The premium laptop computer of choice, the MacBook Pro has been the mainstay of Apples computing range for several years. Whilst the aluminium unibody design language has remained a key feature since first introduced in 2008, the internal components have seen numerous revisions, usually on a bi-annual basis.
The 2013 range of MacBook Pro models, first introduced in March 2013, is split into two distinct ranges, those with standard resolution displays and those with Retina displays. Here we take a through look at the Retina display product ranges.
Processor and memory
All 13-inch versions come with Intel Core i5 dual-core CPU’s using the Ivy Bridge architecture running at either 2.5GHz or 2.6GHz depending on the exact model. All come with 8GB of 1600MHz RAM. It is not possible to upgrade the RAM beyond 8GB either at the time of purchase or afterwards as the RAM is soldered onto the motherboard.
The 15-inch versions come with Intel Core i7 processors running at either 2.4GHz or 2.7GHZ and have either 8GB or 16GB of 1600MHz RAM depending on model. All 15-inch MacBook Pro’s run quad-core processors.
All Retina display MacBook computers come with non-mechanical solid state drives (or SSD’s). Standard capacities on the 15″ model are either 128GB or 256GB whilst the larger screened models get either 256GB or 512GB capacity drives.
The 13-inch versions get use of Intel HD 4000 graphics that are integrated into the Ivy Bridge processors. Oddly the lower priced non-Retina MacBook Pro’s get the improved HD Graphics 5000 chip as they use the newer Intel Haswell processors. In 3DMark 11 the HD5000 is shown to be up to 50 percent faster than the HD 4000.
On top of the HD 4000 the 15-inch editions get a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M graphics chip with 1GB of high performance GDDR5 memory.
The Retina display models come with 13-inch and 15-inch screens, all of which use similar aluminium unibody chassis and glass covered screens. The 13-inch model is 1.9cm (0.75 inch) thick, 31.4cm (12.35 inches) wide and 21.9cm (8.62 inches) deep when closed and weigh in at 1.62 kg (3.57 pounds). The 15-inch model is slightly thinner at 1.8cm (0.71 inch) thick, 35.89cm (14.13 inches) wide and 24.71cm (9.73 inches) deep when closed. They weigh 2.02 kg (4.46 pounds).
The Retina Pro’s have high-resolution LED-backlit widescreen displays with the 13-inch actually having a 13.3-inch screen with a 2560 x 1600 pixel resolution at 227 pixels-per-inch whilst the 15-inch has a 15.4″ screen boasting a 2880 x 1800 pixel resolution with a PPI figure of 220.
By default the 13-inch and 15-inch Retina Display models run “pixel doubled” at 1280×800 and 1440×900 respectively, with four times the detail of a “traditional” display.
All models have full-size chiclet-style backlit keyboards, glass button-less trackpad with inertial scrolling support, integrated stereo speakers, dual microphones as well as an integrated 720p webcam for use with Apple’s FaceTime software. None have a built-in optical drive, although an external one can be purchased at extra cost.
Connectivity is the same for both screen sizes. Both include 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, two USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt ports, an HDMI connection, an audio in/out connector, an SDXC card slot and a MagSafe 2 power connector.
None of the Retina Display MacBook Pro models have either Gigabit Ethernet or Firewire “800” ports, although Apple offers Thunderbolt-to-Gigabit Ethernet and Thunderbolt-to-Firewire 800 adapters at extra cost.
In the box
No free items here. You get the MacBook Pro, power adapter, wall plug and lead. That’s it, although you can obviously choose from a whole range of official Apple goodies to add to your purchase.
Apple are not known for giving specification improvements away for free and the MacBook Pro models with Retina Display carry a significant financial premium over their lower resolution Pro models. Prices for the small screened Pro start from £1,249.00 (or $1,499.00) whilst the 15″ version starts from £1,799.00 (or $2,199.00). On top of these standard model prices there are a whole range of add-on extra including faster processors, more RAM and SSD solid state drives.