The value added premium: Old-school MacBook Pro vs. MacBook Pro with Retina display

“Weighing in on the MacBook Pro vs. Retina MacBook Pro debate, [ResExcellence] has posted a glowing review of the most recent, and likely the ultimate old-school MacBook Pro 15.4″ revision that was released in June 2012,” Charles Moore writes for AppleTell.

“[ResExcellence] praises the MacBook Pro without Retina Display as still being one of the best laptops you can buy in this price range, with hardware quality and software features far exceeding anything in the Windows PC market,” Moore writes. “[ResExcellence] says it’s by far the best computer [they’ve] ever owned, the best Mac [they’ve] ever owned, and, configured with a 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7 processor, it’s the most powerful Mac [they’ve] ever used as well.”

Moore writes, “It partly boils down to how much you can afford, and how much of a desirability premium a Retina display adds for you vs. the versatility and potentially longer lasting value added of an upgradable machine. Personally, I lean toward the latter, and I can get a Retina display a lot cheaper in an iPad.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Will Apple kill the 13-inch MacBook Pro? – March 4, 2013
Benchmarks: Apple’s upgraded MacBook Pro with Retina display lineup – February 22, 2013
Apple updates processors, makes MacBook Pro with Retina display, MacBook Air more affordable – February 13, 2013
Apple’s Big 2013 Roadmap: Multiple new iPhones, iPad mini with Retina display, MacBook Pros go all-Retina – January 16, 2013


  1. The old school MPB (MPB OS) trounces the MBPr any day of the week and twice on Sundays. The MBPr has soldered on parts, non-upgradable RAM, non-removable HDD/SDD. Not to mention it’s missing an Ethernet port, a battery charge level light, an IR receiver and a sleep light.

    I dislike the MBPr MagSafe connector. It’s as if Apple abandoned the principles of good design and went with an icky design that’s head scratchingly stupid. And the on/off button on the MBPr which is integrated into the keyboard sucks because you can accidentally hit it if you’re adjusting the volume.

    The only thing that MBPr has over the MBP OS is the retina display which can easily be fixed.

    All in all I wouldn’t buy the MBPr unless Apple addressed all of its shortcomings, and there are many. It’s a fail!

    1. +1000

      If Apple would just incorporate the retina display into the older macbook pro with upgradable ram, better magsafe, and CD drive (yes cd drive) along with a eithernet port they would have an amazing laptop

    2. I’ve corrected you on this in the past, so please read my post this time. The flash based storage in both the MBA and MBPr is removable and upgradable. See OWC for details.

      1. Look, as a user I don’t want to tool around with non-standard RAM and non-standard SSD on the MBPr. You’ve corrected nothing. All you’ve done is pointed out what an expert would do to remove something that’s difficult to remove thereby voiding the warranty if something goes wrong.

        The MBP, on the other hand, has wide expansive bays where the RAM and SSD sit and can be easily reached by an average user watching a How-to YouTube video.

        NOT THE SAME AT ALL!!!!

        1. What are you talking about? The procedure for replacing the RAM or the HD/SSD is exactly the same for the MBP and MBPr. No “expert” required, and the warranty is not voided. Watch the OWC video. You’re spouting nonsense.

          1. While the HD/SSD can be upgraded, the RAM cannot be since it is soldered to the motherboard. No where on the OWC website can i find a video for replacing RAM.

    1. Hey, BLN, do you own a Retina MBP, or are you just parroting tech-head reviews? I ask, because I actually own a rMBP 13 and, while not my favorite Apple laptop of all time (that honor belongs to a black Pismo PowerBook), it is unquestionably the best laptop I have ever owned (and, just for perspective, I have owned almost every major series of Apple mobile computer since the Portable in 1990).

      For record, my rMBP13 – that has the presumably anemic integrated graphics – scrolls smoothly and has never stuttered, even on full HD media. The screen is unbelievably beautiful – I like it better than even the display on my 3rd gen iPad. And it is the perfect size and weight.

      So, you are entitled to your opinions, but my own view – as an owner and daily user – is that the rMBP13 is an extraordinary piece of engineering and is easily the best Apple laptop I have ever owned.

  2. My Retina MBP running 10.8.2 seems to have a slow display refresh issues. I know it’s pushing around a lot of pixels but it shouldn’t be this slow. I hope they fix this in 10.8.3.

    When I resize windows the refresh seems slower than my old standard MBP. IT’s particularly bad with MDN web pages.

  3. The MBPr is my ultimate computer: the screen is worth a lot, and the Solid State Drive increases the speed of almost everything by an order of magnitude. And I love the lighter weight.

  4. MBPr is by far the best of over 50 macs I have owned. I get AppleCare on all my computers so replaceable parts are irrelevant. Three years is as long as I care to run an older model. These computers range over all Macs except for the mini. Nothing has been close to the very fast, super light, stunning MBPr.

    1. Allow me to rephrase:

      “In my personal experience, X was the best. Therefore for everyone, X must be better than Y.”

      Hardly compelling to me.

      I suspect there are a significant number of people would would prefer the “old” MacBook Pro architecture with the improved Retina Display.

      If one wants a a non-upgradeable machine, one could always buy a MacBook Air. After all, we have iOS fans on these boards telling us all the time that we don’t need the ultimate in processing power.

  5. Have Retina iPhone and iPad. Can’t get along without either. Used a Macbook Retina and couldn’t care less. The screen although nice, offered nothing to my user experience

  6. So what do you call a razor blade that is not removable, answer a disposable. So now Apple are selling disposable computers like MBPr and iMac at non disposable prices. Apart from the retina display which was an unnecessary move too soon, to a tech that was not ready for mainstream all Apple have done is SLOW sales down.

    Since the release of retina I must admit it just has not excited me, at first I could not see the difference but once you own a retina display you certainly can see the difference and would not want to go back. But this still is not incentive to entice more people over to mac it’s more the icing on the cake.

    Unfortunately for Apple they have gotten a very bad name for themselves since November last year in business circles for failure to deliver. Unlike the release of the retina display iPad 3 they did not keep production of the older model when it came to the iMac.
    This inconsistency in uniform business practices is a real worry for the company long term.

    Put it this way if your a soho business and your growing, at some stage you will want to move quickly and with not much planning to put on another worker on Monday. But with Apple widening their build to order options and delays in supply your relegated to doing something other than buying an iMac and waiting 4-8 weeks. Businesses have been buying macmini’s, second hand and macbooks instead. Luck for Apple these are not the only products they sell today.

    1. Macman, you are spot on about Apple’s failure with the iMac production. It was a terrible mistake. Heads should have rolled. It’s what really hurt the quarters earnings. That seems to be overlooked so often. But it was huge. There was no excuse for letting existing supplies deplete before you were certain that you could deliver the new iMacs. Especially the 27 inch iMac. A total fuck up by Apple. Unbelievable for a company run by a production chain genius. Absolutely unforgivable.

  7. Love my new MBPr 15″

    Amazing machine… I’ve been using an iMac 27″ and 13″ MBP for about 4 years… and this thing beats them to a pulp! I am even thinking of dumping the iMac and using the MPBr as my main machine.

    I have an external wide gamut, color critical monitor. Trouble is the retina display is so amazing… my high end monitor (for photography) now looks weak. 🙁

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