REVIEW: Retina MacBook Pro 15″
Well this is the very first review on this newly created blog, so why not start off with a nice review about the Retina MacBook Pro also abbreviated rMBP.
Since the dawn of Apple, the engineers have strived to make the best looking devices with world first innovations, and boy, have they already graced us with some fine pieces of machinery.
Such as the early Macs: Macintoshes, PowerBooks, iMacs, MacBook (Pros), Mac Minis, Mac Pros; their musicplayerline called iPod and of course their latests inventions, the iPhone and iPad.
But let’s talk a little about their laptops first. In 1990 they released their first line of portables, Macintosh Portable, soon to be replaced by their siblings Powerbooks, equipped with innovations such as the first trackball and the palm rest in front of the keyboard. Later on they improved them with colour screens, stereo speakers and an ethernetport.
Here’s the Powerbook 100 with trackball and palm rest
But when they presented the PowerBook G4 Titanium the world was in awe because of the thin design and the titanium body of the slimmest laptop at that moment. That also made it one of the most expensive laptops during that time.
Here’s the famous but expensive PowerBook G4 Ti
Since then they just perfected that way of constructing their Pro line of laptops. But the breakthrough was when achieved a new way of constructing their aluminum body out of one piece. Which made it more sturdy and also much lighter because of the lesser materials used.
And here’s its follow up the MacBook Pro, and the picture right under it, the MacBook Pro Unibody, machined out of one single piece of aluminum.
A few years later they introduced their latest lovechild, the MacBook Air, it was truly a technical tour de force. The late late Steve Jobs had this postal envelope on his desk, and in it, their new Air. The audience at that keynote loudly applauded when he finally took it out of the envelope.
The picture of Jobs taking it out of the envelope
Hence forth a new kind of laptop was born, called the Ultrabook. Of course most pc manufacturers like Asus, Acer, jumped the bandwagon and also started to make their own variations of the MacBook Air.
Then it was June 2012 at the World Wide Developers Conference, the most well known Apple conference where developers meet to test the latest and greatest, where Apple finally revealed their upper segment of their MacBook Pro line. The newest member of the family dubbed the MacBook Pro Retina. Most people already knew what that word “retina” meant, it was the same word Apple used to call the high res screen of their iPhone 4. But none of them really knew the new resolution of the small 15″ laptop, so many were surprised when Phill Schiller finally revealed the 2880 by 1800 resolution. Especially photographers were excited to see their beloved work on this very HD screen in its full IPS (In-Plane Switching) glory. And also xcoders rejoiced because then they were able to see a lot more code on their screen at once. And Mac OS X was at that time also resolution independent, so it didn’t matter how high the resolution, everything was still readable and not too small. And now with the Ultra HD resolution, they simply remade their OS in HD quality, better icons, better fonts, etc…
At home I bought my Mac Pro in 2010, but I kind of missed my previous MacBook Pro which I sold to buy the Mac Pro. So in 2012 I thought, why the hell not, let’s buy the rMBP. So after everything said and done, I forked over 2400 euro to buy this new beast.
Here its configuration in Geekbench Browser:
And here she is, out of her smallish box
In the box there was the usual: the charger, the manual, the apple stickers, and that’s all.
So when I got it out of the box, I booted the laptop. And I was already timing the boot time, since I already had my Mac Pro equipped with an SSD, I wanted to know whether or not, the laptop was faster in booting, and it was: 10 seconds and everything was loaded and ready to configure.
Of course the first thing I noticed was that marvelous screen, colours where as vibrant as ever, and lifelike, all because of the IPS technology. Also the glare was less, even in the well lit environment, so that was a plus. I do admit at the beginning everything was a bit jittery when moving lots of windows around, but now after a few updates, everything is fine and dandy, I guess it just needed some finetuning graphicsdriver-wise. Now I’m running Mac OS X 10.8.4 with the newest nVidia drivers and everything is smoothsailing. So no more complaints there.
The SSD although 256 GB, is plenty enough for me, now it’s only half full or empty. And because of the Thunderbolt port and the USB 3.0 support, it’s better to connect a fast HD, which costs a lot less then the upgrad to 512 GB SSD for example, so I saved a bit money there. But I did go for 16 GB of ram, it’s always nice to know that it’s futureproof. And with a lot of programs opened, such as Photoshop, iTunes, browsers, email, and so on… It’s nice to have some free space. So no slowdowns whatsoever. And with the quadcore Intel I7 cpu, there’s plenty of excess cpu power, so nothing grinds to a halt when working with movieprograms such as Final Cut Pro or Premiere Pro.
Now let’s talk about the build quality. Well there’s not much to say about it. It’s amazingly sturdy due the unibody design. And a lot thinner than my previous MBP. I also don’t miss my superdrive (dvd-drive) I only used it to install games or to burn cds. Nowadays you can store everything in the cloud or on external hd drives, so I’m glad they finally ditched the superdrive to make it more thin. So it takes less space in my backpack.
One minor setback I have is, that the speakers aren’t as loud, but that’s not the end of the world, just insert some good headphones and you’re good to go.
A very well made laptop, and actually a bit too strong for what I’m doing with it, but then again, it’s futureproof. I haven’t tried any gaming on it, so I don’t really know how well the build-in nVidia Geforce 650 GT does in gaming, but I know there’s already a lot of youtube movies which show it’s no slough either when it comes to gaming. Most programs nowadays have already been updated to the new retina display so it’s more pleasing to the eyes when working with your favorite programs.
Now let’s give it some points:
Build quality: 5/5 : typically Apple premium build, aluminum and glass screen
Software: 4/5 : the usual, Mac OS X and iLife included, and every other program runs flawlessly
Prize/value: 3/5 : there’s no denying it, it’s one hell of an expensive machine, but then again, there’s no other laptop build that way
Upgrade friendliness: 3/5 : well you really have to order your rMBP in the right configuration at the start, there’s no upgrading after you get it. The ram is soldered on the mainboard and the ssd is not that mainstream to exchange it. Although manufactures such as Crucial have exchange SSD’s in different GBs but they are very pricey still.
Batterylife: 4/5 : with one charge you can easily do 4-5 hours, so that’s long enough for me
Userfriendliness: 4/5 : it’s like any other Apple laptop, you switch it on, configure it in a few minutes and you’re good to go.
Final score: 4/5
Best laptop I’ve ever owned, I hope to keep it many years to come.