Does a 13" retina MacBook Pro makes sense?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by skaertus, Jul 14, 2012.

  1. skaertus macrumors 68040


    Feb 23, 2009
    Now that Apple has surprise everyone with the (not all unexpected) retina MacBook Pro, it seems clear that the MacBook Pro line which was launched in late 2008 will be replaced sooner or later. The non-retina 15" MacBook Pro will be completely replaced by the brand-new retina 15" MacBook Pro as soon as prices for high-resolution displays and for SSD drives allow it.

    There are also rumors that Apple will lauch a 13" retina MacBook Pro, and there are reports that those products will be released before October:

    Although I don't really believe those rumors, it seems obvious to me that Apple will eventually put a retina display on its 13" laptops.

    But, if Apple redesigns the 13" MacBook Pro to follow the same path as the 15" MacBook Pro, it will have the following product: a 13" laptop weighing 3.6 lbs (considering that it would weigh 20% less than the current model, just like the 15" retina MacBook Pro weighs 20% less than the non-retina 15" MacBook Pro), equipped with a standard-voltage dual-core Intel processor, an SSD drive, an IPS screen with a 2560x1600 resolution, non-upgradable parts, and with no Ethernet or an optical disk drive.

    It's too similar to the current, similarly priced, 13" MacBook Air, which has 2.96 lbs, is equipped with a low-voltage dual-core Intel processor, an SSD drive, a 1440x900 TN screen, non upgradable parts and no Ethernet or an optical disk drive.

    The differences are just a few: the MacBook Air would be slightly lighter (0.6 lbs difference), would have a low-voltage processor (instead of a standard-voltage) and no retina display (but all Apple models will sooner or later get one anyway).

    Aren't they too similar? Does it make sense for Apple to have both?

    IMHO, Apple will drop the 13" MacBook Pro in favor of a beefed-up 13" MacBook Air with a retina display. Before 2009, Apple did not have a 13" MacBook Pro, and it may well drop it in favor of the Air. Any thoughts on this?
  2. nuckinfutz macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2002
    Middle Earth
    Quad Core
    Discrete GPU
    Retina Display

    Makes sense to me.
  3. OMGspiders! macrumors newbie

    Jul 14, 2012
    Does a 13" retina MacBook Pro make sense?

    Even if they do all of those things, do you think it's possible they will do them anytime soon?
  4. Slivortal macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2012
    I honestly doubt they'd get those into a shrunken 13" chassy with today's tech.

    And @ OP: I honestly don't see Air getting Retina, simply because of cooling issues and the fact that regular processors have quite the advantage of their ULV counterparts. I could be wrong, but I think we'll be seeing 13" RMBP (if any 13") this fall.

    You say the RMBP would weight .7 pounds more than the RMBA. Those .7 pounds wouldn't simply be dead weight.
  5. skaertus thread starter macrumors 68040


    Feb 23, 2009
    But will it have a discrete GPU and a quad-core processor while becoming thinner and lighter just like the 15" MacBook Pro have? And if it does, isn't it the case to drop the 13" MacBook Air instead? Why keep two lines of thin and light, similarly priced, laptops? Is there any business sense in this?


    The iPad is thinner than a MacBook Air and it got a retina display. The MacBook Air will eventually get one too.
  6. hiohokaybye macrumors regular

    Sep 17, 2007
    I actually agree with this, I just don't see them adding all that to the 13" line for numerous reasons. One being that there should be a clear separation between the 13" and the 15" in performance (like how they've had dual core for 13 and quad for 15). But hey, prove me wrong:)
  7. Slivortal, Jul 14, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2012

    Slivortal macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2012
    iOS has almost no hardware requirements, and an 8" screen has less than half the number of pixels as an MBA. The power consumption between a 2560x1440 screen and a preferably full-sized dual core (but even a ULV dual core) Intel processor is NOT minimal. Kept with the current MBA size constraints, I'd be surprised to see one with more than an Apple-estimated 3-5 hours of battery life, with a practice 2-3 hours.

    The iPad runs off of 512 MEGABYTES of RAM, and a whopping PROCESSOR-ON-A-CHIP design.

    Maybe in a few years with Broadwell+'s MCM chipset we'd get something efficient enough, but I don't even think Haswell would overcome this. Thinking Ivy Bridge has it in it, you're out of your mind.

    Not to mention you'd need new screen tech as well to reduce battery consumption - there are a few futuristic alternatives, but nothing Apple's going to be able to implement this fall.
  8. nuckinfutz macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2002
    Middle Earth
    There are Ivy Bridge Quads @ 35 Watt TDP avail now. Removing the ODD will allow for the discrete GPU & more battery.

    I'd hazard a $1599 starting price point. The Air stays ULV dual core.
  9. Slivortal macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2012
    I'd highly doubt we'd get those sorts of specs, especially at that price point. I wouldn't be surprised if 35W Quads are currently more expensive than their 45W counterparts. 35W Quad JUST came out.

    Add in a discrete GPU? I wouldn't be surprised if you'd be at $2000-$2200. At $1599, there'd be NO reason to spend an extra $600 on 2" of screen.

    My prediction: no discrete GPU, no quad core, $1699-$1799 for base. And people will still eat them up.
  10. skaertus thread starter macrumors 68040


    Feb 23, 2009
    In fact, the 10" screen new iPad has 3.14 million pixels, while a 2560x1600 screen would have 4.09 million pixels and a 2560x1440 screen would have 3.69 million pixels. It's not a huge difference.

    I know that. But the current MacBook Air currently holds 7 hours of battery life. The difference would be the retina display. So, the question is: how much more battery would a retina screen require?

    Apple managed to put a 2880x1800 retina display, a quad-core standard voltage Ivy Bridge and a dedicated NVIDIA graphics card inside a 4.46 lbs MacBook Pro.

    ASUS managed to put a 1920x1080 IPS screen and a dedicated graphics card in its new Zenbook Prime; and Sony put a 1920x1080 screen and a standard-voltage processor in its Vaio Z laptops, and both hold 5-7 hour battery life (running Windows, which drains more battery than MacOS).

    Wouldn't Apple be able to put a 2560x1600 or a 2560x1440 in a 13" MacBook Air equipped with a low-voltage processor and no dedicated graphics card? I'm not convinced.

    If Ivy Bridge isn't able to do it, Haswell probably will. Everybody keeps saying that a retina display drains too much battery and that current designs would not allow it.

    A week or two before the retina MacBook Pro was released, people insisted in saying that a retina MacBook would be impossible because the retina display would take too much battery. But then Apple released the retina MacBook Pro with a whooping 2880x1800 resolution, a quad-core processor and a dedicated graphics card and it is still thinner and lighter than the non-retina MacBook Pro. And it has a 7-hour battery life.

    Nobody has ever showed (at least to me), in numbers (or a graph or whatever), how much more battery a high resolution display does consume. People just keep saying that, as if it is an axiom.
  11. nuckinfutz macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2002
    Middle Earth
    The rMBP has a battery that is about 23% larger. Not insurmountable by any stretch and IGZO may offset this more than the Retina LG display
  12. Slivortal macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2012
    I somehow doubt Apple's going to switch screens by the fall. If they were going to go IGZO, they would've went IGZO.

    EDIT: And a lot of the power consumption issues for a retina display come from recalculating all the images into the correct resolutions. It's not simple work.
  13. Newtype macrumors member

    Dec 2, 2011
    Vancouver BC
    Maybe they will make 13" rMBP tad bit thicker than 15"rMBP? Wouldn't this allow quad-core & dGPU?

    IMO I see Apple keeping MBA the way it is and adding 13" to rMBP line. Considering that they dropped 17", maybe 13-15" will replace 15-17" of prosumer line.
  14. mohsy90 macrumors 65816


    Feb 4, 2011
    New York
    Yeah...i doubt that Apple would announce a new 13" rMBP that is thicker. Won't happen. If it does end up having a quad-core processor and discrete GPU, which IMO is unlikely, it's going to be an even more remarkable piece of engineering than the 15" retina.
  15. ixodes macrumors 601


    Jan 11, 2012
    Pacific Coast, USA
    Apple has gone all in on retina. They've invested a lot in the advertising above and beyond what they've invested in redesigning the laptops to accommodate it.

    From the consumer side the benefit is it's a very nice display. From Apple's side it's extremely profitable.

    Therefore, I fully expect Apple to offer retina displays in nearly every model of laptop they offer. About the only exception may be a small 11" MBA with a standard display to keep the cost of a "base model" down.
  16. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    I doubt they will be similarly priced. The Air is Apple's new entry level machine. That used to be the white Macbook, then later the 13" MBP. I think that the 13" MBP has been held back somewhat because of that. Apple wanted to keep it priced low. It actually started as the 13" Aluminum Macbook. It even has a lower resolution screen than the 13" Air which costs the same.

    I think that a redesigned 13" MBP would be more of a high end ultraportable. Quad core CPU possibly, or dual core with a low end dedicated GPU. More of a Vaio Z competitor. I think dual core full voltage on the base model and quad core on the high end model is most likely, just like the Z. It will probably have a base price of $1600-$1800, while the 13" Air starts at $1199.

    Rather than put a retina display in the Air, I think they would rather drop the price even farther. It will probably eventually get a retina display, but I think that's a couple of years away.
  17. detroitl macrumors newbie

    Jul 9, 2012
    I think it's possible that they'll make a retina 13, but like others have said it won't be a quad core with discrete gpu. the 13s have always had a significant spec difference with the 15s in the past, they're different computers for different people with different needs.
  18. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    I agree that discrete GPU is unlikely, but I don't think you should look at the past relationship between the 13" and 15" MBPs too closely.

    The 13" MBP was originally the 13" Aluminum Macbook. It took over as Apple's mainstream consumer laptop from the white plastic Macbook. I think that Apple sees the Air as the mainstream consumer laptop going forward.

    I think that a 13" RMBP would be closer in heritage to the old 12" Powerbook.

    I think we'll see a quad core CPU option, 16GB RAM option, and the same 768GB SSD option as the 15" RMB. That would put it a nice step up from the current 13" MBP's slot in the lineup.
  19. nuckinfutz, Jul 14, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2012

    nuckinfutz macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2002
    Middle Earth
    Lack of interior space is the culprit in the 13". Remove the ODD & spinning HDD A
    and suddenly inserting dGPU & Quad Core becomes feasible.

    I'm expecting an i7 3612QM @ 2.1 Ghz
    256 & 512GB SSD options


    IGZO display and same 64 Watt hour battery

    Apple is all about Retina.
  20. beamer8912 macrumors 65816

    May 30, 2009
    The air form factor can't fit the battery necessary to power the retina display.

    I think the differences of:
    -discrete GPU
    -standard voltage CPU
    -more ports

    will make up the difference. I think there's almost an equal difference between the 13" cMBP and the 13" air.

    They still need to maintain a Pro line, and the rMBP will do just that. The cMBP will disappear though.

    MBA: lower price point, fewer features, less powerful
    rMBP: pricier, more powerful, more features

    This is just like the old macbook and macbook pro lines.
  21. Panini macrumors regular

    Jun 12, 2012
    Palo Alto, CA
    2560x1600 is too close to the 2880x1800 that the macbook pro provides.

    If the current processor/graphics needs to be overclocked, and still can't keep up with the user for things like (...scrolling...) what Anand mentioned in his review, then there's no way a dual core computer with no dGPU is going to handle that.

    Maybe when Haswell, comes out and the iGPU is 50-60% better, we'll see one, but it's more likely to be a macbook air. IMO they might mercge the 13 inch models into a retina macbook (basic consumer model).

    Think about it - we can barely play diablo 3 at native res. The 13" can't play it even that well at its current native res, let alone double that.

    You will definitely have to run 3-D apps in non-retina (HiDPI) mode. So really, the only real eye-candy is coming from basic tasks like text editing.
  22. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    I don't think they'll bump it any further unless bumped cpus appear like last year. Even then such a thing could slide out as a high end option. If display yield is an issue and causing long order times on the current rMBP, there would be little chance of a 13" anytime soon. The manufacturing capacity would have to be there first. If we're talking about something more conservative in the 1920x1200 realm, that should be less of an issue. They've been used in many 15" displays for a while. Getting that resolution into a 13" probably wouldn't be too difficult.

    There may be one bump before haswell much like last year (perhaps an early 2013 model if Haswell is sliding further out), but I doubt they'd go from dual to quad on it. The 13" would gain considerably more space without an optical drive. Given a drive of similar volume and a smaller laptop, it takes up a greater percentage of the available space.
  23. nuckinfutz macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2002
    Middle Earth
    Mountain Lion greatly addresses scrolling issues.

    There is much optimization to be done in software but today we can handle the high resolution without having to wait for next generation Intel hardware
  24. pgiguere1 macrumors 68020


    May 28, 2009
    Montreal, Canada
    Some things will need to be different between the 13" MBA and 13" MBP.

    1) The Retina Display will be a major selling point for the MBP but will require it to be more expensive and have a larger battery, thus making it thicker and heavier.

    2) The CPU will be faster on the MBP, by how much will be determined by if Haswell brings suitable 35W quad-core CPUs for the 13" MBP. If it does, then a new 13" MBP would make more sense given the difference in CPU performance.

    3) Probably no discrete GPU on the MBP, I don't think it's technically feasible if we expect it to be thin like the 15" rMBP.

    4) More connectivity on the MBP: Dual Thunderbolt + HDMI. That may not seem like a big deal but if you plan to use legacy ports like Firewire or Ethernet while using an external display the MBP and its dual Thunderbolt will be much more appropriate.

    5) The rest would probably be artificial limitations, like the MBA coming with 4GB RAM and having a 8GB BTO option but no 16GB option, while the MBP comes with 8GB and has a 16GB BTO option. Same for storage, the MBA could be limited to 512GB while the MBP could go up to 1TB.

    I know artificial limitation sucks but let's be realistic, this is Apple and they hate cannibalization and they want distinct product lines.
  25. nuckinfutz macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2002
    Middle Earth
    Hmmm let me revise my prediction of the rMBP 13"

    $1699 price

    2.1Ghz Quad Core processor (i7-3612QM)
    8GB of RAM
    128GB SSD (256GB BTO)
    GT650M discrete GPU (mated to iGPU HD 4000)
    13.3 Sharp IGZO display
    Thunderbolt port
    USB 3.0 ports
    HDMI port
    SDXC slot
    63 Watt hour battery

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