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

The fastest small MacBook Pro yet is a force of nature

TODO alt text

The MacBook Pro hasn't undergone a dramatic reimagining, but then there wasn't anything particularly wrong with it in the first place. Improvements to its performance mean it's better value than before, and the noticeably improved battery life makes it even more of a mobile workhorse.

As ever the cost of adding memory and storage soon sends the price tag into orbit, but even the stock £999 ($1,299 over in the US, which is around AU$1,690) MacBook Pro is an incredibly versatile computer and arguably Apple's best ever laptop. The new MacBook may be more portable, but the Pro has all the power.

We liked

Apple has taken an already impressive laptop and made it better. It's faster, it lasts longer and the screen is superb. It'll be interesting to see whether the Force Touch trackpad gets any must-have applications too.

We disliked

We're not huge fans of current Mac laptop keyboards, and for now the Force Touch trackpad feels more like a gimmick than anything particularly useful – it isn't making the MacBook Pro any thinner or lighter and doesn't have any compelling reason to exist just yet. If you haven't embraced the (i)Cloud, 128GB of storage may feel a little constrained too.

Final verdict

Where the new MacBook sacrifices performance and ports for portability, the MacBook Pro makes no such compromises. It's lightweight enough that you needn't fear a dislocated shoulder from lugging it around, and the improved performance and battery life will delight road warriors and coffee shop loungers alike.

It's more expensive than an Ultrabook – for example, Dell's excellent XPS 13 is almost half the price – and the non-Retina MacBook Pro is £100 (around $150, or AU$190) cheaper, but the former won't tempt OS X fans and the latter means going without that superb screen. We wouldn't. Unless you need serious storage, the 13-inch MacBook Pro offers an incredible amount of bang for your bucks.