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Upgrades make Retina MacBook Pro a better bargain

James Galbraith | Feb. 22, 2013
In the latest update to the Retina MacBook Pro, some models got price cuts, some received slightly faster processors, and some got a healthy bump in the amount of RAM. Anyone who purchased a Retina MacBook Pro prior to this refresh shouldn't kick themselves for making the leap, but the reduced cost for the 13-inch models and faster performance for the 15-inch models make these thin, light, and fast laptops a better deal than ever.

In the latest update to the Retina MacBook Pro, some models got price cuts, some received slightly faster processors, and some got a healthy bump in the amount of RAM. Anyone who purchased a Retina MacBook Pro prior to this refresh shouldn't kick themselves for making the leap, but the reduced cost for the 13-inch models and faster performance for the 15-inch models make these thin, light, and fast laptops a better deal than ever.

Let's be specific

From the outside, the 2013 Retina MacBook Pros look identical to the 2012 models. Our previous reviews of the original 13-inch and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros contain more details on the look and feel of these laptops. But here's a short summary of the specifications.

All of the Retina MacBook Pros have two USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt ports, a MagSafe 2 power connector, a headphone jack, and an SDXD card slot. As with last year's Retina MacBook Pros, RAM is not user-upgradable; but luckily, the standard 8GB of memory is sufficient for all but the most demanding users. If you require more than 8GB of RAM, you will need to move to a 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro which can be configured with 16GB of RAM.

The 13-inch models feature LED backlit screens with 2560-by-1600-pixel resolution and a pixel density of 227 pixels per square inch. This extremely high resolution--four times higher than that of the MacBook Pros with standard screens--makes the individual pixels in an image virtually undetectable. The 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is just 0.75 inch thick and weighs 3.57 pounds. The non-Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro is 0.95 inch thick and weighs 4.5 pounds.

The 13-inch base model's specifications remain unchanged, but its price has dropped from $1699 to $1499. It has a 2.5GHz dual-core Core i5 processor with Intel's Turbo Boost technology, which allows the processor to reach speeds of up to 3.1GHz for short periods of high demand. The Core i5 processors in the 13-inch MacBook Pros do not support Hyper-Threading, an Intel technology that allows applications to access two virtual cores for each physical processor. The base model has 8GB of 1600MHz memory, 128GB of speedy flash storage, and integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000.

At $1699, the new high-end 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro costs $300 less than its predecessor. Even with the reduced price, the system comes with a slightly faster processor--a 2.6GHz Core i5, versus the 2.5GHz Core i5 in the previous model. Like the $1499 model, this system comes with 8GB of 1600MHz memory (not upgradable) and Intel's integrated HD Graphics 4000. The $1699 model includes 256GB of flash storage, twice the capacity of the $1499 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro.

 

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