Skip to main content

A closer look at the new Apple MacBook Pro

As part of the many product announcements made during yesterday’s Apple event, Cupertino unveiled two new models in the MacBook Pro line-up.

The 13in and 15in MacBook Pro laptops – now standard with Retina display – just got a high octane refresh, with new hardware, a slew of software optimisations, and a price cut across the board. So, let’s take a look at exactly what’s on offer with these new machines…

All new hardware

The MacBook Pro 13in is getting a hardware update, improving upon the previous MacBook Pro 13in (Retina Display) with fourth-generation Haswell Intel Core processors and more. Storage is shifting to PCIe-based flash, bumping up the overall speed as much as 60 per cent. Taking advantage of the improved efficiency of Intel's Haswell processors over the previous Ivy Bridge, battery life is also improved. Apple claims up to 9 hours of use, but when Apple promised similar levels of battery life with the MacBook Air laptops last June, they actually lasted even longer in our tests.

The MacBook Pro 15in, which also now comes standard with the Retina Display like the previous MacBook Pro 15in, features an Intel Core i7 quad-core processor utilising Intel's Crystalwell architecture, paired with 8GB of RAM, and Intel's Iris Pro graphics – Intel's much touted gaming and professional-grade integrated graphics. Where the 13in model comes with 128GB of flash storage as standard, the 15in doubles it to 256GB.

Despite the new hardware and capability, the laptops are thinner and lighter. The MacBook Pro 13in has slimmed down to 18mm thick, and it weighs 1.57kg. Both models of the MacBook Pro are getting the latest connectivity and ports, with Thunderbolt 2 and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Thunderbolt 2 doubles the speed of Thunderbolt – which already outpaced USB 3.0 several times over.

Software, too

OS X Mavericks also includes numerous tweaks and optimisations to squeeze even better performance out of the hardware. Improved power efficiency means that battery life is stretched out by an hour or more, even compared to an identically equipped system. Memory gets a bump with new compression schemes and dynamic space allocation, which Apple claims can fit "6GB of data onto 4GB of RAM."

Graphics also get a boost, with Intel's Iris and Iris Pro integrated graphics. Dynamic graphics memory allocation also offers better and more flexible performance compared to the static memory allocation used in the past. Switching to OpenCL takes advantage of this extra graphics hardware even for non-visual tasks, using the hardware for parallel computing. Apple claims that with OpenCL acceleration, you'll see 1.8x increases in performance for most tasks, and up to 2x for imaging tasks.

And last, but not least, all new Macs will now come with all of the iLife (including iPhoto, iMovie, and GarageBand) and iWork (including Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) apps for free.

What's gone

What isn't in the new MacBook Pro? The optical drive – which had already been dropped from the Retina-equipped models – is nowhere to be found. If you still have software and media on CD or DVD, you'll need to pick up Apple’s USB SuperDrive.

And although all of the new MacBook Pro offerings come with the Retina Display, there is one hold-out for standard 720p – the 13in MacBook Pro with Ivy Bridge. Don't expect it to hang around for much longer – with a new low price of £999, it looks like it's priced to sell out old inventory.

Pricing and availability

The MacBook Pro 13in, now with Retina Display, is available today starting at £1,099 with a 2.4GHz Intel Core i5 Haswell processor, 4GB of RAM, Iris Graphics, and a 128GB solid state drive. The MacBook Pro 15in, also with Retina, now starts at £1,699 with a fourth-generation Intel Core i7 quad-core 2GHz processor, 8GB of RAM, integrated Iris Pro graphics, and a 256GB solid-state drive.