The new MacBook Pro with 13-inch Retina display offers everything you like about last year’s model with a few new improvements and significant price drop.

The new and recently released MacBook Pro 13” Retina laptop PC appeals to MacBook fans that are seeking high performance inside a redesigned chassis which is now thinner and lighter with the same durability as the previous version of the MacBook.  The new MacBook Pro is now .71 inches in thickness versus .75 in last year’s MacBook and weighs in at 3.46 pounds versus 3.6 pounds from the 2012 model. This now makes the MacBook Pro 13-inch Retina laptop equal to the 15-inch model in terms of thickness and weight.

Product Overview: What is the MacBook Pro and what is Different from the Previous Version of the Laptop?

The MacBook Pro with 13-inch Retina display is the newest laptop in the line of MacBooks and is equipped with a few new upgrades at a lower price point.

The new MacBook Pro released late this year has been upgraded to the Intel Haswell dual core processor 2.4GHz Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost and a 3MB L3 cache memory.  This is also upgradeable to an i7 clocked at 2.8GHz.  The addition of the high performance Haswell processor in this year’s MacBook Pro was accomplished with no compromise in battery life which has also been improved from 7 hours in the 2012 model to 9 hours.

The MacBook Pro 13-inch Retina laptop is equipped with a standard 4GB of DDR3 RAM (Random Access Memory) which is reduced from 2012. However the laptop is also being offered at a reduced price from the $1499 price last year to $1299 for this year’s model.

This year’s MacBook Pro is equipped with a 128 SSD (Solid State Drive) but if you opt to choose the next model up you get a 256 SSD.  The SSD has also benefitted from the PCIE connection in the motherboard so you now get faster SSDs with the 2013 model of MacBook Pro.

The new MacBook Pro offers Thunderbolt 2.0 which doubles the performance of Thunderbolt 1.0 in the 2012 model from 10GB to 20 GB. There is also 802.11ac WiFi built into the unit which is the next generation standard of WiFi connectivity. When connected to an 802.11ac base station such as the AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule, you can achieve high performance wireless which is up to three times faster than the previous version of MacBook Pro with an improved WiFi range as well.

There is also the new Intel Iris 5100 Graphics which provides better graphics capability with improved performance. The Intel Iris Graphics is seamlessly integrated with the new Haswell processor.  This boosts the performance by up to 90 percent from the Intel AC Graphics 4000 which was in last year’s model.

What Are the Other Specifications?

At first glance, the MacBook has a very sleek and lightweight design with your connector ports located on the side of the device. The MagSafe 2 power connector port is now thinner with a magnetic connector cable which provides an indicator light that tells you it is charging.

Next to the MagSafe 2 connector port is two Thunderbolt 2 ports which are also display ports that allow you to connect multiple displays.  There is also a USB 3.0 port, combination headphone/microphone jack, and dual microphones on the same side of the device. On the opposite side is an SD XE card slot along with an HDMI output port and another USB 3.0 port.

On the back of the MacBook Pro is the hinge along with the ventilation which is integrated into the hinge.  The venting ports are milled into the aluminum chassis to create an unobtrusive appearance. The bottom of the device is comprised of a one piece aluminum backing which is not meant to be removed which means the device is not user upgradeable.

The RAM is soldered to the motherboard and the battery is glued to the chassis so it is pretty much only meant to be removed by qualified service technicians.  So, if you choose the 4GB model, it is important to keep this in mind since 4GB is a relatively low amount of RAM.  The upside is the OS X 10 Mavericks is very efficient when it comes to utilizing RAM which means you do not need a whole lot of RAM to run multiple applications.

On both sides of the device are additional vents which act as speaker grills and double as structural members which strengthen the body of the chassis.  The MacBook Pro brand label along with the serial number is now located on the bottom of the device which is a change over being placed on the screen in the 2012 model.

When you open the device you are presented with a full-size glass track pad with Multi-Touch functionality and a full-size backlit keyboard with the standard OS X 10 controls on the top row.

  • Display: The 13.3-inch diagonal LED backlit Retina display has a glossy finish with anti-reflective properties which reduce glare.  This makes the display 70 percent less reflective than earlier MacBook Pro models. The sharp LCD IPS Retina display has been carried over from last year’s model with a resolution of 2560 x 1600 with 227 ppi (pixels per square inch) which is the highest pixel density of any MacBook PC at the present.  It has also been improved from 95 percent SRGB to 100 percent SRGB which makes for a pretty nice display with a high contrast of 860:1.
  • Camera: Hidden in the bezel on the top of the screen is a 720p FaceTime HD camera which is carried over from the 2012 model. Plus, there is an ambient light sensor for automatically adjusting screen brightness, as well as an LED indicator light which lets you know when the camera is active.
  • Apps: There is now a Maps application installed in OS X 10 which allows you to easily navigate the scrolling feature using two fingers with the capability to send the maps to your iPhone.  The MacBook Pro 13-inch is also equipped with iBooks, iWork, and iLife which provide you with free access to apps that once cost you a fee.  You can also opt to install Microsoft Office as well.
  • Battery: The MacBook Pro is equipped with a 71.8 watt per hour lithium-polymer battery which is good for up to 9 hours of usage.  You can also get more mileage out of the battery if you adjust the screen to 50 percent brightness.  Because of the high quality of the Retina display, the screen is still pretty bright at 50 percent.
  • Dimensions: As mentioned earlier the new MacBook Pro has a thinner design at just .071 inches with a height of 12.35 inches and width of 8.62.

An Overview of the New Mavericks Operating System

The 13-inch MacBook Pro comes with the OS X 10.9 Mavericks operating system which is Apple’s newest release. The operating system comes with a series of new features such as Find that now supports Tabs which makes multitasking easier.  It also includes Tags which helps to keep items that are related to one another in one location.

Another convenient feature in Mavericks is the capability to respond to iMessages and email directly from notifications right from the desktop. There is now a “Reply” button which provides you with a way to respond to email and iMessages without navigating away from your current task. For example, if you are working on a document while sending messages to a contact in Google Hangouts, you can easily reply to their messages without having to keep switching tabs.

Mail notifications also provides a way for you to easily delete an email right from your desktop instead of being required to open the Mail app. With the previous operating system in MacBook Pro, you could only read incoming messages and emails on the desktop.

Mavericks OS x also provides enhanced security with the new iCloud Keychain feature that saves your passwords across multiple devices and provides data protection. iCloud Keychain is capable of protecting sensitive information using 256-bit AES encryption which is unable to be read by Apple or any unauthorized user.

iCloud Keychain also offers a password generation tool which helps you to brainstorm new passwords which contain a complex mix of number and letters for enhanced security. Plus, iCloud Keychain stores your passwords so you never have to worry about remembering complex passwords.

OS X 10.9 Mavericks is also equipped with a variety of back-end features which provide faster performance. The new Compressed Memory feature in Mavericks OS X allows software applications to load up to 1.4 times faster by compressing the applications you use the least in the device memory. This means that a MacBook Pro with 4GB of RAM is capable of accommodating up to 6GB of compressed data in the main memory.

The graphics performance in Mavericks OS X has also been improved via an expansion of OpenCL support.  The improvements also include dynamic allocation of the memory for graphics which are based on the apps you are currently running.

What’s in the Box?

When you open the box, the plastic tab allows you to easily lift the MacBook out of the box without causing inadvertent damage to the unit and then there is a thumbnail port readily available which allows you to pop open the lid.

Also in the box you will find a power cable and a 60-watt power adapter with a MagSafe 2 connector which succeeds the connectors that were on the 2012 model.  The adapter has fold out prongs for connectivity plus, you can easily remove the cap for the wall adapter to add the extension cable.   The adapter brick also has a built-in cable management with prongs that flip out to allow you to conveniently wind up the cable for easy storage.

There is also a literature packet that contains a Quick Start guide which explains the Maverick operating system, a comprehensive guide on the Mac Book Pro, and a set of Apple decals. Additionally, you receive an included microfiber cloth for maintaining the glossy Retina display.

Where to Buy?

For me, the best place to buy will always be directly from the Apple store, either online or on the high street. Apple does offer expert advice for business users, but I would recommend seeking business expert advice from a third party vendor. There are plenty of them out there. Some helpful resources:

Direct link to the Apple Store MacBook Pro page – http://store.apple.com/uk/buy-mac/macbook-pro

Mac Support specialist in London, UK – http://www.ouritdept.co.uk/apple-mac-support/

Yahoo search results for American Mac specialists – click here (link is a bit long!)

Conclusions.

The new improvements in the MacBook Pro 13-inch laptop with Retina display maintain device competitiveness in the marketplace due to high performance, top notch display qualities, and better battery life.  Additionally, the improved Intel Iris Graphics is a nice boost over the Intel GPU.

If you are in the market for an extremely portable high performance laptop, the MacBook Pro 13-inch will fit the bill with its lighter weight and longer battery life.  The MacBook Pro 13-inch also provides a great middle ground device which combines portability with power, durability, display quality, and productivity at a very reasonable price.

About the Author

Emily has an undying love for all things Apple Mac. She loves any opportunity to write about macs, especially if she has the opportunity to get her hands on the latest hardware.