on November 4, 2012
After following Anandtech and their WebKit beta benchmarking awhile back, I've been testing all the newer WebKit builds over the past week and the scrolling gets better and better every few releases. The Pinch to Zoom on text is actually MASSIVELY better than the current actual Safari release. I think it goes a long way in proving, the point that better threading, Intel 4000 drivers or GPU off loading - or all the above - making everything much snappier on Ivy Bridge SoC retina machines. Surely not too far from an actual Safari update. You can grab a webkit download for free and test it yourself. Updates come out nearly everyday or more often.
If you don't own the machine - don't review it. You are polluting the purpose of why Amazon has these here in the first place. To all the people who have "tried" the machine out for 30 seconds scrolling web pages and claim the 15 inch Retina is a better buy - you are wrong. The 15 inch model which I also use at work also depends on the Intel HD4000 for everything on the OS aside from video rendering, Photoshop GPU load or games. The UI performance and web browser scrolling is THE EXACT SAME on the 15 inch model if not worse. You have no business "reviewing" a product without using it for an extended amount of time.
If you are buying this - you are paying for the display. That's all there is to it. I reviewed the 15 incher Retina when we received it at the office and just about everything I said there applies exactly as it does here. The unit I purchased with my own money direct from Apple has been configured with the option Core i7 and 256gb SSD. I will reiterate my standings. I am a daily news and sports photojournalist and also an IT Manager. I work long days and long hours on both. I work with Linux, OS X and just about every flavor of Windows desktop or Server. I need fast, portable and reliable machines for tearing through my .NEF images from my D3 and D700. I need something fast and friendly for accessing Windows via Bootcamp. This 13 inch Retina Macbook is exactly what I need. But just like all of Apple products, it is not for everybody. That is why Apple has such a diverse catalog of machines - somewhere in there, you will find something for your needs at the right price.
This is a Macbook Pro through and through. It has a speedy processor that blows through most tasks. Though it's only a dual core, unlike the quad core 15, I/O is still really fast: startup, Application launches, saving, exporting - they are all blisteringly fast for something this small. I can process batches upon batches of RAW images in my now "old" copy of Photoshop CS4 with zero hesitation. It just wipes them out.
Size and weight are PERFECT. The 15 inch Retina is a freaking boat anchor compared to this. It's simply too wide to be truly portable. My 11 inch Macbook Air is a cramped pain to edit more than a few dozen images at a time. This 13 inch Retina weighs marginally more than a 13 inch Macbook Air but not enough that feels significant.
It has a chunky keyboard and comfortable palm rest area.
Who needs a CD drive anymore? Dirt cheap and fast USB flash sticks are quickly becoming the new swappable storage. If you do need one - the USB superdrive isn't bad, but a normal 15" model may be better in this price range.
Speakers and sound quality are simply astonishing for a laptop. I can't hear half what I play on my 11 inch air, here, you can Smokey Robinson or Vampire Weekend boom throughout the room with a real attention to clarity and low distortion.
It's built like a vault and feels more expensive than you will ever pay for it.
The display is just stunning. It's silky and subtle you don't notice fully until you see something else. I had a field assignment yesterday and packed in the Macbook Air 11 because I don't yet have a protective case for this Retina. I about threw up in my mouth for how bad - terrible even - the display on that Air is compared to this. You simply cannot go back.
Battery life isn't that great. The five hour range isn't out of the questions, but don't expect a whole lot more than that.
I prefer the Magsafe connector that is parallel to the chassis and not perpendicular like this. That's picky but most Apple users are.
8 gigs of RAM forever sounds scary, but with the fast SSD, it is far less important than it would be with a slow platter drive. The soldered RAM is more of a talking point than actual problem.
THis is not a gaming laptop. PERIOD. I have owned EVERY SINGLE form factor iteration of the Macbook and a good deal of the Pro line, even back to the freaking Powerbook 160. Yes a 160. I can say with authority, the 13 inch Macbooks have NEVER done gaming or video on any level more than passable. I have a fire breathing GTX 670, SSD and 16gb of RAM PC at home for games and we have MacPros at work for FCP and Video.
Though most things are snappy, because of the Ivy Bridge 4000 Graphics, expect Mission Control and some scrolling on graphic heavy websites to drop frames. You can tell there's a struggle to push all those millions of pixels. The 15 incher performs EXACTLY like this. The nVidia discrete graphics acceleration is only called for heavy lifting apps, it isn't used for OS navigation at all. The biggest issue with the graphcs power has nothing to do with Apps - the slower UI navigation shows up most obviously in the "MORE SPACE" display res mode of 1680x1050. Same as the 15 incher. This not a deal breaker though.
If you like to use your machines for work this is a fantastic computer in most ways. If you like buying computers to stare at how quickly Launchpad comes up while pressing the button for it really fast, then this is an expensive machine for that. If you want a gaming laptop - buy a Razer. This computer does just about everything well, save gaming, with a display that is just in a class of it's own. This is totally in line with Apple's product DNA going back the old late 90s Cinema Display driven off crappy ATI Rage graphics with 16(!)mb of VRAM. If you don't like it, don't buy it.
After living with this machine day in and day out for some time, I am 100% satisfied with my purchase. I will address the "whys' Apple chose the supposed "cheap" Intel 4000 over another discrete unit. Agree or not, this is why:
- Manufacture, dev costs and higher margins. Duh
- Lower power, better battery
- Apple is in love with integration. They are pushing Intel and trying to give them incentive for bulking up their SoC silicon.
- High spec gaming is niche. Fact. Metro 2033 and Battlefield 3 are MIA for Mac and few designers or photographers I know even know they exist.
iOS devices have great integrated graphics and in two years after Haswell and later Broadwell, I would think discrete graphics are facing complete extinction for all X86 mobile computers. Time will tell.
UPDATE 2: Well I had to amend my review. Turns out this thing is in fact pretty good with video. Exporting and manipulating files in FCP is pretty swift. I would say gaming and the CoreAnimation performance are the only two relative weak spots.
UPDATE: Just some Geekbench numbers to toss out there. On the free 32-bit suite, my Retina 13" i7 kicks out a 7759 score, within striking distance of 8580 score for my homebuilt Sandy Bridge i5 3.3ghz quad core with SSD, GTX 670 FTW and 16gb of RAM. Pretty impressive. My Sandy Bridge Air 11" with i7 comparatively scores a 5870. So for the numbers people, this is a reasonable indicator that the machine is a performer. Just not if you're trying to run Battlefield 3 on Ultra in Bootcamp.
The new Retina MacBook Pro is outright gorgeous in terms of its form factor and screen resolution. There are several improvements in this version compared to the 2011 MBPRO 13" that I owned previously:
SIZE - Feels significantly lighter and thinner. Somewhere between the MBAir and old MBPRO. It's almost a full pound lighter than the 4.5lb older MBP. A much more portable feel to it compared to the old MBP.
RESOLUTION - No question, the resolution is what this device is all about. Refreshing new look as the screen is incredibly crisp (and that's an understatement) with it ridiculously high pixels and also more on-screen real estate to work with. The screen is less reflective compared to its predecessor, making it easier to work in bright conditions.
PORTS - Great improvements in my opinion - addition of an HDMI port and moving the second USB port to the other side, giving a USB port on both sides. Makes using them slightly easier. Firewire port replaced with an extra Thunderbolt port. Ethernet port and optical drive eliminated.
MAGSAFE 2 - Original MagSafe connector replaced with MagSafe 2 connector. I personally am not aware of any advantages of the new connector in terms of charging/data transfer speed, but this was annoying because I had to buy another $80 MagSafe 2 charging cable for my office - I leave one at home and one at work.
SPEED - Flash storage makes using this device significantly faster. Boot up time and loading time for apps is super fast. Opening up the screen from standby takes less than a second.
BATTERY - not sure of the battery specs but I get about the same use on this as I did with my older MBP. If I am away from a wall outlet, a full charge is god enough to get me by the day with 20-30% battery remaining. This could of course vary depending on personal usage.
STORAGE and RAM - The rMBP comes with 128GB of flash storage and is also available with a 256GB configuration at an additional $200 or so. A device with higher capacity storage can be configured but that pushes up the price pretty quick and pretty steep. The processor is a 2.5GHz dual-core i5, the Apple rep told me there was no option to get a quadcore processor for this device. Only upgrade possible was I think a i7. If the storage or processor is a deal breaker for you, consider getting the 15" rMBP which comes with a i7 quadcore processor and 256GB flash storage. Performance wise or based on configuration options available, the 15" fares significantly better than the 13" but it is quite a bit more expensive.
Bottomline - the 13" rMBP in my opinion offers a good balance across all MBP and MBA devices - it offers fantastic portability (only slightly thicker than MBA) and great performance (falls short of rMBP 15 but better than other models).
At the end of the day, whether or not to buy this device is entirely a personal decision based on several factors. IMHO, if portability is a major factor for you, the MBA might be better suited though I think if you try both devices side by side, the difference is insignificant. If performance is a must-have in terms of computing power and storage, the 15" is definitely the better option with the additional $500 price tag . If you don't care about either and just need a good functioning Mac, the older version MBP would be perfect and it's much cheaper at $1199. That being said, once you see the resolution and form factor of this rMBP, it would be difficult to go back to the old MBP!
on January 7, 2013
First of all, I'm an Apple-addict :) Have almost all their products. 1) Don't agree with those that the price is too high. MAC's have never been cheap. If you don't have enough money, go and get yourself a Lenovo... 2) Design, feel, all at usual for Mac levels. I personally just hate touching my employer's PC after a weekend home. Feels like plastic that is working 3 times as slow as a thin and great looking piece of art. And the tactile feeling that you get! unmatchable! 3) All flash architecture really works - it's literally lightning fast. Even with 20-30 MB RAW photos in Photoshop, not to mention pages and keynote applications. The new rMBP is a great machine, but...
1) I don't know what i'm doing wrong but never ever came even close to proclaimed 7 hours, even when web-surfing... 3-4 max. It's not that bad, but I can spend the whole day using my I-Pad and I want the same flexibility with this machine. It's promised by Apple, but not fulfilled
2) Somehow, if you use your gestures to increase the text size on a web page, not the "command+" combination, the web pages start to scroll really slow!!!! as if somebody turns off your graphic processing capability... try the hockey news site for example
3) Fully agree with those that say that the new MagSafe2 power cord falls off every time! I believe, it's because they made it perpendicular to the machine. I bought their adapter for 9.99 and use the old charger. It hold as it used to...
Hope you find it useful. And final hint. The Macrumours site says "wait" as cycle is approaching its end. Carefully look at the number of days and don't wait, if you decide to buy this machine. MacBooks have never been renewed in less than a year. So, don't expect the new one until 2014...
on December 13, 2012
Skeptical from reviews by those such as Vicky, I still went with this machine and have been settling into it after a week now. All I have to say is wow, if you think this thing is not worth it and you're just paying for the screen that is ridiculous! SSD are expensive, because they are new technology! What a difference this is, I hold it up to my ear and it does not even make a faint hum it is completely noiseless. The responsiveness is incredible with many tabs open in Safari as well as other programs.
I have been an avid PC enthusiast/builder and PC gamer since i could click a mouse, and I finally went to the dark side. I hate to love this thing! I would not even consider it a "laptop" its so much more! The connectivity with my iPhone effortlessly setting up this machine was amazing. It's like my gadgets were talking to each other and I didn't have to worry about the nitty gritty tech details. The first time I opened the calendar on my retina, it already contained everything scheduled on my iPhone!
The retina display is phenomenal. The text is so crisp it makes everything a pleasure to read and write. This machine went way above and beyond my expectations and surprised me with things I didn't even consider like noise level, comprehensive track pad navigation, incorporation of iPhone style layout apps, and incredible responsiveness...this thing is worth every painstaking penny. Also, the speakers sound great just to add another observation. Can't wait to really max out the potential on this thing because I feel I've just scratched the surface.
on March 14, 2013
This is simply a paragon of its kind; the best in its class. If it sounds like I'm using hyperbole to convey my point, I'm not. It's really that good of a laptop.The laptop packs all the latest processing power from Intel, a screamingly fast SSD, plus memory that is much improved and is 8GB standard - which is plenty for just about anyone not performing major video or photo manipulation, a keyboard and trackpad that work beyond any other laptop out there, and lastly a battery that generally provides 6-7 hours of battery usage. But we all know the main selling point of this laptop: the screen. Oh man, where to begin. In one word, and as the title implies, it's sublime. Working on it makes any other non-high resolution screen an eye sore; it truly spoils you.
Overall, this is what I would consider a perfect laptop. I could go on and provide in depth details of every single facet to this laptop, but that would be rather banal, and also others have expatiated on it much more, and also with a lot more knowledge than I ever could. All in all I am outstandingly pleased with this purchase. I would highly recommend this laptop!
on October 28, 2012
As the first verified purchase review, I can say that this computer exceeded my expectations. I was considering a maxed out Macbook Air, but when the new MBP was released, I reconsidered this. For a few hundred dollars more, I got a Retina display, more memory, and a faster processor while keeping the 13 inch form factor. It is about a pound heavier than the Air, but compared to my old unibody MBP (late-2009), this laptop is very light.
The build quality is very high, as one would expect from a unibody aluminum Macbook. Its very thin, lightweight, and has all the ports you would expect from a MBP. The power button is now a key on the keyboard (which is different from my old MBP). The keyboard feels responsive and not too "clicky", the trackpad is responsive, and its very comfortable to work on in any position.
Once you turn it on, you get the usual Mac experience but with a screen resolution that is simply stunning. This translates to an amazing experience regardless of how you use your Mac, whether its for web browsing, photo editing, watching videos, working in Office, etc. In fact, when I tried to use my old computer, it was hard to readjust to the lower resolution! The SSD is quiet and very responsive, which means it boots up quickly and wakes from sleep almost instantaneously.
The battery life has been very good so far. I get at least 6.5 hours in real world situations, a little less when doing CPU or network intensive tasks.
As for the price, yes this is not an cheap laptop. It will appeal mainly to people who want a powerful but portable laptop that has high end finishes (high resolution display and SSD). As with all Apple computers, you pay for the build quality and dependability along with the excellent in-person support.
on December 6, 2012
The stunning retina screen, perfect touchpad, and sturdy design were enough to drag me to Mac after only using Windows machines for the last 21 years. First, a little about myself and my use. I am an ex-teacher turned law student family man. My Win 7 Asus laptop has treated me well for the first two and a half years of law school, and it is still going strong for the most part. About two months ago, I decided to upgrade my laptop, and I did tons of research on new Windows 8 machines. I was about to pull the trigger on the Acer S7, but an amazing deal for this Macbook fell into my hands. I was able to pick this up brand new, sealed, for $1500 cash (no tax).
It took me a few minutes to figure out how to install programs, but after that I was able to get most of the programs I use installed easily. I like how OS X 10.8 makes it really easy to start the computer for the first time and install programs. Safari is a terrible browser, and I can't figure out how to do some of the more complicated stuff I do with it. Lastpass does not integrate well with Safari at all. I installed Firefox 18 beta, because it supports Retina graphics, and it works wonderfully.
Honestly, my primary reason for buying the Macbook is its appearance and sturdiness. PC guys have always been jealous that they couldn't have a great looking machine (until the recent Asus zenbooks and the Acer S7). I bought my wife a Macbook Air in July, and I loved how it felt like it wasn't going to break in my hands. This Pro feels even better. It feels heavier than it looks. From above it looks just like the Air. There is no flex to the chassis, and the milling of the unibody is excellent. The Pro is thin, and fits in a manilla envelope.
I like all of the ports. HDMI, not just mini-HDMI makes it so I don't need any adapters to connect to my TV's. However, there is no VGA output, so I have to buy an adapter to connect to projectors.
The 256 GB SSD is fast and pretty big. OSX only took up 5 GB of space, leaving 250 GB of free space for all my apps and content. Compare that to Windows 8 installs which might take up to 60 GB.
The screen is amazing. It is all everyone has cracked it up to be. Is it worth the extra money alone (not considering SSD and lighter, thinner build)? Yes.
The power brick and magnet connector work great. The brick is small and takes up about half of the space as my Asus brick. It's also much lighter.
I play a few games, mostly using Steam. I was happy to find out that some of my favorite PC games also work on Mac, and I don't have to repurchase a new license. I played Civ 5 so far, but the performance is mediocre. Default settings of 1280x720 and low graphics (fog, terrain, etc) make the game play without any hitch, but nothing looks very good. At 2850x1650 and medium setting, the screen looks pretty nice, but the frame rate is very low. Games load fast, and the processor calculates the bot civs moves faster than my UL30.
I am lost without OneNote. Right now, I am typing on my PC because I am forced to use it because finals are this weekend. I tried the OneNote Web App, but it does not work right in a Mac. The keyboard shortcuts are lame on a Mac, and do not work in the Web App. I tried Evernote, but that program is a joke in comparison. I hate to waste money and hard drive space to run Windows on this Mac just so I can use OneNote. This one problem might be enough to make me sell this computer in the next week or two.
Programs without retina support look terrible. Even mainstream programs such as Firefox are just now able to support the Retina display. Steam, Filezilla, and many others do not, and they look like they are being displayed on a 1994 monitor.
This is the best built 13 inch laptop on the market. But, the OS and its limitations might make a power PC user go crazy. I don't think the laptop is worth $1999 + tax. I paid almost $700 less than what others are paying, and I think I still paid more than its worth. Apple really needs to make their own notetaking software to compete with OneNote. For people who like to live unorganized lives with apps spread all over the place and lacking good organization software, this might be the way to go.
If you already have your life confined within OS X, then upgrading to the Retina Pro will not hurt you at all, and you will have the best laptop on the market.
on March 10, 2013
I started off with a mac classic in college in 1988, then after two more mac's switched to PC in 2002 because that is all my new employer used, and in addition to a desk top for my office I also got a laptop to use at home. Fastfoward to 2011, my girlfriend's pc becomes infected and crashes, it gets fixed and 2 months later this happens again. I convince her to try a mac and she buys a 2011 macbook pro 13, and she loves it! Also in January 2012 my office pc crashes, and I was due for a new desk top so I opted for an Imac 21 inch with one TB hard drive - it made me realize why I liked mac's and what I had been missing! I then purchased a 27 inch imac for home, and a Ipad 3 both of which have not disappointed. Well, wanted a macbook pro with retina but found the 15 inch a little too big for my needs, but the 13 inch was a bit too pricey. At that point I was close to getting the 15 since with the apple educational discount it would be $1999, while the 13 would be $1899. Then apple dropped the price on the 13 by $300 and now it was worth it. Purchased the 13 inch with 256 GB HD for $1519.00, as compared to apple online for $1599 ($100 education discount) plus over $100 more for tax. Yes I know the processor on this one is 0.1 GHz slower, but in real life you can't really see the difference in speed, if any, and I saved over $200 as compared to getting the slightly newer one with the 2.6 GHz processor!
Pros - Drop dead gorgeous screen, blazing fast, light and very portable, quality components
Cons - no optical drive, but portability is more important to me and you can purchase a generic external one for less than $35 if needed
Beware of the negative reviews! Anyone that reads the description before they buy knows very well that this is not the newest updated version.
on January 24, 2013
The retina display is great, performance has been excellent. Long time Windows user moving over to Apple. I recommend no smaller than a 256 GB drive