MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina display (2014) review

Apple's more portable MacBook Pro gets even faster, but is it worth the upgrade?

Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina 2014
All pixels and smiles

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Apple's best 13-inch MacBook yet, you would be far from disappointed if you went out and bought the the 2014 MacBook Pro with Retina tomorrow.

Adding a faster processor to last year's solid offering at no extra cost has made it an even more attractive option, and the upcoming availability of Yosemite only sweetens the deal.

And although the competition is fast catching up, it remains the machine to beat if you're gunning for the middle ground between portability and performance.

We liked

There's plenty to like on the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina: from the still-impressive display to its excellent build quality, great keyboard and good (but not excellent) battery life. It may not be as portable as the MacBook Air, but it's far from cumbersome and its top notch build quality means you won't be worried about its welfare when carrying it around.

Throw in fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi, a super responsive PCIe-based SSD and two lightning-fast Thunderbolt 2 ports, and you have a notebook that can be taken anywhere and practically does anything (except gaming, that is).

Aside from free future operating system updates, the free iLife suite bundled with OS X means you may find yourself spending less on the apps you may need to get yourself up and running.

We disliked

It's becoming less of a problem (and not necessarily a fault of the MacBook), but many images on the web will still appear low-res and grainy on the MacBook's high-resolution display. That's because many websites have neglected to catch up with post-HD resolution screens.

And while Intel's Iris GPU is certainly a step up from its predecessors, it's not nearly ready to be able to play modern games with acceptable frame rates, meaning light gaming is once again the only option on the menu.

The battery life of the machine is good, but it's not quite at the level where you can charge it once and forget about finding a charging socket, as you can using the MacBook Air.

Final verdict

If you need tons of storage space and the most processing power you can get your hands on, the 512GB Retina MacBook Pro is the only way to go - but you'll need the deep pockets to match.

However, if you can get by with less storage and power, in comparison you can save a healthy wad of cash by opting for the entry-level machine with 128GB storage, which represents the best value of the three due to both the faster CPU and doubling of RAM compared to last year's model.

Kane Fulton
Kane has been fascinated by the endless possibilities of computers since first getting his hands on an Amiga 500+ back in 1991. These days he mostly lives in realm of VR, where he's working his way into the world Paddleball rankings in Rec Room.