‘Next Generation MacBook Pro’ Features Retina Display, Thinner Body

During the keynote at WWDC Monday, Apple unveiled a series of updates for its current MacBook Air and MacBook Pro line. In what is perhaps the most significant update to the MacBook Pro in years, Apple unveiled what it calls the “Next Generation MacBook Pro” featuring a frame that is just 0.71 inches thin, weighing less than any other MacBook Pro. In fact, the Next-Generation MacBook Pro weighs in at just 4.46 pounds.

To put icing on the cake, Apple added a Retina display to the new MacBook, giving it a pixel resolution of 2,880 x 1,800 across a 15.4″ display. That’s a pixel density of 220 pixels per inch, making it the highest-resolution display ever put on a notebook computer.

The display and thin design aren’t the only things that have been updated with this new MacBook. This MacBook Pro features third-generation quad-core Intel Core i7 processors, a remarkably high-capacity SSD storage drive, and a number other other improvements that help the new MacBook Pro become a powerhouse compared to even the latest MacBook Airs.

Retina Display

As mentioned before, the MacBook Pro with Retina Display features three million more pixels than a traditional 1080p screen packed into a 15.4″ frame. At 220 pixels per inch, this is the highest resolution screen currently being offered on any notebook of any screen size.

Because the display is actually factored into the unibody design, there are less layers between the picture and the user. The glass goes all the way to the edge of the bezel. In addition, Apple announced that the new display will have a glare-reducing coating which combats the trademark mirror effect commonly associated with Apple’s glass screen.

To go along with this new, higher-resolution screen, Apple is including Intel HD Graphics 4000 and an NVIDIA GeForce 650M with 1 GB of GDDR5 memory on-board. To put it mildly, this graphics solution is no slouch. It really shouldn’t be with so many pixels requiring information.

Processor

Along with many of the other MacBook Pro notebooks, the MacBook Pro with Retina Display includes the latest-generation Ivy Bridge Core i7 quad-core processors. Two options including the 2.3 and 2.6 GHz processors are available, at starting prices of $2,199 and $2,799 respectively.

The 2.3 GHz Core i7 processor can be overclocked with Turbo Boost to up to 3.3 GHZ and the 2.6 GHz can be boosted to 3.6 GHz. Not that you’d need to boost these processors, but the option is certainly available to you.

When compared to the MacBook Pro, only the 15.4″ MacBook Pros starting at $1,799 and $2,199 match this CPU offering on the base models.

Storage Options

Along with impressive processors and a breakthrough new screen, the MacBook Pro with Retina Display includes some new storage options including 256, 512, and 768 GB SSD drives. The base Retina Display model (2.3 GHz) comes with 256 GB of SSD storage while the 2.6 GHz model gives you the option of either 512 GB or upgrading to 768 GB for $500 more.

In the world of computing, few upgrades have as much of a direct impact on your system’s performance than switching from spinning platters to flash storage. Solid-state storage drives (SSD) access information much faster than ones that depend on a spinning platter and a reading arm. In addition, the lack of moving parts makes them slightly more reliable, especially in circumstances where bumps and jarring motions occur during use.

Cooling

The new design also includes a fan design that is intended to reduce noise without impacting cooling efficiency. Asymmetric fans spread the sound put off by fans across a wider range of audio frequencies which results in a perceived reduction in volume. Traditional symmetrical fans create noise on a single frequency range, which can appear much like a crowd of people all speaking at a whisper which results in a single loud background hum.

Software Possibilities

New updates to Aperture, Final Cut Pro X, Mail, and iPhoto allow for full use of the Retina display which allows you to see more in a tighter space.

For example, the preview area of Final Cut Pro may take up a quarter of the screen, but you’re seeing the preview in its full 1080p glory. For video editors, this is a big deal because that preview window is notorious for being inaccurate to what you might expect in the final render.

You can edit photos in much higher resolutions, making it easier to see things as they will appear once printed. Detailed editing is also more possible as you are able to see the entire image at the same time rather than a zoomed section of it.

Battery Life

Battery life, as claimed by Apple, is roughly 7 hours for all versions of the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display. In real-world terms, that usually amounts to about 4-5 hours of battery life during normal use with screen brightness and other factors put into play.

That said, the lack of a spinning hard drive, moving parts such as an optical drive, and other energy-efficient changes may do quite a lot to increase expected battery life during normal use.

Final Thoughts

The new MacBook design may be the first of a series of changes to the professional line that moves away from traditional limitations placed on mobile computing. Screen resolution, a constant factor for notebook computers, is now improved beyond that of even the most popular large-screen desktop monitors. With several million pixels over 1080p, I’m interested in seeing what productivity applications can do with this new virtual screen real estate.

I personally don’t see myself wanting to rush to the Apple Store to throw down a couple grand for this new MacBook when the existing lines have received some remarkable upgrades on their own. You can still pick up a very capable MacBook Air that packs a performance punch of its own for less than half of what you would spend on this new MacBook Pro. The current MacBook Pro line itself received a great update, and still remains one of the more powerful systems offered by Apple.

What we didn’t see at WWDC this year may be more telling than what we did see. The 17″ MacBook Pro is missing from the lineup, and that’s one change that is sure to drive more photographers and other media professionals to consider the Retina Display.

Article Written by

Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.

  • Jiho

    in behalf of all music producers, where is the  audio line-in? what is this new MacBook Pro for? Face time or Face book? Why every new MacBook Pro release is less professionals product?? Thinking to leave Apple .. User since 1996.

    • Monkey_snowfight

      You realize though that all Macs keep getting better, even for professionals. Combine this with the fact that you can completely ignore the new features of the OS that make it more appealing to the casual user, and you’re left with what’s possibly the best professional notebook ever created.

    • http://twitter.com/djmoore711 D. J.

      Remember that this does not replace the Mac Pro lineup.  It is geared towards the professional on-the-go.  It is the culmination of the iPad, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air, not a Mac Pro replacement.  (Although he did misspeak and say “Desktop” during the presentation.)

      http://www.apple.com/macpro/

    • https://plus.google.com/112301869379652563135/posts Matt Ryan

       I could have sworn the headphone jack also doubled as a line-in.

  • http://twitter.com/djmoore711 D. J.

    Who would have thought that Apple would be the one to push the envelope on screen resolutions?!

    The cooling system, if it works as presented, is something S. Jobs would be proud of.  He made so many attempts to get it right, and it looks as if this is now a reality.  That GeForce 650 and Retina display is going to make a lot of heat–I hope that a-symmetric fan is ready!

    This is far out of my price range, though.  I’m not a professional and do not have a need for this kind of power.  It would be nice, but maybe when the price scales down I will consider getting one–maybe when my current NON-Retina MacBook Pro dies in a few years.  LOL

  • charliesheenhardcore

    The engineering in this machine is unreal. Just the inside alone is blow away. Is it for the everyday user? Not really. For the creative professional? Absolutely. Musicians, graphic artists, coders, photographers, ect. This machine is pointed at them. I’m a graphic artist and i can tell you we’ve been waiting for displays of this quality for a long time. Apple has now pushed the bar that people like Wacom have to step up because their display’s just look like old legacy technology. The display alone is a large thing. Most graphic artists and designers who hand draw use the bitmap screen to source their reference photos rather than printing them. Plus you get so much more information out of the photos on a screen rather than on print with most common desktop printers. In fact the majority of artists these days use the screen to see their reference photos and resources for projects. So with a display of this kind that only is going to make it even better. Especially when you print something and it comes out with lines all over it with most desktop printers. Besides the display the specs are tremendous. Starts off at 8 gigs. So 8 gigs with the flash storage is going to be smooth sailing all over the place. The professional designer and professional printer knows what this means. You can work with extremely large full scale raster images with lag or slow down. The design of the machine is incredible. As thin as the macbook air. Apple has set the bar today with the introduction of this machine. The price point is exactly in the range of what the professional would pay for it. When i say professional i mean the person who actually makes their income from such a device. That’s what this is for. It’s for the person who uses a computer like myself as their canvas and means of income. This isn’t for the half way pro, or the person who just wants a mac. It’s for the person who uses it for work and business. Especially in the creative fields. This is the most advanced and unreal notebook anyone has ever made. A+ and bravo to apple for always setting the bar.

  • charliesheenhardcore

    Chris i love ya my friend but in your last few words you put graphics artists. Graphic artists*. Us designers hate when people call us Graphics Artist. Not sure if that was a typo or not. 

    • https://plus.google.com/112301869379652563135/posts Matt Ryan

      First, Chris didn’t write this. Second, I’ll make the correction. I would point out here that my mother has proudly held that title for quite a long time. I’m sorry it upset you. ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002278708203 Reetam Mandal

    I have to hand it to Apple. The new Macbook’s design is incredible!! No other product in history was designed to mug someone with such finesse. Processor: The new Macbook Pro will be equipped with Intel’s Ivy Bridge processor, a 22nm die shrink of its predecessor, the Sandy Bridge. While there is a slight increase in CPU performance, and a moderate increase in graphics performance, the trade-off …is significantly higher temperatures when the the processor is performing intensive tasks or overclocked. Thinner form factor: At just 0.71 inch thin and weighing 4.5 lbs, a thinner design is usually a good thing. Not this time. Making the Macbook thinner means making the interior of the notebook more compact, which in turn restricts airflow and prevents heat from circulating out of the system. Side ventilation: Apple has decided address the heat concerns by adding 3 tiny slits to either side of the Macbook for air intake. This would have been a great consideration for the previous Macbooks as the lack of circulation was what caused even the Sandy Bridge Macbooks to overheat. However, the compacted interior and the hotter processor make cooling the Macbook about as effective as trying to drink water through a pinched straw on a hot day. Memory (RAM): The memory has been built INTO the logic board. This kills any hopes of upgrading, but even worse, should your RAM fail, instead of picking up replacement modules from your local computer store, you will need to have the entire logic board replaced… and this basically corners you into buying extended AppleCare warranty for fear that something may happen after the included 1 year warranty. Storage: The hard drive was usually one of the first things to fail in Macbooks, due to their inability to tolerate heat generated by the system, so it is good to see that Apple has decided to drop the mechanical drive in favour of solid state technology. Except… Apple had opted to use the cheap Toshiba NAND chops. Toshiba’s, like Sandforce and Indilinx’s solid state technology, may enter a panic-locked state due to the firmware or controller having been corrupted while being written to, and can only be remedied by sending the drive to the manufacturer to reflash the controller and NAND to factory state; in layman’s terms: these suck, have a high probability of failing, and all data will be lost. The NAND chips appear to be built onto the logic board, but even if it is removable, it most likely has a proprietary connector, meaning you can neither upgrade nor replace the storage device should it too fail. Again, another tactic to force you into buying AppleCare with resignation. Battery: Another proprietary battery design, which will prevent third parties from releasing better batteries and replacements for the next little while and in effect, allowing Apple to monopolize the sale of Mac batteries.

  • http://profiles.google.com/rysliv ryan haz

    I find it idiotic that someone would make the resolution 1440×900.. Is it that bad that you have to scale the resolution down instead of using its native res?