MacBook Pro 13” with Retina Display Review

What we got here is the MacBook Pro 13″ with Retina display. For any intent and reason, this is the same one that was released some time ago, except for just one important thing: it trades out the old track pad in favor of a more pressuring-sensitive “Force Touch” pad that reacts in a different way based on how hard you press down on it. (A harder press on the skip key in QuickTime, for example, will let you to fast-forward at a higher speed rate.)

Moreover, the new MBP delivers all the specifications improvements you would anticipate in a system renewing, such as quicker SSDs, clean design and Intel’s newest Core processor chips. At $1,299-plus, it has the same cost as before, and since its design or Retina display have not been modified, you are likely to use it as much as you used the last-gen version. We cannot guarantee that you will love the new touch pad, though.

The rejuvenated MacBook Pro with Retina display delivers quicker efficiency and longer battery power, along with the same amazing display and relaxed keyboard. This time, though, Apple has also exchanged in its already-ideal-in-its-class track pad for a new, pressure-sensitive component. While it is almost as relaxing to use as its forerunner, we are not assured that these new known models were worth switching. That said, the 13“Retina MBP continues to be one of the few laptops of such compact dimensions that provides a longer battery power and this kind of modern design.

Over the previous couple of years, we have seen that Apple’s MacBook Pro line has obtained only minimal specifications up-dates, while having the same primary metal unibody framework. Other top quality laptop computers have shaved oz. and mm from their systems, and included touch screens and multiple relies, new graphic cards and even powerful 4K displays, while a MacBook Pro, like a MacBook Air, feels and looks the same as it was some time ago.

For 2015, the 13-inch MacBook Pro maintains the same body system and high-resolution Retina Display, while including some specifications and improvements that run from minimal to significant. As predicted, the system goes to Intel’s fifth-gen Core i-series processors, also known by the name of Broadwell. The efficiency leap from this is a small one, but the battery power gets a moderate increase, and Apple’s built-in flash storage, similar to a solid-state drive (SSD) found in other laptops, gets a speed enhancement as well.

But the most significant upgrade is the addition of Apple’s brand new Force Touch track pad. This new style looks and seems a lot like Apple’s conventional well-regarded track pads, but changes the top dependence and clickable area for a click-free model that imitates the feel of actually pushing the pad with the help of haptic feedback.

That new track pad is also added to the long awaited new 12-inch MacBook, where its extra-slim system will truly benefit from the slimmer, click-free style. In the 13” Pro, it is more of a tricky technique and aside from some contextual pop-ups provided when you press down harder, you might not even find the difference.

General Specifications

MacBook Pro 13” with Retina Display

If you already have a MacBook Pro or if you have even messed around the Apple stores, then you know what to see here. The fresh MBP, like many before it, is designed from a smooth block of produced metal, with springy, nicely spaced buttons and a sharp 2,560 x 1,600 display, surrounded by a skinny, hardly there frame. As before, the device measures a thin 0.71 inches width, though Apple has recorded its weight as a little bit bulkier now: 3.48 lbs, in contrast to 3.46.

Around the sides, you get the same choice of slots: two USB 3.0 ports, a fully sized HDMI outlet, a couple of Thunderbolt 2 slots, an SD cards port and an earphone port. No USB Type-C slots like on the new MacBook – not this time. By the way, the metal lid and framework are rather scratch-prone. With this, we are done referring to the MacBook Pro’s components.

Except for its new track pad, of course, since we have a lot more to say about this. For starters: what a dangerous things for the developers to do, changing the touch pad that is already the best in its category. Evaluators like it; customers seem to like it. So, what is the problem? Except for the point that the force Touch pad can perform things that the Mac normal track pads cannot do. We already provided the example of pushing down on the skip button in QuickTime to go back or fast-forward at 60-x speed rate. But there are other uses too: You can use its “Force Click” in Safari to have Wikipedia previews and term explanations.

You can annotate in Email or Preview. Speaking of Email, you can Force Click on some address and watch it appear in a pop-up. You can also use it for Finder to preview information. And those are only built-in Mac apps; designers can develop this function into third-party applications as well.

Before we get into the application of all this, though, allow us to take a take a step back and describe how this stuff works. Though it is about as large as the one on the old design, the new Force Touch feature goes away with an old-school “diving panel” – the depending procedure that makes it much simpler to press down on the lower part of a touchpad rather than on its top. Actually, this track pad does not have any buttons; there is nothing to push when you move around your fingers. Instead, Apple tricks you into thinking you are simply clicking something.

How? By using a “Taptic Engine” – a lot of cables coiled around some primary core that offer immediate haptic feedback to coordinate whatever you are doing on-screen. It is so effective, in reality, that you would sometimes ignore it is not a normal track pad – until you turn the device off, anyway, and remain with a solid part of glass.

This being said, the “button presses” do not feel like using the track pads as on the other MacBooks. If you have an older device, as many are, you will find out that the new track pad seems shallower; even if Apple makes the whole experience as if you are simply clicking on something, your hand I not “pressing down” as deep as it normally would. This was a big modification for many, but you can discover a few methods to get over it. First off, you can switch on the “tap-to-click” choice in the configurations, which helps you to prevent “clicking” when it feels too strange. Secondly, there is also a choice in the configurations to modify the click pressure. Shifting it from “medium” (the default level) to “light” also helps make softer the learning curve.

Was it all of this worth it? Do the advantages of a pressure-sensitive touch pad over-shadow the difficulty of taking away the device people are used to? We are not yet sure that they do. In the Safari, at least, the uniqueness went off quickly, especially since it often took the users several attempts to get it right. Sure, it is awesome to be capable to Force Touch on a term and be able to read a vocabulary meaning or a Wikipedia evaluation, but because you never completely get the hold of the action, it is far easier to just start a new browser tab and have a quick research.

In that regard, the Force Touch pad does not change your routines and it is the same with Finder: when you click on a thumbnail to see it, the real “preview” is still little, unless you go for a second, powerful press and then it extends to a bigger size. You would still want to use a keyboard shortcut: pressing the space bar to have a much bigger preview.

It is perhaps because this design has best kept up with the modifying laptop scenery. The present Air versions are returning to ageing styles and low display solutions, and the 15-inch MacBook Pro has not obtained the same up-dates or new track pad, and is basically too big to have around more than once or twice per week (although it is excellent for a desk-bound system). The traditional non-Retina-Display MacBook Pro is amazingly still clinging on as the previous MacBook with the optical drive, but does not have too much going for it. There is a lot of hype around the new 12” MacBook, but the low-power Intel processor, deficiency of slots and low-res web camera mean that, most likely, it will not be the utility vehicle that other Macs are.

You will enjoy the super-quick fast-forwarding, though. For some, at least, this might be the best and most realistic reason to use a pressure-sensitive track pad. Even this way, the Force Touch seems like it is another nice-to-use feature; you do not mind that it is there, and you eventually get used to it, but it is also not a thing you particularly need. It is certainly not vital on the level of a Retina display that generally ruined the lower resolution MacBook Air display for many other customers. Every Mac should get a Retina panel; while the Force Touch track pad can be taken or left at this moment.

Performance and Battery Power Life


The rejuvenated MacBook Pro comes not too long after Intel started delivering its fifth-gen Core processors named “Broadwell”. As you would anticipate, then, the device comes with an option of new i5 and i7 processor, though just dual-core for now, because Intel has not launched its quad-core Broadwell chips yet. Also it is not surprising that the efficiency increase is in many ways a pretty moderate one.

When the company first revealed these processors, it said that we should only expect a 5% improvement in productivity-oriented projects. So it seems realistic, then, that the MacBook Pro’s outcomes in general-performance standards are only partially better than they were some years ago. Equipped with a 2.7 GHz Primary i5 processor and 8 GB of RAM, we saw less than 100-point distinctions in assessments like Geekbench or Xbench.

That being said, Broadwell guarantees some bigger benefits in design – after all, an entire two-thirds of its die area is devoted to design. In particular, according to the company, Broadwell devices should provide a 25 % enhancement in 3D graphics standards, and up to 50% quicker video-conversion time. The new MacBook Pro really does most Broadwell devices work better:

As before, it has the processor producer’s high-end solution, instead of the regular Intel HD design. Given that MBP is mainly made for prosumers and innovative benefits, we made the decision to analyze the Iris 6100 by operating the Final Cut Pro with a few 4K segments. Aside from one decreased frame – due to trying to add a transformation – movie playback was sleek. In fact, we were usually looking to add results immediately without resulting in any issues or slowdowns.

In game playing, meanwhile, we saw a minor push in Batman: Arkham City, with frame rates increasing from 32 fps to 33. Not really amazing, that The Pro was never designed as a game playing device, per se.

Even more than its new processor, though, the greatest enhancement might be the hard disks’ speed. Though the Retina MacBook Pro has had SSDs (which are quicker than the mSATA ones) for only a year and a half, Apple says that the PCIe parts used in the newest MBP are twice as quick as the previous PCIe SSDs used. Particularly, the company says the new drives can accomplish an optimum top speed of 1.6 GB/s and a max write speed of 1.5 GB/s.

Indeed, in a Blackmagic disk analyze, the experts got regular levels of a speed of 1.3 GB/s, quite near to the guaranteed rate, although the writing speed came to a normal of 643.6 MB/s. That is still higher than just about any other 13” laptop we have examined recently; we just could not accomplish those theoretical levels of speed of 1.5 GB per second. In real-world terms, this results in quick efficiency, influencing everything from app operating to cold boot-ups.

Apple says its new 13-inch Retina screen MacBook Pro is able of up to 12 hours of web surfing around, or up to 15 hours of iTunes movie playback. Sure enough, that does indeed goes with Apple’s own calculation, and hey, even 12 hours is amazing for a device in this category – the only other system seen lately that suits that is the HP’s Spectre x360.

Still, you will be amazed that battery power does not last even for a longer period. First off, though the device satisfies Apple’s reports, the Macs we have examined usually surpass objectives – that is why the delayed 2013 version, which was ranked for nine hours of playback, actually got through more than 11 hours.

This gets us to the element number two: the battery power here more or less suits the readings we got some time ago. Also, to even accomplish smooth year-over-year continuous power, we had to go with iTunes; when we saw films through QuickTime and used a computer file downloadable from somewhere else, battery power was less than an hour of its   predicted ending. To be reasonable, even Intel told us that battery power benefits with Broadwell would be pretty moderate with the last seasons’ processors, but still, we did anticipate more of an enhancement.

At least, other reviews have mentioned bigger gains; we are just not sure why it was not able to duplicate their analyzed outcomes. We will continue operating some assessments and will update this evaluation if anything improves.


Configuration Options


The 13” Retina display MacBook Pro begins at $1,299 with a 2.7 GHz fifth-gen Intel i5 processor, Iris Graphics 6100, 8 GB of RAM and the 128 GB solid-state disk. From here, you can update to a little bit quicker 2.9 GHz i5 processor for another $100, or a 3.1 GHz CPU for around $300. You can double the RAM to 16 GB for just $200.

Want more space? Apple also offers a 256 GB version ($1,499) and another with a 512 GB SSD ($1,799). For the $1,499 design, you have the same specifications as the $1,299 version, just with more storage space. If you go for the $1,799 edition with 512 GB of storage space, though, you will also have a little bit quicker 2.9 GHz processor. There is also a $500 1 TB SSD choice, but it is only provided as an up sell for the $1,799 unit.

One thing you will not discover on the 13” Retina MBP: a distinct design choice. That is only available on the 15” version, and even then, it will cost you more than $2,499.

The Competitors

Dell XPS 13

Mac diehards who buy a laptop with reasonable graphic skills really have one choice: the Retina display MacBook Pro. For the ones who are more OS loyal, though, you can get a few other excellent PC choices. Most do not have quite the same graphics power as the 13” Retina MBP, but at least they do offer in the same way distinct displays, top quality construction and lengthy battery power. Some crowd favorites are the Dell XPS 13 (over$800) and HP Spectre x360 ($900).

Beginning with the Dell, it has a weight of 2.6 lbs and has a bezel-less (almost 3,200 x 1,800) screen that allows it to have a more compact footprint than a common 13” laptop. All said and done, it gained a ranking of 90 in the evaluations, thanks not just to its lightweight design and sharp display, but also a relaxed key-board, quick efficiency and amazingly excellent sound. The only real pet peeve might have been the sometimes temperamental touch pad.

As for the HP Spectre, it has the 2,560 x 1,440-display choice and a polished metal development that some might say that it was taken from the MacBook itself. We have not launched an evaluation yet, but we can tell you now that its battery power is impressive: about 12 hours of movie playback in all assessments. It is also less heavy than the MacBook Pro, with q weight that ranges from 3.15 to 3.25 lbs, based on the configurations. Again, still improving off the evaluation, but we think it is safe to say that this is a strong choice if you are looking for a top quality, high-performing 13” device.

If, in the end, you discover that design does not matter that much – and you can might even live without the distinct display – Apple’s 13” MacBook Air is less expensive, at $999. It is also less heavy with a longer battery power. And it has its old touch pad too, if that is what you like, but again, you would be renouncing at that clear resolution to get it.


The rejuvenated Retina display MacBook Pro is mostly a step-by-step enhancement over the past models, with even quicker hard drive speed rates and more powerful style, along with the same relaxing to use key-board, thin appearance, long battery power and amazing images. The only area where the MBP jumps a possible leap in reverse is its touch pad. To Apple’s credit, its pressure-sensitive Force Touch is exciting, and has the prospective to become more useful as third party designers start to integrate this “Force Click” into their own applications.

In fact, we are still interested to see what a prospective Force Touch iPhone could look like; perhaps the technicalities could be preferable there, where having levels of sensitivity does not mean forfeiting the best-in-class track pad. Right now, the Force Touch seems like a remedy to a problem we are not sure anyone had. In the worst case, it is a gimmick; at best, it is a nice-to-have function. Either way, although this new touch pad does not feel quite as the old “diving panel”, you should at least be used to it easily.

In the end, despite its faults (the not so deep touch pad, the ongoing deficiency of a distinct graphics option), the 13” Retina display appears as one of the only laptop computers of this dimension that provides this level of mobility, picture and graphics power, in addition to this awesome screen. If you want a light and portable device with enough handling power for a little 4K video modifying, this is still one of the best wagers.

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