MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina display (early 2015) review

The fastest small MacBook Pro yet is a force of nature

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There are three standard models to choose from, priced at £999 ($1,299 over in the US, which is around AU$1,690), £1,199 ($1,499 over in the US, which is around AU$1,950) and £1,399 ($1,799 over in the US, which is around AU$2,340).

Each model has a Broadwell processor: a 2.7GHz dual-core fifth-generation Core i5 in the £999 and £1,199 models and a 2.9GHz dual-core Core i5 in the most expensive option. The 2.7GHz processors can run at up to 3.3GHz in Turbo Boost mode, and the 2.9GHz processor can run at up to 3.4GHz. The model we tested was the stock £999, 2.7GHz one.

All three processors come with 3MB of shared L3 cache and 8GB of 1,866MHz LPDDR3 RAM, and they're teamed with 128, 256 or 512GB of PCIe-based flash storage and Intel Iris Graphics 6100. Previous MacBook Pros had Iris Graphics 5100, and Apple claims 20% to 40% improvements in graphics performance.

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Spec list

Here is the full spec sheet:

  • CPU: 2.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 with 3MB L3 cache (Turbo Boost up to 3.1GHz)
  • Graphics: Intel Iris Graphics 6100
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Screen: 13.3-inch IPS, 2,560 x 1,600 pixels
  • Storage: 128GB SSD
  • Optical Drive: n/a
  • Ports: 2 x Thunderbolt 2, 2 x USB 3.0, SDXC card slot, HDMI, headphone
  • Connectivity: 801.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0
  • Camera: FaceTime HD
  • Weight: 3.48lbs (1.58kg)
  • Size: 12.35 x 8.62 x 0.71-inches (W x D x H)

You can also specify a built-to-order MacBook Pro with a 3.1GHz dual-core Core i7 (with boost to 3.4GHz) with 4MB of shared L3 cache, up to 16GB of RAM and up to 1TB of flash storage. Assuming you're customising the 2.9GHz model, those upgrades cost £170 (around $250, or AU$325), £160 (around $235, or AU$305), and £400 (around $590, or AU$770) respectively.

The MacBook Pro's battery has been improved too. On paper it doesn't look like much – it's a 74.9Wh battery compared to its predecessor's 71.8Wh – but the new MacBook Pro delivers significantly improved battery life. Apple claims 10 hours of wireless web browsing and 12 hours of iTunes movie playback.

Last but not least there's 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, which deliver Apple-specific features such as AirDrop file transfer and Continuity/Handoff communication with iOS apps and communications.