Should You Buy A MacBook Pro Retina? REVIEW

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by iRobby, Jun 20, 2012.

  1. iRobby macrumors 6502a


    Mar 22, 2011
    Fort Myers, FL USA
    Should You Buy One?

    This isn’t necessarily for you, but if it is, you can rest assured that it’s the best Mac on the market.

    They said it. We’re going to say it, too. The Retina MacBook Pro is the best Mac Apple has ever made. That doesn’t mean you should buy one.

    That’s a curious thing to say at the tail end of a review that doesn’t ding Apple once for the way the Retina MacBook Pro has been constructed, and in truth, this feels like the device that Apple poured its heart and soul into: a notebook without any compromises, which is as powerful, as beautiful, as slim, as light and as technologically advanced as a 15-inch laptop possibly can be without being sent back from the future.

    But chances are, Apple didn’t build this laptop for you. They built it for professionals. And they meant it.

    For years, the suffix of the MacBook Pro brand has been increasingly de-emphasized. What started out as a notebook line meant for video, photo and design professionals became an attractive brand to Mac lovers sick of spinning beachballs and upping their system specs in the hope that it would make their experience with a laptop more frictionless. Less time loading files or videos. Less time booting up, or powering down. Less time waking from sleep. Fewer freezes and crashes.

    When Apple released the 2010 MacBook Air, they revealed the true cause of friction for most users, and for almost everyone, it wasn’t the processor or the graphics card or even the amount of RAM in the machine anymore… it was that crunching, whirring, clattering hard drive clogging everything up, like a tapeworm in the gut.

    There’s a reason the MacBook Air is the fastest selling Mac ever: it’s all the laptop most people need, as fast as they need it. It manages this in an 11-inch or 13-inch footprint, 0.3 inch at its thickest point, and with significantly lower system specs than what people have been accustomed to except for one: blindingly fast flash storage. All starting at just $999.

    Once you have gotten used to a MacBook Air, the truth of the matter is that, across the board, the Retina MacBook Pro is overkill for almost everyone. Starting at $2,199, it’s twice as expensive as a MacBook Air, and short of the incredible Retina display, most people will never notice a difference in performance. The 2012 MacBook Airs may not be as fast as the Retina MacBook Pro, but they are just as frictionless. And that’s leaving aside the fact that the MacBook Air has also redefined most users’ expectations of how portable a fast notebook should be. Taking a MacBook Air on the road with you is as effortless as chucking it into a small bag, but a MacBook Pro — even the more svelte Retina ones — are still notebooks you have to lug.

    The exception to all this is the class of customers the MacBook Pro was originally meant for. Video, photo and design professionals actually need the performance of a fast Ivy Bridge processor, a powerful graphics card, the fastest RAM out there. These are the people who will truly be able to make use of a Retina display, not as a marvel, but to create amazing things. And these are the customers who, up until now, have been left behind as Apple revolutionized the way we thought about our laptops and the true speed and portability which they are capable of.

    The Retina MacBook Pros are a love letter from Apple to professionals: we care so much about you. Though the new 2012 Mac Pros are lackluster at best (largely due to problems beyond Apple’s control), the Retina MacBook Pro is a promise to professionals that Cupertino hasn’t forgotten about them, or forgotten how important they are to the Mac. The works professionals create on Apple’s top-of-the-line machines are what drive the success of the entire brand, trickling down to the MacBook Air, the iMac, the iPhone and the iPad. Pro designers are the people who gave Apple its initial foothold when Macs were just a niche, and it is the evangelism of design professionals that have turned the Mac and iOS platforms into platforms to be feared.

    Ultimately, if you’re a design professional, buying a Retina MacBook Pro is a no-brainer. But for everyone else, the question is full of ‘ifs’.

    Ultimately, if you’re a design professional, buying a Retina MacBook Pro is a no-brainer. But for everyone else, the question is full of ‘ifs’. If you can afford one. If the MacBook Air isn’t good enough for you. If 15 inches is really the bare minimum size of a notebook you can stomach. If you don’t mind lugging it around. If you want a notebook as a desktop replacement. If you absolutely must be on the cutting edge. If you don’t mind paying a premium to be a part of the future. If you’re a serious hard-core gamer. If you don’t mind dealing for the foreseeable future with a Retina experience that is half the clearest, crispest, brightest and most colorful thing you’ve ever seen, and the other half made of ****.

    For everyone else? Wait. Wait until Apple brings the Retina display to the iMac and MacBook Air. It will happen, and when it does, it’ll be for everyone, at prices they can afford, without compromises. Just like the Retina MacBook Pro.
  2. Rizzm macrumors 6502a

    Feb 5, 2012
    I was hoping to go into the thread and see a big "NO." and nothing more.

    I would've chuckled.
  3. jshbckr macrumors 6502

    Apr 20, 2007
    Minneapolis, MN
    Sorry, but this review didn't tell me (as a professional videographer/editor/animator) why the Retina display is right for me. It merely said "it's right for you."

    I want to know more about whether or not the retina display has any performance hit for CPU/GPU when running applications like CS6 (for Premiere Pro and After Effects, specifically) as well as Final Cut. Additionally, I could make an argument that putting SSD+HDD (in the optical bay) of a non-retina MBP would be a better portable editing machine than a Retina MBP + External hard drive. Not to mention future flexibility of changing drives, adding more RAM, etc.

    I feel like you wrote this for people who don't need a MacBook Pro but are drawn by the retina display... not for people in the market for a MacBook Pro in the first place.
  4. Trey M macrumors 6502a

    Trey M

    Jul 25, 2011
    I agree with many parts of your review. Especially that most people getting one will not need the power it provides. I got one because I'm impatient, I'm mad when I don't have the cutting edge, and because it's thinner and has a fantastic display. I know, sensibly, those are dumb reasons, but I couldn't resist. I spent less than $1000 after selling my old laptop, so it wasn't too expensive for me.

    I especially agree with you in that most people will buy it because of the display. That is why I think it will be a while before Apple brings the Retina display to other laptops- they'll sell a ton to people who don't need them because they're pretty. I also think that by doing this, Apple will raise a consumer's expectations for the price of a laptop, allowing an increase in prices for future laptops to come.
  5. iRobby thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Mar 22, 2011
    Fort Myers, FL USA

    Here is the entire review I hope it helps answer your questions:
  6. MH01 Suspended


    Feb 11, 2008
    So basically this is a MacBook air pro.

    I'd be interested how many pros stick with it, there are quiet a few on these forums that are keeping thier mbp 17" while they try out the retina, over the next month or so we will see if the real pros keep them, and not just zealous fans.

    In relation to the 2012 mac pros being lacklustre , please that is the understatement of 2012, and you should not make excuses for apple, there is no excuse that they cannot get an updated mac pro before late 2013.
  7. wiseoak1 macrumors member

    Jun 20, 2012
    I'd like to know if the screen doesn't bother webdesigners, graphic designers, ...
    since the web doesn't look as sharp because of the non hd-images.
    Are the CS6 programs running well and looking good? I only heard Adobe Photoshop CS6 is getting a Retina-update. So I'm not sure if this is the 100% experience laptop for designers...

    What are your opinions about it?
  8. zerotiu macrumors regular

    Jun 12, 2012
    I believe Apple or it was another person said that the cost of 1 retina screen is $200 more expensive than the ordinary one (or was it $100).

    Anyways, it's more expensive. I hope Apple can maintain the price if MBA /iMac use that screen.

    In my opinion, not all series will be changed using retina screen because 1:1 display is always needed. Except the entire world uses retina display.
  9. Jiten macrumors 6502a


    Jul 16, 2008
    That was an entertaining review. I swear it sounds less like a review and more like slam poetry, which I am very found of. Buying the current gen MBPr seem to defy common sense despite of all it's perceived advantages.

    IMHO this machine, as impressive it may seem, is more of an emotional purchase then anything else and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
  10. MacBird macrumors 6502a

    Apr 1, 2010
    Adobe will only update CS6 and as for the timeframe, they only say "later this year."
  11. mr.bee macrumors 6502a


    May 24, 2007
    Brussels, belgium
    I'm not fond of people dictating my consumer behavior based on their own beliefs.

    If I buy one for my 11yr old kid to play world of warcraft on it, that's my problem.

    don't judge and don't should others.
  12. brand macrumors 601


    Oct 3, 2006
  13. moclippa macrumors member

    Oct 21, 2008
    Well, I'm a person who is not a designer but is a hobby photographer, but has a job that keeps him moving around the world and city constantly with a laptop on his shoulder, and loves gaming so needs something that can handle modern games....

    I may not be a design professional, but this is up my alley. I'd love a Macbook Air, if it wasn't for my gaming on the go during my down time at hotels, and the fact that I prefer to game on a laptop than on a desktop when at home.
  14. Slivortal macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2012
    Kind of a pretentious review. Not by saying that the MBPR was designed for professionals (which it very wel may be), but by acting like design professionals are the only ones who would benefit from such a change.

    As a computer scientist, I was looking for 16GB of RAM, an SSD, and a quad core processor, and something light enough to carry around everywhere I go (again, computer scientist). Discrete graphics was also a plus. The MBPR has become the first and only computer on the market to meet these criteria, regardless of the actual Retina display.

    Acting like all professionals are simply the ones in your specific career is myopic, and quite frankly, insulting to the rest of us who actually design the products that allow Apple to keep moving forward.
  15. PVisitors macrumors 6502a

    Aug 1, 2011
    Pretentious is John Brownlee's middle name. Seriously whatever he says, you should probably ignore. Cult of Mac under his leadership have become a site using sensationalist headlines which turn out to be anything but the article content, and they do it for Ad revenue.

    Not to mention John Brownlee's nauseating fanboy stuff, he can't finish off any article or review without getting a dig in at either PC OEMs, Windows or Android. It is ridiculously unprofessional.
  16. iLikeTurtles! macrumors 6502

    Jun 22, 2012
    focusing on performance, u can get the same performance on the regular macbook pros by changing the HD to a SSD , whether its buying it on newegg or doing it on apples website
  17. Henry Li macrumors member

    Mar 24, 2009
    Excellent thoughts. I totally agree with you. I certainly will wait for the 13' macbook air with a retina display. The 15' macbook pro is really too much for average users.
  18. photosaurus, Jul 5, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2012

    photosaurus macrumors regular

    Jun 22, 2012
    I agree with the main idea of the the review.

    1. If you simply want the best for bests sake, get it. And max out all the options. And if you want something even more portable to go with it, get a maxed out 11" air as a companion device.

    2. If you're a photographer or designer who needs to work on the go, you've already bought into a mac workflow, and it's about upgrade time anyway. Get it now. I can't fathom why you would go any other route. Why?
    -- Air is not powerful enough for you.
    -- The retina's screen is vastly superior to the standard pro for this kind of work.
    -- Lack of upgradability? Fixability? Use external storage, you should be anyway. If you need 16, just get it from the start. When and if your battery goes out, $200 bucks is not a big deal. You're going to get apple care anyway, so if it breaks, get it fixed.

    3. If you're a non-graphical professional with a large computer power requirement, and you're into mac, and you want portability... it's a tossup. If portability is high on your priority list, I think the Retina > than the standard. If you like to tinker with your hardware, why are you using a Macbook in the first place OR tinker with externals.

    4. If you're a gamer, what the hell are you thinking! Sure, native resolution gaming is a cool novelty on a retina, but you'll only ever get to see it on ever older games as time goes by. Get a windows Desktop, and if you absolutely must game on the go, then buy yourself a 200lb windows gaming laptop. Why?
    -- You're going to need way more graphics power over time than the retina.
    -- You're going to want to upgrade your graphics card at least once.
    -- You're going to use windows anyway, why bother with bootcamp.
    -- Personally, when I want to "Game on the Go", I put my entire gaming rig desktop in the car... and go.

    5. If you're a gamer AND number 2 above, and you can only afford one laptop... well, make your choice and suffer the trade-offs. I'd say if you're willing to forgo a windows desktop for the retina, you're not really a gamer. If you already have a windows desktop for gaming, do you REALLY need to game on the go? Get the retina.

    6. If you just do office work, web browsing, and family albums.. just get a 13" air. Unless you fall into category 1.

    Anyway, all this seems pretty obvious too me once you investigate the options enough.
  19. njean777 macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2009
    5. Thats complete bull. I am a gamer and probably more hardcore then most people, and I purchased the MBPR. It runs games just fine in windows and even when not on native res they look fine. I will say I do not play all pc games (mostly console), but even if you are a hardcore gamer then the MBPR is still viable as a gaming machine.
  20. NickZac macrumors 68000


    Dec 11, 2010
    I think anyone can appreciate the display of it and if someone likes the display enough to pay the price tag and accept the larger form, then it is absolutely worth it in every way.

    With that said, the display of the Air and the MBP Classic ain't to shabby, either.

    I would say that a lot of people on this forum though can use more than just the display. My computer life changed when Apple stuffed a quad core into their I historically did only on desktops I could then do on laptops. In fact, work I historically did on desktops actually ran faster on my laptop, and it let me use one computer for work, school, and play. I even purchased software that I just otherwise would not have as I do not like working on a desktop. Streaming HD movies was do-able too as it only occupies about 5% of my CPU, so I can watch a movie while doing other work without any real slowdowns. So for all the people here who use CS5 (and now 6) and other imaging/rendering software, gamers (of which I know nothing about), picture and movie people (of which I also know nothing about), architects (with your crazy-azz programs you can really use the 15's power), and others, the new MBP should bring enjoyment well beyond just the screen. While I am still bitter about them welding the damned ram into the unit, it is still an awesome computer nonetheless.

    Of course the price tag of the MBP is no's never been. No one here can say if it is or isn't worth the price tag other than the individual person contemplating the purchase. While I wouldn't recommend refinancing your home mortgage, diverting your student loans, or selling your kidney on an auction site in Bangkok, I would say give it some consideration otherwise.
  21. photosaurus macrumors regular

    Jun 22, 2012
    Yes. It is. Today. But next year, you'll be playing on medium settings 1080p. End of next year, who knows.

    I've played Civ V on it, ant it's quite good. I played Skyrim briefly on a Windows two go drive, and it's quite good as well. But my 2 year old windows desktop can still trounce the mbpr, and new, it cost $700 dollars less than I payed for the rMBP. If I put that $700 towards a new top end graphics card now, it wouldn't just trounce the rMBPR, it would destroy it.

    I'm not saying it can't game, I'm saying that if gaming is your main reason for purchasing, the rMBP is definitely not the best option.
  22. JMB1911 macrumors regular

    Mar 27, 2010
    I am in sales, all I do is email and web-browsing, researching other companies.

    I asked my boss for one, and he got me one.
  23. njean777 macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2009
    Oh I agree with that (future gaming), but for todays games it is perfectly fine. I mean the MBPr is a lot more powerful then a ps3 or xbox 360.

    Guess I just misread your post, yeah for the future there is no telling how viable it will be. But for good developers (valve, blizzard, etc) that know how to scale it will most likely last a good 3 years or so.
  24. photosaurus, Jul 5, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2012

    photosaurus macrumors regular

    Jun 22, 2012
    I'll agree to agree. I myself appreciate the rMBPR as a capable gaming machine. I just wouldn't have bought it if I were looking to buy a gaming machine. There's better and cheaper options. But, that said, it's certainly a nice side benefit to the rMBP that it is a good gaming machine today.

    Edit: I'll also concede that if I were filthy rich, I'd LOVE the rMBP as a portable gaming machine. I'd buy it JUST for gaming on the road today... and then buy another one just for gaming next year... and so on. Instead of updating graphics cards, I'd just upgrade my mb every year.... of course, I'd also buy a top of the line windows desktop every year.. or maybe 5 of them, for LAN parties.... too bad I don't play the lotto. Something for me to dream about.
  25. Dangerous Theory macrumors 68000

    Jul 28, 2011
    If you had given me something like that as an eleven year old... Jesus Christ, I'd have been so happy haha

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