13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display Review: The Almost Perfect Laptop  


Powerful Insides
The screen is only one reason to upgrade, though. The rest happens inside. My review unit's 2.5GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB solid state drive all pushed Apple's Mountain Lion operating system along with multiple apps open, including Photoshop, Microsoft Outlook and Word, Tweetdeck, GarageBand, and others. Thanks to the 128GB flash drive the laptop also starts up in just 15 seconds and resumes from sleep almost instantly.

But while the drive is fast, 128GB of space means it is also limited. My MacBook Pro has a 500GB hard drive and I never worry about having to offload photos or video. This wouldn't be such a big deal if upgrading weren't so much extra. Moving up to a 256GB drive costs $300 -- raising the price of the laptop to $1,999. I'll come back to the price soon, but I have to wonder why Apple hasn't made a move to put its Fusion Drive, which blends flash and traditional, large hard drives, in the 21.5-inch iMac in a laptop.

The battery life on the laptop was impressive, especially coming from my 13-inch Pro. When looping an HD video, the laptop lasted almost seven hours (six hours and 56 minutes to be exact). I didn't have to charge the laptop until I was three quarters of the way through my workday. Speaking of the HD video, the laptop plays back HD video very smoothly, and while it doesn't have Nvidia's higher-end graphics, the Intel graphics were just fine for my needs.

Bottom Line:
I would say the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina is the absolute perfect laptop for me if it weren't for the storage size and the price. $1,699 is a lot of money to spend on a laptop, and then, if I want to get the larger drive I am looking at almost 2 grand. In many ways, the 15-inch version is a better deal -- for $2,199 you get better graphics and a faster quad-core processor.

But, of course then I wouldn't get the trimmer dimensions of the 13-inch version, which is more important to me. Which is why, even with those sacrifices, I'll likely be making the Retina MacBook the most used gadget in my arsenal when my current Pro is on its last legs.

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