Product Notes: Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (Retina)

October 23, 2012

On October 23, 2012, Apple announced the addition of a Retina display option to its 13-inch notebook line.

This noteworthy update follows previous updates to the MacBook Pro 13-inch line in June 2012.

Design and Changes

Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch RetinaThe MacBook Pro Retina 13-inch (pictured to the right) marks a welcome change to this product line. It is one pound lighter than the previous "classic" MacBook Pro 13-inch and, at slightly less than 3.6 lbs, one of the lightest 13-inch notebooks on the market. Removing the optical drive and moving to a MacBook Air-like chassis gets most of the credit for the weight savings.

In addition to the omission of an optical drive, the Retina 13-inch also lacks both a FireWire port and an Ethernet port - traditional hallmarks of a MacBook Pro system - although Thunderbolt to FireWire and Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapters are available at additional cost.

Base RAM on all MacBook Pro Retina 13-inch configurations is 8.0 GB, which meets the RAM specifications in the Notebook Purchasing Guide.

The new MacBook Pro Retina 13-inch models are Energy Star 5.2-certified and EPEAT Gold-verified.

Configuration and Ordering Notes

Several notes when ordering a Retina 13-inch:

  1. The MacBook Pro Retina 13-inch is available with Intel's current Core i5 and i7 processors. Information Systems & Computing (ISC) sees the 2.5 GHz Core i5 processor as the best choice - for many users the more powerful processor available will not show enough speed improvement to justify the extra cost.
  2. ISC strongly recommends choosing AppleCare when purchasing any Apple notebook.

See ISC's Notebook Purchasing Guide for more configuration hints. As of October 2012, a MacBook Pro Retina 13-inch can be configured to the Lightweight Notebook specification for approximately $1,680 to $1,980. The University's Computer Connection will have multiple Retina 13-inch configurations available to order shortly.


ISC sees the new MacBook Pro Retina 13-inch as being a solid choice among notebooks available in late 2012. Highly anticipated and expected, it is the first time that a Retina display is available in this smaller form factor. Users' connectivity preferences must be also taken into account: Retina and non-Retina MacBook Pro models both have superior connectivity options compared to the MacBook Air line, but the Retina models omit Ethernet and Firewire 800 ports in favor of HDMI and an extra Thunderbolt port.

The debut of the Retina 13-inch suggests that Apple has confidence that it can offer an attractively-priced system with no built-in optical drive, Ethernet, or FireWire to mainstream users.

MacBook Pro Retina 13-inch graphic courtesy of Apple

--John Mulhern III, Michael McLaughlin, and Vern Yoneyama, ISC Technology Support Services (October 23, 2012)

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Date Posted: May 25, 2013

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