AnandTech’s Anand Lal Shimpi has posted a typically thoroughgoing and detailed review of the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro.
Lal Shimpi notes that over the past few years, the 13-inch notebook form factor has emerged as a sweet spot balance between functional size and portability, making a 13-inch variant a logical follow-on to the 15-inch rMBP Apple released last June, noting that the 13-inch rMBP does a lot to blur the line between the Air and Pro lines, and he’s now finding it more difficult to recommend the 13-inch MacBook Air, his previous pick for most users, and that he has almost every reason to recommend the new Pro.
He says “almost,” because the 13-inch rMBP is a machine that really can’t be upgraded, with the difficulty of providing more (or easily upgradeable) storage being his biggest complaint about what is a fairly fixed configuration, although the SSD module actually can be upgraded and some companies do offer an upgrade path for it.
The 13-inch rMBP retains the familiar and expected Mac laptop virtues of a solid keyboard and trackpad, good WiFi, decent speakers and a well-built chassis, although you do lose out on the quad-core CPU option and there’s no room for a discrete GPU, both of which the 15-inch rMBP has.
The base 13-inch rMBP at $1699 comes with a tiny 128GB SSD, and it’ll set you back $300 for the 256GB SSD option, plus another $200 for the optional faster CPU (still dual-core) CPU. Now you’re up to $2199, which happens to be the price of the base 15-inch rMBP with a 256 GB SSD, a much-faster quad-core CPU, and a discrete graphics processor unit as well, making the 13-incher hard to justify and a relatively poor value, unless its smaller footprint and lower weight are really important to you.
Lal Shimpi also notes that the biggest issue for him with buying a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display today is that Intel’s Haswell family of processors are coming in 2013, and it rarely hurts to wait since there’s almost always something better around the corner, but still says that while expensive, the 13-inch rMBP is “easily the best balance of portability and productivity in Apple’s lineup today.”
Some of us might disagree with that assessment. For non power users who want compact laptop dimensions, the 13-inch MacBook Air offers excellent value for $1,199, and those of us who still need large on-board data storage capacity, superior connectivity, and expandability, there is good reason why the 13-inch non-Retina MacBook Pro is Apple’s best-selling laptop at that same $1,199 price point. And if you are a power-user, you’re much better off with the 15-inch rMBP than the 13-inch version.
For the full review visit here: