you want to keep your battery life longer so you don't have to pay $200 to apple for your battery to be replaced. Try not to use your battery when you are not forced to, but do try to drain the battery to when the "Low Battery" warning comes up every week (at least every month). This keeps the battery fresh. You also should watch the temperature problem (solution above) because the temperature and also age your battery quite a bit. Also, if you're storing this for longer than a month, try to have the battery at about 50% when you leave it.

Screen care: Oh nose! Your beautiful screen! Don't get it dusty! Clean it frequently with a non-static cloth to get rid of dust (came with the computer. oh apple u so thoughtful). And maybe consider investing in one of those "special solutions" made to clean computer screens so it doesn't damage your LED screen. Or if you don't feel like spending a special solution just use a SLIGHTLY dampened cloth to clean your screen. BUT! DON'T USE A WET CLOTH! it can damage your screen and it might result in displaying colors incorrectly.

Keyboard: Most people don't care... but if you're one of those people who do care. Wipe it with a damp cloth to clean off dust and your "sweat+dust" stains that can be easily seen with a white keyboard. But since this is a white on black keyboard, it's quite hard to notice. So, clean it frequently. And if you're really obsessed with keeping things clean... use Cyber Clean putty. It's really made for those old puffy keyboards but it can be quite helpful to get those stupid hair stuck between two keys out (especially if you have um... slightly bigger fingers).

Softwares: I had this concern when I bough my MBP so I had to put this here. ESPECIALLY WITH ADOBE CS6... I was worried that the softwares would look so horrible that I wouldn't be able to use it. It turned out that it was just some "rumors" on the internet and it worked fine (just a little pixelated).

TEST IT BEFORE THE WARRANTY EXPIRES: Test your keyboard, test your display (some people have reported to have "ghosting" problems), test your speakers, test your trackpad, test your camera, check your charger, check your screws, CHECK EVERYTHING. So if you bought your computer with an authorized apple dealer, you can return it withing 14 days "no questions asked."
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on June 27, 2012
DJMoody's Quick Read Review:

Let me begin: This is not a $800 PC. It's not even a $1500 Macbook Pro. This is a 2.2k plus laptop, with the two currently sold on Amazon being above 2 grand. This is not a typical class of Computer. You cannot let certain things slide, and you cannot say "its way too expensive" without looking at its merits.

If you are on a budget crunch, there are great computers out there much cheaper.

However, saying this is an overpriced Machine and they should have kept it in the 15" non-retina pro price range isn't fair either. If you upgrade Apple's 15" with the same graphics card to 8GB of ram, and a 256GB SSD, it is more expensive than the retina, and that is without an 1800p screen!

Let me say that I am moving from a Qosmio x505, which weighs more than 10 lbs and had over a 19" screen. I had a 13" 2009 Macbook pro before that one. I have operated in a large variety of desktop real estate.

Qualifications: Senior at Clemson University in Computer Engineering. Not claiming to be an expert in all things computer yet, but I would consider myself a very high level user.

Build Quality: 10/10. unequivocally the best built laptop I have ever owned. This even blows the 13" Unibody Macbook pro I owned away. .7 inches thick, yet I still feel comfortable with it. A family member owns an Air, I feel like I could break it every time I pick it up, none of that with this laptop.

Power: 8/10. Really this depends on what you want to use it for. Most desktop GPU's don't operate in this pixel range, so Apple making a mobile one do it is quite impressive. No, you won't run Battlefield 3 at 1800p, but as far as a processing workhorse and for moderate games, you won't have any issues. Can handle most games at 1080p(actually 1050 because of the aspect ratio) no problem

Screen: 10/10(Would give 15/10 if it had given me a matte option). By far the most beautiful display I have ever had the opportunity to work with. Makes fearing leaving the 17"+ screen world seem petty. I hate plugging this into my external monitor for dual screen just because of how beautiful it is. That said, not everything is truly "retina-ready" yet. Most apps will update in time, but a few wont. Investing in this laptop comes with understanding that the majority of users won't have an 1800p screen for quite some time, and not everyone is going to cater to your screen. Some apps won't look any better than on a non-retina screen, but the ones that do make it worth it.

Battery Life: 6-7/10. I can manage 6-7 hours using light work, drops down to 3 if I'm doing something heavy. Unfortunately, the retina screen is not as energy efficient as most users would have liked. This is made up for by an increase in battery size. However you lose the optical drive. So I lose the optical drive for the same battery life. This is one of those things I wouldn't gripe about on a $1200 machine, but when you enter this territory, you get a lot less leeway.

Sound: 8/10. Beautiful for a .7" laptop. Doesn't replace your desktop speakers by any means.

Expansion: 1/10. The only thing you'll possibly ever be able to upgrade on your own is the ssd. And even that is custom, but there is a chance 3rd parties will create these custom ssds. Everything else is either soldered to the motherboard or glued(yes you read that right) in.

Sexiness Factor: 10/10. Look at the pictures. Best screen in the business, thin, it drips tech-gasm.

Overall: 9/10. This is a perfect fit for me. I don't need an internal optical drive while on the go, and I keep a superdrive on my desk. This is the best laptop currently in the $2000-$3000 price range. But read that again, its in the $2000-$3000 price range. If this laptop was $1300, I'd say everyone that didn't get it was an idiot. However, you have to make a lot of compromises for this laptop to be in this range. A glued in battery, giving up ever upgrading it, and no portable optical drives are not easy things to swallow when you spend this much. It is a wonderful laptop, and if you are looking to spend over $2000, look no further. This isn't the perfect laptop, and it's not the perfect laptop for everyone, but in my opinion it has justified its price for its features.
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on July 16, 2012
I bought my first PC in 1987 and I had managed to avoid Apple products since then. I admit it, I'm biased. I never liked Apple's OS's or most of their hardware. I never cared for Steve Jobs either. However, despite my bias, I'm also rational. And the simple fact is that there is currently no better notebook for my needs than this one. I had to replace my Windows notebook and after a lot of research I found that there is simply nothing else on the market that matches this notebook's power, weight, and silent/cool operation. And of course, we all know the screen is unmatched. So, in a moment of weakness I fell to the Dark Side and bought an Apple product. As you can see above, I actually bought this product here at Amazon. I've been using it for about 3 weeks now for 10+ hours per day.

I can't say a thing about how this notebook performs on the Mac OS side of things because I run Windows 7 on it using Bootcamp (making sure I could do this was a key part of my research before buying). Fortunately, everything runs great on it using Windows 7. I'm a software developer and have been using Visual Studio, SQL Server, and Oracle without any problems. The screen is awesome. The notebook remains cool and I think I've heard the cooling fans running only a couple times. Since I travel quite a bit, what I love most about it is the light weight and thinness.

So, even if you're a die-hard Windows user like me I can whole-heartedly recommend this notebook. The only caveat I'd add for Windows users is that the keyboard is less than optimal for us. Apple's "delete" is our "backspace". Our "delete" is "fn" + "delete". Our PrintScreen is "shift" + "fn" + "f11". And there are a few others I won't bore you with, hopefully you get the idea. In the big scheme of things it's a minor annoyance considering how great everything else works on this notebook.

The only thing I dislike about this notebook is that big Apple logo on the back. Anyone know where I can get nice big sticker with Bill Gates' face to cover it up? In spite of that, I still have to give this notebook 5 stars. Again, I'm biased, but I'm also rational.
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on November 12, 2012
I've used PC's since the day I was born. As an avid gamer, I've always been a fan of Asus or Alienware branded laptops. That being said, my three year old Alienware m11x R1 saw it's last days after a fatal screen hinge problem. The LCD screen doesn't turn on anymore and Dell refuses to answer my calls or emails.

As a college student, it was imperative that I found a replacement laptop within the two weeks of mine dying. I wanted to get something with a bigger screen but also portability. It also had to be something that would keep me from gaming (this is what happens when you're a science major). Looked around at a lot of other PCs. Then I decided to go to the "dark side" and give Apple a try. Testing out a MBP for the first time was probably one of the best technological experiences I've had. Everything seems so intuitive and easier to learn. You can get more done quickly using gestures or commands on a Mac. This was one of its greatest selling points to me along with the build quality. When you pick a Mac up, it feels solid. Nothing rattles or makes cracking noises, and the design is so clean and minimal. I was sold after my first test run... then I found out there was a retina option. This display is incomparable to anything else. The images look sharper than real life! After being sold to the computer, I got sold to the amazing screen resolution. Not to mention how much THINNER this Mac is than its predecessors. It weighs the same amount as a regular MBP 13''!

I've had so many friends keep their Macs for more than 5 years at a time. And it's usually because they want to upgrade to a better model. For a PC user, that's insane. Three years of use is enough to make your computer a veteran. You usually have to replace it because of all the viruses or issues with hardware. So, in essence, I feel that the money invested in a Mac is well spent. I'd rather have a quality machine that will survive the test of time and get me through the rest of my undergraduate and graduate school career than get a cheaper, new PC that will need to be replaced in another three years. Granted, PCs have a much more open platform and more freedom, but the quality of PC products just doesn't compare to Apple. If PC companies can take that into consideration, I'd be sold to their newest product.

On the actual usage side, I have to warn you that some programs have still yet to be "retina optimized". Text and graphics will look pixelated on some windows. Microsoft office was like this until they released a patch. The text is still pixelated, but it's not enough to gripe over anymore. The 8GB RAM and solid state drive make running programs a breeze. I've had 6 PDF articles open along with Photoshop CS6, Safari, Word, and iTunes open without any hitches.
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on July 1, 2012
Screen/Diplay: The colors, blacks, whites, crispness of the display is simply incredible.
Here is a short video I made with my 15" MacBook Pro Retina, the video however, does not do the beauty of this screen justice.
Note: the screen is "glossy" which was a concern for me as I always went with matte screens, glossy screens in the past were almost unusable outside or in rooms with direct sunlight. Apple claims to have reduced glare with the retina screen by 70%, and I have to say first hand I believe them, which is a huge plus because the glossy screen always looked better, but if you had any bright lights or sunlight around your laptop it was nearly unreadable. So I am happy to report, the new retina screen even though "glossy" is nearly as non reflective as my previous matte screens, so much so, that I would say it is a non-issue for me. It is that good.

Battery: The battery time is excellent.
Battery times are tricky in general because it completely depends on what you are doing and screen brightness, however I have found that in general use (I.E Websurfing,Email,IM listening to music.) and with screen brightness set around 50% the battery actually last longer than the rated time of 7 hours.)

Form Factor: The MacBook Pro Retina is smaller & lighter than the standard MacBook Pro. With the Retina model weighing in just under 4.5 lbs and its under 3/4 inches thick (If you want to get technical its .71 inches thick). This laptop is a joy to carry around, it is so elegant looking and lightweight. I had a previous generation 15" MacBook Pro and honestly didn't think pre-delivery I would notice that much of a difference but I was wrong, you definitely can and the best part is the laptop doesn't feel flimsy as you might expect with it being so much lighter and thinner.

Heat: Just a short note on the heat the MacBook Pro Retina emits, granted if you are encoding video it is going to get very warm as any laptop will. But one of the most pleasant surprises for me was is how cool the laptop runs under normal usage such as web surfing, email, office apps, it runs much cooler than my previous generation 15" MacBook Pro, also the fans on this machine are dead quiet even in a quiet room. In fact I had to stick my ear up to the laptop to make sure that were even working when I first got it. Considerably less noisy than any laptop I have ever heard.

Ports: The machine has 2 Thunderbolt , 2 USB 3.0, 1 HDMI (out), SDXC (SD Card) Slot, Headphone jack.

Thunderbolt ports: I did purchase the Thunderbolt Gigabit Ethernet Adapter which worked great, I purchased it mainly to initially backup my SSD faster than using WiFI, not necessary I am just impatient. Plus I like having add-ons that I may never use, not sure it's a guy thing. Thunderbolt is in its infancy and truthfully there just isn't a lot of Thunderbolt devices. However, I am happy Apple was looking toward the future with this laptop and opted to put 2 ports on this machine.

USB 3.0: No problems at all with any of my standard USB devices (I.E mouse, printer, etc.) what was extremely impressive was my Lexar JumpDrive Triton 32 GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive LJDNV32GCRBNA which was about 7X faster than on my old laptop with USB 2.0 ports. I was blown away how fast it was.

HDMI: Thank you Apple, you finally came around and added this. Plug in an HDMI cable to your HDTV and have your laptop screen on your TV as fast as you can plug the cord in.
It just works, and you are able to send 1080P right to your TV. Not a lot more than I can say other that it works, and it works easily and flawlessly.

SDXC/Headphone: Like above they just work easily and flawlessly. The SD reader was improved over the previous version as I had some troubles with SD cards reading in the past on previous models namely cards not reading the 1st time. This model has read all my cards the 1st time inserted and read every card I have put into it.

Other notes: WiFi receiver seems to be improved it reads a stronger signal than my previous generation MacBook Pro.
The dual built in microphones are a major improvement they do a superb job in reduction of background noise.

The biggest con of this laptop: You will cringe every time you have to use any other laptop again. It's like going from regular TV to HDTV, once you see it you get spoiled and everything else just looks bad.
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on January 22, 2013
Design-wise, there is very, very little to complain about. The laptop is gorgeous and meticulously constructed, I'm a huge fan of the aluminum case and the black monitor bezel, black keyboard, and sleek design. I've always been a fan of Apple's trackpads and keyboards, and this one doesn't disappoint. I'm less a fan of the absence of an ethernet port and the marginally re-designed power adapter that now requires another component to fit the older plugs. On the other hand - HDMI is nice and I'm quickly becoming a fan of the Thunderbird ports when coupled with Apple's Cinema Display. Still - you're losing a little bit of convenience and functionality with a form factor this slim. A complaint I usually have about laptops is fan noise, but it's only rarely noticeable for me with this laptop, and it hasn't once gotten what I'd describe as alarmingly hot.

Specs-wise, I'm also impressed in general. I have the 2.7ghz version with 16G RAM and the massive 500G solid state drive. When it comes to running multiple apps, doing software/database development (which includes running VMs and at least one database instance), the laptop retains its snappiness. Bootup time is pretty awesomely short, though not as short as my Windows7 desktop with an SSD. The dedicated graphics card is adequate enough to run the likes of Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3 at moderate resolutions with most settings close to maxed out. While you can play it at the native resolution, there's really no benefit with a monitor of this size and I just wouldn't recommend it other than to try it out once or twice. I haven't yet boot camped Windows, so I can't comment on gaming performance in that environment though I believe it's generally better. So - performance is adequate for a casual gamer, but I wouldn't plan on it being a primary gaming machine by any means. The one area I'm actually pretty annoyed with is when it comes to full-screen video: it's not smooth. Fullscreen YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, etc. They all run sub-optimally at full screen. It's watchable, but annoying enough that I generally find myself going back to windowed mode. Oddly enough - with Amazon I can "pop out" the video and extend the window to all corners and it's smooth. Apparently adding in those last few pixels around the border just does this thing in. That's my only complaint about performance, but of course mileage may vary depending on which specs you end up with.

Usability is good, I won't spend much time talking about it here since this is more of a personal preference thing. If you've worked with Macs, you'll like it. If you haven't, it'll take some getting used to. I enjoy working within the Mac OS, being able to jump into a unix terminal easily. I also like that everything just seems to work most of the time. This is my first Mac, so there were some quirks to get used to, but that's no fault of the OS itself. I can say that compared to any other computer I've owned, things just work and that's pretty nice. One thing I do want to call out are the gestures on the track pad - they are pretty spectacular and make things convenient enough that I find I miss it when I'm at my desk and using a mouse instead of the track pad. Having multiple "screens" (similar concept to home screens on any iOS or Android device) is neat, though I have yet to use it much. I enjoy the ability to switch applications with a finger swipe, etc. It just makes some things easier, and that's nice.

Battery life is pretty phenomenal from my point of view. I can generally get between 6 and 8 hours of use before having to plug in, and I can't stress enough how NICE that is. Obviously if I'm watching video (though not at full screen....grr...) the battery will drain faster. And I wouldn't plan on playing too much Starcraft 2 unplugged.

The retina screen is...a retina screen. It's a beautiful screen, I have zero complaints other than the choppy fullscreen video I mentioned before. You have the option to scale the display to various sizes that mirror what other (smaller) resolutions might look like - such as 1400x900, 1680x1050, 1900x1200. Nice feature that they include right in the options. I find myself using 1680x1050, which begs the question of whether a retina display is worth the extra cost. The answer's actually cheaper somehow if you're speccing the crap out of it. A non-retina 15" pro with the 2.7ghz processor and a 512G solid state drive is, according to Apple's site, $3450. A pro retina, with 2.7ghz processor, 16G RAM, 512G solid state drive is $3250. If you're just going to take the base options, I'd argue the retina display is not worth it. I myself would actually prefer NOT to have it given the crappy full screen video performance. Sure it's nice to have a super thin & light laptop, but the non-retinas aren't obese by any means. Of course - if you're editing full-HD video, or photographs, it probably makes perfect sense to have the retina display, and you will love it.

And there we have it. Overall, a very high quality product that I'm supremely happy to be using as a workstation. Gaming performance is adequate for a laptop (though you can absolutely get better gaming laptops for the money), overall system performance is outstanding, physical design is appealing and practical, and I'm a fan of Mac's OS and the newer features in its latest version. Complaints include the lack of some basic plugs like ethernet, and the issue with full screen video playback. Given identical specs otherwise, I'd take the non-retina display in a heartbeat because of the video playback, but it's even more expensive and slightly (very slight) more portly.

** UPDATE ** - I was explicitly using the chrome browser when I reviewed this product, since I am a huge fan and believed it flawless. For kicks, I tried out full screen video in both Safari and Firefox. I was extremely surprised when they both played it back flawlessly, and then again when I switched back to Chrome and immediately noticed the poor video performance was definitely noticeable in comparison. So my complaints about poor full screen video are apparently limited to the Chrome browser, for what that's worth. In light of this, I have zero issues recommending the retina screen vs. the non-retina display.
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