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Review: MacBook Pro Retina 13" (Late 2013)

09 Dec 2013

Here at Techday, if we want to keep the technology we play with, we have to buy it just like you!

I get to play with new toys, but when it comes to making that decision to purchase, I have to make the same decisions you out there as you make for your business.

What funds can I allocate to this? What bang for my buck do I get? We know what we would get if money was no object, but how do we make the best decision with our money.

I’m an Apple fanboy (I love all you Windows and Linux users too, just not as much!). A few guys I know are fellow rebels too, so I asked their views on what to buy and what works best. I came to the decision that the Retina 13” was the one to buy.

I purchased the MacBook Pro Retina 13” and have had it for a couple of weeks and I’m finally bedding it in, so what do I think of it?

After having an HP for a couple of years now (although it was bought to be a hackintosh), opening the box to see the glorious brushed aluminium of the MacBook was like returning home.

The construction of the MacBook is still unbeatable. It feels solid yet light. Other manufacturers have attempted to match their build quality, but none has achieved what Apple manage to do year after year.

It’s fast! Not i7 quad core with 32GB RAM fast, but still extremely fast for a laptop. The retina screen feels like having the screen real estate of a 17” screen in a 13” form factor. I went for the 256GB SSD and 8GB RAM version which I honestly feel should be the minimum. It has plenty of grunt yet the battery life is easily a work day.

I am disappointed at the price. With the same computer available at US$1499 (roughly NZ$1850) in Apple’s store, we’re paying NZ$2300, that’s a $450 NZ tax. Comparatively, the Australians who also mutter about their own jacked up prices would be paying NZ$2050 if bought through the Oz Apple Store.

It’s almost a 25% markup. It gets worse the higher up you go. The 15” retina ($3049 here) works out at just over $2400 if purchased through the US store. Not cool Apple.

Anyways, enough grumping about the price, shop around and you can get at least $100 off the RRP. You do now get Apple’s ‘Office’ competitor for free which comprises Pages, Numbers & Keynote and I do use Pages the majority of the time rather than Office.

Mail still sucks, especially for connection to enterprise mail servers. I’m using Airmail for non work email and Outlook for connection to the Exchange server.


  • Amazing battery life (thanks to the Haswell)
  • Retina Screen is awesomely gorgeous
  • Plenty of power
  • Mavericks is definitely speedy
  • Unibody construction is solid
  • The sticker price, definitely teeth sucking
  • The body doesn’t feel as tough as it was, I already have a mark on the casing

Being a reviewer means I’m always looking what else is out there, I’m currently running ControlPlane, flu.x and the beta version of Boxcryptor. Is there anything else I should try?

The MacBook is lovely. As more Macs enter the enterprise environment, the roadblocks to using different OS’s are disappearing rapidly.

I much prefer using Mac OS and yes I like the way it looks and feels and works. So do go get one and annoy your IT department. But do make sure you can justify the Apple tax and please do not get the cheapest Pro, you need at least 8GB of RAM (you can’t add to it) and 128GB of storage is not actually a lot for what this machine can do.

It does have an SDXC slot and if you’re rich enough, 256GB SD Cards are available to bump up your storage.

Score 4.5 / 5

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