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

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent

Average User Rating

4.5 stars 8 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Beautiful, high-definition display; Good battery life; Plenty of power; Solid, attractive design.

The Bad No Ethernet port; Still pretty pricey.

The Bottom Line The 2013 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro has a super, pixel-packed screen, looks great, has good battery life and gives you a healthy boost of power over the MacBook Air, without bulging out your backpack too much. It'll set you back a pretty penny though.

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When Apple whacked its super high-definition retina display into its 13-inch MacBook Pro last year, it also managed to make it much thinner. It brought it closer in size to the MacBook Air , and made it a far more viable option for people requiring more power than the Air, but unwilling to lug around a big lump of metal all day.

The 2013 version is almost identical physically, but packs the latest Intel processors and comes preloaded with the latest OS X Mavericks software.

The base model starts at £1,099, for which you'll get a 2.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. The top model (reviewed here) offers as standard a 2.6GHz Core i5 chip, 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, setting you back £1,499. Apple lets you tweak that up to a 2.8GHz Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage for a total of £2,239.

Those are some seriously beefy numbers, but they've actually been knocked down slightly from last year's model. The previous top configuration with a 768GB SSD cost a whopping £2,660.

All models are available now from the Apple Store.

Design and build quality

If you whipped out your calipers you'd find that the new Pro is slightly thinner at 17mm than its 18mm predecessor. At 1.57kg, it's also marginally lighter. The retina Pro was already about 5mm thinner than the non-retina model, so the fact that it's shrunk even more -- even by such a tiny amount -- is commendable.

Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch Retina top
This year's MacBook Pro is much thinner.

While it still hasn't got the MacBook Air's razor-thin body, its footprint is smaller, thanks to much narrower bezels around the screen. It'll slide easily into most backpacks, and you won't struggle to carry it between your house and your office. If you're on your feet with it all day, you'll probably appreciate the Air's lighter weight.

Aesthetically, there's nothing new to report. That's not a criticism though, as Apple's minimalist laptops always look superb. Build quality is top-notch too. The metal unibody chassis is solid, with zero flex to be found anywhere and the hinge opens without any unpleasant bending of the screen.

The backlit keyboard is every bit as comfortable as before and the large trackpad is probably the best you'll find on any laptop. Around the edges you'll find a pair of USB 3.0 ports, a full-sized HDMI port, a microSD card slot and two Thunderbolt ports. The lack of an Ethernet port means you'll need to splash out on an adaptor if you want a fast, stable wired connection for uploading large files.

Display

The Pro's swan song continues to be its retina display, which crams in a mighty 2,560x1,600-pixel resolution. That vast amount of pixels makes everything pin-sharp, unsurprisingly. App icons, small text in ebooks and high-resolution photos all look stunning on the display.

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Where to Buy

Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display (2013, 13-inch screen)

Part Number: ME864LL/A
Pricing is currently unavailable.