Apple’s MacBook Pro, its flagship laptop line, has been around for some time, and has sported nearly the same look and aluminum unibody construction since 2008. For the most part, Apple’s kept the look of the new MacBook Pros largely similar, updating the whole line with new processors and new features. That’s changed with the introduction of the next-generation MacBook Pro, a laptop that’s seemingly fused the best features of the MacBook Air, Pro, and even the third-gen iPad into one product.
At a starting price of $2,199, it’s definitely a completely different tier of product than other spec-bumped MacBook Pros and Airs, but it also affords a mix of size and features that’s absent in other Mac laptops: a quad-core processor in an ultrabook-thin body, that super hi-res display, and — new to any MacBook — HDMI.
Design and weight
The new MacBook Pro is 0.71 inch thick, putting it nearly in MacBook Air territory — and definitely in the ultrabook-thin space. The new Pro weighs 4.46 pounds, heavier than an Air, but close to the weight of existing 13-inch MacBook Pros. Like an Air, the new Pro has no optical drive, but instead of a wedge-shaped taper the laptop has a uniform thickness.
Apple’s also redesigned the MagSafe magnetically-attaching power cord technology to MagSafe 2, which further slims down the connector size.
The 2,880×1,800 15.4-inch display sports 220 pixels per inch or 5,184,000 pixels, the highest-resolution notebook display according to Apple. It exceeds the iPad’s pixel count in a 16:10 aspect ratio. The screen also sports higher contrast ratios, IPS technology, and 75 percent less glare, even though it’s a glossy screen.
Processor, graphics, ports
The same quad-core Core i7 Ivy Bridge CPUs that we saw in earlier high-end gaming laptops come in this Pro, along with Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics. The battery, which Apple says fills most of the interior, lasts a claimed 7 hours with 30 days of standby. The starting specs include a 2.3 GHz quad-core i7 third-gen CPU, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of flash storage, and those Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics. The new Pro can support up to 16GB of RAM, and up to 768GB of flash storage.
Ports and features should make any Apple laptop user drool: an SDXC card slot, HDMI, two USB 3.0 ports, and two Thunderbolt ports (plus a headphone port) make this the most port-studded MacBook in existence. There’s no Ethernet, however: you’ll need a Gigabit Ethernet adapter for that, sold separately for $29. FireWire 800 lovers can get a separate dongle as well, available in July. The Retina Display Pro also comes with 802.11n Wi-Fi, BlueTooth 4.0. a FaceTime HD camera, dual microphones, and stereo speakers.
Configurations and pricing
The new Retina display MacBook Pro comes in two price/config flavors: $2,199, and $2,799. The $2,199 version has a 2.3 GHz quad-core Core i7 processor (Turbo Boosted up to 3.3 GHz), 8GB of 1,600MHz RAM, 256GB of flash storage, and Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics (1GB DDR5 memory). The $2,799 version bumps the processor up to 2.6 GHz and increases flash storage to 512GB. If you’re getting the $2,199 version, the only upgrade option on Apple’s store page is 16GB of RAM for $200. The $2,799 version can be upgraded to a slightly faster 2.7 GHz quad-core Core i7 processor (an extra $250), 16GB of RAM ($200), and 768GB of flash storage instead of 512GB ($500).
At first glance, the new Pro covers a lot of our wish-list bullet points for a dream Air-Pro hybrid, although you’ll have to pay a pretty penny to get one. Some features are notably absent by design: no Ethernet port, no optical drive, no 16:9 screen. Still, this new Pro looks like Apple’s take on the 15-inch MacBook Air, done in high style. The new MacBook Pro starts shipping today.