AnandTech reviews Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display: Editor’s Choice; first Mac to ever receive one

“I’m doing something I’ve never done before in an Apple review,” Anand Lal Shimpi writes for AnandTech. “We rarely give out Editor’s Choice awards at AnandTech, and I’m quite possibly the stingiest purveyor of them. I feel that being overly generous with awards diminishes their value. In this case, all of the effort Apple has put into bringing a Retina Display to the MacBook Pro is deserving of one.”

“I’m giving the MacBook Pro with Retina Display our bronze Editor’s Choice award. Making it the first Mac to ever receive one. It would have been a silver had the software story been even stronger (iWork, Mountain Lion, Office and Photoshop being ready at launch would have been a feat worth rewarding),” Lal Shimpi writes.

MacDailyNews Take: You can blame Apple for iWork and Mountain Lion beat, if you want, but please don’t blame Apple for Microsoft and Adobe, Mr. and Mrs. Perpetually Late to the Party.

“And it would have been a gold had Apple been able to deliver all of that but without sacrificing end-user upgradability. Which brings me to my final point,” Lal Shimpi writes. “I accept the fact that current mobile memory and storage form factors preclude the creation of the thinnest and lightest form factors. But I would like to see Apple push for the creation of industry standard storage and memory form factors that wouldn’t hinder the design of notebooks like the Retina Display equipped Macbook Pro. Apple has already demonstrated that it has significant pull with component vendors, this should be possible. The motivation behind doing so is no different from the motivation driving the use of Retina Displays: for the betterment of the end user experience.”

Read more in the full, very comprehensive review – recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: How many end users – not you, you’re reading MacDailyNews – ever crack the case of their Mac notebook? 1%, 2%, 5% at most? (For further reading, please see: Why Apple’s sealed, non-user-serviceable MacBook Pro with Retina display is a very good thing)

And, why the hell would Apple want to push for “industry standard storage and memory form factors?” That would only serve a tiny niche of users while immensely aiding Windows PC assemblers to better approximate Apple’s industrial design. Why should Apple give away any of their advantages? They’ve already given the world so much, from the Mac GUI and mouse to iPod + iTunes to iOS Multi-Touch™ and Thunderbolt, Apple should keep some competitive advantages for themselves for a change.

This is a business, not a commune.

Related articles:
Why Apple’s sealed, non-user-serviceable MacBook Pro with Retina display is a very good thing – June 22, 2012
Teardown of MacBook Pro’s Retina display shows off ‘engineering marvel’ – June 19, 2012
Teardown of MacBook Pro with Retina Display reveals soldered RAM, glued-in battery – June 13, 2012

AP reviews Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display: An epiphany, makes all other screens look dull and fuzzy – June 16, 2012
Reg Hardware reviews Apple’s MacBook Pro with Retina display: Drool-worthy – June 15, 2012
USA Today reviews Apple’s MacBook Pro with Retina display: Powerfully robust, an object of desire – June 14, 2012
ABC News reviews Apple’s MacBook Pro with Retina display: If you have the money, this is the one to buy – June 14, 2012
Engadget reviews Apple’s MacBook Pro with Retina display: Redefines the professional notebook – June 13, 2012
PC Magazine reviews Apple’s MacBook Pro with Retina display: Editor’s choice – June 13, 2012
Apple debuts new TV ad for MacBook Pro with Retina display: ‘Every Dimension’ (with video) – June 13, 2012
AnandTech analyzes Apple’s new MacBook Pro Retina display: ‘Everything is ridiculously crisp’ – June 12, 2012
Hands-on with Apple’s new MacBook Pro with Retina display (with video) – June 12, 2012
Apple unveils all new MacBook Pro with stunning Retina display – June 11, 2012


  1. Your take on the Anatech comments are RIGHT ON. What other industry (TV, home appliance, automobile) is EVER criticized for trading features, price and efficiency for repair-ability? NADA.

    It’s 100% sure that we’ll be seeing other computer companies start producing laptops using similar techniques. We’ll see how the tech press treats that? I’m not holding my breath for any similar criticism. Knocking Apple is the easiest visitor grabbing trick in the business.

    1. This is the greatest Ferrari ever built: greatest 1-60, better handling, steers like it was made to turn around corners, it looks nice, has better gas milage, quieter, smoother drive, absolutely an engineering marvel.

      But it did not launch with an assortment of 3rd party accessories, and it lacks a user serviceable transmission.

      3 out of 5 stars.

  2. As someone who’s been buying Apple laptops since the PowerBook 160 and upgrading them with extra RAM and bigger hard drives over time, I have zero problems with the new Retina MacBook Pro being non-upgradable. First of all, it already has everything I want. Secondly the amount of storage and RAM it has is huge compared to in the past. It used to be that new computers came with a default amount of memory and hard drive space that was tiny. Now you can get the Retina Mac with 8 GB of RAM and 250 GB of disk space. That is plenty for most users. If you need more, buy it when you buy the computer. I use external storage for large files anyway. The bottom line is that user upgradability is not such a big deal as it once was. And with ports like Thunderbolt, you can always add things externally as you need (really fast storage and displays, etc.).

    1. Yes…with the generous amount of RAM and SSD space available at purchase, I have less issue than some with this area of upgrade. Where I have sympathy for complainers is with the battery. These machines are capable of being productive for years beyond the life of the original battery. It will become, at minimum, a nuisance for everyone buying the Retina MBP to replace that item. No one likes to hand over their computer to strangers for something normally as simple as swapping batteries.

      1. I agree for the most part, power users who would buy such a beast would know whether they need 8GB or 16GB of ram and buy accordingly. As for the SSD size, I think most pros would want an external HD at the office and an external portable for on the go work files and backup. The battery, also strikes me as the only question mark, but I can see the possible reasoning that power users tend to upgrade often enough that they may never have a need for a battery change before upgrading.

  3. “This is a business, not a commune”.

    It’s about making money, building in lock-in’s and lock-outs.

    99% of businesses out there are working to grow and eliminate all other competition, eventually becoming monopolies. Of course it rarely happens because this is what most all companies are striving for. The result is we end up with best products, best prices, most creativity possible, etc…

    This isn’t a share-fest, it’s a crush you until you are gone event. It’s called competition, capitalism, and it’s brought more wealth to more people across the entire planet than any other system – ever.

    If Apple can build completely custom products that rock, where no one can compete spec for spec – at any price – so be it!

  4. I find that blaming Apple for Microsoft and Adobe being behind in software builds is a little disturbing. Apple doesn’t release products that aren’t finished yet. So also blaming Apple for not having Mountain Lion pre-installed is also stupid. This laptop doesn’t need to be upgradeable. It has 8gigs of ram, who the heck uses 8 gigs of ram. What applications can take advantage of 8gigs of ram? None, zilch, zero, nada. No reason to have the ram upgradeable. Hard drive storage you can use the thunderbolt port for many external drives. It doesn’t need to be upgraded also.

    1. I routinely head north of 12 GB of ram with the computations I do using Sage ( I’ll be the first to admit that a typical user doesn’t need over 8. However, the 15″ MBP does offer a 16 GB option — that takes care of what I want to do. Unfortunately, the total price is $3800; that’s a bit steep in these times of constant budget cutting at my university…

    2. I’m fine with external storage, since I have the max number of external drives attached that FW800 will allow, and will eventually migrate to Thunderbolt. However, thinking that 8 GB of RAM is enough is short-sighted. Like 8^þ, I need everything I can get for weather data processing, but the cost is tough to swallow.

    3. This author, and also MDN, are not thinking it through. Apple timed the new MacBook Pro’s release date perfectly, to be just BEFORE the release of Mountain Lion.

      Most users who use a Mac for their PRO-fession need to have a stable system that they can trust, and work with their familiar established workflows. Their livelihood depends on it. Since the new MacBook Pro was released BEFORE the release of Mountain Lion, it is (and will continue to be) compatible with Lion (soon to be 10.7.5). But if it had been released with the brand new Mountain Lion (dot nothing), the user would not be able to downgrade to Lion.

      As it is, the MacBook Pro comes with Lion, and customers can stay with Lion as long as they want or need to. But customers who “just can’t wait” for Mountain Lion can upgrade at no cost, as soon as it ships in July.

  5. The issue is not whether most users would ever repair or upgrade their own Mac laptops if they could. Most would not. The issue is that the new MacBook Pro’s buttoned-down design means that they are harder for trained technicians to repair, which ends up costing the consumer more money. Time will tell whether Apple’s new direction is a good thing or not.

    1. You are wrong.

      I’ve discussed the repair option of the new rMBP with my Apple service manager and he claims it is much easier for his technicians to work on this model. Yes repairs will cost the consumer more if they do not have warranty, but the integration of the components means much less trouble shooting individual parts and less parts to replace. Replacing an entire display or an entire logic board is much simpler than removing individual parts to isolate an issue.

  6. There are a number of apps used in logical combination which use more than 8 gigs of ram. Right now I have Aperture and iMovie open along with a few standard ones and Activity Monitor is showing 9.5 gigs in active use. Open and use Photoshop and you can easily use more than that. Open and use Final Cut Pro X and Aperture and you are over 8 gigs. So when I order this machine it will be with 16 gigs or it will be crippled with Pro Apps in use.

  7. Hold on a moment while I upgrade my TV and my cordless phone. Be pit longer I am adding 56 more horsepower to my car. Then I will have time to send those specs over to my competitor so they can make theirvwidget like mine. I mean I want to make sure they can build ther widgets just like mine that’s just good business

  8. “I feel that being overly generous with awards diminishes their value”. That’s how I feel about these Pre-K, Kindergarten, etc. “graduations” (cap & gown and all). We used to just call it passing, and it was expected of us. What’s driving that?!? Trying to build self-esteem for the tiniest “accomplishment”? Or maybe parents that feel guilty for their lack of involvement in their kids lives looking for an event to attend to prove they care, perhaps?

    And as to MDN’s take regarding all of Apple’s contributions, didn’t you see the Surface keynote where they clearly stated that it was Microsoft that brought us the innovative mouse. You know, the one that was stuck in a Canadian airport because they thought it was a real mouse. *eyesroll*

  9. MDN, competitors simply buy and disassemble this machine anyway upgradeable or not. How would its non-upgradeability affect windows PC assemblers who want to see how it works and simply buy one (at no small cost) and take it apart as others have already done?

    I am not taking a position on its non-upgradeability, though I would think it would certainly be good to allow certain upgrades later on without the always high prices going to Apple and precluding some future third party upgrades five years hence. I’m getting one maxed out…just in case. Sorry Applecare is only 3 years. Planning on keeping this well beyond that as most of us have done with our other Macs.

    1. They can take it apart all they want. Obviously, that doesn’t grant them economies of scale that “industry standard storage and memory form factors” would grant them.

  10. I just got one with 16 gb. Thats gonna hold me for a while…and if i need more in few years…well thats a great excuse to buy the new one! And did i mention this thing is sweet?!! Certainly the most well engineered item I have ever owned…. Im sure ill run out of HD. I’ll upgrade with an OWC offering or get the thunderbolt drobo…

  11. Upgrading memory or hard drives is so easy on most computers any average person with a screwdriver can do it, yet tech savvy people are the only ones who ever bother. Because only tech savvy people are the only ones going under the hood to do upgrades, I don’t see the problem with making upgrades more technically complicated. When you open up a Macbook Pro, there will still be separate components, and there will be a right way to remove components and put new ones in – it’s not like everything is permanently sealed together.

    I don’t think this is all that different to the evolution of cars. Engines have become much more sophisticated, in ways that make the car perform better, and also more difficult to service manually, yet there are still many processionals and car enthusiast with the skills necessary to open the hood and fix or replace parts.

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