We just can't pretend it's alone in its class. As before, the speakers sit beneath the keyboard, with no obvious openings. The volume itself still gets decently loud, and the quality is balanced enough for casual listening I had Pandora to keep me company as I wrote most of this review. Still, being the thin-and-light laptop it is, it's still predictably a bit weaker with bass notes than a heartier system would be.
Additionally, it's one of relatively few systems to make use of Intel's new Iris graphics, which promises to be a touch stronger than the Intel HD chipset usually found in Haswell laptops. Indeed, the graphics are robust enough that we were able to play Batman: Arkham City the Game of the Year edition at max resolution with relatively little stuttering.
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With the detail level set to "medium" and anti-aliasing at a medium setting of 4x, we logged an average frame rate of 24 fps, with frame rates running the gamut from 18 fps to 31 fps, depending on what scene we were playing. Even then, the action was fairly smooth, though there were a few instances when we noticed gameplay briefly slowed down.
Fortunately, disabling anti-aliasing more or less solved the problem: Once we did that, average frame rates climbed to a more playable 32 fps. So, our outlook for gaming is good, given that this is actually one of the more graphically demanding titles and it still managed to run decently well. As it happens, it was only when we were playing games or running graphics benchmarks that we heard any fan noise. Even then, we couldn't hear the sound over the music from our game, though if you're attempting to, say, edit video in silence, you might notice the machine getting a bit loud.
Thankfully, even when the fans started to spin, they quieted down again just a minute or two after we closed out of our full-screen gaming session. What's more, though the keyboard and bottom side started to heat up, they never got more than lukewarm.
MacBook Pro (Retina, inch, Early ) - Technical Specifications
So at least you know that fan noise isn't for naught; the ventilation system does a good job of keeping the system cool. The other big change here, aside from that big graphics bump, is the move to solid-state drives based on the PCI Express standard. Additionally, after installing Windows 7 on a separate partition, we ran ATTO, the benchmark we use to test transfer speeds on Windows machines.
Which makes sense: We already know that Intel's fourth-generation Core processors provide a bigger boost in battery life and GPU strength than they do on CPU performance. You can see that in the modestly better Mac benchmark scores see that first table above , which show just a small improvement over the Air on CPU tests. Additionally, as we said, we installed Windows on a separate partition, where we ran the same tests we normally run on PCs precisely so that we could compare the performance more directly.
All told, the biggest difference is in graphics performance, but you already knew that. The inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is rated for up to nine hours of battery life, compared with seven hours on the non-Retina model.
As it turns out, though, that's actually a rather conservative estimate: We were able to eke out an impressive 11 hours and 18 minutes of continuous video playback. So, the battery life is even better than expected -- not to mention, better than on last year's model, which only managed on the same test. Then again, we can't say we're that surprised: Haswell has been known to dramatically improve battery life.
Also, Apple has a history of making conservative battery life claims on its website see: the original iPad mini and the most recent MacBook Air, both of which lasted longer than expected. In case you were wondering, we also ran the same video-looping test on the Windows partition, with the power-management settings set exactly the same as on any PC we test brightness at 65 percent, no dimming, WiFi on, machine never goes to sleep, et cetera.
Under those conditions, the battery lasted seven hours and 47 minutes. This, too, is unsurprising: Macs are obviously optimized for OS X, and indeed, the battery life is always better on that side. Obviously, then, our review unit came with the new software installed, and whatever machine you buy will too. For a full rundown on what the free OS update brings, we encourage you to check out our full review. Spoiler: We recommend you download the upgrade. It is free, after all. For those who don't have time to read 4, words, though, here's a recap: The update brings desktop versions of iBooks and Maps, tabs and tags in Finder, improved support for external displays and battery life-saving features like App Nap.
Additionally, iLife and iWork are now free with the purchase of new Macs you'll still have to download them, though.
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Apple's never had a particularly generous standard warranty, and the new Retina display MacBook Pros are no exception. Included with your purchase, you get one year of coverage, along with 90 days of free telephone support compared with at least a year on most Windows PCs. This stretches the free-phone-support period to three years as well. On the base model, you get a 2. If you're upgrading from the lowest-end model, you can opt for that 2.
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While we're at it, we may as well break down the inch Retina display MacBook Pro too. Ready to customize?
If you select the cheaper model, a 2. Namely, you can step up to that 2. Finally, it's worth mentioning that the classic inch MacBook Pro read: the one without a Retina display is still around, though Apple did quietly axe the inch version. Tellingly, Apple's made the full spec list harder to find, and the classic version occupies but a narrow sliver of screen real estate on the "Buy" page.
Message received: Apple would prefer we buy a Retina machine instead. And given the price, we suggest you do too. Also, if you can part with the regular MBP's DVD drive, you'll get a machine that weighs more than a pound less, and is about a quarter of an inch thinner. That's more than a fair trade, we'd say. There aren't many machines that are as light as the inch Retina MacBook Pro, with a screen this sharp and performance this strong.
If you can live without the MBP's graphics clout, you'll find a host of Ultrabooks with similar screen quality, battery life and overall speed. The catch, of course, is that this is a inch machine, not a inch one. What's more, Dell's XPS 13 with Haswell isn't on sale yet and when it does arrive, it will have integrated graphics only and a less-sharp p screen assuming you can even appreciate the difference in pixel count on a display that small.
Meanwhile, Lenovo has the IdeaPad Yp , a compact machine that can be configured with discrete graphics, but it's considerably thicker than the Retina display MBP, and its screen resolution is capped at a less-impressive 1, x Finally, though ASUS has been no stranger to compact machines with strong graphics chips, the company has been slow to update its lineup with Haswell, so we're hesitant to call out any of its last-gen offerings right now. On paper, the new inch MacBook Pro with Retina display looks like a marginal upgrade: a CPU refresh with some slight changes to the weight and dimensions.
But thanks to a lower starting price, faster SSD speeds and a big leap in battery life, it's actually a much, much better deal than it was a year ago. At this point, it's tougher than ever to say whether someone should get this or the MacBook Air: They're close in price, close in battery life and closer than ever in weight though the Air is still noticeably lighter. Given how little the Air weighs, you might only want the Pro if you really need that kind of graphics horsepower or if you prefer the Retina display, which most of us probably do.
On the flip side, because it's only half a pound heavier and offers similar battery life, there's less reason to get an Air. It all depends on your priorities, we suppose. Either way, the inch MacBook Pro with Retina display stands as one of the few laptops this size that offers this sharp a screen, this kind of battery life and this caliber of graphics. And we like it even more now that we can afford it. Buyer's Guide. Log in. Sign up. Buy Now.
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