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

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You also don't get an Ethernet port, which is extremely frustrating if you're wanting to download or upload huge files over a stable high speed connection. Apple offers an Ethernet adaptor, but demands an extra £25 for it.


The new Pro comes bearing the retina moniker, meaning that it's been given a significant resolution boost. The previous model's 1,280x800 pixel resolution has been upped to an astonishing 2,560x1,600 pixels. Unsurprisingly then, everything looks wonderfully sharp.

Icons on the dock along the bottom of the screen look extremely crisp, even when press your nose right up against it. Text is pin-sharp in both the Safari and Chrome browsers, making reading pages of text for long periods of time much more comfortable.

High-definition images and video look glorious too. Not only are they super sharp, the rich colours and deep black levels make them stand out beautifully. If you're looking for the best quality display in a laptop, look no further -- nothing else comes close.

Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch Retina
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Images are bright, crisp and bursting with colour.

The screen has a glossy coating, which makes it naturally more reflective than matte displays. It's not too bad though -- throughout my testing, the high brightness levels managed to counter much of the harsh overhead office lights. I've certainly used more reflective screens.

On the 15-inch model, that beautiful screen is of particular help to video professionals. It's debatable however whether the smaller size of the 13-inch model will offer enough room to properly edit videos. The high resolution means that it's possible to view Full HD video within an editing window, but there's still less room for timelines and menus to fit. I'll be passing it over to our excellent video team to see just how feasible this thing is for pro video work.


Inside that slim new shell is an Intel Core i5 processor clocked at 2.5GHz, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD for storage. That's the top model and will set you back an eye-watering £1,700. If, however, you want the extra juice from a 2.9GHz Core i7 chip, you'll have to shell out an extra £160.

Want more storage? Apple generously offers a 768GB SSD option and charges an extra £800 for it. Seriously. That brings the grand total for the top-configured model to £2,660. You can pick your jaw up from the floor now. Oddly, there's no option to increase the RAM, but it would probably limit its appeal to beardy billionaires like Branson.

A Core i5 chip and 8GB of RAM is still a decent set of specs though, and I was pleased to find that it offered a fair amount of juice. On the Geekbench benchmark test it managed to achieve a score of 7,253 -- a pleasing step up from the previous model's 6,082 score. It also scored 2.72 on the Cinebench CPU test, a modest improvement over the 13-inch MacBook Air.

Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch Retina
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It's a real shame, but the MacBook Pro doesn't pack enough of a punch to justify the price.

In general use I found it to be very competent. Opening apps was swift and jumping into OS X Mountain Lion's Launchpad and Mission control was immediate and free of any annoying delay. It was easily able to handle editing high-definition photos in Adobe Lightroom 4, showing no discernible lag between moving the sliders and seeing the action take place.

As a machine to edit quick snaps on the go, the Pro is well-equipped. For more intense video applications it might not cope so well. It took 8 minutes 13 seconds to encode my 11-minute video into 24fps H264, which isn't exactly lightning fast. That's the same time it took the MacBook Air to do it and the 15-inch Pro almost halved that time.

I've certainly had worse results, but it's far from outstanding. Given the price, you'd be forgiven for expecting blistering speeds all round. It'll cope with quick edits of video clips from your iPhone, but if you're a pro and want to juggle numerous high-definition clips with effects rendering in real time, you're not going to be blown away by the speed.


The updated skinny frame of the new 13-inch MacBook Pro makes it a more portable beast than its predecessor. The whopping number of pixels packed into the screen, together with its great use of colour make text and images look amazing. But, it's not quite as monstrously powerful as I'd hope, which doesn't help justifying the frighteningly high price tag.

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