Apple's latest MacBook Pro laptops surprised us: the non-Retina display has gone away and only a base 13" model (last year's model) lives on. That means the late 2013 MacBook Pro 13" is a Retina machine and it has Intel's fourth generation Intel Haswell CPUs inside. As with prior MacBook Pro models, these are full mobile 28W CPUs rather than the slower 15W CPUs used in Ultrabooks including the MacBook Air. You'll pay a half pound weight penalty for the performance increase compared to the average 3 lb. Ultrabook, but for those who need serious computing power, that's a small price to pay.
Apple has managed to make the second generation 13" Retina MacBook Pro cheaper and lighter while increasing battery life. We can thank Haswell and battery life improvements in Mac OS X Mavericks for the claimed 9 hour battery life. That's not as good as the class-leading MacBook Air, but it's leagues better than other laptops running mobile CPUs of this class. The second gen 13" Retina Mac starts at $1,299 for the 2.4GHz dual core with 4 gigs of RAM and a 128 PCIe SSD drive. You can order it with up to 16 gigs of RAM and a 1 terabyte SSD drive. All configurations have dual band WiFi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0 and ship with OS X Mavericks with iLife (iPhoto, iMovie and Garage Band). You can download Apple's MS Office compatible iWork suite for free from the App Store.
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. The integrated GPU will give more oomph to HD video exports and image manipulation in Photoshop. 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).
The second generation 13" Retina MacBook Pro weighs 3.46 lbs. and is 0.71 inches thick. As with all recent Mac laptops, the battery is sealed inside. RAM is soldered on board and isn't upgradable but you could upgrade the PCIe SSD drive if you could find one aftermarket (these are still very new). It's not a joy opening the Mac either, but only the battery is truly a bear to remove since its glued in place.
Here's our late 2013 13" MacBook Pro with Retina Display and Intel Haswell video review. Our full written review will follow.