MacBook Pro Overview Updated August 8, 2016

MacBook Pro

The MacBook Pro family currently includes two separate product lines: the MacBook Pro ($1,099 and up from the Apple Store) and the MacBook Pro with Retina display ($1,299 and up). Apple is clearly focusing all its attention on the Retina models, as the standard MacBook Pro hasn’t been updated in years.

Premiered in 2012 as a successor to the MacBook Pro, the MacBook Pro with Retina Display is sold in 13.3″ (2560×1600-pixel) and 15.4″ (2880×1800-pixel) versions, the latter at a $700 premium. Both models are lighter than the regular 13″ MacBook Pro, with the 13.3″ Retina Pro weighing only half a pound more than the 13.3″ MacBook Air. These models require few performance compromises: they have faster Core i5 and i7 processors than any other Apple laptop, much higher-resolution (and more color-accurate) screens, twin Thunderbolt 2 and twin USB 3 ports, plus an HDMI port and dual noise-canceling microphones.

As of the last (March 2015) hardware update, the 13″ Retina MacBook Pro starts with a dual-core 2.7GHz Core i5 processor with 8GB of RAM, and features 10-hour battery life. By comparison, the 15.4″ Retina MacBook Pro was updated in May 2015, sporting a quad-core 2.2GHz Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM, now with up to 9 hours of battery life. Both Retina models feature Force Touch pressure-sensitive/haptic feedback trackpads, plus 802.11ac wireless, but continue to lack DVD/CD drives and mechanical hard drives in favor of 128GB to 1TB of flash storage.

First released in 2006 and last redesigned in 2008, the non-Retina MacBook Pro was at one time known as the “MacBook,” and is currently available only in a 13″ version. Thicker and 1/3 heavier than the 13.3″ MacBook Air, the MacBook Pro includes a substantially faster Intel Core i5 processor, offset by a much slower 500GB hard drive and a lower-resolution 1280×800 screen. It is now the only Apple laptop with a DVD/CD drive, integrated FireWire 800 port, and Gigabit Ethernet port, all features dropped from the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with Retina Display. However, while it has two USB 3 ports and a Thunderbolt 1 port, it lacks HDMI output, 802.11ac wireless, and Force Touch, delivering only 7 hours of battery life.

The MacBook Pro with Retina display remains Apple’s best overall performer for the dollar, laptop or otherwise. Though more expensive and a little larger than the MacBook Air, it delivers much more horsepower and a hugely better screen; there are even reasons to prefer the Retina MacBook Pro over an iMac for daily use unless you really need a much larger (and non-portable) display.

Apple is rumored to release a new MacBook Pro in late 2016.

298 MacBook Pro stories

August 2010 - August 2016

MacBook Pro Stories August 8

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Asked why Apple had never made a touchscreen Mac, Steve Jobs said back in 2010 that it would be a usability fail.

We’ve done tons of user testing on this, and it turns out it doesn’t work. Touch surfaces don’t want to be vertical. It gives great demo, but after a short period of time you start to fatigue, and after an extended period of time, your arm wants to fall off.

There’s no doubt that he was right – if you’re talking about a primary form of input. For computers, a trackpad or mouse is just a better solution.

But the distinction between a computer and a tablet today is much fuzzier, with even Apple touting the iPad Pro with keyboard a full PC replacement. And it appears we’ll be seeing a new touch interface on future MacBook Pros, in the form of a touch-sensitive OLED function-key panel and Touch ID power button.

So has the time come to look again at a touchscreen MacBook … ?

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MacBook Pro Stories July 19

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MacBook Pro Stories July 5

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MacBook Pro Stories July 4

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Regular readers will know that I still have a 17-inch MacBook Pro as my main computer. It’s almost five years old now, which is a relatively long time in Mac terms, and an absolute age for someone who usually does poorly when it comes to resisting shiny new tech.

But when Apple stopped selling the machine, I’d initially hoped that it was just a temporary measure. The company had only just introduced new Retina displays in the 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros, both of which carried a hefty price-tag, and my theory then was that a 17-inch Retina screen wasn’t practical. Yield rates were too low, I supposed, meaning that the cost of a 17-inch model would have been too expensive even for Apple to contemplate.

So I hung in there …

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MacBook Pro Stories July 2

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In this week’s top stories: Space Black iPhone 7 leaks, more MacBook Pro rumors, and Apple dukes it out with Spotify as reports emerge that Apple is in negotiations to acquire Jay-Z’s Tidal streaming service. Head below for all the handy links to these and our other top shared stories from the past week: expand full story

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