MacBook Pro Retina 1

While on my trip to the Apple church I made the most of my time (see the iMac review here). One of the things I had really wanted to get some quality time with was the MacBook Pro with Retina Display (MBPr). I’m both glad and deeply annoyed that I did.

I may be late to the game when it comes to a review of the MBPr, but the only chances I have had to have some time with the device have been fleeting in non-fruit meccas, thus I was unable to get past the basic shock and awe of the screen and actually use the device.

I’ve been a MacBook Pro owner (and PowerBook and iBook as well). It’s an interesting thing to be really, allow me to explain. The last two MacBook Pros I had were the monstrous 17 inch machines. They were superb. My first 17 inch was actually the PowerBook version which was then swapped out for the Intel one on the day of the 17’s announcement.

The reason for it being an interesting experience every time was that simply, I never saw any one else with one. I have one pal who had one and that was it. I adored having a mobile powerhouse. I remember sitting in a pub with a friend of mine, we were talking about the titles he needed for his film and then and there I got it out and started working. I had my editing station with me. It was light enough to take everywhere and I was rarely wanting for power. So much so that the first generation Intel MacBook Pro was faster than my PowerMac G5.  

All of this ended when I moved in with my good lady and decided that I would get a Super Machine to be my main computer that would be used for the heavy lifting and all the light web work that was now the domain of my iPad would stay there.

Well, as time and technology would have it, they may have gone and done the same thing to me again that they did with my first MacBook Pro and my old G5. More of that a little later on.

The MacBook Pro Retina, looks the same as other MacBook Pros, but it isn’t. The changes are subtle. A nip here, a tuck there. The over all proportions have changed. It’s a shallower device. most likely given the fact that it contains next to no moving parts. The very skinny nature of the laptop make it even more transportable.

MacBook Pro Retina 2

There are some little differences too. For instance, where the eject button is on the standard Mac keyboard it is now the power button. I must say, I miss the metal power button in the top right, it was a nice design feature that had been on the Mac laptops since the early iBooks.

The rest of the changes physically come to the IO (ports) coming with HDMI, USB 3 and Thunderbolt. There’s also is the changed MagSafe connector. MagSafe 2. This power cable with an electromagnetic coupling is the reason that my last two MacBooks didn’t wind up in laptop heaven. It automatically disconnects when the cable is tugged sharply. Such as when someone trips over the cable.

Two things left to cover then. Speed and beauty. Firstly, Beauty. The Screen.

It’s staggering. Really, it is. Only after a certain amount of time do you get accustomed to how clear it is. It’s odd when you consider that the last 3 iPhones have had this kind of screen that the effect would be lessened. It’s not. I could really get used to that and could easily get bugged when I visited a site that wasn’t Retina Ready or used an application that wasn’t.

The speed on the other hand would make up for all of this. Annoyingly. The MacBook Pro Retina under went the same tests I gave the iMac and against the benchmark, my Mac Pro, well, here’s the numbers.

Geek Bench

My Mac Pro: 8818 (2 Quad-core Xeon X5355’s running at 2.66GHz and 14GB of RAM.)

MacBook Pro Retina: 11054 (Quad-core i7 running at 2.3 GHz and 8GB of RAM)

That’s a performance increase of over 2,200 points – at 32-bit. This laptop just blew my power house out of the water. I couldn’t let that stand, so I thought I would see how the performance was with something a little more real world. Cinebench is a free download from Maxon, the makers of Cinema 4D. This benchmarking tool is an easy way to see how a computer will perform using Cinema 4D. It does two tests, one on the GPU (The graphics card) and one on the CPU ( the processor). The results were as follows:

CinebenchMacBook Pro Retina 3

Mac Pro:

  • GPU – 25.9 Frames per second
  • CPU – 4.94 points

MacBook Pro Retina:

  • GPU – 35.9 Frames per second
  • CPU – 6.14 points

This base configuration MBPr just whooped my Mac Pro. So here I am. Deeply impressed with a machine that can boot from cold in 16 seconds and then run rings round it.

Like the iMac, it has non upgradable RAM, so when bought new, best to get the 16GB option ticked.

The MBPr is the most impressive laptop I’ve ever used and I want one.