13-inch Apple MacBook Pro review

The 2012 refresh gives Apple's most portable MacBook Pros an exciting upgrade

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A glance at the 13-inch MacBook Pro and its stats might lead you to believe the mid-2012 refresh is a very minor speed bump. You'd be wrong.

Although both the £999/$1,199 notebook's 2.5GHz dual core Intel Core i5 and the £1,249/$1,499 model's 2.9GHz dual core Intel Core i7 are only 0.1GHz quicker than those used in the previous generation, the step up from second-generation Sandy Bridge to third-generation Ivy Bridge chips brings benefits of its own.

The Intel HD Graphics 4000 integrated graphics chipset is up to 60 per cent more powerful than the Intel HD Graphics 3000 chipset used in the last generation's processors, and USB 3.0 makes its Mac debut with the 2012 notebook refresh.

We liked

The improved integrated graphics are especially welcome considering the 13-inch notebook is too small to support a discrete graphics processor. Speedier RAM is appreciated too, as are the new USB 3.0 ports.

The 2012 13-inch MacBook Pro is full of those little touches that make MacBooks so desirable. The keyboard is backlit for easy typing in low light conditions, and the unibody build, whereby the casing of the MacBook Pro is milled from a single block of aluminium, makes the notebook strong and light.

The screen is very good, with rich, vibrant colours and great viewing angles, and although not as light and thin as a MacBook Air, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is very portable.

We disliked

Although a discrete graphics chip was never on the cards, if graphical power is important to you, its absence is definitely a consideration. Upgrade options for those who buy on the Apple Online Store are very sparse. You can add more memory to the entry-level model and upgrade the hard drive in either 13-inch MacBook Pro, but that's it. There's no opportunity to pick a faster processor, for example.

It's a pity the entry-level model only uses a Core i5 too, instead of the more powerful Core i7 processors used in the rest of the MacBook Pro range.

Final verdict

The mid-2012 MacBook Pro is a formidable machine. Like the 15-inch models, the refresh sees it take a significant - if unremarkable - step forwards. The new processors and their improved graphical capabilities give the new releases a considerable power boost over their predecessors, and the USB 3.0 ports makes available a wealth of already-released high-speed storage peripherals.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro is ideal for those who need a little more configurability and storage than the MacBook Air can offer, but also need a very portable machine.

Creative professionals and gaming enthusiasts might be better off with the bigger screen and better graphical capabilities of the 15-inch MacBook Pros, but the 13-inch notebooks are ideal for some users. Students, for example, will welcome their portability as they haul their MacBooks to lectures, and also their sizeable hard drives for storing music and movies as well as work. Just remember to invest in external speakers.

Tech Specs

Product TypeNotebook
Green CompliantYes
Hard Drive Capacity750 GB
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ModelHD 3000
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeDVD-Writer
Graphics Memory AccessibilityShared
Maximum Battery Run Time7 Hour
Backlight TechnologyLED
Product FamilyMacBook Pro
Keyboard BacklightYes
Operating SystemMac OS X 10.7 Lion
Brand NameApple
Processor Speed2.80 GHz
Processor TypeCore i7
Screen Size33.8 cm (13.3")
Screen Resolution1280 x 800
Standard Memory4 GB
Weight (Approximate)2.04 kg
Cache4 MB
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityEPEAT Gold, ENERGY STAR
Number of Total Memory Slots2
Optical Media SupportedDVD±R/±RW
Dual-Layer Media SupportedYes
Graphics Memory CapacityUp to 384 MB
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 2.1
Ethernet TechnologyGigabit Ethernet
Total Number of USB Ports2
Memory StandardDDR3-1333/PC3-10600
Height24.1 mm
Width325 mm
Depth227 mm
Screen ModeWXGA
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
ManufacturerApple, Inc
Product ModelMD314B/A
Product NameMacBook Pro MD314B/A Notebook
Pointing Device TypeTrack Pad
Product LineMacBook Pro
Aspect Ratio16:10
Manufacturer Part NumberMD314B/A
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.apple.com/uk
Marketing InformationThe inside story. And the outside story too.

With its durable unibody enclosure, Multi-Touch trackpad and energy-efficient design, MacBook Pro looks beautiful. And works beautifully.

Strength. Lightness. Beauty. Seamlessly integrated.

MacBook Pro is machined from a single piece of aluminium, an engineering breakthrough that replaced many parts with just one. It's called the unibody. And the first time you pick up a MacBook Pro, you'll notice the difference it makes. The entire enclosure is thinner and lighter than other notebooks. It looks polished and refined. And it feels strong and durable - perfect for life inside (and outside) your briefcase or backpack.

Maximum Memory8 GB
Battery ChemistryLithium Polymer (Li-Polymer)
Package Contents
  • MacBook Pro MD314B/A Notebook
  • Lithium Polymer Battery
  • 60W MagSafe Power Adapter
  • Display Cleaning Cloth
  • AC Wall Plug and Power Lead
  • Printed and Electronic Documentation
Limited Warranty1 Year