Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch Retina display review: Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch Retina 2012

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good

Average User Rating

3.5 stars 8 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Stunning, super high definition screen; slimmer and lighter than previous model; sturdy build quality.

The Bad Ludicrously expensive; performance is only average; no Ethernet port; no option to upgrade RAM.

The Bottom Line The 13-inch MacBook Pro boasts a superb high-resolution display and a slimmer, lighter physical design than its predecessor. Sadly, its average performance doesn't justify the astonishingly high price.

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With its sturdy unibody design and high performance, Apple's MacBook Pro quickly became the must-have laptop for on-the-go media professionals.

Apple's made the baby of the range -- the 13-inch model -- smaller still, with a thinner, lighter chassis. It's packed in a super high-resolution retina display too for ultra-crisp text and photos.

In true Apple fashion this new model doesn't come cheap. Far from it. My review model which included an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD costs a whopping £1,700. Add a beefier processor and a 768GB SSD and it will set you back £2,660.

Is the new design and sharper screen worth the stonking price? All models are available now online or in Apple stores.

Should I buy the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina display?

The new 13-inch MacBook Pro boasts a slimmer and lighter physical design than the previous generation along with an absolutely stunning super-high resolution retina display. It also comes with an astonishingly high price-tag, putting it firmly in the realms of the Premiership footballers of this world.

The older high-end 13-inch model isn't as slim and doesn't have the retina screen, but it has fast components, more storage space and costs nearly £500 less. If you want to take your first steps into the MacBook World, the older style might be the better option.

If you've got the older generation already, it's not worth upgrading unless you crave the best display in the business. For professional video users, the high resolution screen will come in seriously handy, but it's certainly going to be more useful on the physically larger 15-inch model.

If you want power and performance from a super-skinny frame and don't care what operating system you use then Samsung's Series 9 ultrabook is an excellent choice and it will save you several hundred quid.

The new MacBook Pro is undeniably a stunning piece of kit, but it's only really going to be a viable purchase if you've recently struck oil.

Design and build quality

If you just have a quick glance at the new Pro you might not notice any difference from the old one. It's still got the typical minimalist silver stylings with the glowing apple sitting proudly in the middle.

When you get up close you realise how much the physical design has changed. Just as it did with the 15-inch Retina Pro, Apple has shaved a considerable amount off the thickness. It now measures a mere 19mm -- a whole 5mm less than its predecessor. Expect to have a much easier time sliding it into those fancy neoprene sleeves.

Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch Retina
Like Flat Stanley, when you turn the MacBook Pro on its side, it all but disappears.

Its other dimensions haven't changed drastically. It's 314mm wide and 219mm deep. A few millimetres have been knocked off, but it's not as noticeable as the reduced thickness. It's quite a bit lighter though, weighing only 1.62kg, down from the 2kg of the previous model. That weight reduction will really help if you intend to carry it around on your back all day.

It still has the same unibody design, meaning that the chassis has been manufactured from a single piece of aluminium. It helps make all the internal components much less susceptible to knocks and bumps. There's zero annoying flex anywhere across the lid, wrist rest or keyboard tray. It'll still pick up scratches, dents and scuffs though, so make sure you don't chuck it down onto that Starbucks table too brutally.

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Where to Buy

Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch Retina display

Part Number: CNETApple MacBook Pro 13-inch Retina display

Typical Price: £1,700.00

See manufacturer website for availability.