MacBook Pro 15-inch with Retina display review

Has the Retina MacBook Pro finally come of age?

Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display
The new MacBook Pro's Retina display puts normal screens to shame, but the laptop's battery is glued in place

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The Retina screen is unchanged since the first 15-inch MacBook Pros with Retina display were released, but as it's still as breathtaking as it was last June, this is not an indictment. The display packs in so many pixels, the human eye struggles to distinguish between them at normal viewing distance. The difference this makes has to be seen to be believed, so if you haven't done so already, make sure you take a look in your nearest Apple stockist.

A Retina display doesn't look like a 'normal' computer screen. Instead, your desktop resembles an art print, offering beautifully organic text with no sign of jaggedness, and pictures you could hang on your wall. Our only complaint is that Apple continues to refuse to offer a matte screen custom order option.

Although it could never match a discrete graphics chip, this MacBook's Iris Pro Graphics integrated chipset certainly proved its worth in our tests. Using the Unigine Heaven benchmarking tool at its most demanding Extreme setting, the 2.0GHz 15-inch Pro managed 7.2 frames a second - significantly better than the 4.5 FPS offered by the 13-inch model, which only has Iris graphics, not Iris Pro.

side on view

MacBook Pros have never been so thin

It also ran Batman: Arkham City at 39 FPS with the graphics ramped up to maximum settings and the resolution set to full HD 1080. Turning the resolution up to 1920x1200, we still got a very playable 29 FPS, though it struggled a little at its native resolution of 2880x1800, managing only 16 FPS. But only a maniac – or a reviewer – would turn it up that high anyway.

The combination of the low-power-consumption Haswell processors and Mavericks' energy-saving features give the battery life a boost. In our tests, we ran a live feed from the BBC's iPlayer website for a few minutes shy of six hours, an hour longer than the 13-inch model with its inevitably-smaller battery. Given this is a very power-hungry test, that's an excellent result.

Like the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros, the 15-inch range has enjoyed a price drop. Both large-screen notebooks are now £100 cheaper than their predecessors. But unlike the 13-inch versions, they didn't get a cut in the February refresh. While the 13-inch models have broken out of their luxury niche and are now affordable enough to enter the mainstream, the 15-inch notebooks are still a substantial investment.