So What’s The Deal With The New MacBook Pro?

Tim Brookes 20-06-2012

macbook proLast week the Internet was awash with news of Apple’s latest addition to their laptop line, the MacBook Pro with Retina display. Following recent trends, the company has managed another world first – this time claiming the world’s highest resolution notebook display.


Not only is the new MacBook an object of desire for those with out-of-whack priorities the world over but it’s also an important step forward for the notebook computer. Retina display aside, there are a few other big changes to the company’s mobile powerhouse that are just as exciting.

Retina Everything

It was bound to happen sometime, considering that the iPhone, iPod Touch and most recently iPad have been equipped with high-resolution displays, now the MacBook Pro gets the Retina treatment. The main advancement here is pixel density, the result of squeezing that new 2880×1800 resolution into a 15” housing.

The result is more than 5 million glorious pixels, virtually no aliasing (providing you’re using Retina-ready apps that is) and a viewing experience that’s unlike any other. If you’ve seen the latest iPad, you’ll know what to expect except on a larger scale.

macbook pro

When Apple first gave their tablet computer an industry-changing display there was much talk of other manufacturers following suit. Expect similar things from Ultrabook manufacturers as they scramble to produce viable alternatives for those wanting Mac quality and style in a decidedly Windows flavour.


If you really don’t like Apple’s products, instead allying yourself under a Windows flag, you can still be grateful for last week’s announcement as it’s now only a matter of time before other manufacturers start squeezing more and more pixels into regular-sized displays.

Solid State

How many hard drive failures have you had to endure? If the answer is “none” then consider yourself lucky. Hard drives are notoriously fragile bits of kit, relying on a physical platter on which data is stored. This spins at very high speed, and much of the work is done by an arm that reads and writes data – physical, moving parts.

apple macbook pro

The new MacBook lines only come with solid state disc options. Solid state storage does not rely on moving parts or an easily damaged physical platter on which to store your data. This means that damage through bumps and drops is unlikely and that speed is unmatched.


The MacBook Air has long been a startlingly fast little machine considering its rather moderately specced innards. Much of that speed comes from the SSD storage, which vastly reduces read and write times, speeding up just about every operation you perform. Now that the new MacBook Pro Retina models only come with an SSD option, expect to see Apple completely phasing out of old-style hard drives over the next few years as the technology becomes more and more affordable.

Raw Power

Being somewhat of a luxury item, the MacBook line has been updated with the latest Intel processors that use the new Ivy Bridge architecture. This is the next generation of Core i CPUs, and provides advancements in both efficiency (drawing less power) and on-board graphics among other improvements What You Need To Know About Intel’s Ivy Bridge [MakeUseOf Explains] Intel has just released its new updated processor, code-named Ivy Bridge, for both desktops and laptops. You’ll find these new products listed as the 3000 series and you can buy at least some of them... Read More .

apple macbook pro

The on-board graphics chip is not all you’ll be relying on for video editing, 3D rendering or gaming as every new MacBook Pro comes with the GT650M, a mid-level graphics card based on the latest Kepler architecture from nVidia. With 1GB of DDR5 memory, the card stacks up pretty well against the competition.


apple macbook pro


If there’s one thing that speaks for the gaming potential held by the new Retina MacBook Pro it’s the fact that Apple chose to use Diablo III to show it off. Coincidentally we’ve already published an article about why this is impressive Can Your Computer Run Diablo 3? Let's Find Out [MUO Gaming] Blizzard games are known for their cartoonish, high-color art style. By focusing on character and level design the company can make new 3D titles that are attractive but also relatively easy to run. Gamers sometimes... Read More .

Goodbye 17”

One thing Apple weren’t singing and dancing about at WWDC last week was the demise of the 17” MacBook Pro. The choice to only offer a new line in 15” flavour, and to limit the mid-2012 non-Retina notebooks to 13” and 15” sizes reflects a change that’s been in the winds for a while now.


macbook pro

The popularity of the MacBook Air 4 Reasons My Next Notebook PC Will Be A MacBook Air [Opinion] I’ve never owned a Mac before, and I never thought I’d be in a position where I intend to buy one. Growing up I was a die-hard Windows user, mainly for the many hours I’d... Read More speaks volumes about the consumer idea of the perfect laptop size, with the 13” Air model being way more common in the wild than a 17” Pro. The thinner form factor offered by the new Retina models offers a good compromise between screen size, power and portability.

For a short while the 17” MacBooks will still be available (with the previous hardware configuration) from retailers who still have them in stock. Whether Apple intend to make another is still unknown but it seems to be unlikely . Most people won’t bat an eyelid at the news, but those who will are bound to feel a sense of sadness that they can no longer order their preferred brand of laptop, running their preferred OS, in their favourite (admittedly gigantic) size.


The latest MacBook Pro with Retina display is a force to be reckoned with, and in terms of specification and raw power so are the non-Retina Macbook models. While the price won’t resonate well with everyone, the build quality and performance will take some beating. As it stands, the MacBook Pro Retina is a one-of-a-kind piece of kit and that is currently reflected in the price.

Have you ordered yours? Will you? Retina or non-Retina? Online or Apple retail?

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  1. Ups.Purp
    September 20, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    Just got my Retina MacbookPro. With 750g flash storage and 16g of RAM, this is truly the first laptop I have owned that can function as my primary computer without feeling limited. I wish Apple still offered a 17" model but I certainly isn't a deal breaker.

  2. Quinn Haine
    September 16, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    I would love to get a Macbook, but unfortunately, I don't really have the funds for that.

    Apple discontinuing their 17 Inch model is understandable. Computers are getting smaller and smaller, while still maintaining battery life. At this point, most of my friends who use Apple products use 13 inchers at the largest.

  3. Ravi Meena
    June 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    I would say that given this price any other company can innovate and get their products the niche edge. the real challenge is to innovate without making the consumers pay for it abruptly.

    if we look at this new version of macbook, there is no innovation
    1) SSD exists from a long time
    2) making High res display is not a very big challenge, it is just about doing it.

    now i would say that all the Hardware innovation is done by Intel, Nvidia, Seagate, WD, AMD and apple takes the credit by marketing those innovations well.

    • Tim Brookes
      June 24, 2012 at 12:38 am

      No innovation? Really? I don't see the benefit in trying to prove you wrong, because if thats the way you see it then nothing I can say can change your mind. I will however make a couple of points.

      SSDs have existed for a long time yes, but no manufacturer until now has embraced them with such abandon. You can't put an old-style HDD in either of the Air or Retina lines, and that is progress. Apple's technology when it comes to SSDs is also pretty damn good in terms of keeping efficiency up, despite no TRIM supported by OS X. This is achieved by some pretty aggressive garbage collection technology, and despite the fact that no SSD will operate at 100% forever it's still going to be 2-3 times faster than old-style HDD technology.

      Apple had to reinvent the way that screens are manufactured in order to pull of Retina technology. If it were "just about doing it" don't you think every other manufacturer would have done it?

      To ignore the way Apple gels all the components together and snub the innovation entirely is laughable. Even if you're of the opinion that the kit is overpriced (most of it isn't, it's just high-end stuff) you will be reaping the rewards in a couple of years when the Wintel manufacturers finally catch up. Like it or not, admit it or not, it's Apple's innovation that has pushed various industries forward for years now.

      • Ravi Meena
        June 24, 2012 at 3:34 am

        I too see no benifit in proving you wrong because i know nothing can change your mind, i will too however make a couple of points.

        SSD - No manufacturer has embraced them because they have to keep their price down. and other manufacturers have incorporate SSD in their high end models from a long time, just abandoning serial ATA is no innovation, if it is then abandoning Parallel ATA was also innovation.

        retina - samsung has reinvented how displays are manufactured by manufacturing LED, and apple of course has developed retina on top of that manufacturing process.

        so keep thinking it is innovation, and that is laughable too. and about wintel manufacturers -

        there is no way you can make products for masses by increasing prices, the profits of apple is making other companies copy cats, and they are trying to adopt the same model apple has. but when you talk about technology it is more about how it affects our society, not just the upper class of the society, and i would say that soon you will see LInux, and android taking over the market.
        and i am talking about PC market too, it will take some time but technology for masses will always be the winner in the end. and technology for masses will be always the free one or the cheap one, cheap in price not quality.

  4. Ben
    June 21, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Apple makes fantastic products. My only issue with them, PRICE!

  5. Joshua
    June 20, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    I wanted to buy a newer macbook pro with retina display ..
    but first of all
    its expensive
    no firewire
    non-retina apps are not going to look good on the retina screen (i guess)

    Keeping all this in mind
    after the new macbook pro was released within a few days i bought a older generation of macbook pro 15" and i'm happy with it !!!

    • Tim Brookes
      June 21, 2012 at 3:14 am

      I saw a few people doing the same as there were some epic savings. If anyone else is thinking of getting a "new-old" laptop then check retailers like Best Buy in the US, Dick Smith/JB HiFi in Australia and Comet/PC World in the UK - all are trying to shift old stock in order to make way for the new models.

  6. Manide
    June 20, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    I must say I can't afford it; on the other hand, do I need it? Definitely not. But in case I do, I'll do a financial effort to buy it.

  7. Nahid Anwar Khan
    June 20, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Actually apple always shows up with the best innovations. This is another example. Loved the iphone since using it. Will love to look forward to it.


  8. Matt.Smith
    June 20, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    The prices are incredible but hey, what are you going to do? Everyone else makes inferior products.

    I don't agree with axing the 17" on the premise that no one will buy such a device. 17" laptops still make a decent chunk of the market. But I do agree that a 17" model doesn't really fit with the design philosophy of Apple. If they want to do another 17" model it would need to be something designed to be that large from the ground up.

    • likefunbnot
      June 20, 2012 at 8:02 pm

      I'd argue that the only interesting thing about these notebooks is the high-resolution display. My T and X-series laptops are generally better products in every way I legitimately care about. Lenovo brings better support, better construction and real expandability (at least for the T-series models; my T420 can have either three hard drives or three batteries installed should I need them) to the table where Apple is apparently all about one-size-sort-of-fits-all.

      But the 17" MBP is a real boat anchor. The one I was provided by my employer sits on my desk and doesn't get used; it's very heavy even compared to other 17" notebooks I've handled, has a short battery life of perhaps two hours and in the five months I've had it, it's gone back to Apple twice so far because of issues related to the display (again, this is a laptop that doesn't get moved or used in the first place). I wonder if the number of repair claims on the 17" models are part of the reason they're being ditched.

      • Tim Brookes
        June 21, 2012 at 3:06 am

        With regards to support, you can't really beat being able to walk into an Apple store and have someone check out the problem right there and then in front of you. No RMA, no weeks without a laptop while it's fixed... If Lenovo had stores then I'm sure the same would be true, but as it is I'd say Apple provide a quicker and easier solution.

        The display is great, but then so is the form factor. The lack of optical drive is a plus as it's given way to a much thinner body, and while the weight is still average the thickness isn't an issue. I'm pleased that the DVD drive is gone, considering I haven't touched optical media for years.

        The 17" was an absolute beast in terms of size. I've literally only ever seen one in the wild, aside from in Apple stores. It's so unwieldy that I'm not surprised it was dropped from the line-up. I'm now of the opinion that 13" is the perfect laptop size after using a MacBook Air for a while, but the Retina display MBP is just more suitable for me. The extra grunt, graphics power and beautiful display really clinches it, despite how much I like the thinner and cheaper Air.

        • likefunbutnot
          June 21, 2012 at 4:28 am

          I'm two and a half hours from an Apple store and I can't say I've appreciated the hold times or number of hand-offs I've had to get clearly faulty hardware RMA'd with Apple. I guess that's my fault for not living close enough to Apple Retail Nirvana.

          Lenovo will next-day me a part if I ask them to. They'll courier me a box same-day (and I live in the boonies) and turn-around on every repair I've needed has been three business days, not "weeks." Hold times are nearly zero. l and I can't recall the last time I had to talk to two people about the same problem on a Thinkpad.

          Dropping the optical drive? Personally I don't care. Ethernet is a bigger deal for me, since copying a 50GB virtual machine is kind of a pain over 802.11 and an external adapter is one more thing to lose or forget.

          The display on a new MBP? I'm genuinely not sure I care. I choose to carry a 14" 1600x900 laptop as it is. I wouldn't mind more pixels, but what I have feels just fine for the size of the screen I have. If I really want a high-resolution screen then I probably want it to be big enough for me to not have to squint to look at it and oh hey, that's what I have desktops for.

      • Matt Smith
        June 21, 2012 at 4:15 am

        Look, you can talk about your anecdotes, that's fine. But the facts are that Apple always has great customer satisfaction scores and always does well in reliability comparisons. It is borderline dishonest to act as if Apple has a widespread reliability problem.

        • likefunbutnot
          June 21, 2012 at 4:37 am

          I'm not saying that Apple has a widespread reliability problem. I'm sure having two hardware faults on the same subsystem of the same computer is entirely an outlier, though I do find it suspect as it is a defining characteristic of that particular model. Please read that without sarcasm.

          I am saying Apple's service options are downright unimpressive for anyone who has experience dealing with business computer service and support. "Please take your computer to an Apple store" doesn't really work for everybody and for everything else it leaves a lot to be desired.

    • Greg
      June 20, 2012 at 9:55 pm

      I wouldn't say anything else is "inferior"
      My Dell Latitude E6400 feels really solid and I've even dropped it a few times and works perfectly. It also works great with Linux (My HP laptop doesn't for some reason)

      • Chris Hoffman
        June 20, 2012 at 10:47 pm

        The displays certainly are inferior. I'm a PC person, not an Apple person, but even I have to admit that Apple is the company driving high-resolution displays forward after PC displays stagnated for years.

        • Tim Brookes
          June 21, 2012 at 3:10 am

          Agreed. I was genuinely open to buying just about any laptop when mine decided to die. It came down to a MacBook Air or a similar Ultrabook style PC with a comparable display. Nothing compared for a similar price, with similar specifications. So many well specced laptops were discounted on the basis that the displays were just plain awful. 1366x768 just doesn't cut it these days, especially with all that power under the hood.

          Similarly, a push to SSD-only provides such a huge boost that I'd not consider a machine without one any more.

        • likefunbutnot
          June 21, 2012 at 4:31 am

          SSDs aren't that big of a deal. There have been substantial price drops over the last three weeks that have brought the smaller drives into the $1/GB range. There's no reason not to get one.

          There's also no reason to pay what OEMs are asking for machines pre-configured with SSDs. Just like getting extra RAM (oh wait, everywhere but on new MBPs!), you're better off ordering the cheapest configuration and spending five minutes doing the upgrade yourself.

      • Matt Smith
        June 21, 2012 at 4:11 am

        You wouldn't say this thing is inferior?

        Uh-huh. Right.