Apple MacBook Pro 13in with Retina display review

15 Nov 2012

Apple squeezes a gorgeous Retina display into its slimmed-down 13in MacBook Pro, but at a staggering price

Price when reviewed: 
1,699(£1699 inc VAT)

Apple has finally revealed its long overdue redesign of the 13in Macbook Pro. With the metal unibody chassis shrinking to a mere shadow of its former self, and a Retina display cramming in more pixels per inch than any laptop we’ve ever seen, Apple has rung the changes for the pint-sized member of its professional range.

The build quality is as impeccable as ever, but doing away with the optical drive has made all the difference. It weighs 1.63kg and measures a dainty 19mm thick, and it’s now more than 400g lighter than the old model. Throw the MagSafe 2 power adapter in your laptop bag, and the total travelling weight comes to a mere 1.88kg.

Apple MacBook Pro with 13in Retina Display - rear 3/4

It’s the 13.3in display that’s the centre of attention, though. The 1,280 x 800 resolution of last year’s model quadruples to a pin-sharp 2,560 x 1,600 pixels, and in terms of raw pixel density, puts the 13in MacBook Pro’s 227ppi display slightly ahead of the 220ppi of the 15in MacBook Pro.

The MacBook Pro 13in makes the most of its Retina display thanks to OS-wide scaling. With the display set to its default Best for Retina setting, desktop elements such as icons and text remain the same size as on the standard model’s 1,280 x 800 resolution panel, but are composed of four times the number of pixels. The extra pixels mean text and icons are delineated with razor sharpness, and the finest detail in high-megapixel photographs is revealed without the need to zoom right in.

Apple MacBook Pro with 13in Retina Display - front

Bump the resolution above the Best for Retina setting, however, and the 1,440 x 900 and 1,680 x 1,050 resolution options provide a larger desktop to work with. To keep everything looking crisp, desktop elements are upscaled to four times the set resolution, then scaled back to fit the native 2,560 x 1,600 resolution of the MacBook Pro’s display. Whichever resolution you choose, however, images remain untouched, and are 1:1 pixel-mapped at all times.

Not only the pixel count has improved, though. Colour accuracy is slightly better than last year’s model, with the average Delta E of 3.6 dropping to 2.6, and contrast has gone from 650:1 to an exemplary 999:1. Viewing angles are wide, the panel covers almost the entire sRGB gamut, and thanks to the factory calibration images burst forth with natural-yet-saturated colours. The measured Gamma of 2.33 is on the high side, though, and gives the panel a tendency to crush the very darkest greys into black.


Warranty 2 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 314 x 219 x 19mm (WDH)
Weight 1.630kg
Travelling weight 1.9kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-3210M
Motherboard chipset Intel QS77 Express
RAM capacity 8.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 0

Screen and video

Screen size 13.3in
Resolution screen horizontal 2,560
Resolution screen vertical 1,600
Resolution 2560 x 1600
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics 4000
Graphics card RAM N/A
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 2


Capacity 256GB
Hard disk usable capacity 233GB
Spindle speed N/A
Internal disk interface SATA/600
Hard disk Apple SM256E
Optical disc technology N/A
Optical drive none
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0


Wired adapter speed N/A
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch no
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
FireWire ports 0
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 1
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Cirrus Logic CS4206B
Speaker location Underside
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.0mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 8hr 54min
Battery life, heavy use 9hr 56min
3D performance (crysis) low settings 48fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.73
Responsiveness score 0.87
Media score 0.73
Multitasking score 0.59

Operating system and software

Operating system OS X Mountain Lion
OS family Mac OS X
Recovery method Recovery partition