Should You Wait for a Second Generation MacBook Pro with Retina?

Max Loubet writes:

So a little earlier I emailed you about whether I should get a 2.7 GHz or 2.6 GHz Retina MacBook Pro, however, I was wondering if I should even get one. My question is: do you think Apple will refresh the 15″ RMBP, or will it keep the release cycle like the iMacs and release a new one every two years or so?

MacBook-ProThe MacBook Pro line has long been on an unpredictable release schedule. Two updates per year for most of the years between 2007 and 2011 with one major update happening in 2012. However, this new generation of MacBook Pros with Retina may be a little different. It’s really hard to tell with Apple, but I don’t expect it will be long before we hear about an update given the problems so many users have been experiencing.

While I have one, I can’t say that the rMBP is amazing in every way. Quite honestly, the video card on every rMBP can’t keep up with the pixels being pushed across the screen. This may come down to a hardware issue rather than poor optimization in the drivers. The screen on the MacBook Pro far exceeds the demand on resources that previous MacBook Pros were built to deal with. Without a significant improvement to the graphics card, the appearance of stutter, dropped frames, and tearing is to be expected.

If you can wait, wait. Don’t spend the extra dough, even with the screen being sharper (the actual video performance simply doesn’t match). Let the early adopters (like me) take the hits and warn you about potential issues. There are workarounds right now that improve performance considerably, but they involve going around the Retina feature entirely. It’s just not worth the extra money if a hardware improvement is possibly on the way.

I’m also not saying my experience has been entirely negative, either. The asymmetric fan design has cut down on the amount of perceivable noise produced when CPU demand is high, and the screen really does look great when you’re not scrolling through images and webpages.

The way Apple handed the first generation of rMBPs was sloppy. Making a huge upgrade to the screen is great on paper, but if you don’t significantly improve the hardware or drivers for that hardware being used to drive these massive images, the improvement itself is moot. What you’re left with is an expensive laptop with a smooth display that doesn’t perform as well as a classic MacBook Pro.

In many ways, it reminds me of camera manufacturers that boost their megapixel count without actually improving the quality of the sensor or performance of the camera. Cramming more pixels in a smaller space is fine, but you shouldn’t have to sacrifice experience for it.

I’m sure updates will be pushed down the pike… sooner rather than later.

Article Written by

Chris has consistently expressed his convictions and visions outright, supplying practical information to targeted audiences: media agencies, business owners, technology consumers, software and hardware professionals, et al. He remains a passionate personality in the tech community-at-large. He's a geek.