Macbook Pro with Retina Display: One Week Later

I got a new computer last week.

As someone who spends an obscene amount of time in front of a screen, and will shortly be heading off to uni where I’ll never stop typing, I felt it necessary to push for a more powerful machine and future-proof. So of course I went with the Pro, and have been briefly noting my observations over my first week with this magnificent piece of engineering.

It goes without saying that this thing looks incredible. Jony Ive and his team have not been particularly radical with the Macbook Pro’s design since the first unibody model, and even though the Retina display model is impressively thin, it still has the timeless enclosure that we know and love.

The display, as expected, has ruined all other computers I use, like the Retina display iPad did with tablets and phones. It’s crisp and more importantly, bright and vivid. I was worried that watching downscaled HD content would be a poor experience, but it is not; contrast is well balanced and the downscaling is hard to notice. Many webpages, even big name ones like Amazon still don’t use HiDPI graphics which is disappointing. In fact, looking at any low resolution image or graphic is a horrible experience. But that isn’t the resolution’s fault—it’s mine.

Yosemite is looking good at this resolution too; it really was made for the retina display. Typography is clean, colours are bright and iconography ‘harmonious’. It runs smoothly and the animations are slick and fast. More when I’m out of NDA on this I’m sure.

This machine is fast. It’s my first ever SSD, but I can’t quite get over just how snappy it is. I ask myself why I never invested in one before. Apps launch without hesitation and often surprise me when they do so. Games run quite well with the Iris Pro graphics chip—I can run Bioshock Infinite on the highest graphics settings (without antialiasing) and get reasonable performance, even if it isn’t at the full Retina resolution. 16GB of RAM as standard is good future-proofing; I haven’t seen more than 25% memory pressure yet. I can’t wait to get Final Cut working and really push the 2.2Ghz i7 to its max.

I have noticed that the laptop does get really hot at times, especially when gaming. It can get to 99ºC in a few seconds, but also cools back to 45ºC in the same amount of time, so there is no worry. The positioning of the CPU means that the aluminium between the keys does get hot, so sometimes typing straight after playing a game is an odd experience—it kind of hurts!

The speakers are disappointing. Apple made a relatively big deal of them when they first announced this computer, but I found them to be achingly average. They reach acceptable volume, but do have a ‘tinny’ sound and a very noticeable lack of bass. No big deal, as I rarely would use them, but frustrating for what is meant to be Apple’s highest end laptop.

I haven’t had a day out with this laptop yet to test the battery properly, but when I head back to work next week I will do. I haven’t had to worry about it, seeing estimations of between 6 and 9 hours from a full charge when web browsing, all the way down to 1 or 2 when using power hungry apps and games. It is worth noting that these calculations are somewhat sporadic, and often completely inaccurate, so once again, I can’t judge until I’ve taken it out.

The Macbook Pro is an amazing machine. It works just great, and it feels super premium. It feels like the best laptop in the industry. It has everything, and more importantly, Apple’s ecosystem. I’m so glad I didn’t get the Air, even if this is pretty heavy.