Apple MacBook Pro MGXC2LL/A 15.4-Inch Laptop with Retina Display (OLD VERSION)

Apple MacBook Pro MGXC2LL/A 15.4-Inch Laptop with Retina Display (OLD VERSION)

I'm coming to this Macbook Pro 13inch Retina laptop from a 2010 model Macbook Air that I absolutely adored for nearly 4 years. The Air was so light and portable that I reluctantly gave it up, but concerns of weight vanished once I got my hands on this beauty. Yes, it's slightly heavier, but only slightly. What I like most of all is how the body isn't tapered from back to front like the Air. It's a solid piece of symmetrical aluminum, and it just feels so well built.

  •     2.5 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7 Processor (Turbo Boost up to 3.7 GHz, 6 MB shared L3 cache)
  •     16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3L RAM; 512 GB PCIe-based Flash Storage
  •     15.4-inch IPS Retina Display, 2880-by-1800 resolution
  •     Intel Iris Pro and NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M Graphics
  •     OS X Yosemite

One of the reasons I eventually gave up and sold my Air in favor of this was the Retina screen. I've never seen one on the Macbooks, so I bought this sight unseen, but I had a vague idea of how it might look because I also own a retina iPad Mini and that screen is lovely. The screen on the mini is out-done by the amazing screen on this Macbook. I can't believe how good it is. And what's more, this Macbook only cost 100 dollars more than the latest Air. Why would anyone not pay the difference for this screen? It's totally night and day between the Air's screen and this one. The Air is by no means terrible, but it cant compete with this.

The audio is also a nice surprise on the Macbook with Retina. It was good on my Air, but it's far better on the Retina. There's no speaker grills either, so I assume they're below the keyboard. Regardless they sound amazing, albeit low on bass.

My Air didnt have a backlit keyboard, so this was a nice surprise. No more hunting and hoping at night in bed. Another nice addition I didnt have before was HDMI-out. Now I can simply connect my Macbook to my HDTV and play Hulu on my TV. No reason to pay for Hulu Plus. On my other computer it wouldnt allow Hulu to output to TV, but its not being blocked on the Macbook for some reason. I wont complain.

Anyway, I'd list some dislikes, but I don't have any. The keyboard and trackpad are Apple's usual brilliant keyboard and trackpad. They're unmatched.

If you're on the fence about getting one, just go for it. I'm one of those people that easily get buyer's remorse, but I have none of that with this laptop. So good.

I've had some experience with MacBooks throughout my life. I've come to respect them as workhorses that can withstand the test of time. My wife retired her early 2008 Macbook last summer after completing her Nursing degree. The Notebook endured five years of continuous research, word processing and social networking. Outside of a small crack near the mousepad it still worked great. There was one point I needed to replace the ram, and I also updated it with an SSD to give it a needed speed boost. However these types of upgrades were very easy and not time consuming, and never needed an Apple genius to complete them. Seeing a piece of technology like that Macbook still cruising after what is a long time in the technology world is impressive, and that same type of design philosophy carries over to the new Macbook Pros with Retina Display but with some new tradeoffs...

A lot is different about this beast than the 2008 standard Macbook. A heavy plastic body that housed a removable battery, hard drive, ram and an optical drive is replaced with an aluminum unibody design where nothing is intended to be removable. In order to deliver a thin machine with a long lasting battery, Apple also removed the optical drive. In 2008 this would have been crazy, but in 2014 it's a generally accepted drawback. Clearly this new Macbook is a sign of a new generation of technology intended to be maintained solely by the company that sells the product. Apple wants to be your one stop shop from the point of sale to the day you retire the machine. It makes sense, since we do that with phones and tablets. But this will alienate self reliant users who want to save a buck or two. Certainly glued battery, ram modules are enough to turn a few away. I don't suspect this a big tradeoff for most non-techie buyers (That's most of us).

College students needing a machine for school will also need accept that most MacBooks are not gaming machines. So save some extra pennies for a PS4. Budget gaming laptops are cheaply made monstrosities that destroy batteries regardless if you're playing a game or not. And the expensive ones are generally overpriced for what you get, and still provide a poor computing experience.

If those two tradeoffs haven't turned you away, you probably won't find a better notebook at this price point. Just be careful in the specs you decide on because the option to upgrade is off the table. Here are some killer features:

The Retina display is beautiful. The viewing angles are tremendous and the screen is bright. The panel provides the same pixel density as the iPad with Retina Display (and the Air model), but the panel in the Macbook Pro with Retina is far superior in every way when comparing side by side.

The battery life on this device pushes north of 10 hours with web browsing and other basic uses (usually around 12). Watching video and more intense activities will push it at around 8 - 10 hours with average brightness. Most users who claim more excessive battery drain should be using the built in activity monitor application to check energy consumption of apps. Many Macbook users claim significant battery drain with applications like Google Chrome . It's a much different mindset than those who use a standard Mac and energy consumption really isn't a factor. In short, Macbook Pro users should be mindful of programs they use regularly.

The speed. The new refreshed model comes with 8gb of memory as a base. Most will consider 4gb enough memory for average users, but a week with the new OSX Yosemite beta revealed swap being used as I was exceeding my 4gb on the Mac Mini. This could just be inefficiencies in a beta product, but it did open my eyes to the fact that 8gb should be the new standard for most long term Macbook purchases. The largest part of what makes the Macbook Pro with Retina fly is the SSD built into the machine. The Macbook Pro with Retina Display is easily the fastest laptop i've ever used, and i'll thanking the SSD for most of that performance, but I suspect this machine will stay speedy for a long time thanks to the ram upgrade.

Then there is all the small touches. Backlit keyboard, aluminum body, tight software/hardware integration, sturdy OSX that is resistant to malware, integration with iPhone, iPad and Apple TV. Even if you don't integrate into Apple's iOS ecosystem, it does great in Google's too. Chromecast works 100% with MacBooks, Google Chrome (battery hog) + Google Apps is great, and of course Google Play works well. All of Google's services are mostly browser based, and that gives Apple users the best of both worlds.

I would also say that if someone is debating between the Macbook Air and the Pro with Retina, try to cough up the extra bills. The pro is only slightly thicker, has a slightly lesser battery life but sports a tremendous screen, beefy spec boost and a premium fit and finish. Definitely recommended.