Apple

13 inch MacBook Pro Retina Review

When it comes to MacBook, Apple has managed to keep two things above everything, quality and performance. And with faster performance and longer battery life, stunning screen and comfortable keyboard, our 13 inch MacBook Pro Retina 2015 is no exception.

MacBook Pro Retina

Honestly, Apple’s new MacBook Pro is one of the most attractive and impressive premium laptops that the world has ever seen. There’s simply nothing out there as perfect as it is. If you love Apple products and planning to get a new Ultrabook, MacBook Pro 2015 edition is surely the best choice for you. You can get it from the Amazon for $1299. And for those who don’t know what is so special about the new MacBook Pro, please read our whole review. When you are done, you will learn everything you should know about this new apple Ultrabook.

Pros

Amazing design

Retina display

Fast performance

Adequate graphics

Force touch

Good battery life

Good speakers

Cons

Limited connectivity features

Small base storage

No discrete graphics

Not really light for an Ultrabook

Relatively expensive

Specifications

Brand: Apple

Model: MacBook Pro 13 inch

Processor: Intel Core i5 5257U 2.7 GHz

Graphics: Intel Iris Graphics 6100

Video Memory: 1.5 GB

Memory: 8 GB DDR3L SDRAM

SSD: 128 GB

HDD: none

Optical Drive: none

Display Type: LED backlit IPS Retina display

Screen Size: 13.3 inch

Screen Resolution: (2,560×1,600)

Audio: 2x stereo speakers

Keyboard: black chiclet keyboard with backlit

Navigation: 4.1 x 3 inches touchpad

Webcam: FaceTime HD camera

Video Ports: 1x HDMI and 1x Thunderbolt 2.0

Audio Ports: Combo headphone/microphone jack

Total USB Ports: 2

USB 2.0 Ports: 0

USB 3.0 Ports: 2

Media Ports: 2-1 card reader

Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11ac

Network: none

Bluetooth: 4.0

Ethernet: none

Battery: 4 cell Li-ion battery

Battery Life: 13 hours

Width: 12.4 inch / 31.5 cm

Depth: 8.6 inch / 21.8 cm

Height: 0.71 inch / 1.8 cm

Weight: 3.5 pounds / 1.6 kg

Operating System: OS X Yosemite

Warranty: 1 year Limited

Base Price: $1299 on Amazon

MacBook Pro Retina front

Build and Design

Convinced in the superiority of its display, keyboard, and chassis, Apple has kept them all the same for the past couple of years. So, traditionally, The design of 2015 MacBook Pro Retina is unchanged since its introduction in 2012.

Apple is still following, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” theory, while other notebook makers are doing more innovative things. For example, the Dell XPS and HP Spectre are also considered premium Ultrabook and they have many attractive new features. Mainly, they have a touch screen, something the Mac always lacks, along with the thinner and lighter body. But still, The MacBook Pro continues to be one of the most flawless looking notebooks in its category, sporting two subtle stereo speakers flanking the laptop’s signature black chiclet keyboard along with the iconic glowing Apple logo decorated lid.

MacBook Pro Retina lid

Clearly, Apple crafted the new MacBook Pro specially to attract the thin and light laptop fans, but those of us requiring power, ports and all of the rest would have still appreciated a slightly slimmer model.

Keyboard

13 inch MacBook Pro Retina sport a chiclet island style keyboard just like the previous MacBooks. It’s really comfortable and user friendly. Moreover, they updated the backlight, which is a plus. The keys have 1.5 mm travel and provide good feedback. When I was typing, the keys gave me a neat feeling. I really enjoyed the keyboard.

MacBook Pro Retina keyboard backlight

Touchpad

Apple really tried something new here. The new Force Touch touchpad doesn’t move, but uses electromagnets and tactile feedback to provide the illusion of a traditional touchpad. When you press on the pad, you first feel the click of the first layer, which lets you select text, icons, etc. Press a little harder, and you feel the second click and then the third, which engage the extra features.

MacBook Pro Retina keyboard

I’m not sure if everyone going to like this feature, but surely it has a few benefits. However, Force press doesn’t work everywhere yet. But Apple is releasing the API for Force Touch, so expect it to be available for more applications in the future.

Connectivity

Apple’s MacBook comes with many perks, but rich connectivity feature is not one of them.

On the left side of the MacBook, there is a USB 3.0 ports, and two Thunderbolt 2 ports which allow you to perform super fast file transfers and connect to high resolution external displays. The power connector and headphone/mic combo port are also on the left.

MacBook Pro Retina ports right

While on the right, there is a single USB 3.0 port along with the 2-1 card slot and HDMI port.

MacBook Pro Retina ports left

There are no port on the front or back side of the laptop.

Display

There’s a reason “Retina Display” is part of the MacBook Pro’s full name. For starters, the WQXGA (2560 x 1600) 13 inch Retina display is brighter and more colorful than almost every other premium laptop. It is simply stunning and really lived up to its reputation. The screen will impress you the second you pop it open.

MacBook Pro Retina screen test

On the brightness test, I was able to get maximum brightness of 390 nits out of it, which is really impressive and roughly 150 nits brighter than the average laptop screen. Also the screen produced decent black levels of 0.33 CD/m2 black levels, with color accuracy standing at excellent 99% of the sRGB color gamut. While it’s not high enough for media professionals, regular users won’t be able to notice the difference.

Audio

The new MacBook’s stereo speakers are one the of the surprising highlights of the new MacBook. It’s incredible what Apple has managed to do in that department. To be honest, the speakers are clear and loud enough to fill a small meeting room. So, unless you are aiming for a home theater, you won’t need any external speakers to enjoy everyday music and movies.

Performance

The 13 inch MacBook Pro 2015 edition sports a new fifth generation 2.7 GHz Intel Core i5 5257U processor along with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of solid state drive. With the latest technology, The new MacBook Pro is significantly faster than its predecessors.

As seen from the benchmark tests, the new fifth generation processor is roughly 10% faster than the old Haswell models. If you do serious work such as professional video editing, photo editing with large RAW files and advanced filters, compile large programs, or do scientific data analysis or math, the Broadwell processor will serve you well.

MacBook Pro Retina gaming

The new MacBook also got an upgrade from Intel HD graphics to Iris Graphics 6100, which includes an increased number of execution units (48 to 40) but sees clock speed reduced from 1200 to 1100MHz. As I tested, the Iris graphics perform really well. However, the integrated GPU shows its limits when you are trying to play latest games. So, the MacBook Pro still remains a poor choice for serious gamers.

MacBook Pro Retina screen

If you look at the specs, you won’t notice anything special. But, Apple made huge improvements to the disk speed. The old MacBook Pro has had PCIe based SSDs for years. But now with the latest MBP technology, it is twice as fast as the first SSDs. Specifically, Apple says its new disks can reach peak read speeds of 1.6 GB/s and max sequential write speeds of 1.5 GB/s. And when I tested with Blackmagic disk tester, the performance was really close.

Battery Life

Apple claims the MacBook Pro will get up to 12 hours of battery life and they were right. On my battery test, it lasted roughly 11 hours, when I was listening to the music, watching videos and often surfing the web. It is much longer than average Ultrabooks. With a little less pressure, I believe this MacBook can last over 12 hours.

Customization

The version I reviewed costs $1299 and that is the base price for 13 inch MacBook Pro Retina. It sports a fifth generation i5 processor, 8 GB of memory and 128 GB SSD.

However, if you are not happy with an i5 processor and only 128 GB storage, you can add an extra $500 and get the i7 model with 512 GB of SSD storage.

Bundled software

iPhoto

iMovie

Garageband

Pages

Numbers

Keynote

Safari

Mail

Messages

FaceTime

Calendar

Contacts

App Store

iTunes

iBooks

Maps

Photo Booth

Time Machine

Wrap Up

The new MacBook sacrifices little portability for performance and it’s not really a bad thing. Not only do you get much better performance, a brighter display and much faster storage, but you also get more than 12 hours of battery life. Also the laptop is lightweight enough that you needn’t fear a dislocated shoulder from lugging it around, and the improved performance and battery life will aid you on many occasions.

Clearly, It’s more expensive than an Ultrabook, considering all the aspects, the new MacBook is worth the price. Besides, it is Apple’s most powerful mobile computer so far. So, if  you love Apple and if mobile computing is your thing, this $1299 machine is perfect for you.

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