Customer Review

351 of 379 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Notebook - But Understand a Few Things, August 5, 2014
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This review is from: Apple MacBook Pro MGX72LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop with Retina Display (OLD VERSION) (Personal Computers)
I've had some experience with MacBooks throughout my life. I've come to respect them as workhorses that can withstand the test of time. My wife retired her early 2008 Macbook last summer after completing her Nursing degree. The Notebook endured five years of continuous research, word processing and social networking. Outside of a small crack near the mousepad it still worked great. There was one point I needed to replace the ram, and I also updated it with an SSD to give it a needed speed boost. However these types of upgrades were very easy and not time consuming, and never needed an Apple genius to complete them. Seeing a piece of technology like that Macbook still cruising after what is a long time in the technology world is impressive, and that same type of design philosophy carries over to the new Macbook Pros with Retina Display but with some new tradeoffs...

A lot is different about this beast than the 2008 standard Macbook. A heavy plastic body that housed a removable battery, hard drive, ram and an optical drive is replaced with an aluminum unibody design where nothing is intended to be removable. In order to deliver a thin machine with a long lasting battery, Apple also removed the optical drive. In 2008 this would have been crazy, but in 2014 it's a generally accepted drawback. Clearly this new Macbook is a sign of a new generation of technology intended to be maintained solely by the company that sells the product. Apple wants to be your one stop shop from the point of sale to the day you retire the machine. It makes sense, since we do that with phones and tablets. But this will alienate self reliant users who want to save a buck or two. Certainly glued battery, ram modules are enough to turn a few away. I don't suspect this a big tradeoff for most non-techie buyers (That's most of us).

College students needing a machine for school will also need accept that most MacBooks are not gaming machines. So save some extra pennies for a PS4. Budget gaming laptops are cheaply made monstrosities that destroy batteries regardless if you're playing a game or not. And the expensive ones are generally overpriced for what you get, and still provide a poor computing experience.

If those two tradeoffs haven't turned you away, you probably won't find a better notebook at this price point. Just be careful in the specs you decide on because the option to upgrade is off the table. Here are some killer features:

The Retina display is beautiful. The viewing angles are tremendous and the screen is bright. The panel provides the same pixel density as the iPad with Retina Display (and the Air model), but the panel in the Macbook Pro with Retina is far superior in every way when comparing side by side.

The battery life on this device pushes north of 10 hours with web browsing and other basic uses (usually around 12). Watching video and more intense activities will push it at around 8 - 10 hours with average brightness. Most users who claim more excessive battery drain should be using the built in activity monitor application to check energy consumption of apps. Many Macbook users claim significant battery drain with applications like Google Chrome . It's a much different mindset than those who use a standard Mac and energy consumption really isn't a factor. In short, Macbook Pro users should be mindful of programs they use regularly.

The speed. The new refreshed model comes with 8gb of memory as a base. Most will consider 4gb enough memory for average users, but a week with the new OSX Yosemite beta revealed swap being used as I was exceeding my 4gb on the Mac Mini. This could just be inefficiencies in a beta product, but it did open my eyes to the fact that 8gb should be the new standard for most long term Macbook purchases. The largest part of what makes the Macbook Pro with Retina fly is the SSD built into the machine. The Macbook Pro with Retina Display is easily the fastest laptop i've ever used, and i'll thanking the SSD for most of that performance, but I suspect this machine will stay speedy for a long time thanks to the ram upgrade.

Then there is all the small touches. Backlit keyboard, aluminum body, tight software/hardware integration, sturdy OSX that is resistant to malware, integration with iPhone, iPad and Apple TV. Even if you don't integrate into Apple's iOS ecosystem, it does great in Google's too. Chromecast works 100% with MacBooks, Google Chrome (battery hog) + Google Apps is great, and of course Google Play works well. All of Google's services are mostly browser based, and that gives Apple users the best of both worlds.

I would also say that if someone is debating between the Macbook Air and the Pro with Retina, try to cough up the extra bills. The pro is only slightly thicker, has a slightly lesser battery life but sports a tremendous screen, beefy spec boost and a premium fit and finish. Definitely recommended.
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Comments

Tracked by 5 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 22, 2014 7:10:46 AM PDT
Odessa says:
Thanks for your honest and well written review! I was having a hard time deciding between the Air and Pro, as I'll basically be using this for editing photos, and general surfing. It definitely helped me decide on which way to go!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 31, 2014 7:24:32 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 31, 2014 7:27:47 PM PDT
Ernest J. says:
can you insert a CD/DVD on apple macbook ProMGX72LL/A13.3Inch laptop with retina display

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 4, 2014 11:40:21 AM PDT
Derek Groves says:
Not out of the box- there is not internal optical drive. You'll need either purchase an external (doesn't have to be an expensive $80 Apple Superdrive, can use other brands) or share the optical drive of another computer over your home network.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2014 9:35:48 PM PDT
Nick says:
You're welcome. Honestly with your type of usage you'd be very happy with both notebooks. I'm not a very intense user myself but I do find the retina display on the pro makes even the most menial tasks enjoyable.

But Best Buy often has sales on the Air for as low as $750 with student discounts and that's a price that's hard to beat. Hope you enjoy whatever it is you chose.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2014 9:37:35 PM PDT
Nick says:
Which I think is a great compromise. Most users only need optical drives when the rare occasion arises. Having an external on hand solves that problem and it keeps your notebook thin and light by not having a permanent one in the machine.

Posted on Sep 11, 2014 7:16:47 AM PDT
J. O. Booker says:
Very informative and practical review, especially your advice on buyers checking the sprcs. thanks

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2014 8:50:03 PM PDT
Lisa says:
Nope. These are solid state. an external DVD/CD player is $79 but plugs in easily.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 20, 2014 4:58:54 PM PDT
Aaron Talley says:
No and you can't play records or cassettes on them either.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 20, 2014 5:07:39 PM PDT
How about VHS tapes?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2014 4:06:53 PM PST
gutterbanger says:
No as Apple did not want to spend the 8 extra dollars just so you could play DVD or CD content.
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