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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The MacBook Pro is significantly faster than its predecessor, and while we still wouldn't recommend the 13-inch MacBook Pro (or any other machine with integrated graphics) for serious gaming, our benchmarks show that graphics performance has improved.

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Here's how the MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina display fared in our benchmark tests:

Benchmarks

  • Cinebench R15 Single Core: 124 cb; Multi Core: 310 cb
  • Geekbench 3 Single Core: 3287; Multi Core 7107
  • Xbench (CPU and disk): 491.26
  • NovaBench Overall: 41; Graphics: 95;
  • Unigine Heaven 4.0 FPS: 21.3; Overall: 41
  • Battery, streaming 1080p video via Wi-Fi: 12 hours 4 minutes

The MacBook Pro with Retina comfortably beat the equivalent 13-inch model from 2014 in all benchmarked areas. In Xbench, which provides an indication of a Mac's overall performance, it came in at 9% faster than the 2014 model's Haswell variant. Geekbench, which tests the CPU, saw the new MacBook score 7,107 points on the multi-core test compared to its predecessor's 6,852.

The new MacBook has seen an upgrade from Intel Iris Graphics 5100 to Iris Graphics 6100, which includes an increased number of execution units (48 to 40) but sees clock speed reduced from 1200 to 1100MHz. In NovaBench, it scored 95 in the Graphics test versus lat year's 79, signalling an 18% improvement.

Even with improved integrated graphics onboard, the MacBook Pro remains a poor choice for serious gamers. It will certainly be capable of running older titles at 60Hz in a Boot Camp installation on Windows (think games using Valve's Source engine — such as Counter Strike and TF2), but don't expect anything like Battlefield: Hardline to play smooth as butter.

The biggest surprise was the battery, which was still happily streaming 1080p video over Wi-Fi after more than twelve hours. It finally ran out of puff after a truly impressive twelve hours and four minutes. Not everybody is happy with the new 13-inch MacBook Pro's performance, however. Some users have reported UI lag and significant battery drain.

Bundled software

As with all new Macs the MacBook Pro comes with Apple's own iWork and iLife apps, including:

iPhoto (soon to be replaced with Photos)

  • iMovie
  • Garageband
  • Pages
  • Numbers
  • Keynote
  • Safari
  • Mail
  • Messages
  • FaceTime
  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • App Store
  • iTunes
  • iBooks
  • Maps
  • Photo Booth
  • Time Machine