MacBook Pro With Retina Display Meta-Review: Gorgeously Powerful

The first reviews of the new MacBook Pro with retina display are out, and to no one's surprise, it is ah-mazing. We'll have our own review of the new MacBook Pro soon, but in the meantime we've rounded up these first impressions.

Laptop Mag

All of these components translated to a blazing benchmark performance. On Cinebench 11.5, the new MacBook Pro returned a CPU score of 6.12 points. The 13-inch MacBook Air scored just 2.09 points on the CPU test, so we're talking 3X the performance. The last-generation 15-inch MacBook Pro scored 5.41, or about 18 per cent slower.

On Geekbench, the MacBook Pro scored 11,049, beating the Acer Timeline M3 by a wide margin (6,017) as well as the last-generation 15-inch Pro (10,874). The Alienware M18X we reviewed last year registered 9,458, while the more recent MSI GT60 got 10,854. So you know it's a good sign when this notebook is surpassing full-fledged gaming rigs.


In practice, there proved little we could do to trip the new MacBook Pro up. Apps load with alacrity, on-screen and ready for action even before the icon has finished its bouncing, and playing back Full HD video — something you can do in a window at full resolution, given the pixels on offer — while simultaneously browsing and rendering video in iMovie didn't see the notebook miss a beat.


It's the Retina display that makes it unlike any other personal computer that Apple or anyone else has released. As on the iPhone 4 and 4S and the new iPad, Apple upped the screen resolution to the point where the individual pixels are indistinguishable. The Pro's resolution of 2800 by 1800 pixels isn't merely impressive for a 15″ laptop; it's unprecedented. It's four times more than the old-style 15″ MacBook Pro, and nearly five times as many as the standard display on HP's suspiciously MacBook-like Envy 15 laptop.

Even beyond the record-setting resolution, this is an exceptional computer display. It's got less glare than previous MacBook Pro screens. Contrast and viewing angle are both outstanding.

New York Times

Videos, photos and text benefit from this astonishingly sharp screen. But keep in mind that your programs won't look any sharper until they're updated for the Retina screen. The standard Apple apps have been updated, or will be shortly: Safari, Mail, Aperture, iMovie, Final Cut, iPhoto. Updates for Photoshop and Autodesk are on the way.

Even in most nonupdated programs, menus, dialogue boxes and typed text get sharpened automatically. But in a few programs, text looks jagged and awful on the Retina screen.

The Verge

Screen notwithstanding, the most impressive feat is how small and light the MacBook Pro with Retina is. At .71 inches thick uniformly, the MacBook Pro with Retina display is just a hair taller than the .68-inch (at its thickest) MacBook Air — though in practice, we found the Air to stand actually a little taller on a table when side-to-side because of the shorter rubber feet on the bottom of the new generation Pro. Compared to the traditional 15-inch MacBook Pro, the Retina model is about 25 per cent lighter (4.46 vs. 5.6 pounds) with about 37 per cent less volumetric footprint.

ABC News

With the screen at 65 per cent brightness, the laptop's large battery still lasted six hours on a charge. I was able to work on the laptop for an entire 5.5 hour flight from San Francisco to Newark, and still had 20 per cent left when I touched down. On a more gruelling video playback test, which loops the same HD video clip, the laptop lasted 5 hours and 22 minutes. That's longer than most Windows 7 ultrabooks, though not as long as the 13-inch MacBook Air, which lasted an hour more on that same test.


Still, it only took a few minutes of hacking and slashing to get the bottom of this unit warm, and then noticeably hot. That, of course, caused the redesigned fan system to pop on, which draws in air from a pair of vents on the left and right sides of the bottom of the chassis and blows it out through the hinge. It's been optimised to create a less obnoxious sort of whirring noise. Indeed it's a subtle and unobtrusive white kind of sound, but it's definitely not silent. In fact, the fan doesn't sound particularly different than that on the current MacBook Air, though a few decibels less obtrusive.


    All this talk about apps needing to be updated to deal with the higher resolution - clearly this only affects OS X because of it's lack of custom DPI settings.

    What's surprising to me is why nobody has fired up Windows 7 on one of these and given it a proper go - the results would likely be far more compelling.

    Hmmm.., Might be fast, and with those specs it bloody should be. But apparently the build quality is crap and you can't even open it up to service the thing yourself. TechCrunch has done a teardown -

      Being difficult to repair and having a poor build quality are two very different things. From what I've read from a number of sources, the build quality is top notch. Yes, the RAM being soldered onto the board and the custom storage limits the ability for people to open it up and perform maintenance, but most people would rather send it to a service center to perform such work anyway.

      In this case it's the price you are paying for a more portable system.

      The article you linked actually praises the build quality. Did you read it?

        Yes I did read it and as far as I'm concerned only a fanboy would put up with the draconian methods Apple uses to prevent it's customers from repairing or upgrading their devices. I believe previously Macbooks were at least upgradeable by the owner (I may be wrong on that) but this one has to be literally posted back to the vendor for replacement by Apple. No doubt at an excruciating price. To say that most buyers would be happy to return it for upgrade or repair is a whole other can of worms that speaks volumes about Apple fans!!
        @ Richard, The thing is glued and soldered together, that may make it more sturdy, but it doesn't make it a good build either.

          Oh and I could swear that article was much longer yesterday, if anybody else read it could you chime and confirm or deny..!

          I appreciate being glued together doesn't make the build quality great. I'm going off the other reviws I've read but that said it was well built.

          I can appreciate the benefits to having a machine that is easily repaired. That says, assuming Apple doesn't begin to up the price into oblivion (and currently the extended warranty at least appears to be the same price), then it's the service desks issue not the consumers. It obviously removed the ability for an end user to swap the RAM or HDD, but for any other issue most people would have been SOL anyway.

    Given the economic power and the aggressive marketing of Apple its hard to accept the review of one of their products as being unbiased. I guess I'll have to see for myself.

    who repairs their own laptops any more? beyond a nerd geek hacker? its like saying the latest Ford card is crap cause you can't fix it yourself without special tools, Or the latest Sony TV is crap cause you can't fix it yourself ....! give me a break!

      And when your Ford is 10 years old and you want to do the services yourself? Terrible analogy there.

      As an IT tech, being able to service these things is infinitely useful for diagnosis. Sure, we get onsite warranty on all the Macs we buy, but it's nice to be able to give all the details and all the diagnosis you've done to Apple so we can get our onsite organised ASAP.

      There's people out there who have bought the pentalobe screwdrivers, and the adapter for the SSD from the 2011 Macbook Airs. You're not indicitative of everyone, nor am I.

        Addendum: Just because you don't want to do that, doesn't mean nobody does.

          Addendum: Just because you want to do that, doesn’t mean everybody does.

        who can service a car thats 10 years old? not many.. it still has heaps of proprietary electronic box's sensors etc... whens the last time you change a speed sensor, or a timing belt on a 2002 model car, good luck doing it yourself. Who repairs a 10 year old TV? you don't you get a new one. Whens the last time you repair a 10 year old fridge or washing machine yourself? Laptops have a life of 3-4 years... anything beyidn that , you throw it out, I had a 3 year old dell laptop at work, its motherboard failed... no parts to fix it anymore... it was thrown in the bin !

      What if you want to do something simple like upgrade the storage? With my Dell M4400, all I had to do to replace the HDD with a speedy SSD was undo two screws, which removed a cover and allowed me to slide out the old drive and slide in a new one. Even upgrading it from dual-core to quad-core is easy enough for anyone to do. These are not things I would want to have to take my computer to a service centre to do.

      Even better, adding a second SSD was even easier because that machine has an Express Card slot (as well as an older CardBus slot). I think it is a shame to see the PCMCIA slots gone from pretty much all new laptops. It offers a lot of flexibility. e.g. My M4400 has the second SSD in the Express slot and a pro audio device (Echo Indigo) in the CardBus slot.

        Or you could just decide what you need when you buy the laptop and stop doing patchy repairs. Spend a little bit more on components that will get you through, and replace it after 4 years.

          Nah, flash can still get cheaper (moreso than what Apple are offering the larger SSDs for even). You'd be better to get less storage now and buy it cheaper slightly later by far.

      I take my car to my mechanic of choice and if the gearbox fails I don't have to throw away the whole car and if I had the tools I could replace it myself. The problem with this laptop is when out of warranty and iff you don't have an expensive extended warranty option and say the screen fails then the whole machine is kaput.

    Wow, I'd hope the 4.5 thousand dollar computer was good, considering it's about double the price of a PC laptop with the same specs (besides the screen).

    I'm not seeing the use in the screen though, most things, including the few games mac has, won't support it.

      Riavan like you I'm a PC guy but let's not make ourselves look like idiots and give false price info, if we're going to show PCs are better value let's not use dirty tricks, its $2,499 for retina MacBook pro dude...

        Fully tricked out though? Asus does a decent *portable gaming rig for less than AU$2500

        The retina screen is completely useless for most things, including video games though, which was my point.

        You're mentioning the bottom of the line macbook pro, which I hadn't looked at the specs for, still I have an advertisement right here that offers an ASUS llaptop for 800 dollars cheaper with better specs in everything other than the screen.

    Where are your meta-reviews and all the rest of it for all the other Ivy Bridge laptops? Why do Apple get so much more media coverage than PC vendors? I mean, I can understand it with iPhone and iPad, as they are the dominant devices in their segment, but MacBook Pro is just another laptop in a very crowded market.

      Come back to us with your meta review of any other laptop with a 2880*1800 resolution in a 15" screen. I'm looking forward to it.

        With that resolution you're going to be able to uh... see ur photoshop pictures in a higher DPI? :\ ? I know they announced diablo 3 specifically will have a bigger res for it, but really, big whoop.

        Look if I'm seriously wrong here, I'd like to know, what else is the higher resolution and DPI going to do when the industry as a whole has not moved to a new standard?

      Honestly. Other than the fact that it has retina display - its because its apple. Any story that has apple in it becomes an instant 'hit'.
      Whether good bad, product release or court cases, CEOs or former employees - et et.

      Because they write for an audience, and this is what the audience wants to read. Nobody cares about 'just another PC laptop.'

    I'd rather have a Asus X53E-SX1979V.

      Then buy one dude, why do people care what everone else buys. Get what you want, who cares what everyone else thinks.

    i figured it gets hot. apple are not known for their function over form design. i can barely touch my MBP, and it definately nevers goes near my nads

      @ glenco,
      yea about time they put an intake slot for those cooling fan. the old intake design (from the hinge) just doesn't quite work. and now least its make it more effective with laptop coolers.

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