The price drop of the latest iteration of retina MacBook Pros means the MacBook Airs have new competitors abutting their top-tier models. I come at this review as someone who has not upgraded her computer in almost exactly three and a half years. I ended up selecting the mid-range 13-inch retina MacBook Pro, as the top-tier option comes with an unavoidable $300 bump to a 512GB drive (and an improved processor). The only upgrade I took for my Pro was for the RAM—to 16GB from the stock 8GB, because a healthy portion of my job involves photo and video editing. The slightness of the MacBook Air’s design and uneven weight distribution may affect this perception a little.
Like its larger 15-inch brother, the retina MacBook Pro has a full-size HDMI port, two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, two Thunderbolt ports, a headphone jack, and a port for the power cable. Most of the keyboards Apple now makes are near-identical in design, but I do notice that key travel on the MacBook Air is a little shallower than on the retina MacBook Pro.
This isn't a point of comparison but something that seems worth noting: almost as soon as I brought the Air and Pro into the same house, they began a power struggle over the Wi-Fi connection.
One of the reasons I originally made the jump from the original MacBook to the MacBook Pro line was the speakers. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Conde Nast. If you've held off on buying Apple's new 12-inch MacBook over concerns that Intel's Core M processor may be too anemic for your computing tasks, the second generation notebook could put those fears to rest. Previously leaked Intel slides reveal that the Y series Skylake chip, which is the fanless architecture used on the MacBook, could deliver up to 17% faster CPU performance and 41% faster GPU performance.
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Gizmag compares the specs (and other features) of the 13-inch 2013 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with Retina Display. Before we get started, note that we're only dealing with the 13-inch models of each laptop. Both laptops sport the slick aluminum unibody look that all of Apple's laptops have had since 2011, when the company phased out the standard white MacBook.
Every now and then, you hear speculation that Apple will someday add mobile data radios to its MacBooks. Not only did the battery hardware get a little boost from last year's MacBook Air, but the results have dramatically increased. If you're really patient, though, it's inevitable that Apple will eventually give the MacBook Air a Retina Display. Please note that this links to a search for all RAM compatible with the 15" MacBook Pro. If you're shopping for a new MacBook, do you go for light and thin with a mediocre display resolution – like you'd get from a MacBook Air?
The newest 13-in Retina MacBook Pro (rMBP) isn't a radical overhaul from the late 2012 model that we last reviewed. During my time with this Haswell-based Retina MacBook Pro, I've been extremely impressed with its uptimes.
Looking at the entry-level models we reviewed, the Haswell processor in the latest rMBP is slightly faster than the CPU in the older model – at least when you take its overclocking turbo boost into account. If we were looking at smartphones or tablets, then the Retina MBP's 227 pixels per inch wouldn't be anything special.
If you only want to pay for the entry-level model, but are worried about that 128 GB of storage running out quickly, then your best bet might be an SD expansion accessory. If you can live with the storage situation, or at least don't mind paying more upfront for a bigger SSD, then the Retina MacBook Pro is still one hell of a laptop. But if, right now, you want a terrific MacBook with an amazing screen, smooth software, pro-level power and excellent battery life?
My laptop before this was a “mid-2010” 15-inch MacBook Pro that recently took as many as 10 precious seconds opening the System Preferences menu while having fainting spells over simple GIFs.
For that amount of money, I decided it would be better to beef up my home storage situation and try to carry less material around on the computer itself. These tasks are already fiddly and moderately enraging enough without a beach ball cropping up for a few seconds after every action. I expected this weight difference to be barely noticeable when spread over the whole body of a computer, but the relative heft is easy to feel in the retina MacBook Pro.
But stacked on top of each other and standing side by side, the Macbook Pro is actually more compact in length and width while sitting lower to the ground than the Air is. I will cop to being someone who is less affected by this feature, or at least, I don’t melt into a wailing puddle when I meet a 1366x768 screen.


Eventually the Air established dominance and blocked the Pro entirely, unless I put the Air to sleep.
There's more power, and videos and music sounded less like they were taking place in an Altoids tin.
A recent leak suggests that Intel's Skylake architecture will be arriving in the next MacBook models, bringing improved performance to Apple's extremely thin and light laptop.
Intel revealed that the integrated Gen9 graphics of the Skylake processor can drive up to three 4K displays at 60 frames per second.
You can unsubscribe at any time and we'll never share your details without your permission. The Air also comes in an 11-inch model, and the Retina MacBook Pro also comes in a 15-inch model. In fact, the difference in depth is much greater than the above numbers suggest, as they only account for the thickest point of the tapered Air. That also includes the company's excellent multitouch glass trackpad, and backlit keyboard.
And considering the challenges Apple would face in balancing battery life, weight, and thickness with that cutting-edge display, it isn't too big of a surprise.
Because for all of the new Air's nice features (we'll get to those in a minute), its display is growing a bit long in the tooth. Apple advertises up to 40 percent faster graphics over the previous generation, which you'll find in the Retina MacBook. But Apple upgraded to faster SSDs in the new models, so there should be a performance bump there. But, for now, you'll have to find a Wi-Fi network or create your own hotspot in order to get data on the go.
If you don't mind a less than cutting-edge display as a tradeoff, then the new MacBook Air could be the notebook for you.
Since most of us typically own laptops for a few years before upgrading, it's at least worth considering. Or do you spend more for a thicker laptop with an amazing display, a la the Retina MacBook Pro? It has a very familiar design, very similar (excellent) performance and – best of all – the same mesmerizing display.
This late 2013 Retina MacBook Pro has a very slightly lighter and thinner build than the earlier Retina models. On the other hand, the new version also got its RAM cut in half (down to 4 GB from 8 GB in the older version). Well, in benchmark app GeekBench 3, the entry-level version of this newest rMBP scores about 6-7 percent higher than the equivalent early 2013 version. If you aren't as worried about having a razor-sharp screen or pro-level performance, then the 14 percent lighter MacBook Air will probably be the better buy. In this review, I’m holding the Pro up against a 2013 MacBook Air with an i7 processor at nearly the same price point.
I never liked this march of key wells toward being almost nonexistent, and I don’t really like the flat tactile feel of the MacBook Air keyboard. The disparity in volume and quality between consumer and pro Apple laptops is less than it once was. Apple may use several different variants of Intel's Skylake-based Core M processors on the MacBook to target different price points. And though Apple will let you pay extra to upgrade many components, we are, for simplicity's sake, dealing with the standard models of each notebook.
The new Air gets the new fourth-generation Intel Core processor with Haswell microarchitecture. Apple says that it's up to 45 percent faster than the flash storage in the last-gen MacBook Air (which, I believe, is the same flash memory used in the Retina MacBook).
Of course, to take full advantage, you'll need both an 802.11ac router and internet service that's fast enough to keep up. Of course very few of us will use our laptops only for looking at web pages, with brightness set at 75 percent.
So now we're looking at a $400 premium to get that Retina Display (and other upgrades) in the Pro. Just don't hold your breath every time the rumor mill tells you that it's right around the corner.
But that doesn't necessarily mean that this is a minor upgrade, like we saw with the latest MacBook Air.
Even several years after Apple last updated the MacBook Air's physique, it still strikes me as almost unfathomably feathery in hand. Even when spending several hours in Photoshop (along with a few less taxing tasks like surfing the web and typing in iA Writer), with the screen's brightness cranked almost all the way up, it typically lasts around 7-8 hours.


You won't have to strain your eyes one iota: text is razor-sharp, images are lush and even the simplest tasks, like browsing the web, become a treat for your eyeballs.
My biggest complaint, though, is the relatively skimpy amount of internal storage that $1,300 gets you. And if you can wait a few months, there's also a chance that we'll see the MacBook Air finally get a high-resolution display. And if you're leaning more towards the Air, you can check out Gizmag's review of the 2014 (11-in) MacBook Air.
During photo editing, it’s now extremely evident which of my pictures are really, really sharp and which are just slightly, maddeningly blurry.
While the Air can get decently loud, it was slightly cracklier and tinnier at the highest volume levels. Sitting next to the rMPB's ultra high-res screen, the Air's display looks relatively pixelated.
In addition to some advertised performance improvements, it opens the door to some out-of-this-world battery life.
So you could see this as more of a future-proofing feature than something many of us will be able to do much with now. So, for more typical use, you can probably shave at least a couple hours off of both estimates. We have both models in the office here, and when I pick each one up, I can just barely tell that this version is lighter and thinner.
If you spent years putting up with the 3-4 hour battery life that older notebooks typically provided, then Haswell laptops' 7-12 hour uptimes will blow your mind. The brilliant screen is still the biggest – perhaps only – reason to throw down for this Retina MacBook Pro instead of a lighter, thinner and cheaper MacBook Air.
If you store lots of photos, videos or games – or if you want to install Windows alongside OS X – then this base model's 128 GB solid-state drive could fill up quickly. Transcend even sells different versions for each MacBook, which lets them each fit more flushly against the laptop's side. That's a big and unconfirmed "if," but some rMBP buyers could end up kicking themselves if Apple indeed launches a Retina MacBook Air later in 2014.
If you happen to be using my same Netgear router, this is an apparent incompatibility worth looking out for.
It's nice that the late 2013 model shaved off a few grams and millimeters, but I don't think that alone is, by any stretch of the imagination, reason to upgrade from one of the older versions. It's 24 percent lighter than the old non-Retina (optical drive-toting) 13-in MacBook Pro, but 16 percent heavier than the same-sized MacBook Air. In fact, I'd say Intel's Haswell is the biggest thing to happen to laptops since the first MacBook Air hit store shelves. If you do a lot of processor-intensive tasks like bulk video-editing, then maybe you will notice.
And upgrading it after the fact isn't an option: I couldn't find any compatible third-party replacement drives for this model. Let's break them down, as we compare the specs (and other features) of the new 13-inch MacBook Air to the same-sized MacBook Pro with Retina Display.
Even if there eventually is one, replacing it won't be officially supported by Apple (so long, warranty, nice knowin' ya).
Like the Core M3 model, both Core M5 configurations will come with Intel's integrated HD 515 graphics. GraphicsEven though processor performance is getting a boost, the most impressive improvement that Skylake delivers over Broadwell is graphics performance. The leaked slide suggests that we should see a 41% improvement in performance.In fact, two Intel insiders with knowledge of the company's plans informed techradar in an interview outside of IDF 2015 that Intel's progress with improving integrated graphics performance is so good that Apple is considering ditching discrete graphics on its most expensive high-end MacBook Pro models. Our sources would not reveal if this would happen for the MacBook Pro's Skylake refresh, however.
Apple currently uses discrete AMD graphics on the MacBook Pro, but Nvidia was also used on earlier configurations.
Improved integrated graphics will allow MacBook users to play more graphics-intensive games on their downtime, run 3D modeling and simulation, perform data analysis and more. A leaked Intel presentation claims that the chip could deliver up to 1.4 hours of additional battery life.



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