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Apple 2012 Retina MacBook Pro reviewed: you won’t be disappointed

By Leigh D. Stark | 4:55 pm 13/07/2012

Apple’s latest revision to its MacBook Pro series of computers not only makes everything faster, but also thinner, with a new hardware design that also incorporates the highest resolution screen to ever grace a laptop. Is this Apple’s best laptop yet?

Features

The newest MacBook Pro is more than just a regular update for the professional line-up of Apple’s laptops, as the company releases this new model to take the place of the 17 inch MacBook Pro.With the big boy done and dusted as far as Apple is concerned, this new machine almost feels like a concept product, slimming down the current MacBook Pro range and throwing in a new screen capable of reaching the highest resolution of any laptop screen… ever.

So let’s start with the screen, as it’s one of the biggest points of this new machine.

The 15.4 inch screen sitting on the MacBook Pro with Retina display can show a native resolution of 2880×1800, twice the resolution typically seen on many 13 and 15 inch notebooks. The panel used here is one of the high quality In-Plane Switching (IPS) we see used on Apple’s iPad and Asus Transformer tablets, offering optimal viewing angles from nearly any position.

Apple has kept with its standard high quality build, sticking with the aluminium we’ve seen for years in its products. This time, though, there have been reductions to the thickness, which has shifted from 2.4cm to 1.8cm, a noticeable drop.

To get it this thin, Apple has had to make some sacrifices, ditching the optical drive that can still be found on its MacBook Pro lineup, as well as soldering parts of the computer – like the memory – to the motherboard. This will no doubt make maintenance more or less impossible without a visit to an Apple store.

Inside the laptop, you’ll find a third-generation Intel Core i7 processor with Ivy Bridge technology, making it Intel’s latest. Memory is standard for this machine at 8GB, but it can be doubled, and solid-state storage is the only disk drive offering in the Retina MacBook Pro, with a choice of 256 or 512GB depending on how much you want to spend.

Graphics is handled with two chipsets that the computer can switch between depending on how much workload is needed. Intel’s HD4000 graphics that normally arrive with the Ivy Bridge technology will be used for the light stuff, but Nvidia’s GeForce GT650M with 1GB memory can be called on for when you’re plugging in a big external monitor, running graphics heavy apps, or switching on a game.

SDXC card slot, HDMI, and a USB 3.0 port on the right side of the MacBook Pro.

Connectivity is taken care of in a big way on the MacBook Pro, with two Thunderbolt ports, two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI port, one headset port, an SD card slot capable of reading SD/SDHC/SDXC cards, and the new thinner magnetic MagSafe power port.

Wireless is also here, with 802.11 a/b/g/n support taken care of, as well as Bluetooth’s latest, now in its fourth incarnation. Sadly, there is no native 802.11ac support, but with only a handful of new computers supporting this barely released technology, we’re not surprised.

The regular MacBook Pro staples are here, with a big glass multi-touch trackpad, a full-size backlit keyboard, and two stereo speakers on either side of the keyboard, as well as a battery that you can’t replace.

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Price (RRP)

$2,499 (starting from; review model was $3,199)

Pros & Cons

Product Pros

Supports some of the most needed standards, including HDMI, USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt; Performs brilliantly; Fantastic Retina screen; Slim for a machine that doesn't try to be an Ultrabook;

Product Cons

Older apps look a little pixelated on the new screen; Hardware is soldered and down, forcing future repairs to be handled by Apple; Half-height SD card slot;

Ratings

Overall

Features

Value for money

Performance

Design

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