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Review: 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro offers optimal choice for lightweight laptop users

Oct 29 05:30

Lab Tested: Ultimate 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro

James Galbraith , Macworld

James is the director of Macworld Lab.
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In addition to the standard configurations of its Macs, Apple offers a number of build-to-order (BTO) upgrade options that include more RAM, more storage capacity, and faster processors. An "ultimate" configuration is a customized machine with the fastest options available. We’ve tested the ultimate configuration of the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro and found that the performance—as well as the price tag—were both considerably higher than the standard high-end configuration.

Our $2699 BTO 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro was loaded for bear. It starts with a fast 2.9GHz dual-core Core i7 processor (a $200 option), which replaces the 2.5GHz dual-core Core i5 processor in the $1999 standard configuration model. A 512GB flash storage drive ($500) replaces the stock 256GB flash storage. Our ultimate system has the same 8GB of RAM and integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 as the standard configuration.

To see if these upgrades are worth the significant cost, we put the ultimate 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro through the paces of our new Speedmark 8 system performance benchmark suite.

13-inch Retina MacBook Pro: Speedmark 8 Scores

 Speedmark 8 score
13-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.9GHz Core i7, 512GB flash storage BTO (Late 2012) 205
13-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.5GHz Core i5 (Late 2012) 184
13-inch MacBook Pro/2.9GHz Core i7 (Mid 2012) 153
13-inch MacBook Pro/2.5GHz Core i5 (Mid 2012) 121
13-inch MacBook Air/1.8GHz Core i5 (Mid 2012) 166
15-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.6GHz Core i7 (Mid 2012) 275
15-inch Retina MacBook Pro/ 2.3GHz Core i7 (Mid 2012) 257

All results are scores. Higher scores are better. Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.

Overall, the ultimate 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro with a 2.9GHz dual-core i7 processor was 11 percent faster than the standard 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro with a 2.5GHz dual-core Core i5 processor. The BTO system was faster in every test, but to varying degrees.

In CPU-intensive test such as MathematicaMark and CineBench CPU, the ultimate Retina MacBook Pro was 13 and 14.5 percent faster, respectively, than the standard system. Our graphics tests also saw a boost, with 9 percent higher frames per second in Portal 2, and 13 percent higher frame rates in the Cinebench OpenGL test. Our iPhoto import test was 19 percent faster on the ultimate model. File copy and file uncompression test results between the ultimate and standard model were close.

The ultimate Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro was a whopping 69 percent faster overall over the standard 13-inch non-Retina MacBook Pro with a 2.9GHz dual-core Core i7 processor. The hard drive in the non-Retina MacBook Pro took more than 5 times as long to complete the file copy and unzip tests as the ultimate MacBook Pro’s zippy flash storage. Photoshop was 35 percent faster on the ultimate system, and MathematicaMark was 14 percent faster. Graphics test results were very similar between the two.

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But its not all lollipops and roses for the ultimate 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro. The $2199 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro—priced the same as the high-end 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro with the $200 processor upgrade—was 25 percent faster overall than the BTO 13-inch MacBook Pro. The 15-inch model has a quad-core 2.3GHz Core i7 processor and discrete nVidia GeForce GT 650M graphics. The 15-inch laptop finished the CineBench CPU test 41 percent faster than the ultimate 13-inch laptop, and displayed more than twice as many frames per second in our Portal 2 timedemo.

The $2799 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro costs just $100 more than our ultimate 13-inch laptop and was 34 percent faster overall. The 15-inch Retina laptop was also 65 percent faster in our MathematicaMark tests.

The Macworld Lab is always hard at work. Check back soon for benchmarks and full reviews of the new Mac minis. As always, test suggestions are encouraged in our comments section.

13-inch Retina MacBook Pro: Individual application scores

 Duplicate
2GB Folder
Compress
6GB Folder
Uncompress
6GB Folder
13-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.9GHz Core i7,
512GB flash storage BTO (Late 2012)
38.9 285.7 41.4
13-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.5GHz Core i5
(Late 2012)
40.7 329.1 43.7
13-inch MacBook Pro/2.9GHz Core i7 (Mid 2012) 189.9 312.6 187.2
13-inch MacBook Pro/2.5GHz Core i5 (Mid 2012) 225.5 354.5 212.9
13-inch MacBook Air/1.8GHz Core i5 (Mid 2012) 41.8 361.8 48.9
15-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.6GHz Core i7
(Mid 2012)
37.7 286.8 41.2
15-inch Retina MacBook Pro/ 2.3GHz Core i7
(Mid 2012)
38.2 312.1 41.9

Results are in seconds. Lower results are better. Best result in bold. Reference models in italics. Macworld Lab testing by James Galbraith, Albert Filice, Kean Bartelman, and William Wong.

13-inch Retina MacBook Pro: Individual application scores

 Import
iMovie Archive
iMovie Share
to iTunes
HandBrake
Encode
13-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.9GHz Core i7,
512GB flash storage BTO (Late 2012)
74.4 63.0 105.7
13-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.5GHz Core i5
(Late 2012)
85.1 70.3 108.7
13-inch MacBook Pro/2.9GHz Core i7 (Mid 2012) 98.6 67.8 107.3
13-inch MacBook Pro/2.5GHz Core i5 (Mid 2012) 121.9 77.3 113.7
13-inch MacBook Air/1.8GHz Core i5 (Mid 2012) 95.1 74.9 177.7
15-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.6GHz Core i7
(Mid 2012)
45.1 59.3 81.3
15-inch Retina MacBook Pro/ 2.3GHz Core i7
(Mid 2012)
48.8 66.9 84.3

Results are in seconds. Lower results are better. Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.

13-inch Retina MacBook Pro: Individual application scores

 iPhoto
Import
Aperture
Import
Photoshop
CS5 Action
13-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.9GHz Core i7,
512GB flash storage BTO (Late 2012)
66.5 55.9 101.0
13-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.5GHz Core i5
(Late 2012)
82.3 64.5 108.0
13-inch MacBook Pro/2.9GHz Core i7 (Mid 2012) 121.9 85.3 104.3
13-inch MacBook Pro/2.5GHz Core i5 (Mid 2012) 147.6 101.8 154.3
13-inch MacBook Air/1.8GHz Core i5 (Mid 2012) 82 72.5 120.7
15-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.6GHz Core i7
(Mid 2012)
46.1 51.4 89.3
15-inch Retina MacBook Pro/ 2.3GHz Core i7
(Mid 2012)
51.4 54.9 90.7

Results are in seconds. Lower results are better. Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.

13-inch Retina MacBook Pro: Individual application scores

 iTunes
AAC to MP3
Encode
Cinebench
CPU
VMware
PCMark
Mathe-
maticaMark
8
13-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.9GHz Core i7,
512GB flash storage BTO (Late 2012)
98.0 125.7 3411.7 1.21
13-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.5GHz Core i5
(Late 2012)
108.7 147.0 3061.7 1.07
13-inch MacBook Pro/2.9GHz Core i7 (Mid 2012) 105.7 121.7 3495 1.2
13-inch MacBook Pro/2.5GHz Core i5 (Mid 2012) 119.7 156.3 1079.3 1.06
13-inch MacBook Air/1.8GHz Core i5 (Mid 2012) 115.7 170.3 2450 1.0
15-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.6GHz Core i7
(Mid 2012)
90.7 64.7 4184 2.0
15-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.3GHz Core i7
(Mid 2012)
96.3 73.7 3714.3 1.9

iTunes and Cinebench CPU results are in seconds, (lower results are better). VMware PCMark and MathematicaMark 8 are scores (higher results are better). Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.

13-inch Retina MacBook Pro: Graphics tests

 Cinebench OpenGLPortal 2
13-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.9GHz Core i7,
512GB flash storage BTO (Late 2012)
20.0 53.9
13-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.5GHz Core i5 (Late 2012) 17.7 49.3
13-inch MacBook Pro/2.9GHz Core i7 (Mid 2012) 21.8 61
13-inch MacBook Pro/2.5GHz Core i5 (Mid 2012) 18.8 54
13-inch MacBook Air/1.8GHz Core i5 (Mid 2012) 17.8 52.3
15-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.6GHz Core i7 (Mid 2012) 39.2 128.6
15-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.3GHz Core i7 (Mid 2012) 36.1 120.8

Results are in frames per second. HIgher results are better. Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.

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Oct 24 03:09

Lab Tested: 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro benefits from flash storage

James Galbraith , Macworld

James is the director of Macworld Lab.
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Tuesday was a very busy day for Apple and we in the Macworld Lab were ecstatic to see the Mac so well represented. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait long to get our hands on a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display.

We tested the $1699 standard configuration model, which has a 2.5GHz dual-core Core i5 processor, Intel’s integrated HD Graphics 4000, 128GB of flash storage, and 8GB of RAM. Apple offers a second $1999 model that is identical except it has 256GB of flash storage. The 13-inch Retina display has a 2560 by 1600 native pixel resolution.

Apple still sells non-Retina 13-inch MacBook Pros that have a 1280 by 800 screen resolution. The $1199 model has the same 2.5GHz dual-core Core i5 processor as the Retina laptop and the same integrated graphics, but it has just 4GB of RAM and a 5400-rpm 500GB hard drive. The $1499 non-Retina model has a 2.9GHz dual-core Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000, and a 5400-rpm 750GB hard drive.

13-inch Retina MacBook Pro: Speedmark 8 Scores

 Speedmark 8 score
13-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.5GHz Core i5 (Late 2012) 184
13-inch MacBook Pro/2.9GHz Core i7 (Mid 2012) 153
13-inch MacBook Pro/2.5GHz Core i5 (Mid 2012) 121
13-inch MacBook Air/1.8GHz Core i5 (Mid 2012) 166
15-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.6GHz Core i7 (Mid 2012) 275
15-inch Retina MacBook Pro/ 2.3GHz Core i7 (Mid 2012) 257

All results are scores. Higher scores are better. Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.

Retina vs. non-Retina

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Oct 31 09:00

Evaluating the 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina display

Christopher Breen Senior Editor, Macworld Follow me on Google+

Chris has covered technology and media since the latter days of the Reagan Administration. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, he's a professional musician in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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Much as we’d like to make this an extra-spooky episode of the Macworld Podcast, the truth is that, Halloween or not, for us this season is all about new products prepared by Apple for the upcoming holidays. Two such products have recently graced the test benches of Macworld Labs—the 13-inch retina display MacBook Pro and Apple’s latest Mac mini. Lab director Jim Galbraith and senior editor Roman Loyola join me to provide their impressions of these and other new Apple products.

Download Episode #326

Show Notes

Roman has far more to say about the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display in his review of this diminutive laptop, and Jim has benchmarks for the ultimate 13-inch MacBook Pro and the new Mac minis. And should you wish to reacquaint yourself with the wonders of the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display you need only read Roman’s review from last June.

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9

Oct 23 10:35

Apple brings Retina display to the 13-inch MacBook Pro

Roman Loyola Senior Editor, Macworld

Roman has covered technology since the early 1990s. His career started at MacUser, and he's worked for MacAddict, Mac|Life, TechTV, PC/Computing, and Windows NT Systems.
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Apple’s high-resolution Retina display now comes in another portable configuration, as the company unveiled a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display on Tuesday that complements the 15-inch model introduced over the summer.

The 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro sports a display with a resolution of 2560 by 1600 pixels, a huge 4-times increase over the 1280 by 800 resolution on the 13-inch MacBook Pro released in June. The 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro display has a total of 4,096,000 pixels, which Apple says is nearly twice the number of pixels in a HDTV.

The 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro's screen is an in-plane switching panel, which allows for a wide viewing angle. Apple says the display has a 29 percent higher contrast ratio when compared to the previous model, as well as 75 percent glare reduction.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display (right) joins the 15-inch Retina display model in Apple’s portable lineup.

Like the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display that debuted four months ago, the new 13-inch Retina laptop has two Thunderbolt ports. The Thunderbolt ports and two USB 3.0 ports are the main avenues of connectivity, as the new laptop no longer has the ethernet and FireWire 800 ports found on the standard 13-inch MacBook Pro model. The new laptop also has no optical drive, but it does have an SDXC card slot.

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