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Mac buyers' guide: What you need to know before heading to the Apple Store

Michael deAgonia | Sept. 19, 2012
If you're not sure what to get, here's what you need to keep in mind before heading to the Apple store.

Considering the feature set and price range of the MacBook Pro models, I imagine this is where most people will settle; I'm actually using the 15" MBP to write this. When configured with the proper amount of memory (I recommend at least 8GB) and an SSD drive, these MacBook Pros are a portable powerhouse; just be mindful of your budget!

Pros: Wider variety of ports compared to Air and Retina MBP; optical drive support; solid feel; large trackpad with multitouch gesture support; backlit keyboard

Cons: Heaviest of Apple notebooks; display is prone to glare

MacBook Pro with Retina display:

The MacBook Pro with Retina display is more akin to the Air than the other Pro models. Of course, the requisite features are there: backlit keyboard, large glass trackpad, latch-less instant sleep/wake, MagSafe 2 power connector, Thunderbolt, and HD FaceTime camera. Like the Air, the Retina MacBook Pro has a thin design at the expense of the optical drive. Worth noting: wireless networking support is the only out-of-the-box networking supported; if you need wired connection, that will cost you extra.

The entry price for the two standard Retina display MacBook Pro models isn't cheap: the low end machine starts at $2,299, while the high end starts at $2799.

Like the Air, this machine features flash-based storage and memory; and, like the Air, the amount of RAM is not upgradable down the line. By default, the two models ship with 256GB and 512GB of storage, respectively, but customization options allows up to 768GB. This MacBook features a quad-core Intel Core i7, clocked at 2.3GHz on the low end, 2.6GHz on the high end. 8GB of memory (customizable to 16GB) round out the basic feature set and the results are spectacular: this machine is fast. This machine is speed wrapped in a .71", 4.7lbs aluminum chassis, and that's not even the best part:

The display on this machine is second to none; quite literally, there aren't any better displays at this size on the market. This MacBook Pro display sports a 2880-by-1800 resolution on a 15.4" screen. At 220 pixels per inch, that works out to be three million (!!) more pixels than a 1080p TV. I could describe the crisp images the display provides, but you're better off seeing for yourself.

Basically, if your focus involves graphics, video, design, or audio work, there's no better display to work on. Apple states you should expect seven hours of battery life which should be enough with minimal power management.

Ultimately, this machine comes as a compromise: it's expensive, but the display is pretty much future-proof - at least for the life of the machine.

Pros: Backlit keyboard; large trackpad with multitouch gesture support; best display I've ever worked on; thinner/lighter than Pro models; fast!


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