Apple's coveted Retina display has finally found its way to a full-size notebook thanks to the latest MacBook Pro. However, anyone familiar with this new system knows that Apple didn't just add a higher resolution display to the standard MacBook Pro frame. Instead, there's a completely redesigned case that's almost as thin as the MacBook Air and weighs more than a pound less than the Standard Pro.
Customers can also configure a Retina system with up to 16 GB of RAM and 768 GB of flash storage, while a Standard Pro offers a maximum of 8 GB of RAM and 512 GB of solid-state storage. But hey, who are we kidding, the only reason most people are going to be thinking about the extra cash on Apple's latest and greatest amount of money is the 2880 x 1800 resolution of the retina display. And I'll go ahead and get you into a little secret initiate: it is a matter of beauty.
Our MacBook Pro test device & # 39; Retina & # 39; is equipped with a third generation Intel Core i7 quad-core processor running at 2.3 GHz (Ivy Bridge, Turbo Boost up to 3.3 GHz), 8 GB DDR3L 1600 MHz RAM, 256 GB flash memory and Intel HD The clock rate is 4000 Graphics, a discrete Nvidia GeForce GT 650M GPU with 1 GB GDDR5 memory and an integrated FaceTime HD camera. This is the base model of the MacBook Pro with a Retina display, which sells for a whopping $ 2,199.
I've drawn some similarities to the MacBook Air in terms of overall thickness, but the two systems certainly don't look the same from the outside. If the air is shaped more like a wedge that thickens as you move towards the back of the system, the Retina Pro is evenly thick throughout and is 1.5 pounds heavier (4.46 pounds total).
On the front of the system is the well-known cutout that makes lifting the lid easier. On the right side there is an SDXC card reader, an HDMI port and a USB 3.0 port. On the opposite edge is the MagSafe 2 power connector, two Thunderbolt ports, another USB 3.0 port and a headphone jack. There isn't an Ethernet jack on this system, but Apple sells a Thunderbolt Gigabit Ethernet adapter for $ 29 if you need it. In our opinion, this is an understandable compromise between design and functionality.
Under the lid we find the traditional backlit Apple keyboard and a large touchpad with an integrated click button. In contrast to the Air, which stows the speakers under the keyboard, the Pro with Retina display has speaker grilles on both sides of the keyboard that are cut directly into the housing. I prefer the stealth approach in the air for aesthetic reasons, but I suppose if you have additional real estate you can make the most of it too.
If you didn't know this was the Retina display system, a glance at the display will point you in the right direction even when the device is switched off. For one thing, there is no conventional bezel that surrounds the screen. It looks similar to the HP Envy 14's Infinity Display, but the main visual difference is that the actual panel is just as dark black as the “bezel” around it.
It really is a stunning look, partly achieved by Apple removing the cover glass in front of the LCD panel. As Anandtech explains, LCD panels are usually made up of unattractive squares with two pieces of glass and multiple filters and polarizers. The bezel is used to hide the rough edges of the glass and LCD panel, although newer attempts like the infinity display mentioned above use a different piece of glass on the outside to give the illusion that the panel and bezel are one Form unity.
Apple built the bezel and outermost glass into the LCD stack, so you can get an effect similar to covering glass without the added reflections that can sometimes occur. There is a risk here that the outer glass and the LCD essentially form a unit. So if you scratch the glass, you will also damage the actual LCD panel. It really is nothing more than working with a matte display, since you are also dealing with the panel externally there. It's kind of a give and take relationship, but as long as you are careful working on your system, the tradeoff is definitely worth it.
Above the display is the FaceTime HD camera and on the back of the super-thin lid is the Apple brand logo, which glows white when the system is turned on.
Apple originally shipped the MBP with a Retina display with OS X Lion and a free upgrade to Mountain Lion as soon as it was available. Every system purchased today ships directly with the latest version of OS X.
As I indicated in my MacBook Air review a few weeks ago, I am exclusively a Windows user, so I check the hardware with something called fresh eyes, even though I have more experience with a Mac with this system afterwards. I've also had extensive experience with iOS since the original iPad hit the market.