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MacBook Pro 15-inch (2013) Review

Apple introduced the Retina MacBook series in June 2012 and Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch (2013) with Retina display is the third release in the series. On the outside not much is changed, it still has the same Retina display, which was introduced last year, but with a thinner body and more power inside. It is the dream machine of power users and is one of the highest scoring system ever. With this machine, Apple has managed to achieve a near perfect combination of performance and style.

Design and features

MacBook Pro 15-inch (2013) boasts the gorgeous 15.4-inch Retina Display which was introduced last year. It features the IPS technology and has a native resolution of 2880 x 1800 pixels, giving 220 pixels per inch. Although the display lacks the matte finish, but thanks to the IPS technology the laptop offers great viewing angles and reduced glare. Apple has optimized heaps of new applications to take advantage of Retina Display so users won’t face any block looking UI elements. The only downside is that the display lacks touch feature, but that’s mainly because OS X is not touch optimized.

Last year Apple took its rivals by surprise with the 2880 x 1800 resolution display of MacBook while they were still stuck with 1080p displays, but this year there are more laptops with displays higher than 1920 x 1080 pixels. Like the Sony VAIO Flip 15 with 2880 x 1620 pixels resolution or the famous Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus with the resolution of 3200 x 1800 pixels. The MacBook Pro 15-inch supports a resolution of up to 2096 x 2160 pixels when connected with an external display through HDMI.

The 2013 MacBook 15-inch is similar in design to its predecessor, which is understandable considering the new design was introduced just a year ago. The body is mainly constructed with aluminum and glass, giving it a slim and light profile, it is only 1.8cm thick and weighs mere 2.02kg. This laptop has a USB 3.0 port, SD card slot and a HDMI out on the right side. While on the left side it has another USB 3.0 port, Megasafe 2 charging port, 3.5mm headphone jack, two microphone holes and two thunderbolt 2 ports. Thunderbolt 2 ports provide bandwidth of up to 20Gbps which is twice as much as provided by thunderbolt ports found on 2011 models of MacBook. Thunderbolt 2 ports are also backward compatible and works with thunderbolt devices.

Just like the previous models, the 2013 MacBook Pro 15-inch also has a Chiclet style keyboard with backlit keys. The keyboard has a solid feel to it, evenly backlit and is very comfortable to use, the lack of numerical keypad might be a problem for some users. There is a pair of speaker grills on either side of the keyboard and their performance is better than the one on its predecessor. There are vents on the sides of the laptop which provide airflow to cool the processor and battery. Under the keyboard, there is a large trackpad, which is centrally located and provides easy and instant access.

This beast of a laptop is powered by 2.0 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-4750HQ Crystal Well processor with 6MB L3 and 128MB L4 cache. The processor supports Turbo Boost of up to 3.2 GHz. This processor is designed such that it consumes very less power and improves laptop’s battery life. Apple claims that on a single charge this machine can provide up to 8 hours of wireless web surfing. Crystal Well processors are the premium version of Intel’s fourth generation processors and comes paired with Iris Pro 5200 graphics. The Iris Pro 5200 graphics are much more powerful than the graphics which are paired with normal Haswell chips. Their main feature is its additional 128MB of eDRAM which gives a significant boost in their performance.

For storage, Apple uses a 256GB Solid State Drive which is twice as much as its previous model. This time around Apple has dumped the conventional SATA storage and instead used a PCIe based flash storage. By doing so Apple has managed to increase the read speed by 60 percent. The laptop comes equipped with 802.11ac Wi-Fi networking, but lacks wired Ethernet connectivity option. It also comes with a 720p FaceTime HD camera and dual microphone to help improve the video call experience. The MacBook Pro 15-inch (2013) comes with Apple OS X10.9 Mavericks and Apple has also included Apple iLife and Apple iWork software suits.

Performance

The Intel Core i7-4750HQ is a very speedy quad-core processor, as evident by the 3 minutes 14 second score achieved in the Photoshop CS6 test. Not only is the processor blazing fast, it is also every energy efficient, which is obvious as the laptop has a battery life of 8 hours and 52 minutes. The only rival that came close is the Vizio 15.6inch Thin + Light, which gave 8 hours and 40 minutes of battery life. But Vizio comes with 1080p display and is left far behind in Photoshop and other benchmark tests. The 2013 MacBook Pro 15-inch leaves rest of the competition in dust as evidenced by different multimedia benchmark tests.

The laptop lacks a discrete graphics chip, but during gaming and different benchmark tests the Iris Pro 5200 performed similar to Nvidia GeForce GT 650M found in last year’s MacBook Pro 15-inch Retina display. While running Heaven 3D Gaming test on medium settings, Iris pro 5200 managed 42 frames per second while GT650M gave 45 frames per second. The combination of Intel Core i7-4750HQ processor, Iris Pro 5200 and PCIe based flash storage, laptop managed to clear all the benchmark tests with flying colors. It is claimed that the laptop can simultaneously transfer and display uncompressed 4K video.

Conclusion

The MacBook Pro 15-inch (2013) has a price tag of $1999, which is not a small investment. Though the combination of a premium i7 processor with a fast 256GB flash storage and Iris Pro 5200 graphics, all that in a slim and light body with premium looks and performance of a beast justifies the price. It is considered to be the replacement option for a high end desktop PC. MacBook Pro 15-inch (2013) provides its users, the power of a desktop Mac with portability and the battery life to work on the move. It is one of the most portable 15-inch notebook around

The 2880 x 1800 pixel Retina display has better resolution than most laptops in this price range and the display is pleasing to the eye. Overall the 2013 MacBook Pro 15-inch has made substantial gains over its predecessors as verified by different benchmarks and is a machine worth praising. It is a true professional machine, which is worth every penny and won’t disappoint.

 

Photos Courtesy of: Pcmag

9 Total Score

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