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Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display review (early 2015)

Michael Passingham
14 Apr 2015
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
1,199
inc VAT

Performance-boosting upgrades and an overhauled touchpad keep the 13-inch MacBook Pro well ahead of the competition

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Performance and battery life

The second significant change is the switch to fifth-generation Intel "Broadwell" processors. We tested the base model, which has a dual-core Core i5-5257U running at 2.7GHz. Performance is as snappy as you'd expect, helped by the cohesive feel of the Mac OS X operating system that helps you work through tasks at a blazing pace. Things slow a little when it comes to more advanced multimedia tasks, but it's still very capable. In our new benchmarks, it scored a hugely impressive 87 in the image editing test, with scores of 60 and 43 in the video editing and multitasking challenges giving it an overall score of 56.

It's a small performance bump over last year's model, but Broadwell was designed with lower power consumption in mind rather than raw speed. Indeed, this year's MacBook Pro took 12h 7m to deplete – an almost three hour improvement over the previous generation model.

The on-board Intel Iris 6100 graphics are also surprisingly capable; we ran our standard Dirt Showdown benchmark (via a Windows 8 install using Boot Camp) and were impressed with the 33.5fps the laptop was able to produce.

When pushed hard, the laptop's fans begin to whir and the upper section of the keyboard tray get very hot, becoming almost painful to touch. For everything but the toughest of tasks, though, the MacBook Pro remains cool and quiet.

Storage

The 2015 MacBook Pro also gains faster PCI-E-based flash storage. We saw write speeds of 1200MB/s and read speeds of 1251MB/s in the Blackmagic SSD benchmark massive increase from last year's sub-700MB/s results. This contributes to the MacBook Pro's zippy performance, too. Capacity is tight at 256GB on our model, so if you opt not to upgrade to a 512GB or 1TB SSD at purchase you'll need Thunderbolt-based external hard disks to store large video files or photo libraries.

Conclusion

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display isn't a major leap forward in technology, but it didn't need to be. A better processor, battery life, faster storage and a Force Touch touchpad make it a worthwhile upgrade for those using almost any non-Retina MacBook Pro. The price premium over similarly specified Windows laptops is vast, but if you can afford it, the superior build quality, great OS and incredible battery life are worth it. If you're not completely convinced that Apple is the way to go then check out some alternatives in our regularly-updated Best Laptops and buying guide.

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Core specs
ProcessorDual-core 2.7GHz Intel Core i5 5257U
RAM8GB
Memory slots (free)Soldered memory
Max memory16GB
Size314x333x18mm
Weight1.6kg
SoundCirrus 4208-CRZ (3.5mm headset jack)
Pointing deviceTouchpad
Display
Screen size13.3in
Screen resolution2,560x1,600
TouchscreenNo
Graphics adaptorIntel Iris Graphics 6100
Graphics outputs2x Thunderbolt 2, HDMI
Graphics memoryShared
Storage
Total storage256GB SSD
Optical drive typeNone
Ports and expansion
USB ports2x USB3
BluetoothYes
Networking802.11ac Wi-Fi
Memory card readerSDXC
Other ports2x Thunderbolt 2
Miscellaneous
Operating systemOS X Yosemite
Operating system restore optionrestore partition
Buying information
Parts and labour warrantyOne year RTB
Price inc VAT£1,199
Detailswww.apple.com
Supplierwww.apple.com
Part numberMF840B

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