MacBook Pro 13-inch (2013) Review
Apple first introduced the 13” MacBook Pro with Retina display in 2012 and it came with a bunch of issues. MacBook Pro 13-inch (2013) with Retina display is the third and the latest laptop in the series. The new and refreshed laptop is not only lighter and slimmer than its predecessors but also considerably fast. It comes with the latest Haswell series processors by Intel and weighs just over 3 pounds. If that’s not enough to intrigue you, it has a battery life of more than 10 hours and is $500 cheaper than its previous model. Thanks to its ultra-thin profile and impressive hardware, it rivals with the high-end ultrabooks with Windows 8/8.1 and resolution higher than 1080p. It has a base price of $1299 and is considered one of the best high end ultraportable laptops in its price range.
Design and Features
Not much has changed on the outside, the exterior of the new MacBook Pro 13-inch 2013 with Retina display looks identical to the previous model. On close inspection, we found that Apple has managed to make it thinner and lighter than the 2012 model. The late 2013 model of MacBook Pro 13-inch is 0.04 inches thinner and 0.20 pounds lighter than the previous model. Like previous models, it is made from glass and milled aluminum with traditional matte silver finish. Like previous models, it also has the same Chiclet style backlit keyboard which is comfortable to use and evenly backlit. Speakers are still beneath the keyboard with no visible opening. The speakers are decently loud and produce a balanced sound for casual listening. It also has Apple’s industry leading glass touch trackpad with precise tracking and smooth multi-touch gestures.
On the left side it has MagSafe 2 charging port, a USB 3.0 port, two Thunderbolt 2 inputs and 3.5 headphone jacks. The right side has another USB 3.0 port, an HDMI out and SDXC Card reader. MacBook Pro 15-inch (2013) has the exact same ports, so even with smaller screen there is no loss of connectivity options. Apple has upgraded the built-in Wi-Fi card to 802.11ac, which means that the new MacBook pro 13-inch will support much faster wireless transfer speed and have greater range. MacBook Pro 13-inch (2013) put its rivals like the Sony VAIO Pro 13 to shame in features, ports, screen resolution, battery life and overall performance.
MacBook Pro 13-inch (2013) uses the same display panel found in the previous models. It is a 13.3 inch Retina display IPS panel with a 2560 x 1600 pixel resolution giving 227 pixels per inch. Thanks to the IPS technology, MacBook Pro 13-inch (2013) has fantastic viewing angles and the display has a low glare glossy finish. The Retina Display is gorgeous to look at and is eye candy for gamers and movie buffs. The higher resolution display provides users the opportunity to work on raw 1080p HD videos and pictures at full resolution and still have room for tool bar and other program windows. Apple has also updated a lot of new applications to support higher resolution of Retina displays meaning users won’t face any
Retina display of MacBook Pro 13-inch (2013) is a treat to look at but unlike last year it is no longer the only laptop with higher than 1080p display. This year MacBook’s Retina display got some competition in its class, one of the top contenders is Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus with 13.3-inch display and ginormous 3200 x 1800 pixel resolution. Toshiba KiraBook is another rival with 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution on a 13.3-inch display and Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro with 3200 x 1800 pixel resolution. Apple’s latest MacBook Pro 15-inch has 2880 x 1800 pixel resolution display, but it is bigger in size and not so portable. This year users have many options to choose from and depending on their choice of OS they can enjoy the gorgeous higher than 1080p resolution displays of any of the above mentioned laptops.
Touch screen laptops with Windows 8 and 8.1 are attracting a lot of attention these days, but unlike these laptops, MacBook Pro 13-inch (2013) doesn’t need a touch screen to be useful. All the latest Mac desktops and laptops come with OS X 10.9 Maverick which isn’t touch optimized and neither are its apps. Apple provides iWork and iLife suit free of cost with all their latest Mac desktops and laptops, while the rival laptops like the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus doesn’t even come with Office pre-installed. Apple wants to take care of its customers and even provide standard one year warranty with 90 days of phone support.
The base model of MacBook Pro 13-inch (2013) Retina display comes with a 2.4 GHz dual-core i5-4258U Haswell series processor with 3MB of L3 cache. The buyers can also choose a different i5 processor with 2.6GHz speed or i7-4558U with 4MB of L3 cache. All the different configurations come with Iris 5100 graphics with DDR3L SDRAM shared with main memory. The base model comes with 4GB of memory and 128GB of PCIe based flash storage. At the time of purchase, users have the option to choose up to 16GB of memory and 1TB of storage. The bad news is that the laptop is sealed and buyers have to choose the upgrade options at the time of purchase, once the laptop is purchased it cannot be upgraded. Even the system memory is soldered to the mainboard with no extra slots therefore buyers are advised to choose the specifications wisely according to their requirements.
The Haswell processor used in the MacBook Pro 13-inch (2013) is the latest processor designed by Intel on a 22nm chip. After all the advances and optimization done by Intel on the Haswell processor, the results are astounding, it is much more energy efficient and performs faster than ivy bridge even at lower clock speeds. Apple has moved from traditional SATA storage to PCIe based flash storage and the result is up to 60% faster transfer rate.
Thanks to Haswell processor and PCIe based flash storage, MacBook Pro 13-inch (2013) takes mere 11 seconds to do a cold boot into OS X. It gave a score of 6303 in GeekBench test and during Blackmagic test it gave an average read speed of 775MBps. MacBook Pro 13-inch (2013) completed the handbreak test in just 1 minute and 9 seconds, while its biggest rival Samsung ATIV Book 9 plus completed the test in 1 minute and 23 seconds and Sony VAIO Pro 13 did it in 1 minute 34 seconds. MacBook Pro 13-inch (2013) completed the Photoshop CS6 test in an astounding time of 4 minutes and 27 seconds, while Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus did it in 5 minutes and 51 seconds and Sony VAIO Pro 13 did it in 5 minutes 7 seconds. The results prove that it is not only pro by name but also pro by nature.
The not so common Intel Iris 5100 graphics is not a discreet GPU but still it decimates all competition in the graphics department. While running the Heaven Benchmark test on medium settings, all the rival ultrabooks rarely managed to give double digit frame rates on medium settings while the MacBook Pro 13-inch (2013) easily managed double digit frame rates on medium and high settings. It is not the best choice for a hardcore gamer, the lack of a discreet GPU makes it obvious, but it is good for moderate gaming on medium settings. It is disappointing that Apple doesn’t offer the choice of discreet graphics with the 13 inch MacBook Pro (2013). Gaming might not be its strong suits, but battery life sure is. During different battery tests it lasted an average of 11 hours and 26 minutes and even surpassed the 9 hours battery life claimed by Apple at the time of launch. The closest any competitor got is around 8 hours, which is still 3 hours shy of MacBook’s battery life.
MacBook Pro 13-inch (2013) has the best qualities of both the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 15-inch (2013), it has the battery life of the MacBook Air and performance of MacBook Pro 15-inch. The ginormous resolution on the 13.3-inch screen, a PCIe based flash storage, ultra-portable design and outstanding battery life, all these make a stellar laptop which can easily be the winning choice in high end ultraportable laptop category. If compared with ultrabooks, it puts all the competition to shame. If a touch screen feature is not the top priority, then the MacBook Pro 13-inch (2013) is a clear winner for the portable power users.