Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch with Retina Display Review - Battery, Value and Verdict Review

Retina MacBook Pro Battery

(40 percent screen brightness, wireless radios disabled, mixed productivity)
344 minutes

Apple claims battery life of seven hours, which is identical to the previous, fatter MacBook Pro. We ran the same Windows 7-based benchmark that we submit every laptop to on the MacBook Pro 15 inch with Retina Display and achieved five hours and 44 minutes.

That’s not great considering this was light multi-tasking at 40 percent screen brightness and with wireless radios disabled. The similarly-sized Samsung Series 7 Chronos, for example, managed seven and a half hours in the same test, albeit with a 1,600 x 900 screen.

On the other hand, with lighter real-world use we did achieve just over Apple’s claimed figure. In other words, if you use the MacBook Pro 15 inch with Retina Display casually it will hold up to the claimed time, otherwise if you were to work on it throughout the day, you can expect under six hours.

Retina MacBook Pro Value
Undoubtedly the single most divisive issue for potential buyers of the MacBook Pro 15 inch with Retina Display will be its price, which at £1,800 is a very significant chunk of change.

Perhaps where we should start is with the non-Retina 15in MacBook Pro, which is still available with the same CPU and GPU, but only 4GB of RAM and a regular hard drive for £1,500. To upgrade this to specs matching the base Retina version would set you back £2,120, and that wouldn’t net you a gorgeous 2,880 x 1,800 IPS screen. So the only reasons to go for Apple’s ‘regular’ MacBook Pro would be if you absolutely require an internal optical drive or, more likely, upgradeable specifications. Otherwise it’s Retina all the way.

It’s even more difficult to compare to Windows PC laptops. Remember that with Ivy Bridge only just being launched and Windows 8 drawing near, we’re about to see a veritable deluge of laptops from every major manufacturer. And at the premium end, many of these are likely to have high-resolution IPS/PLS displays – we’re already seeing that trend manifesting with Ultrabooks like the Zenbook Prime, with its 1080p 13in IPS screen.

Perhaps the closest configurable competitor at the moment is the 2012 Sony VAIO S15, which is a similarly-sized premium, metal-clad powerhouse sporting a backlit keyboard and 1,920 x 1,080 IPS screen. Specced with a quad-core Ivy Bridge Core i7, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and GT640 graphics, it comes to £1,624 – so everything considered the new Pro with Retina is not actually quite as overpriced as it might at first appear.

Quite simply, the MacBook Pro 15 inch with Retina Display’s 2,880 x 1,800 IPS ‘Retina’ screen is amazing. And now that Apple finally offers USB 3.0 to go along with this laptop’s twin Thunderbolt ports, connectivity is also unmatched. Though they’re not upgradeable, specifications are powerful yet nicely balanced, even allowing for some decent gaming. Given you get all this goodness in a beautiful milled aluminium chassis that’s thinner than ever before, the Retina MacBook Pro does a lot to justify its premium price.

Trusted Score

Score in detail

  • Performance 9
  • Design 10
  • Screen Quality 10
  • Value 7
  • Features 9
  • Battery Life 7

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