The mid-2012 refresh of Apple's laptops brought us six new MacBook Pros; two 13-inch models, two 15-inch versions and two with 15-inch Retina displays. It's the latter we're interested in here.
The cheaper of the two Retina MacBook Pros features a 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, with the top-of-the-range model running at 2.6GHz. These are new Intel Ivy Bridge processors, the third generation Core iX chips.
Like their predecessors, they can HyperThread, running two threads on each of their four cores. When demand for processor power is great, they can reallocate unused resources to temporarily increase their running speed.
Under Turbo Boost, the chips used in the MacBook Pro with Retina display can reach speeds of 3.3GHz and 3.6GHz respectively. Buy the high-end model from the Apple Store online and you can upgrade to a 2.7GHz processor (3.7GHz under Turbo Boost) as a custom option.
The new Ivy Bridge chips feature improved integrated graphics. The new built-in Intel HD Graphics 4000 chipset is pretty powerful in its own right, but when needs are high, graphics processing automatically switches to the discrete GPU, an Nvidia GeForce GT 650M with 1GB of GDDR5 memory.
The new graphics chip increases performance by up to 60% over the previous generation, which is just as well considering the number of pixels it has to drive. In fact, it's powerful enough to simultaneously support full native resolution on the built-in display, and up to 2560 x 1600 pixels on two external screens.
Given the ultra-thin form factor, an internal hard drive isn't an option. Instead, both MacBook Pro with Retina display models have solid state storage - 256GB and 512GB, respectively. Although you can upgrade the pricier model to 768GB on the Apple Store online, the less expensive version can't be upgraded at all, which seems a little spiteful.
Internal memory has also had a boost. The new MacBook Pros use faster 1600MHz DDR3L RAM. Each has 8GB as standard, but can be configured online to 16GB.
If you're considering this, do it when you buy. The chips are soldered onto the logic board, so there's no opportunity to add more RAM after purchase.
Indeed, the MacBook Pro with Retina screen is arguably the least upgradeable or repairable notebook around. The solid state drive is non-standard, although third-party replacements might yet emerge, and even the battery is glued rather than screwed into place, making it costly to replace the battery when it dies.
There are a few more minor improvements over last year's MackBook Pros. New custom speakers are better placed to offer improved sound, and dual microphones use beam forming to reduce ambient noise while chatting on the integrated 720p FaceTime HD camera.
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The laptop's fans have asymmetric blades for efficient and near silent cooling. The MacBook Pro with Retina display comes with OS X 10.7 Lion pre-installed, and you get a free upgrade to the forthcoming Mountain Lion when it's released in July. It also includes the iLife suite, namely iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand.
As you'd expect from a high-end Apple notebook, the MacBook Pro with Retina display's major drawback is its price. The cheaper 2.3GHz model costs £1,799 in the UK and $2,199 in the US, with the top-of-the-range 2.6GHz version selling for £2,299 or $2,799.
Given the MacBook Pro with Retina display's quality, and its extreme capabilities in pushing around graphics, a high-needs professional photographer, graphic artist or video editor might consider it money well spent.