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MacBook Pro 15-inch with Retina display review

Has the Retina MacBook Pro finally come of age?

Our Verdict

Intel's latest chip and Thunderbolt 2 make Apple's Retina display laptop the one to beat.

Product features

  • Screen Resolution : 2880 x 1800
  • Processor Core : Quad-core (4 Core)

View full specification

For

  • Fast Haswell processors
  • Fantastic Retina screen
  • Thunderbolt 2 ports
  • Good range of bundled apps

Against

  • No integrated optical drive
  • No matte screen option
  • No discrete graphics in this model
  • Expensive
  • Almost impossible to user upgrade

The late 2013 MacBook Pro with Retina display is the third release in the series. The Retina notebooks were introduced in June 2012 and lightly refreshed in February of this year. Externally, the new, late 2013 15-inch MacBook Pros with Retina display are identical to their predecessors.

They boast the same slim, lightweight design, same range of connectivity ports and above all, the same gorgeous Retina screen. It's a 15.4-inch display with a native resolution of 2880x1800, which is over 5.1 million pixels.

MacBook Pro keyboard
As slick and sleek as ever

So what's changed? The two new 15-inch Retina Pros in the late 2013 range have, of course, switched to the new Haswell processors. They both have quad-core Intel Core i7s, which can Turbo Boost to redistribute underused resources and temporarily raise their performance above their stated clock speed. Hyper Threading allows them to run two threads on each core, giving a total of eight virtual cores.

The Retina MacBook Pros have won multiple awards, and naturally, they've been extensively copied. If you don't want Mac OS, there's plenty of light, thin Windows notebooks to choose from. The Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus is thin and powerful, though at over £1,100, it's expensive for a PC notebook.

The Sony Vaio Duo 13 has Haswell processors, and a form factor that lets you turn it into a tablet as well as use it as a standard laptop. And there's always the HP Spectre XT TouchSmart, which is a very capable machine at around £1,000.

Ports
FireWire is conspicuous in its absence

If you're happy with the limited but cheap and functional Chrome operating system, there's the HP Chromebook 11. It costs less than £230, which is a bargain.

The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is ideal for professionals who need the extra screen space afforded by a 15-inch notebook, especially if they're likely to carry it around a lot. By ditching the optical drive and replacing the hard drive with built-in solid-state storage, Apple has been able to slim it down to just 1.8cm thick, and reduce the weight to a mere 2.02kg.

Of course, its excellent Retina screen is ideal for graphics and video work too. Slimming down the casing forced Apple to drop the FireWire ports for the Retina range - it simply wouldn't fit. But as we get two Thunderbolt ports (using the new Thunderbolt 2 protocol), two USB 3.0 ports, a HDMI outlet and an SDXC card slot, will we really miss FireWire? If you still have FireWire peripherals, you can buy a first-party adapter for £25 and use them in one of your Thunderbolt ports.

Tech Specs

Product TypeNotebook
Green CompliantYes
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ModelIris Pro Graphics
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
Graphics Memory AccessibilityShared
Maximum Battery Run Time8 Hour
Solid State Drive Capacity256 GB
HDMIYes
WebcamYes
Backlight TechnologyLED
DisplayPortYes
Product FamilyMacBook Pro
Keyboard BacklightYes
ThunderboltYes
Operating SystemMac OS X 10.9 Mavericks
Brand NameApple
Processor Speed2 GHz
Processor TypeCore i7
Screen Size39.1 cm (15.4")
Screen Resolution2880 x 1800
Standard Memory8 GB
Weight (Approximate)2.02 kg
Cache6 MB
Processor CoreQuad-core (4 Core)
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityEPEAT Gold, ENERGY STAR 6.0
64-bit ProcessingYes
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Display Screen TechnologyRetina Display, In-plane Switching (IPS) Technology
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Total Number of USB Ports2
Memory StandardDDR3L-1600/PC3-12800
Height18 mm
Width358.9 mm
Depth247.1 mm
Memory TechnologyDDR3L SDRAM
ManufacturerApple, Inc
Product ModelME293B/A
Product Name15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display
Pointing Device TypeTrack Pad
Product LineMacBook Pro
Manufacturer Part NumberME293B/A
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.apple.com/uk
Marketing InformationIncredibly powerful. By design.

The all-new MacBook Pro started with a blank slate - without the constraints of legacy technology. That gave us the freedom to imagine something radical, something entirely different. A notebook so thin, so light, and so powerful. A notebook designed for the future, but ready to use today.

Thin, light, and innovative beyond measure.

It may be incredibly thin and light, but the all-new MacBook Pro is also incredibly powerful. To achieve all that in a single design required relentless focus and a willingness to make bold decisions. Every millimeter was designed, engineered, built, and assembled to the most exacting performance standards. Bulky legacy technologies like the spinning hard drive and optical disc drive were left behind in favor of newer, higher-performance technologies - all-flash storage, for example. It's much faster and far more reliable than a traditional hard drive. And it takes up 90 percent less space. Which is one of many reasons this MacBook Pro isn't just extremely capable, it's extremely portable, too.

Maximum Memory16 GB
Battery ChemistryLithium Polymer (Li-Polymer)
Package Contents
  • 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display
  • Lithium Polymer Battery
  • 85W MagSafe 2 Power Adapter
  • AC wall plug
  • Power cord
Limited Warranty1 Year