Skip to main content

A bargain at £1799? Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display is the best ultrabook ever

At 18mm, the Macbook Pro with Retina Display falls within Intel's official guidelines for what it considers to be an Ultrabook. And while one might argue that products falling into Intel's ultraportable laptop category need to be thin and light but lately, the arrival of Ultrabooks like the Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3-581TG has blurred the boundaries.

It measures 35.89cm wide, 24.71cm deep and weighs 2.02Kg. Acer's Ultrabook by comparison is 19.7mm high, 37.64cm wide, 25.3cm deep and weighs 2.03Kg.

The laptop uses Intel's Ivy Bridge processors. You can choose between the i7-3720QM (clocked at 2.6Ghz and "turbo boosting" to 3.6GHz with 6MB L2 cache), the i7-3820QM (clocked at 2.7Ghz and "turbo boosting" to 3.7GHz with 8MB L2 cache) or the i7-3610QM (clocked at 2.3Ghz and "turbo boosting" to 3.3GHz with 6MB L2 cache) . All three come with Intel HD 4000 and a TDP of 45W. Arguably, a higher TDP is more than made up by the significantly higher performance and the heat generated is more easily dissipated because of the much bigger surface area and the aluminium enclosure.

The rest of the hardware configuration (as the price) trounces any Ultrabook on the market. 8GB 1600MHz DDR3L onboard memory (upgradable to 16GB), 256GB flash memory (upgradable to 768GB), NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M with 1GB of GDDR5 memory and automatic graphics switching (with Intel's HD 4000) and the ability to run two external 2,560 x 1,600 pixels displays means that it can deliver 13.37-megapixels in all.

Connections and expansion options are better than on a traditional Ultrabook. Two USB 3.0 ports, a card reader, HDMI and two Thunderbolt, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 plus optional adaptors for Firewire/GbE. A 95Whr Lithium battery - the biggest capacity we've seen on a mainstream laptop yet - allows it to offer seven hours worth of web browsing and up to 30 days of standby.

The biggest selling point though is the 15.4in LED backlit display with IPS technology and a gorgeous 5.184-megapixel resolution (that's 2,880 x 1,800 pixels and 220ppi density). The only downside is that it requires a much bigger battery to power those pixels.

While £1799 does sound a lot for a laptop, one has to bear in mind that it packs top of the range components and it is truly a unique product. Sony's Vaio Ultrabook costs £1269 with a slower processor, no dedicated graphics card, less expansion capabilities and a 1,366 x 768 pixels display.

And it is positive a bargain when compared to the Alienware M14X. When configuring the Dell laptop with similar parts as the MacBook Pro, it reached £1720. That's with a 1,600 x 900 pixels display, an optical drive, a smaller battery but perhaps more importantly, almost twice as thick and a full 50 per cent heavier.

As a conclusion, nobody has ever packed so much firepower in such a small volume and the Retina Display is just the proverbial cherry on the top of what is an absolutely stunning product.

Desire worked at ITProPortal right at the beginning and was instrumental in turning it into the leading publication we all know and love today. He then moved on to be the Editor of TechRadarPro - a position he still holds - and has recently been reunited with ITProPortal since Future Publishing's acquisition of Net Communities.