New MacBook Pros
Has Apple’s latest Pro blown the MacBook Air out of the water?
13- and 15-inch models
£999 Manufacturer Apple, apple.co.uk CPU 2.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 RAM 8GB 1600MHz memory Hard drive 128GB PCIe-based flash storage The mid-2014 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display isn’t a huge leap forward; just a processor speed bump and a price drop. But this model, the entry-level release, also benefits from a memory increase. The previous entry-level Retina MacBook Pro had just 4GB of RAM, but this new one has 8GB of 1600MHz DDR3L onboard memory. The dual-core Intel Core i5 processor is retained, but it’s now 2.6GHz instead of 2.4GHz.
Being a Retina MacBook Pro, you can’t add more memory after purchase because the chips are soldered onto the motherboard, so a shift to 8GB is an excellent move. The price drop is another welcome change; two of the three 13-inch Retina models have a £100 reduction with the middle-of-the-range notebook reduced by £50.
But the real story with this new 13-inch MBP is what it’s done to the viability of the MacBook Air. At £999, it’s only £50 more expensive than the cheapest 13-inch Air, and here you’re getting a lot more notebook for your money. Both use dual-core Intel Core i5 processors, but with a clock speed of 2.6GHz, the Pro is almost twice as fast as the Air’s 1.4GHz CPU. Its 8GB of memory is double the 4GB offered by the entrylevel Air, too. Boosting the Air’s 4GB to 8GB using Apple’s Online Store customisation options costs £80, which makes the extra £50 you pay for the Pro seem even more trivial. The Pro has a better graphics chipset, using Intel Iris Graphics instead of the Air’s Intel HD Graphics 5000, and, of course, it has that gorgeous Retina screen. It’s native resolution of 2560x1600 pixels certainly puts the Air’s 1440x900 display in the shade. Perhaps the next generation of MacBook Air will get a Retina screen too, but there’s no option for one yet.
The Air still has some advantages. At 1.35kg, it’s lighter than the MacBook Pro (1.57kg), but is 220 grams such a huge difference? Also, with an advertised 12 hours of wireless web surfing on a single charge, the Air beats the Pro (which offers nine hours of battery life). The Pro’s performance is still excellent in this respect, anyway.
If you have specific needs that prioritise lightness and battery life, you might consider the 13-inch MacBook Air, but for the majority of users, this entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is by far the better value. Ian Osborne
The new MacBook Pro with Retina display upgrades the RAM and CPU, but remains the same from the outside. .