13-inch Retina MacBook Pro (Haswell) quick impressions

Aurelius

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I picked up one of the new Haswell-based, 13-inch MacBook Pros with Retina display this past week; it's the mid-spec model with a 2.4GHz Core i5, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. I thought it'd be fair to give my early take on the laptop for those who are on the fence right now.

In short, this is what the Retina MBP was meant to be. The Iris graphics are clearly up to driving the 2560x1600 display, where the HD 4000 occasionally hit its limit with the past gen (based on what I've read from others). The PCIe-based SSD is very fast, of course. And the battery life is… er, wow. Apple officially rates the runtime at 9 hours, but it's not hard to push that to 10 or beyond by lowering the brightness a small amount. That's wild for a system with such a great screen and a regular laptop processor.

Quirks? It's not a gaming machine, and neither the battery nor RAM are accessible. We really need high-capacity SSDs to drop in price, too. However, this new MBP strikes me as a very well-balanced portable. It's not going to make gamers forget something like the 14-inch Razer Blade, but it's definitely the laptop you want if you need an all-day system that still has some decent computing power under the hood.
 

Grentz

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Love my (now) last gen rMBP 13. They are fantastic laptops.

I never thought I would own a Mac, but this machine changed that.

I dont have issues with the graphics in mine either.
 

Meaker

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No its not (new proprietary standard) and the machine is not designed to be taken apart at all.
 

Meaker

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Well the sacrifice you make to get every last mm of thickness from it.
 

MrCrispy

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The new obsession with thinness is ridiculous. Although of course its not really thinness, its about forced upgrades and being able to market a thinner device. PC manufactures are slowly catching on to the scam as well, but haven't built in planned obsolescence to the same extent as Apple yet.
 

MasonD

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What did it set you back?


I just got the same exact one tonight, it was $1510 shipped ($100 off which covered tax).
Should be here the 4th. It's my first Apple product ever (hate the company but...).
 

Aurelius

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The new obsession with thinness is ridiculous. Although of course its not really thinness, its about forced upgrades and being able to market a thinner device. PC manufactures are slowly catching on to the scam as well, but haven't built in planned obsolescence to the same extent as Apple yet.

I don't think Apple is aiming for planned obsolescence. It may like the idea of charging more for RAM and storage up front, but its systems are lasting longer than ever… the 13-inch MacBook Air I'm replacing is still a quick system for most people!
 

Meaker

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Except the battery will give out before the hardware will most likely.
 

Aurelius

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Except the battery will give out before the hardware will most likely.

True, but you can also get a battery replacement. It's more of a hassle than a swappable battery... just not the end of the system.
 

Meaker

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Can you? I know the stock battery is glued down.
 

Aurelius

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Can you? I know the stock battery is glued down.

You have to take the system into Apple (maybe certified Apple repair outlets, too). They've got the gear to replace it. It'll cost you if you're out of warranty, but it won't be exorbitant.
 

Adreneline

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I had the i5 2.4ghz/8gb/256gb model. I was really excited for it, but it fell short in a few areas:

1. I don't think the graphic card (or CPU) can run the resolution still. It was still pretty laggy in UI, at least compared to a 2013 Air.

2. Imperfections in retina screen (I know this varies), had some yellowing and bleeding. Also, IR still seems to be a problem (if not out of box, then eventually because all are LG apparently).

3. Performance. Some benchmark showed the Air clocking in around ~6050 and the rMBP around ~6300. It wasn't much more performance at all.

Other than these, it was great - build quality was fantastic, and that retina screen is amazing. The cost is also a lot better now too, but ultimately I went with the Air because of battery performance and bad UI performance in scaled resolutions.
 

spencers

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You have to take the system into Apple (maybe certified Apple repair outlets, too). They've got the gear to replace it. It'll cost you if you're out of warranty, but it won't be exorbitant.

Batteries always have a price, even with warranty. They are considered expendable. The only way you're going to get Apple to replace the battery is if its factory defective.
 

brinstar117

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You have to take the system into Apple (maybe certified Apple repair outlets, too). They've got the gear to replace it. It'll cost you if you're out of warranty, but it won't be exorbitant.

That seems rather inconvenient. If the owner only has the Macbook as his sole computer, then he'll be without one while waiting for a battery replacement. I suppose there are always trade-offs for sleek design, but that's one a potential buyer will have to decide is worthwhile.
 

CEpeep

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I have a Macbook Pro from 2006 that's still kicking. It's only had one battery replacement (on Apple's dime, due to a defect). The battery it's had for the past 5 years is still going strong. My 2008 Lenovo IdeaPad has been through 3 battery replacements in a smaller amount of time. I'd much rather have a battery that doesn't need to be replaced than one I'm expected to replace, but I do miss the user-accessible batteries on the older Macbooks. Personally, if the machine can give me all-day battery life every work day for at least 4 years, that's enough of a benefit for me to not miss the battery being user-replaceable.
 

MrCrispy

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The cost of a battery replacement is very high - both in terms of actual cost (easily 2x what it should be), the cost of traveling to an Apple center, downtime when you can't use your laptop etc etc.

Compare to a typical Windows laptop - go online, order a battery for much cheaper, swap it in about 15s, get on with your life.
 

Snowdog

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Compare to a typical Windows laptop - go online, order a battery for much cheaper, swap it in about 15s, get on with your life.

Windows laptops are more like Macbooks every day, and more likely to have non user replaceable batteries as well.

But yeah if this a big factor in your decision, you can probably still find old style thick notebooks that weigh 5 lbs and have HDDs and user replaceable batteries.
 

Meaker

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Well the battery being replaceable is down to form factor rather than any specific maker really.
 

limitedaccess

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This isn't specifically comment regarding Windows vs. Apple laptops (as Windows laptops have a very wide range) but just something I like to bring up regarding the concept and term replaceable batteries. I point out this issue with smartphones as well.

Basically what do you consider a replaceable battery? Is a non replaceable battery simply a sealed battery inside the device? Do you consider typical ram on laptops replaceable or drives? They normally require opening the back cover and doing so with the system off and cannot be done so on the fly.

This is the ifixit teardown for the Zenbook - http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Asus+Zenbook+UX32VD+Teardown/10120

and Macbook - http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/MacBook+Pro+13-Inch+Retina+Display+Late+2013+Teardown/18695

In one case the battery is accessible and removable (attached via screws) if you remove the back cover of the device. In the other the issue is the battery is glued into place. Is it fair to classify these two the same in terms of ability to be self serviced? Ifixit does not seem to think so in their commentary anyways.

In my opinion there needs to be a distinction between swappable on the fly, serviceable, and non serviceable. Even then there often needs to be additional commentary for clarification.
 

fss69

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How is the fan noise? Are you running into any slowdowns at all? Any issues with the display? I'm somewhat close to pulling the trigger on the same config you have. It seems this generation fixed up most of the issues of the previous release...
 

Snowdog

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Basically what do you consider a replaceable battery? Is a non replaceable battery simply a sealed battery inside the device? Do you consider typical ram on laptops replaceable or drives? They normally require opening the back cover and doing so with the system off and cannot be done so on the fly.

Yes, there are degrees, unfortunately for most modern light laptops, you won't be able to tell unless someone opens your particular model, and reveals the situation and going forward you can see which direction the trajectory is going.

If you want a thin/light machine it is likely going to be a PITA to replace your battery.
 

dr.stevil

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Windows laptops are more like Macbooks every day, and more likely to have non user replaceable batteries as well.

But yeah if this a big factor in your decision, you can probably still find old style thick notebooks that weigh 5 lbs and have HDDs and user replaceable batteries.

x2

My Dell XPS13 ultra book doesn't have a user replaceable battery nor upgradable storage. It's a damn nice machine though... super light and thin. Easy to travel with. Just wish the display was a higher resolution.
 

MrCrispy

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I heard that all 13" rMBP's have a LG panel, and all those panels have image retention issues. There's a huge thread on Apple forums on it.
 

Putz

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the iris is ok for light gaming

hell my air ran d3 ok on the i5 and basic hd5000 @ 1440x900, my new 15" rmbp with the 750m plays most game son med-high settings at 1920x1200 fine too but the iris pro option should handle games if you scale the resolution back
 
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