MacBook Pro 15-inch with Retina display review

  • £1699
  • $1999

Has the Retina MacBook Pro finally come of age?

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The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display reviewed here is the cheaper of the two 15-inch models. It has a 2.0GHz Haswell quad-core Intel Core i7 CPU, which can Turbo Boost at up to 3.2GHz. The more expensive version runs at 2.3GHz, or up to 3.5GHz under Turbo Boost.

If you buy on the Apple Online Store, you can upgrade the processor on this 2.0GHz model to a 2.3GHz or 2.6GHz chip, while the more expensive model can be upgraded to 2.6GHz.

Haswell processors are designed to be very light on power consumption, extending a notebook's battery life. According to Intel, this is achieved by fully integrating the power management system, allowing the chip quicker access to extra power when required and a faster reduction when it isn't. Apple claims the new Haswell 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro can surf the web wirelessly for up to eight hours on a single charge, up from seven hours.

More ports
Two Thunderbolt ports future-proof things

The arrival of OS X 10.9: Mavericks also helps with power consumption. Its App Nap feature, for example, puts applications into a low power mode when all their windows are hidden (minimised or behind other windows), as long as they're not doing something useful like downloading files or playing music. When you bring that app to the fore again, it's instantly back at full speed. It works in Safari tabs too, with tabs you're not currently viewing similarly slowed. Apple claims CPU energy use can be reduced by up to 23% in this way.

Haswell processors also bring better integrated graphics chipsets. The 15-inch models have Iris Pro Graphics. The cheaper of the two models drops the discrete graphics chip entirely, relying solely on the Iris Pro integrated graphics, while the more expensive version augments its graphical power with an Nvidia GeForce GT 750M with 2GB of GDDR5 memory.

Mac notebooks have enjoyed Automatic Graphics Switching for a while now, and this one's no exception; at times of high needs, graphics processing automatically switches to the discrete chip for more power, switching back to the integrated chipset when demand falls, to save battery life.

As before, storage is solid state – 256GB for this model and 512GB for the more expensive version – but Apple has switched to PCIe-based flash storage, giving up to 60% faster read speeds. All the new Retina MacBook Pros – 13-inch and 15-inch models – have the second-generation Thunderbolt 2 ports, its debut on Mac computers. While its bandwidth is the same as the original Thunderbolt format released back in 2011, the original's dual channels are combined into a single 20Gbps channel.

Trackpad
Integrated graphics keeps things slim

With higher PCIe data rates and DisplayPort 1.2, it's claimed to be the first connection technology that can simultaneously transfer and display uncompressed 4k video. Naturally, this is well beyond the needs of the majority of Mac notebook users, but for video professionals, it's definitely an asset worth having.

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