The latest MacBook is lighter, more powerful and staking its claim to be your perfect creative workstation
Apple describes this latest incarnation of the MacBook Pro as taking the notebook to a place it’s never been, and there are several ways that this looks and feels the case when you first encounter the new Pro.
- 2.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
- Turbo Boost up to 3.1GHz
- 8GB memory
- 512GB PCIe-based flash storage
- Intel Iris Graphics
- Nine-hour battery life
As has been the theme with Apple products for some time now, things are getting thinner and lighter, but considering the internal powerhouse of the MacBook Pro – coming in at 25% lighter and 20% thinner than the Pro without Retina display – it’s very eye-catching. Just holding the new notebook is impressive; it’s effortlessly mobile, and when you know just how much power and potential lies within, it makes it all the more satisfying to interact with.
In many ways, this MacBook Pro isn’t that different to the 2012 model. The maximum resolution is the same – 2560 x 1600 at 227 pixels per inch – but it’s a level of clarity that never gets old. The smart backlit keyboard and smooth glass-topped Trackpad are here once again to bring style alongside the power. The big difference this year is that, thanks to the Intel i5 processor and Iris Graphics, everything runs faster and smoother without any compromise on app performance at any level. This is very exciting for the creatively-minded as getting the most out of software like Aperture away from the desktop is now a realistic goal. You’ll notice the extra polish that this new hardware provides from the moment you start using the MacBook – everything is sharper and more responsive. Load and processing times are down, meaning your productivity can only go up, especially when combined with the free iLife and iWork downloads that come with your new purchase.
Hyper-Threading Technology means that each core inside the MacBook Pro can tackle multiple tasks simultaneously, and the enhanced performance is driven by speeds of up to 2.8GHz, pushed up to 3.3GHz thanks to Turbo Boost. In short, no matter how performancehungry the app you’re running is, this notebook can handle it. It’s all down to the new PCIe-based flash storage, which shortens the Pro’s read and write times so everything is faster, even the demanding tasks of editing in Final Cut, for example. Things are also very rapid when it comes to external hook-ups thanks to the introduction of Thunderbolt 2 connections, so next-gen displays, like 4K, will link up seamlessly with the new Pro. Thunderbolt 2 provides twice the bandwidth of the previous MacBook Pro to each external device connected, making file management and storage movement very swift.
“Everything runs faster and smoother without any compromise to app performance at any level” The difference made by Intel Iris is really noticeable; and while the figures suggest a performance boost of up to 90%, personal experience is the best measurement. Fire up something like iMovie and you’ll be impressed at how easily the MacBook takes everything in its stride; it’s a space you want to work in. Running Mavericks alongside the new hardware means that battery life has been significantly improved, with a full day’s work possible and still some juice left to spare, much to our delight.
As we pointed out with the previous MacBook Pro, if you’re a photographer or filmmaker, the advantages of Retina display are as clear as the screen itself, with the vibrancy and life of colours more apparent than on any other notebook. Coupled with the increased performance that the Haswell processors bring to the new Pro, it becomes an even more appealing prospect because of the laptop’s ability to handle heavy-duty and performancesapping apps like Final Cut so well, no matter where you and your MacBook are. Tie in the bulk that has been shaved off both in weight and size and you have something that easily fits into your bag without much disruption.
How the new 13-inch Pro compares with the previous model
When it comes to the actual design, the best things about the MacBook Pro still ring true – with the addition now of a screen that’s been on a diet and looks as though it belongs on a MacBook Air. The 15-inch version comes with impressive visual stereo speakers, pumping out some surprising sound for the size of the laptop. There is a fair argument that unless you are a serious creative, similar levels of performance can be found in a MacBook Air, but the Pro feels like a step up when you sit down with it. The sharpness that comes not only at the top-end when you’re in the midst of editing images or working with footage in 1080p, but also when you’re just moving around the desktop, is very prominent, and might just be enough to convince you to make the step up.
Pros In terms of performance, this feels like a very strong upgrade Cons A serious creative could get similar results from a MacBook Air.