MacBook Pro with Retina display 15-inch (2013) video review

Andy Vandervell



Read the full MacBook Pro with Retina display 15-inch (2013) review

The 15-inch MacBook Pro is one of the more specialised machines in Apple's product line-up. With prices starting at £1,699 it never comes cheap, while its 15-inch frame means it's not the most portable MacBook. Yet, at 2kg it's a lot more portable than most laptops this size, which is important if you need the kind of power its quad-core Intel Core i7 processor provides in as portable a body as possible. There are other attractions, too, the screen being the most obvious. The 2,800 x 1,800 resolution screen is ultra-sharp, but is also accurate, bright and colourful. Its extra resolution is particularly useful for photo and video editing, reinforcing the point that this more of a specialist tool than a general purpose computer like the smaller, 13-inch MacBook Pro. Its design plays to these strengths. As ever its beautifully engineered, a fact strengthened by the effortlessly smooth glass touchpad that's become some integral to the MacBook's appeal. It's so good that's it's one of the only touchpad's we've used that we prefer to an actual mouse. Of course, this being Apple connectivity isn't prodigious, but what's here is well-chosen. There are just two USB 3 ports, though they're on separate sides so they can't block each other. The right-hand one is joined by an HDMI output and an SDXC memory card slot. The HDMI port is an unusual one for any MacBook, but a vital one for anyone looking to use the MacBook Pro for video editing. The left side, meanwhile, includes the alternative to HDMI: two Thunderbolt ports. These do double service as mini DisplayPort outputs, which mean you could in theory have two 2,560 x 1,600 external displays alongside the built-in screen, or you can daisy-chain up to six peripherals on each port. There's a single headphone/mic jack, too, and dual-microphones built-in for active noise cancelling. On the inside there's 802.11ac Wi-Fi (a notable omission on the most recent iPads) and Bluetooth 4.0. There's no space for built-in Ethernet, of course, but Gigabit Ethernet is available via an adapter if you need it. In general use, the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro flies. The quad-core CPU and PCI-e SSD ensure there's virtually delay doing everyday tasks, and it's fast enough to deal with image and video editing tasks at a good speed. Gaming performance isn't as impressive, however. Most come with Intel's Iris Pro graphics, and the only dedicated graphics option is a 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 750M that doesn't really have the gumption to handle games to a level we'd hope for a laptop at this price. This is a disappointing, but the battery life is a reminder of why this is. Despite weighing just 2kg, Apple claims eight hours of mixed used from a full-charge and we managed ten hours of light web browsing. These are fantastic results for a laptop this size. It's also a very cool and quiet machine. It will get noisy under load, but during general use you'll rarely know it has a fan to keep things cool. Overall, this isn't a great desktop replacement if you want to play games, but that isn’t such a big deal if you’re more interested in doing video and graphics work using GPU acceleration and need the portability. If you’re in the latter camp then the MacBook Pro remains a very good choice. Nothing can rival it for power and portability in one, even if it comes with a chunky price tag attached. For that reason alone we recommend it, but you have to need what it provides to make it worth it.

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