New 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros launched March 9, 2015.
At a Glance
Apple's 13 and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros are the company's top-tier portable machines. The 13-inch model received an update on March 9, 2015, while the 15-inch model has not been updated since July 2014.
- Haswell/Crystal Well processors on 15-inch, Broadwell processors on 13-inch
- PCIe flash storage
- 8+ hour battery life
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi
- 0.71 inches thin
13.3-inch with 2560 x 1600 Display:
- $1,299: 2.7 GHz Core i5 & 128 GB
- $1,499: 2.7 GHz Core i5 & 256 GB
- $1,799: 2.9 GHz Core i5 & 512 GB
15.4-inch with 2880 x 1800 Display:
- $1,999 2.2 GHz Core i7 & 256 GB
- $2,499 2.5 GHz Core i7 & 512 GB
At its "Spring Forward" media event on March 9, 2015, Apple released an updated 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro. The new machine offers several improvements over the 2014 model, including a Broadwell processor, improved Intel graphics, a "Force Touch" trackpad, faster flash storage, and improved battery life.
The 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro did not receive an update at the same time because Broadwell processors appropriate for the larger model are not yet available. This marks the first time where Apple has split updates between the two different models since the original 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro was introduced several months before the launch of the 13-inch version back in 2012.
13-Inch Retina MacBook Pro
Because the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro did not receive a March update, the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is now Apple's most up-to-date notebook in the MacBook Pro family. Though there were many internal upgrades, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro continues to have the same design as the previous-generation versions, with a 2560 x 1600, 227 pixels-per-inch Retina Display. It weighs 3.48 pounds and is 0.71 inches thick, as it is focused on performance over portability. Three base configurations are available, priced at $1,299, $1,499, and $1,799 depending on processor and storage space.
With the new Broadwell processor, the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro offers an impressive battery life of up to 10 hours of wireless web browsing or 12 hours of iTunes movie playback.
Processor and Graphics
Geekbench benchmarks have revealed that the new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro's Broadwell chips offer only small gains over their predecessors, which is not surprising as Broadwell focuses on improved efficiency and better battery life over raw processing power. In general, performance improvements of 3-7 percent are seen in various benchmark tests.
Along with a Broadwell processor, the new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro comes equipped with upgraded Intel Iris Graphics 6100, estimated to be slightly faster than a dedicated GeForce 820M.
There is no option to add a discrete graphics card to the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro as there is in the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro.
According to Apple, the new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro features upgraded flash storage that is two times faster than the flash storage in the previous-generation machine. The 13-inch MacBook Air received the same update, and benchmarks conducted on that machine suggest that Apple's estimate is accurate.
The flash storage in the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is indeed much faster than the flash storage in previous models.
Force Touch Trackpad
The major new feature in the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is a revamped "Force Touch" trackpad, which was also added to the new Retina MacBook. The trackpad's Force Touch capabilities allow it to distinguish between a hard press and a soft press, enabling new gestures.
For example, while a light press is a regular click, a deeper press on a highlighted word while browsing Safari might bring up a Wikipedia entry, much as a control + click does now. There are a number of new built-in gestures, and Apple's also allowing developers to access Force Touch APIs to build pressure sensitivity into Mac apps.
The trackpad works using four Force Sensors, which allow users to click anywhere on the trackpad. This is an improvement over previous-generation trackpads that were difficult to click near the top portion adjacent to the keyboard.
The Force Sensors that detect presses work in conjunction with a magnet-powered Taptic Engine, giving users tactile feedback on the actions they make. This combination of Force Touch and haptic feedback means the actual trackpad no longer moves -- there is no actual physical clicking -- but it continues to feel largely the same as the previous trackpad.
Essentially, when the trackpad on the new Retina MacBook Pro is pressed with enough force to "click," the trackpad vibrates against the fingers to let users know they've performed the action. According to reviews of the Force Touch trackpad, the haptic feedback feels very much like a physical click.
The 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro also includes faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, dual Thunderbolt 2 ports to allow users to connect multiple displays, dual mics, stereo speakers, two USB 3 ports, an SDXC card slot, an HDMI port, a headphone port, and a MagSafe 2 power port.
The new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro models no longer support Windows 7 in Boot Camp.
The two middle-tier Retina MacBook Pro options can be configured with a 2.9GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, while the high-end model can be configured with a 3.1GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 processor.
The maximum amount of RAM available for the machines is 16GB, and the high-end 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro can be configured to have 1TB of flash storage. Lower-end models ship with 128GB or 256GB.
15-Inch Retina MacBook Pro
The 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro was last updated on July, 24, 2014. Apple has not yet been able to release a refreshed 15-inch model because of Intel's Broadwell delays, but when a new model does launch, we can expect that it will offer many of the same improvements introduced with the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro.
A refresh will likely include Broadwell processors with better battery life, improved Intel graphics, faster flash storage, and a Force Touch trackpad. The upcoming update is not expected to include a chassis redesign, so the Retina MacBook Pro will continue to be 0.71 inches thick.
The current 15-inch MacBook Pro offers a quad-core Crystal Well processor, a variation of the Haswell, with eight hours of battery life, and it includes Intel's Iris Pro HD 5200 graphics. There'a also an option to add an NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M discrete graphics card with 2GB of memory.
Like the 13-inch model, the 15-inch MacBook Pro offers faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi, PCIe-based flash storage that offers 60 percent faster read speeds than the pre-Haswell generation, and dual Thunderbolt 2 ports to allow users to connect multiple displays.
The entry level 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro can be upgraded to a maximum 2.8 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor and 1 TB of PCIe-based flash storage. The high-end version includes the same upgrade options, but it also comes equipped with NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M graphics. With all upgrades selected, the ultimate 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro is priced at $3,199.
Non-Retina MacBook Pro
Apple has not updated its non-Retina MacBook Pros with Haswell processors and has ceased offering the non-Retina 15-inch MacBook Pro. While Apple is still selling the non-Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro, it has not been refreshed since June of 2012. The stock configuration did receive a $100 price cut to $1099 on July 29, 2014.
As the Retina MacBook Pro has reached near pricing parity with the non-Retina version with recent price drops, Apple will likely discontinue its non-Retina model in favor of an all Retina MacBook Pro lineup at some point.
How to Buy
All of Apple's MacBook Pro models can be purchased from the online Apple Store, from an Apple retail location, or from select Apple Authorized Resellers. Currently, all models of the MacBook Pro ship within 24 hours from the online Apple Store.
While the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro received an update in March of 2015, updates to the 15-inch model are not expected until mid-year when appropriate processors are scheduled to become available.