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Buying advice: Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina

Not the same impressive performance of the 15-inch MacBook Pro Retina

Speculation about upcoming Apple products seems to have become a hobby for many. The iPad mini certainly was not a surprise anymore when it was officially launched, so the other news Apple released that day was much more exciting. The iPad 4 was announced, more information came out about the new Mac mini, and the sleek new Apple iMac was presented. The 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina also received some attention, and Hardware.Info has now tested it to find out what it has to offer. Is it as impressive as the 15-inch model?

Apple's laptops always have that trademark stylish and sleek design, and the new 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina is no exception. It has an aluminium unibody, with the illuminated Apple logo on top. The black keyboard is backlit, the keys have a light but clear touch, and there is a huge, glass touchpad.

The Retina display has a resolution of 2560x1600. This provides a very sharp picture, but slightly less so than the 2880x1440 display of the 15-inch model. Apple is no longer the only one with a very high resolution screen, the Samsung Google Nexus 10 that was announced last week has the same resolution in a smaller screen.

The IPS display has excellent viewing angles. The high resolution makes it possible to see a Full HD image in a window at full resolution. Apple's MacOS X scales nicely with the high pixel density, but the same can't be said for Windows where everything becomes very tiny. There is a drawback of having such a high-resolution display, because you see the flaws very clearly in lower-quality photos, videos and especially websites.

The MacBook Pro Retina only has the faster USB 3.0 ports, one on each side. You don't get any USB 2.0. The laptop also has an HDMI port and an SD card reader.

Like the 15-inch version, the 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina comes with two Thunderbolt ports. It's possible to connect a monitor via Mini Display port here. You can connect two additional screens, you can't have three more like on the larger MacBook Pro Retina. These Thunderbolt connectors can also take an ethernet cable, or a dock with various types of ports. The magnetic MagSafe 2 power connector is flatter than on last year's models.

In terms of hardware the 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina is state-of-the-art. It has an Intel 7 series chipset, and the processor is from the Ivy Bridge generation. Like the 'normal' 13-inch MacBook Pro it only comes with dual-core processors, so if you want a powerhouse you will need to get the 15-inch model. The standard configuration consists of a dual-core 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5 (Intel Core i5-3210M) with a turbo of 3.1 GHz. Another option is a 2.9 GHz dual-core Intel Core i7-3520M with a turbo of 3.6 GHz.

Graphics are provided by the integrated HD Graphics 4000 from the Intel processor. You get 8 GB of DDR3-1600 RAM, and it's not possible to choose less or more. Upgrading is not an option here, according to iFixit.

There is no built-in hard drive, even if that is a theoretical possibility judging from iFixit, because the SSD is located beneath the touchpad. The test sample came equipped with a 256 GB SSD from Samsung with excellent performance. The upgrade to this capacity is quite expensive, however. Instead of £1,449, you pay £1,699. The integrated speakers sound good for a laptop, and there is no DVD burner.

Read the rest of the review on Hardware.Info.

MacBook Pro 13in

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