The Bottom Line
Nov 1 2012 - The Apple MacBook Pro 13 with Retina is everything that many people hoped would have been announced back in the summer with the 15-inch version. It features the highest resolution display in this class with outstanding color and solid performance to back it. It is as small as many of the latest ultrabooks as well but with higher performance and just as long of running times. Of course, it isn't without its flaws which include Apple's generally higher prices but the limited storage space and the lack of graphics performance may make some consider going with the larger retina model or instead saving cash and opting for the even thinner 13-inch MacBook Air.
- As Small As Many Ultrabooks But With More Performance
- Superb Display
- Very Long Battery Life
- Integrated Graphics
- Small Storage Capacity
- Intel Core i5-3210M Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 8GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 128GB Solid State Drive
- 13.3" WQXGA (2560x1600) Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 4000 Integrated Graphics
- 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Two USB 3.0, Two Thunderbolt, HDMI, SDXC Slot
- 12.4" x 8.6" x .8" @ 3.6 lbs
- Mac OS X 10.8, iLife
Review - Apple 2012 MacBook Pro 13 with Retina Display
Nov 1 2012 - Apple's MacBook Pro 13 with Retina display is pretty much exactly what you would expect. It looks identical to what the MacBook Pro 15 with Retina only smaller in every way but one. While it is narrower and shorter than the 15-inch version, the 13-inch version is a bit thicker at three quarters of an inch thick which is likely the result of the space necessary to give it a similar level of performance.
The processor for the MacBook Pro 13 with Retina is the exact same one they used for the updated MacBook Pro 13, the dual-core Intel Core i5-3210M. What sets it apart is the fact that Apple provides 8GB of DDR3 memory compared to the 4GB of the non-Retina version. This gives it a good level of performance that does allow it to run just about any type of application one might want to. Those looking to use it for series desktop video editing will likely want to upgrade to the Core i7 processor but unfortunately a quad core processor is not available like it is on the 15-inch version. As with most of Apple's new designs, the amount of memory cannot be altered after the purchase.
As with Apple's recent trend in computers, the MacBook Pro 13 with Retina drops the traditional hard drive and DVD burner that was found in the old MacBook Pro 13 model and instead relies upon a solid state drive. For the base version, this comes with a 128GB capacity drive. This provides it with a very limited amount of storage space for a primary system and frankly is very small for a laptop of this price. It would have been nice to see this be 256GB similar to the 15-inch version. Of course the drive does offer it a huge performance boost over the hard drive based regular MacBook Pro. The system boots in an incredible 13 seconds and applications just pop up when launched. If you do need additional space, the 13-inch Retina comes with the same port configuration as the previous 15-inch model including two USB 3.0 ports and two Thunderbolt ports all of which can be used for high speed external storage.
Of course the big reason to want the MacBook Pro 13 with Retina display is for the screen and Apple doesn't disappoint. The 13.3-inch display panel comes with four times the resolution of the previous MacBook Pro 13 with an amazingly sharp 2560x1600 resolution. This is a lower resolution than the 15-inch Retina display but it is so much higher than the majority of high resolution ultrabooks that top out at 1920x1080. The brightness is not as high as some others on the market but it is bright enough to be used outdoors and the color quality is very imp[ressive and suitable for anyone doing professional level graphics work. The one downside here is that the graphics themselves for the display are limited to just the Intel HD Graphics 4000 that is built into the Intel processor. This limits the 3D capabilities of the laptop when compared to the 15-inch model. This likely had to be sacrificed as a result of the overall space constraints of the design.
Even with its very small size, Apple was able to pack in a very high 74WHr that is even greater than its standard MacBook Pro 13. In digital video playback tests, the laptop was able to run for over six hours before it had to go into standby mode. This is much longer than your typical 13-inch performance laptop system and certainly on par with many ultrabooks that offer lower performance and less features. In fact, the MacBook Air 13 and Pro 13 were not able to pull out six hours in the same test. This is especially impressive when you consider that the Retina display panel likely consumes much more power than your average 13-inch panel.
Of course pricing is going to be a big issue for the MacBook Pro 13 with Retina. The base price of the system is a staggering $1699. Now, this is $500 less than the MacBook Pro 15 with Retina but a good $500 more than the MacBok Pro 13 and $400 more than the MacBook Air 13. The advantage here of course is the higher resolution display and superb performance in a very small package. The primary competition outside of Apple will likely be with a number of 13-inch ultrabooks all of which carry a lower price tag, a bit more portability and less resolution. These include the Acer Aspire S5 at $1400, the ASUS Zenbook Prime UX31A at $1500 and the Samsung Series 9 at $1300.