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Windows 7 on MacBook Pro with Retina Display with Bootcamp
      #42825 - 06/18/12 02:38 PM

The MacBook Pro with Retina Display and Bootcamp How-To

Let's face it, it's a Windows world out there, and many of you who buy a Mac install Windows 7 for a dual boot setup. You can also install a VM or use the popular Parallels if you want to run Windows inside Mac OS, but we're looking at the Bootcamp dual boot solution today. With Bootcamp you select your OS at boot time and get either a pure Windows or pure Mac experience (until you reboot and select a different OS). That way you get direct access to hardware and the ultimate in performance, which is important when playing serious 3D games.

For those of you who haven't Bootcamped yet, it's an Apple utility that walks you through the Windows installation. First it helps you make a Windows 7 installation USB key/drive if you don't have an optical drive, then it downloads Apple's Windows drivers package that you'll put on a USB key, and finally it helps you partition the drive. This will not destroy your existing Mac OS X partition or mess with it in any way. It simply shrinks the amount of space allocated to OS X to make room for your new Windows 7 partition.

In our case, we used an external DVD drive for our Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit DVD and a 2 gig flash drive for Apple's Windows 7 driver pack. The drivers used 1 gig of space, so you don't need a large storage solution. We used Bootcamp to partition the 256 gig internal SSD and allowed 80 gigs of space for Windows 7 so we could load lots of big, fat games like Diablo III, Mass Effect 3 and Skyrim.

After you partition the drive, the Mac reboots into the Windows 7 installation. Once Windows is done installing, you'll insert the USB key and run setup.exe to install all the drivers required to run the Mac properly under Windows. USB 3.0 drivers, backlit keyboard drivers, WiFi, trackpad with multi-touch are all there.

Windows 7 Experience on the MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Once you install the driver pack, the display drivers take effect and indeed you get 2880 x 1800 resolution! Apple sets the default Windows dpi scaling to 150%, so text is actually readable. There's no pixel doubling going on here or hidpi scaling, so you get straight resolution options as you would with any other computer (except the MacBook Pro with Retina display goes much higher). You can run the display at 1920 x 1200, 1680 x 1050 and a variety of other resolutions. 1080p is quite readable at 125% font scaling and that's the same experience you get on laptops like the 1080p HP Envy 15.

What's missing? As ever, Apple hides the Intel integrated graphics from Windows 7, so the machine runs on the dedicated Nvidia GT650M graphics card all the time. That makes for shorter battery runtimes and more heat. Despite that, the machine doesn't get hugely hotter than it does under Mac OS X. Mac notebooks under Bootcamp just don't have the battery life you get under Mac OS X. That puts the Retina Mac in the same league as it's near direct competition, the HP Envy 15 for battery life around 4.5 to 5 hours under Windows.

Windows Benchmarks for the 2.3GHz Retina Mac

In terms of performance and benchmarks, our base 2.3GHz quad core i7 Retina Mac flies in Windows 7 Ultimate. Games run well, Adobe CS 5.5 is fluid and we got a PCMark Vantage score of 19,174. The 3DMark Vantage score was an impressive 10,646.

Here's our Windows 7 on the MacBook Pro with Retina display:


Lisa Gade
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