Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch with Retina Display Review



  • Gorgeous, unrivalled IPS screen
  • Superb, class-leading connectivity
  • Sleek, attractive design
  • Relatively slim and light
  • Powerful, balanced specifications


  • Very expensive
  • Not upgradeable
  • No Gigabit Ethernet
  • Non-standard screen resolution

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £1799.00
  • 15.4in glass-fronted 2,880 x 1,800 IPS screen
  • Aluminium unibody chassis, relatively slim and light
  • Quad-core Core i7 ‘Ivy Bridge’, 8GB RAM, 768GB SSD
  • Nvidia GeForce GT 650M with 1GB of RAM
  • Twin Thunderbolt, USB 3.0, Bluetooth 4.0

Updated: now with Diablo 3 results, the first game optimised for Retina.

Retina MacBook Pro Intro
Until now, Apple laptops have been gorgeous and well-built options, but they certainly weren’t always at the cutting edge. In fact, you could usually get machines that were just as good if not better for a lot less, as evinced by comparing the Samsung Series 7 Chronos 700Z5A to Apple’s previous MacBook Pro 15in. However, now the maker of everyone’s favourite tablet has caught up, and then some.

The MacBook Pro 15 inch with Retina Display, as it’s awkwardly called, is in some ways the best laptop money can buy, doing more to justify its premium than any MacBook Pro before it. If you want to know exactly what, have a read of our MacBook Retina Rising – is Apple’s new MacBook Pro the Best Laptop Ever? piece. However, while it may be unmatched in certain areas, how does it hold up overall – especially when its rather steep £1,800 price is taken into account?

Let’s start off with what you get for that money. The highlight, of course, is its Retina Display, which is a 15.4in IPS affair with a stunning resolution of 2,880 x 1,800 – that’s 220ppi. It’s fitted in an anodised aluminium chassis that’s slimmer than previous models, thanks in part to the omission of an optical drive. The backlit chiclet keyboard and glass touchpad remain much as before. Specs-wise you get a choice of Ivy Bridge Core i7 processors, 8GB of RAM as standard, up to 768GB of SSD storage and Nvidia GeForce GT 650M dedicated graphics. Meanwhile for connectivity Apple provides both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt.

SEE ALSO: Best Laptops, Ultrabooks and Hybrids

Retina MacBook Pro Design
From a design point of view, Apple hasn’t fixed what wasn’t broken. Its unibody, milled aluminium chassis are still cutting edge (not literally, despite a few edges that are sharper than we would ideally like) for both aesthetics and the feeling of sublime build quality they convey. Anodised aluminium throughout, the latest MacBook Pro 15 inch looks and feels every bit a premium product.

What Apple has done is slim things down significantly, while shaving quite a bit of weight off too. In fact, if you put the Air 13in and the MacBook Pro 15 inch with Retina Display side by side, you’ll notice they’re the same height at the Air’s thickest point (thanks in part to slightly deeper feet on the Air, the chassis is actually 1mm thinner). As it’s not a tapering design, the Pro is 1.8cm thick throughout.

It also weighs just a feather over 2kg, compared to more than 2.5kg for its predecessor. Considering you’re getting more powerful internals that’s a not unimpressive achievement, though those who like watching DVDs may lament the only way to do so now is with an external drive. Still, for anyone carrying one of these around all day, the weight reduction will be a Godsend.

While we’re on the topic of design, Apple’s modular power adapter deserves a mention of its own. The fruity company is one of the only ones that lets you choose between a two-part power cable with brick in the middle, or a sleek single solution terminating in the power brick – either way you get the kind of adapter you prefer.

We also adore MagSafe, which is the easiest to plug in of any power connector ever. And though we’re not sure it was necessary to update the standard, the slimmer MagSafe 2 is a thing of elegant beauty that can be used with older attachments through an adapter.

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