Intel Iris Graphics and Retina Display
As ever, the 2560 x 1600 IPS Retina display is stunningly sharp with impressive color gamut that covers 100% of sRGB and 75% of Adobe RGB, high contrast and good brightness levels (320 nits according to our Spyder 4 Pro). In our tests we couldn't reproduce the temporary image burn I live with on my personal first gen 15" Retina MacBook Pro, and HDMI output to our full HD monitors is sharp and clear. Though there are Windows Ultrabooks with even higher resolution 13.3" panels such as the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro and Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus (3200 x 1800), I can't say the 227 PPI Mac looks any less sharp. Mac OS X Mavericks handles display scaling very well and the result is sharp and clear text and icons and menus that are always large enough to see and work with. Unlike many Windows 8 laptops, this isn't a touch screen; Apple's still not a believer, even if the iPad started the craze. One point of criticism is that Apple's default scaling for the 13.3" Retina is equivalent to 1280 x 800, which is lower than the MacBook Air's 1440 x 900. I can't imagine why Apple decided to do this, but happily you can override the scaling and still get extremely sharp results. I opt for 1680 x 1050 because this is a good mix between seeing more on screen while not making things too tiny. If your eyes are quite sharp, you might prefer the 1920 x 1200 setting.
For a graphics boost, Apple uses Intel Iris 5100 graphics, but as with the last gen model, there's no switchable dedicated graphics option. Iris 5100 is comparable to a low-middle range dedicated GPU like the NVIDIA GT630 or 640M LE, and it makes Diablo III, the SIMS 3 and other moderately demanding games playable at low to medium settings and lower resolutions. Though we did manage a very playable Diablo III session running at just above 1920 x 1080 with low-medium settings, we wish Apple would have found a way to cram a dedicated GPU option, which would truly set this model apart from the competition in this size and weight range. Few 3.5 lb., 13" laptops have decent dedicated graphics because of design constraints related to cooling (dedicated graphics processors require additional heat sinks and a fan, and those take up room). But for those who don't want to game heavily, edit full HD video for hours each week or do 3D CAD work, the Intel Iris is up to the job. Certainly, the HD 5100 integrated GPU will give more oomph to HD video exports and image manipulation in Photoshop compared to the HD 4400 used on Ultrabooks. If you want switchable dedicated graphics, sadly only the $2,699 high end configuration 15" MacBook Pro (also Retina and Haswell) gets the NVIDIA GT750M dedicated GPU.
2013 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-4258U base model with 4 gigs RAM and 128 gig SSD:
Geekbench 3 (32 bit) single 2697 / 5639 multi-core. 6313 for 64 bit multi-core test.
PCMark 7: 5401
2014 model with 2.6GHz Intel Core i5, 8 gigs RAM and 256 gig SSD:
Geekbench 3 (64 bit) 2955 / 6552
Is the 13" MacBook Pro with Retina Display What You Need?
Obviously, the latest 13" MacBook Pro doesn't exist in a vacuum, and thanks to its light weight and high quality build, it competes not just with lightweight high end laptops running Haswell 4th generation CPUs (of which there are admittedly few right now) but Ultrabooks. The MacBook Pro is particularly well suited to those who have high processor demands and need a bit more graphics power than you'll get from an Ultrabook. The full mobile CPU is well suited to longer program compiles, computing spreadsheets with thousands of rows and it can handle 3D games better than Ultrabooks. If you simply use MS Office, web, video playback and image editing, then there are many machines, including Ultrabooks (MacBook Air too) that are more than adequate. The MacBook Pro 13" also brings a higher resolution display that's much better than the MacBook Air in terms of quality and resolution. If you're tempted by the MacBook Air but don't need the added horsepower, I can't blame you for being tempted by the MacBook Pro simply for the display. In the end, we're glad that Apple brought both to the ultraportable market, though we'd still love to see a MacBook Air with a comparable display.
Apple's latest 13" MacBook Pro is a force: it offers a fantastic display, excellent processing power, decent graphics and very good battery life in a $1,299 package that competes strongly with Windows laptops in the same price range. For those who need more processing power than an Ultrabook offers, the latest Pro 13" packs that punch yet it's as light and compact as an Ultrabook. Even if you don't crave more processing power, the Retina display may sway you from the 13" MacBook Air.
Price: starting at $1,299
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