Review Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 Late 2013 Notebook

Klaus Hinum (translated by Andreas Osthoff), 11/05/2013

Thank you Haswell. Intel's latest processor generation is finally available in Apple's Retina MacBooks and results in significantly improved battery runtimes. Our in-depth review determines the performance of the new components.

MacBook Pro Retina - Late 2013
MacBook Pro Retina - Late 2013

For the original German review, see here.

The Haswell update of the 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina does not only include new components. Apple was also able to reduce the thickness of the case from 19 mm to 18 mm thanks to the reduced energy consumption of the platform. That is not a big difference to the 17 mm of the 13-inch MacBook Air, but the case does not get thinner towards the front. 

MacBook Pro 13 Retina 2013MacBook Pro 13 Retina 2012 MacBook Air 13MacBook Pro 15 Retina
Weight1.57 kg / 3.46 lbs1.62 kg / 3.57 lbs +3%1.35 kg / 2.96 lbs -14%2.02 kg / 4.46 lbs +29%
Height18 mm19 mm17 mm18 mm
Width31.4 cm31.4 cm32.5 cm35.9 cm
Depth21.9 cm21.9 cm22.7 cm24.7 cm

Our review unit is the configuration with a Core i5-4258U processor, 256 GB SSD and 8 GB RAM. Our review unit was not provided by Apple, we just bought it in the online store. 

With the low weight and the thin case, the MacBook Pro 13 is clearly a subnotebook, but its powerful processor stands out from the competition in this class.

Case

Despite the new case, the design of the 13-inch Retina is completely unchanged from its predecessor. It is also quite hard to find any ways to improve it. The unibody chassis is still made from a single piece of aluminum and can convince us with its high stability, high-quality haptics and design as well as the perfect build quality. Only the sharp edge of the palm rest is not perfect from an ergonomics point of view. However, this is not a serious drawback thanks to the low height of the case.  

Connectivity

Compared to other manufacturers, Apple chose a different path in regard to the port equipment, as usual. One characteristic feature is the two Thunderbolt 2 ports, which can also be used as a mini DisplayPort. Contrary to the predecessor, we now get a faster Thunderbolt controller. The port equipment is identical to the larger 15-inch version, while the latest MacBook Air 13 lacks both HDMI and the second Thunderbolt port. All three video ports can be used for high-resolution displays (according to Apple, we only tested mini DisplayPort with one 2560x1440 27-inch display) and the GPU can handle three individual displays simultaneously. This is a clear advantage over most Windows notebooks that usually only offer two digital video ports. However, you will have to live without a third USB port as well as an Ethernet port in return. 

MagSafe 2, Thunderbolt 2, Thunderbolt 2, USB 3.0, Headset (digital / analog), microphone
MagSafe 2, Thunderbolt 2, Thunderbolt 2, USB 3.0, Headset (digital / analog), microphone
SD card reader, HDMI, USB 3.0
SD card reader, HDMI, USB 3.0

Communication

The MacBook Pro Retina only supports the wireless standards 802.11 b/g/n/ac (2.4 and 5 GHz) and Bluetooth 4.0. Ethernet is only available with a USB or Thunderbolt adaptor. 3G / 4G or LTE is only available via Bluetooth, WLAN or USB Tethering (USB Tethering with Android only via third party drivers like HoRNDIS).

We could only determine the WLAN performance in combination with a Linksys E4200 802.11n router. The new AC standard is supported by the Retina, however, you obviously need a compatible wireless router. Our comparison also includes a MacBook Pro from 2010 and a Schenker S413 (Clevo W740SU) besides the review unit. As expected, the connection was very good but slightly fluctuating with a distance of 1 meter (~ 3.3 feet) and in direct sight. According to iperf, the best result was 297 Mbps, but we also saw results below the old MBP 13, which managed 207 Mbps. Schenker's S413 was the slowest device with just 156 Mbps, despite Intel's new AC WLAN module. The attached AMD A8-5600K desktop (LAN) with an Asus F2A85-V did not affect the performance; we could see the maximum transfer rate of 865 Mbps when we attached the Schenker via Ethernet.  

One floor below (concrete ceiling and a partition wall), the performance of the Retina was reduced to 42 Mbps. MBP 13 and S413 were significantly faster with 59 Mbps and 55 Mbps, respectively. 

We performed the third test in the concrete basement (two floors and some partition walls), where weak WLAN modules / antennas often lose the connection. The Retina Mac also struggled a bit and only managed the 7.4 Mbps with three lost packages (of 60). The Schenker took second place with 13.8 Mbps without losses behind the old MBP with 15.6 Mbps. 

All in all, not the best performance in a wireless-n network, but also better than many notebooks with cheap WLAN modules. Both the range and the speed should be better in an 802.11 ac network, but that also applies for the Schenker S413. 

Warranty

Apple only grants a 12-month warranty for the device. The additional price for 3 years including phone support (Apple Care) is rather expensive at $249.

Maintenance

This is not really the strong suit of the Retina MacBook Pro. It is actually quite easy to access the components since you can remove the bottom cover. However, Apple uses proprietary pentalobe screws to secure the cover. After loosening the screws, you quickly gain access to the fan, SSD and WLAN module. The battery is unfortunately glued (and prevents easy access to the touchpad). Memory and processor are soldered onto the mainboard, so a repair would be very expensive. The notebook got a very low score from iFixit (1 out of 10 points).

The components are protected by pentalobe screws, which can easily be removed with the according screw driver. However, only the fan, SSD and WLAN module can be replaced or maintained, respectively.
The components are protected by pentalobe screws, which can easily be removed with the according screw driver. However, only the fan, SSD and WLAN module can be replaced or maintained, respectively.

FaceTime HD Webcam

The integrated 720p FaceTime HD webcam is still one of the drawbacks. The performance is average for video calls, but we certainly expect more from Apple because of their emphasis on iMessage and video calls. The voice quality on the other hand was excellent thanks to the two microphones. 

Cloudy daylight + lighting
Cloudy daylight + lighting
In the evening, only lighting
In the evening, only lighting
Daylight, sun
Daylight, sun

Input Devices

Keyboard

The excellent chiclet keyboard with background illumination remained unchanged. Haptics, feedback and key size are great and we managed the same typing speed as with a mechanical Cherry MX 3000 (86 words per minute) right away. One small drawback is the minimalistic lettering ("Where is the damn tilde?") and especially Windows users will have some problems because of the different key assignments (@,{}.[]).

Touchpad

Apple's multi-touch glass touchpad is still the benchmark. The combination of a smooth glass surface, convenient pressure point, precise execution and smart drivers under OS X is more or less unrivaled in the Windows world. Here we can see the result of the close relationship between software and hardware. Scrolling, zooming and swiping work flawlessly and without any apparent problems. The only drawback is the sharp edge at the front of the touchpad.

After one week, we also encountered keyboard and trackpad issues. The problem is therefore quite rare, but the resulting waiting period of around one minute in stand-by is rather annoying. 

Display

The glossy 13-inch display has a resolution of 2560x1600 pixels in the already disappearing 16:10 ratio. The actual screen space matches the 1280x800 resolution with the standard settings, but texts and icons are obviously much sharper (with Retina-ready apps). The apparent advantage of this solution is that even old applications can be used without adjustments; they just don't look as nice. This is a big problem under Windows with its DPI scaling. Our tests with Boot Camp often revealed very small and hardly readable texts (older 3D Mark or X-Rite software) and overlapping elements (check boxes in Fraps). You can also select up to 1680x1050 pixels (scaled) - with minimal loss of quality (not as bad as the wrong resolution, for instance).   

Unfortunately, we saw some fluctuations with our brightness measurements since Windows 8.1 still has some issues with the brightness sensor. The results in OS X were slightly better than the results in Windows with a maximum brightness of 388 cd/m² and a black value of 0.4 cd/m². The contrast ratio of 970:1 is very good and our subjective impression of the display is also very good.  

1) X-Rite i1Pro 2 2) Gossen Mavo-Monitor
329
cd/m²
316
cd/m²
317
cd/m²
368
cd/m²
360
cd/m²
337
cd/m²
314
cd/m²
338
cd/m²
298
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 368 cd/m²
Average: 330.8 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 81 %
Center on Battery: 360 cd/m²
Black: 0.4 cd/m²
Contrast: 900:1
297
cd/m²
290
cd/m²
294
cd/m²
327
cd/m²
327
cd/m²
304
cd/m²
285
cd/m²
305
cd/m²
275
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
Gossen Mavo-Monitor
Maximum: 327 cd/m²
Average: 300.4 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 84 %
Center on Battery: 327 cd/m²
Black: 0.42 cd/m²
Contrast: 779:1

The color accuracy of our review unit is excellent, even without a calibration. The DeltaE deviations in the ColorChecker test are the lowest we ever measured. Therefore, the human eye should not see any differences between the displayed and the real color. Results for the grayscale presentation are not as good, but our i1Pro 2 measuring tool is less accurate at lower brightness settings. The sRGB color space is completely covered by the Retina display. 

Some of the following measurements were only taken in Windows 8.1 since the X-Rite software did not recognize our i1Pro 2 in OS X (this is also the reason for the brightness differences between chart and text).

A calibration with the X-Rite software improves the results even further, so the display should be well suited for demanding picture editing.

ColorChecker OS X pre-calibration
ColorChecker OS X pre-calibration
ColorChecker Windows calibrated
ColorChecker Windows calibrated
Grayscale OS X pre-calibration
Grayscale OS X pre-calibration
Grayscale Windows calibrated
Grayscale Windows calibrated
Colorspace OS X pre-calibration
Colorspace OS X pre-calibration
Saturation Sweeps OS X pre-calibration
Saturation Sweeps OS X pre-calibration
Spectral MeasurementWindows calibrated
Spectral MeasurementWindows calibrated
Luminance Sweeps OS X pre-calibration
Luminance Sweeps OS X pre-calibration

Thanks to the high maximum brightness, you can use the device outdoors, despite the glossy display surface. Reflections are also reduced by a red hue; it seems that Apple uses some kind of anti-reflective coating. Compared to the old MacBook Pro 13 there is no more protective glass cover, and there are no more double reflections as a result. 


Outdoor use in autumn
Reflections outdoors on a sunny autumn day
MacBook Pro 13 Retina 2013
Reflection of a spot light source MacBook Pro 13 Retina 2013
MacBook Pro 13 2010
Reflection of a spot light source MacBook Pro 13 2010

Thanks to the IPS display there are no color distortions, even with extreme viewing angles. The picture does not suffer from a reduced contrast as fast as the Schenker S413, however, the reflections of the Apple device can be very annoying.  

Viewing angles MacBook Pro 13 Retina 2013

Windows 8.1 via Boot Camp

The Boot Camp installation was not trivial in our test. We also had the problem that we could not install Windows right away (see Apple Discussions). We were finally successful with a Win 8.1 Trial (via ISO) on a new USB stick. The driver support is still far from perfect, the touchpad, for instance, does not support Windows 8 gestures and the brightness control did not work properly. Finally, the resolution scaling in Windows cannot keep up with OS X, but this is not only a problem of the MacBook. 

Performance

Intel significantly improved the performance of the integrated GPU with the Haswell generation. These are perfect conditions, especially for the MacBook Pro 13 Retina. The old version from 2012 suffered from the weak HD Graphics 4000 of the Ivy Bridge architecture and the situation is much better in the current Retina version. Websites and applications were very smooth in our tests.

DPC Latencies in Windows 8.1 remained constant at 1000 µs during idle, we saw isolated peaks of 2000µs and more than 4000µs in our test
GPU-Z GPU information
GPU-Z Sensors idle
GPU-Z Furmark, starting at 1100 MHz, leveling off at 800 MHz
CPU-Z CPU
CPU-Z Caches
HWInfo64 Idle High Performance
HWInfo64 Sensors idle
System information Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 Late 2013

Processor

The integrated Core i5-4258U only has an advantage of 4-9% over the Core i5-3210M from 2012. The Zenbook UX301 with the i7-4558U, which is also available for the Retina, has an advantage of more than 10% on average.

A comparison between Windows 8.1 and OS X Mavericks favors Windows in all of our Cinebench versions, except for CB 10 (even though the 64-bit version is still faster under Windows).

Cinebench R10
Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit (sort by value)
MBP Retina 13 2013 OS X
10604 Points ∼30%
MBP Retina 13 2013 Win 8.1
9638 Points ∼28% -9%
MBP Retina 13 2012
8942 Points ∼26% -16%
MBP Retina 15 2012
17054 Points ∼49% +61%
MB Air 11 i7
8943 Points ∼26% -16%
Zenbook UX301LA i7
10305 Points ∼30% -3%
Rendering Single 32Bit (sort by value)
MBP Retina 13 2013 OS X
4831 Points ∼72%
MBP Retina 13 2013 Win 8.1
4312 Points ∼65% -11%
MBP Retina 13 2012
4245 Points ∼64% -12%
MBP Retina 15 2012
4480 Points ∼67% -7%
MB Air 11 i7
4707 Points ∼71% -3%
Zenbook UX301LA i7
4793 Points ∼72% -1%
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
MBP Retina 13 2013 OS X
2.92 Points ∼17%
MBP Retina 13 2013 Win 8.1
3.15 Points ∼18% +8%
MBP Retina 13 2012
2.87 Points ∼16% -2%
MBP Retina 15 2012
5.52 Points ∼31% +89%
MB Air 11 i7
2.82 Points ∼16% -3%
Zenbook UX301LA i7
3.48 Points ∼20% +19%
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
MBP Retina 13 2013 OS X
1.21 Points ∼44%
MBP Retina 13 2013 Win 8.1
1.27 Points ∼46% +5%
MBP Retina 13 2012
1.22 Points ∼44% +1%
MBP Retina 15 2012
1.32 Points ∼48% +9%
MB Air 11 i7
1.42 Points ∼52% +17%
Zenbook UX301LA i7
1.45 Points ∼53% +20%
Cinebench R15
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
MBP Retina 13 2013 OS X
261 Points ∼17%
MBP Retina 13 2013 Win 8.1
291 Points ∼19% +11%
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
MBP Retina 13 2013 OS X
106 Points ∼55%
MBP Retina 13 2013 Win 8.1
113 Points ∼59% +7%

Legend

 
MBP Retina 13 2013 OS X Intel Core i5-4258U, Intel Iris Graphics 5100, Apple SSD SM0256F
 
MBP Retina 13 2013 Win 8.1 Intel Core i5-4258U, Intel Iris Graphics 5100, Apple SSD SM0256F
 
MBP Retina 13 2012 Intel Core i5-3210M, Intel HD Graphics 4000, Apple SSD SM256E (Samsung)
 
MBP Retina 15 2012 Intel Core i7-3615QM, NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M, Apple SSD SM256E (Samsung)
 
MB Air 11 i7 Intel Core i7-4650U, Intel HD Graphics 5000, Apple SSD SD0256F
 
Zenbook UX301LA i7 Intel Core i7-4558U, Intel Iris Graphics 5100, 2x Sandisk X110 SD6SP1M-128G RAID 0
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
6612
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
10604
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
4831
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.21 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
2.92 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
22.44 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
106 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
261 Points
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
99.3 %
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
20.77 fps
Help

System Performance

Thanks to the fast SSD and the powerful mainstream Haswell CPU, the PCMark result of the Retina MacBook Pro 13 is very good. It is basically on the same level with the 2012 Retina MacBook Pro 15 with dedicated graphics. 

PC Mark
PCMark 75460 points
PCMark 8 Home3112 points
PCMark 8 Creative3297 points
PCMark 8 Work3681 points
Help
PCMark 7 - Score (sort by value)
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
Iris Graphics 5100, 4258U, Apple SSD SM0256F
5460 Points ∼82%
Apple MacBook Air 11 inch 2013-06 1.7 GHz 256 GB
HD Graphics 5000, 4650U, Apple SSD SD0256F
4723 Points ∼71%
Apple MacBook Air 13 inch 2013 MD760D/A
HD Graphics 5000, 4250U, Apple SSD SM0128F
4308 Points ∼65%
Apple MacBook Air 11 inch 2013-06 MD711D/A
HD Graphics 5000, 4250U, Apple SSD SM0128F
4333 Points ∼65%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2012-10
HD Graphics 4000, 3210M, Apple SSD SM256E (Samsung)
4728 Points ∼71%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2012-06
GeForce GT 650M, 3615QM, Apple SSD SM256E (Samsung)
5545 Points ∼84%
Asus Zenbook UX301
Iris Graphics 5100, 4558U, 2x Sandisk X110 SD6SP1M-128G RAID 0
5825 Points ∼88%
Sony Vaio Pro 13 SVP-1321C5ER
HD Graphics 4400, 4500U, Toshiba HG5d THNSNH512GDNT
4740 Points ∼72%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440s 20AQ-S00500
HD Graphics 4400, 4200U, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
2287 Points ∼35%
Geekbench 2 - 32 Bit - Total Score (sort by value)
MacBook Pro Retina 13 2013 OS X
7205 Points ∼58%
MacBook Pro Retina 13 2013 Win 8.1
6528 Points ∼52% -9%
MacBook Air 13 OS X 10.8
6015 Points ∼48% -17%
Zenbook UX301
7300 Points ∼59% +1%

Legend

 
MacBook Pro Retina 13 2013 OS X Intel Core i5-4258U, Intel Iris Graphics 5100, Apple SSD SM0256F
 
MacBook Pro Retina 13 2013 Win 8.1 Intel Core i5-4258U, Intel Iris Graphics 5100, Apple SSD SM0256F
 
MacBook Air 13 OS X 10.8 Intel Core i5-4250U, Intel HD Graphics 5000, Apple SSD SM0128F
 
Zenbook UX301 Intel Core i7-4558U, Intel Iris Graphics 5100, 2x Sandisk X110 SD6SP1M-128G RAID 0

Storage Solution

Similar to the Haswell based MacBook Airs, Apple also equips the new Retina MacBook Pro 13 with a PCIe SSD. It provides significantly higher sequential transfer rates than single SSDs via SATA. This solution can even compete with larger and vulnerable RAID 0 configurations that can be found in the Asus Zenbook Infinity UX301LA, for example. The Apple SSD with the designation SM0256F uses a controller (S4LNO53X01-8030) and memory chips (K9HFGY8S5C-XCK0) from Samsung. 

The AS SSD overall score shows that the Samsung SSD does not have to hide behind two SanDisk X110s (RAID 0) in the Zenbook UX301. The RAID configuration only managed a 16% higher score and only reached between 58% and 94% of the performance in the copy benchmark. A quick look at the results shows that Apple's solution is especially fast in sequential operations. Single 4K operations are however not the strong suit of the drive. 

Despite this 4K problem, the Samsung SSD shows very good results in the Tracing benchmarks of PCMark 7 and 8 and can take a top spot in our charts. 

Samsung SSD in the Retina MBP13
AS SSD
4K Read (sort by value)
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
16.2 MB/s ∼12%
Apple MacBook Air 11 inch 2013-06 1.7 GHz 256 GB
14.28 MB/s ∼11%
Apple MacBook Air 13 inch 2013 MD760D/A
13.46 MB/s ∼10%
Apple MacBook Air 11 inch 2013-06 MD711D/A
15.36 MB/s ∼12%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2012-10
15.77 MB/s ∼12%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2012-06
13.09 MB/s ∼10%
Asus Zenbook UX301
27.78 MB/s ∼21%
Score Total (sort by value)
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
1112 Points ∼58%
Apple MacBook Air 11 inch 2013-06 1.7 GHz 256 GB
805 Points ∼42%
Apple MacBook Air 13 inch 2013 MD760D/A
612 Points ∼32%
Apple MacBook Air 11 inch 2013-06 MD711D/A
709 Points ∼37%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2012-10
690 Points ∼36%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2012-06
650 Points ∼34%
Asus Zenbook UX301
1297 Points ∼68%
PCMark 7 - System Storage (sort by value)
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
5545 Points ∼78%
Apple MacBook Air 11 inch 2013-06 1.7 GHz 256 GB
5364 Points ∼75%
Apple MacBook Air 13 inch 2013 MD760D/A
5465 Points ∼77%
Apple MacBook Air 11 inch 2013-06 MD711D/A
5257 Points ∼74%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2012-10
5246 Points ∼74%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2012-06
5201 Points ∼73%
Asus Zenbook UX301
5389 Points ∼76%

Legend

 
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10 Intel Core i5-4258U, Intel Iris Graphics 5100, Apple SSD SM0256F
 
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10 Intel Core i5-4258U, Intel Iris Graphics 5100, Apple SSD SM0256F
 
Apple MacBook Air 11 inch 2013-06 1.7 GHz 256 GB Intel Core i7-4650U, Intel HD Graphics 5000, Apple SSD SD0256F
 
Apple MacBook Air 13 inch 2013 MD760D/A Intel Core i5-4250U, Intel HD Graphics 5000, Apple SSD SM0128F
 
Apple MacBook Air 11 inch 2013-06 MD711D/A Intel Core i5-4250U, Intel HD Graphics 5000, Apple SSD SM0128F
 
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2012-10 Intel Core i5-3210M, Intel HD Graphics 4000, Apple SSD SM256E (Samsung)
 
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2012-06 Intel Core i7-3615QM, NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M, Apple SSD SM256E (Samsung)
 
Asus Zenbook UX301 Intel Core i7-4558U, Intel Iris Graphics 5100, 2x Sandisk X110 SD6SP1M-128G RAID 0
Apple SSD SM0256F
Sequential Read: 705 MB/s
Sequential Write: 634 MB/s
512K Read: 461 MB/s
512K Write: 571 MB/s
4K Read: 17.4 MB/s
4K Write: 30.9 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 342 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 240 MB/s

Graphics

The integrated Intel Iris Graphics 5100 is the GT3 version of the Haswell GPU with all shaders, but without the dedicated memory from the Iris Pro 5200. The clock is dynamically adjusted between 200 and 1100 MHz via Turbo Boost. By the way, the Core i7 can use another 100 MHz with a maximum clock of 1200 MHz, which should result in a theoretical performance advantage with sufficient cooling.  

Synthetic benchmarks under Windows 8.1 show the performance of the new GPU. The advantage over the HD 4400 (GT2), which is used in many ultrabooks, is impressive. Most review units only manage 70% of the performance and the difference to the old MBP Retina with Intel HD Graphics 4000 is huge. The 2012 Retina only managed 47% of the HD 5100's performance in the 3DMark 11 GPU Test for instance, however, 3DMark 11 is not really affected by memory bandwidth. The HD Graphics 5000 in the MacBook Air is based on the same core with lower clocks; the difference in 3DMark 2013 and 11 is only around 5%. 

3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU (sort by value)
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
Iris Graphics 5100, 4258U, Apple SSD SM0256F
1164 Points ∼7%
Apple MacBook Air 11 inch 2013-06 1.7 GHz 256 GB
HD Graphics 5000, 4650U, Apple SSD SD0256F
1072 Points ∼7%
Apple MacBook Air 13 inch 2013 MD760D/A
HD Graphics 5000, 4250U, Apple SSD SM0128F
1035 Points ∼6%
Apple MacBook Air 11 inch 2013-06 MD711D/A
HD Graphics 5000, 4250U, Apple SSD SM0128F
1050 Points ∼7%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2012-10
HD Graphics 4000, 3210M, Apple SSD SM256E (Samsung)
549 Points ∼3%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2012-06
GeForce GT 650M, 3615QM, Apple SSD SM256E (Samsung)
2151 Points ∼13%
Asus Zenbook UX301
Iris Graphics 5100, 4558U, 2x Sandisk X110 SD6SP1M-128G RAID 0
1279 Points ∼8%
Sony Vaio Pro 13 SVP-1321C5ER
HD Graphics 4400, 4500U, Toshiba HG5d THNSNH512GDNT
698 Points ∼4%
Lenovo ThinkPad T440s 20AQ-S00500
HD Graphics 4400, 4200U, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
722 Points ∼5%
3D Mark
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
7474 points
3DMark 111270 points
3DMark Ice Storm39510 points
3DMark Cloud Gate5286 points
3DMark Fire Strike863 points
Help

Gaming Performance

The immediate rival when it comes to gaming performance under Windows is the Asus UX301, which was equipped with the more powerful Core i7-4558U and the same Iris Graphics 5100 in our review configuration. However, the i7 has a 100 MHz higher GPU clock with Turbo Boost. The gaming benchmarks show mixed results; the Asus was around 5-10% faster in FIFA and Company of Heroes 2, but also 5% slower in Tomb Raider and Total War: Rome II. These results can be affected by cooling, drivers, game patches since our review of the Asus or measuring tolerances. Generally speaking, the gaming performance in Windows is comparable. 

Our benchmark site of the Iris Graphics 5100 shows that current games are usually only playable with lowest details. 

We also tested two games in OS X Mavericks (via Steam). Left 4 Dead 2 was not completely smooth with 19 fps at 2560x1600 (maximum details), but a reduced resolution of 1280x800 improved the situation. Even Civilization V was playable and looked quite nice at 1280x800 with default settings (Medium / Low).

low med.high ultra
Tomb Raider (2013) 64.432.819.710.4fps
Company of Heroes 2 (2013) 18.515.2fps
Total War: Rome II (2013) 4936.727.99.2fps
Fifa 14 (2013) 47.5fps
F1 2013 (2013) 60382915fps
Batman: Arkham Origins (2013) 4425147fps
Battlefield 4 (2013) 36.126.115.35.7fps
Call of Duty: Ghosts (2013) 40.526.510.34.9fps
Thief (2014) 20.813.210.75.1fps
The Elder Scrolls Online (2014) 4626.618.410.1fps
low med.high ultra
Assassin´s Creed IV: Black Flag (2013) 2417.58.94.4fps
GRID: Autosport (2014) 9434.62112.5fps
Risen 3: Titan Lords (2014) 37.320.38.77.3fps

Video Performance

The Core i5-4258U has an integrated hardware decoder for H.264, WMV and VC-1 for videos with a resolution of up to 4K. Apple has unfortunately only used the decoder for H.264 in OS X. However, it worked flawlessly in our test. A 4K 100 Mbps H.264 sample video only results in minimal CPU load and we could not see any problems during playback. A 1080p H.264 video showed a similar CPU load, which confirms the use of the hardware decoder. 

YouTube Flash videos were no problem for the MacBook Pro Retina, either. Even a 4K video did not show any dropped frames and CPU load was quite low.  

VC-1 and WMV are not supported by the standard video player, so we installed the free VLC Player. Playback of 1080p videos in WEBM, WMV and VC-1 produced more CPU load but the playback was smooth. The 4K sample video on the other hand showed the limits of the CPU (full load, jerky playback), which is a sign of missing hardware support.

By the way, you can use the hardware decoder via DXVA-Hooks under Windows 8.1 (via Boot Camp) without restrictions. 

4K video with QuickTime
4K video with QuickTime
4K YouTube video
4K YouTube video
1080p video with QuickTime
1080p video with QuickTime
4K with VLC
4K with VLC
VC-1 with VLC
VC-1 with VLC

Emissions

Fan noise off (27.3 dB(A), 0.93 sone) - up to 6199 rpm (47 dB(A), 5.9 sone)
Fan noise off (27.3 dB(A), 0.93 sone) - up to 6199 rpm (47 dB(A), 5.9 sone)
Fan noise over time during 3DMark06 (up to 42.5 dB(A)), peaks from the environment
Fan noise over time during 3DMark06 (up to 42.5 dB(A)), peaks from the environment

System Noise

Contrary to the old version, Apple only uses a single fan for the new 13-inch Retina. It can convince us with the silent operation; the fan works with inaudible 1200-1300 rpm according to smcFanControl. Our measurement tool cannot differentiate between the device and the ambient noise from a distance of 15 cm (27.3 dB / 0.93 sone). Light workloads did not increase the fan speed, even a 4K video, a YouTube 1080p video and several browser tabs did not change the situation.

We could only see higher speeds under load. A loop of Cinebench R15 Multicore Tests resulted in 1900 rpm at 27.5 dB(A) / 0.95 sone. This is only slightly audible if you put your ear right next to the fan exhaust.

Unigine Heaven Valley 1.0 with Ultra settings resulted in an audible fan noise at 4200 rpm with 36.2 dB(A) and 2.45 sone; still comparatively good results. The system noise is dominated by the air noise, which is very convenient. The maximum system noise under Mac OS X was 42.4 dB(A) / 4 sone with Unigine Valley and Cinebench R15 simultaneously. 

The fan speeds during normal workloads are subjectively much higher under Windows 8.1. 3DMark 06 (see chart further below) even shows a maximum of 42.5 dB(A) (and therefore more than the maximum under Mac OS X). The noise leveled off at a clearly audible 44.5 dB(A) / 4.6 sone during FIFA 14, but the noise characteristic was still pleasant. 

Our usual stress test with Prime95 and FurMark resulted in 5800 rpm and a loud 44.7 dB(A) / 4.8 sone. However, we could not reach the maximum fan speed (6199 rpm with 47.9 dB(A) and 5.9 sone) with an ambient temperature of 22 °C (71.6 °F). This means there is still some thermal headroom for hot summer days. 

Overall, we are really convinced by the noise development of the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro. The device is usually silent in most scenarios without GPU load under Mac OS X. More load leads to an acceptable noise without a pulsating fan. 

Noise Level

Idle 27.4 / 27.4 / 27.4 dB(A)
HDD 27.4 dB(A)
Load 42.5 / 44.7 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    Arta + ECM-8000 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

A low fan speed combined with an aluminum case is usually a problem for the temperatures. Apple is also known for accepting higher temperatures. 

However, light workloads (for example idle or web browsing) are no problem at all. The whole case remains conveniently cool in our test. Compared to the predecessor, our measurements are slightly lower and most of the reviewed subnotebooks cannot keep up with the new Retina either. 

The temperatures are still reasonable under load. Especially the important palm rest stays very cool in all situations. The Haswell notebook shows an improvement over its predecessor and can also beat the average result of the other subnotebooks. 

The hot spot is once again around the fan exhaust at the right area above the keyboard. 

The internal temperatures also show the different fan controls of Windows 8.1 and OS X Mavericks. While the CPU only reached up to 85 °C (185 °F) in our stress test under Windows, we could determine temperatures of up to 93 °C (199.4 °F) for the Core i5 with OS X, especially during gaming. 

Throttling was however no problem, neither with Windows nor with OS X. Despite the inaudible fan, even the 13th run of Cinebench R15 Multi shows the expected result (no decrease in performance, 1.5% margin of fluctuation for the results). HWInfo64 under Windows still indicated a core clock of 2.3 GHz after one hour of maximum load, and a following benchmark showed the expected results. 

Max. Load
 38 °C43 °C40 °C 
 37 °C39 °C33 °C 
 29 °C30 °C29 °C 
Maximum: 43 °C
Average: 35.3 °C
40 °C36 °C33 °C
37 °C37 °C34 °C
32 °C32 °C32 °C
Maximum: 40 °C
Average: 34.8 °C
Power Supply (max.)  56 °C | Room Temperature 21.8 °C | Fluke 62 Mini
Idle Upper Side
Thermography of the MBPr13 - Idle - Upper Side
Idle Bottom
Thermography of the MBPr13 - Idle - Bottom

Speakers

The integrated speakers are very loud with up to 80 dB(A) / 44.4 sone. Due to their size, they obviously lack bass, but the overall sound experience is sufficient for occasional music playback. 

The sound system is also significantly better than the old MBP 13 with a Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz. It is louder (36 vs. 44 sone) and produces a richer sound experience. The Logitech speaker Lapdesk is similarly loud with 41 sone, but produces more bass and therefore a better sound. 

The integrated headset port had no problems with high-impedance AKG K701 headphones; volume was sufficient and we could not determine any background noises. 

MacBook Pro 13 Retina White Noise
MacBook Pro 13 Retina White Noise
MacBook Pro 13 Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz White Noise
MacBook Pro 13 Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz White Noise
Logitech Speaker Lapdesk White Noise
Logitech Speaker Lapdesk White Noise

Energy Management

Power Consumption

Compared to the subnotebook class average we can see that new Retina is more frugal during idle. The minimum consumption is only beaten by the MacBook Air 11 and the Sony Vaio Pro 13. We can however see the effects of the powerful CPU and GPU under load, where the Retina can be found at the bottom of the charts next to subnotebooks with a dedicated GPU like the Samsung Ultra Touch 740U3E or the Satellite L840-15L. 

A full recharge of the MBP13 took around two hours with light use and 60% of the capacity was available after only 54 minutes. 

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.0 / 0.2 Watt
Idle 2.8 / 8.8 / 9 Watt
Load 58 / 60.6 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Runtime

Battery runtimes are certainly a highlight of the MacBook Pro Retina 13. Despite the powerful Core i5 CPU, the Apple device is amongst the best subnotebooks during idle and in the WLAN Test. Only load shows the high consumption of the powerful hardware. But you also get the full performance on battery in return, while many competitors are artificially throttled by the manufacturer. 

OS X Mavericks comes standard without Flash Player. Without it, the Retina managed 51 minutes more in our WLAN Test (YouTube video playback with HTML 5, Flash advertisements were missing) than with the installed Flash Player. 

A comparison with the subnotebook competition shows that the Apple product has a big advantage in the WLAN scenario. The Retina is only beaten by the 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air and far ahead of the next notebooks in line, the ThinkPad Edge E145 with a slower E1-2500 and then the EliteBook Folio 9470M.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
25h 35min
WiFi Surfing
9h 29min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
7h 47min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 39min
Battery Runtime - WLAN (sort by value)
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
Iris Graphics 5100, 4258U, Apple SSD SM0256F
569 min ∼21%
Apple MacBook Air 11 inch 2013-06 1.7 GHz 256 GB
HD Graphics 5000, 4650U, Apple SSD SD0256F
801 min ∼30%
Apple MacBook Air 13 inch 2013 MD760D/A
HD Graphics 5000, 4250U, Apple SSD SM0128F
623 min ∼23%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2012-10
HD Graphics 4000, 3210M, Apple SSD SM256E (Samsung)
402 min ∼15%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2012-06
GeForce GT 650M, 3615QM, Apple SSD SM256E (Samsung)
364 min ∼13%
Asus Zenbook UX301
Iris Graphics 5100, 4558U, 2x Sandisk X110 SD6SP1M-128G RAID 0
385 min ∼14%

Verdict

The MacBook Pro 13 with Retina Display is an excellent notebook. Compared to the predecessor it is now thinner and lighter with better performance and longer battery runtimes. Case, input devices, emissions and the screen are still the benchmark in many respects. However, there are also some drawbacks. Our test showed the average WLAN performance and especially the maintainability and reparability are a big problem. We also did not like the poor Windows support via Boot Camp.

The biggest competitor is obviously Apple's MacBook Air 13. It offers slightly more screen area with 1440x900 pixels compared to the "Best (Retina)" resolution. The resolution scaling of the Retina however works really well, so this is not a serious drawback. This leaves the lower weight against the better performance and the much better display. 

Asus' Zenbook Infinity UX301LA, with similar hardware equipment, is the biggest competitor when looking at Windows devices. It is slightly lighter, but has shorter battery runtimes in return. Other high-resolution notebooks like Lenovo's Yoga 2 Pro should also arrive soon. As ultrabooks, these devices also offer a touchscreen and can sometimes (in the case of the Yoga) even be used as a tablet.  

Thanks to the price cut by Apple, the MacBook Pro is surprisingly competitive in comparison. With similar specs, the Core i7 version of the MBP 13, for instance, is currently cheaper than a Zenbook Infinity UX301 and even a Yoga 2 Pro is currently only slightly less expensive because of the weaker processor. 

Comment this article:

Appendix

Openbenchmarking.org benchmarks under OS X and Ubuntu
Openbenchmarking.org benchmarks under OS X and Ubuntu
In Review: Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 Late 2013, purchased from the Apple Store
In Review: Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 Late 2013, purchased from the Apple Store

Specifications

Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Intel Lynx Point-LP
:: Memory
8192 MB, DDR3L 800MHz 11-11-11-28 Dual-Channel
:: Graphics adapter
Intel Iris Graphics 5100, Core: 200-1100 MHz
:: Display
13.3 inch 16:10, 2560x1440 pixel, APPA020, IPS, glossy: yes
:: Harddisk
Apple SSD SM0256F, 256 GB UXM2JA1Q, PCIe, 232 GB free
:: Soundcard
Intel Lynx Point-LP - High Definition Audio Controller
:: Connections
2 USB 3.0, 2 Thunderbolt, 1 HDMI, 2 DisplayPort, Audio Connections: Headset port (digital/analog), Card Reader: SD card, Sensors: Ambient Light,
:: Networking
Broadcom 802.11ac (a b g n ac), 4.0 Bluetooth
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 18 x 314 x 219
:: Weight
1.563 kg Power Supply: 0.247 kg
:: Battery
71.8 Wh Lithium-Polymer
Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 540 h
:: Price
1499 Euro
:: Operating System
Apple OS X 10.9 Mavericks
:: Additional features
Webcam: 720p FaceTime HD, Speakers: Stereo, Keyboard: Chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, Microfiber cloth, iLife

 

No visible backlight bleeding.
No visible backlight bleeding.
The single fan is very quiet at low speeds.
The single fan is very quiet at low speeds.
You can replace the WLAN/Bluetooth module from Broadcom, at least in theory.
You can replace the WLAN/Bluetooth module from Broadcom, at least in theory.
The soldered Haswell CPU includes GPU, Northbridge and two processor cores.
The soldered Haswell CPU includes GPU, Northbridge and two processor cores.
You cannot replace the soldered memory - in this case 8 GB DDR3 RAM @ 800 MHz.
You cannot replace the soldered memory - in this case 8 GB DDR3 RAM @ 800 MHz.
The multi-stage keyboard illumination can be controlled by the ambient light sensor.
The multi-stage keyboard illumination can be controlled by the ambient light sensor.
OpenGL drivers for OS X are better than the Boot Camp drivers for Windows.
OpenGL drivers for OS X are better than the Boot Camp drivers for Windows.
smcFanControl shows up to 97°C for the CPU.
smcFanControl shows up to 97°C for the CPU.
Pentalobe screws secure the bottom cover.
Pentalobe screws secure the bottom cover.
You should avoid light sources from behind with the glossy display.
You should avoid light sources from behind with the glossy display.
The ports are located at both sides.
The ports are located at both sides.
They are far at the back, so attached cables should not be a problem.
They are far at the back, so attached cables should not be a problem.
Familiar rubber feet for good grip.
Familiar rubber feet for good grip.
The fan exhaust is at the back.
The fan exhaust is at the back.
Thick USB sticks can lift the case.
Thick USB sticks can lift the case.
Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 are supported by Boot Camp. But the installation can be tricky at the moment.
Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 are supported by Boot Camp. But the installation can be tricky at the moment.
Even video rendering does not increase the system noise of the MacBook Pro.
Even video rendering does not increase the system noise of the MacBook Pro.
The glass touchpad is still the benchmark - not least because of the good software support under OS X.
The glass touchpad is still the benchmark - not least because of the good software support under OS X.
Outdoor use under direct sunlight can be tricky.
Outdoor use under direct sunlight can be tricky.
There are also reflections indoors.
There are also reflections indoors.
The small depression to open the notebook is slightly different compared to non-Retina MacBook Pros.
The small depression to open the notebook is slightly different compared to non-Retina MacBook Pros.
Multitouch with OS X is a great experience.
Multitouch with OS X is a great experience.
Unusual keyboard labeling for Windows users.
Unusual keyboard labeling for Windows users.
SD cards stick out from the case.
SD cards stick out from the case.
The new MagSafe 2 is now thinner.
The new MagSafe 2 is now thinner.
MacBook Pro Retina 13 versus 15
MacBook Pro Retina 13 versus 15
You can clearly see the size difference.
You can clearly see the size difference.

Similar Notebooks

Devices from a different Manufacturer and/or with a different CPU

Devices with Same Screen Size and/or Weight

» Acer Aspire V3-331-P982 Notebook Review Update
HD Graphics (Haswell), Pentium 3556U
» Acer Aspire V3-371-36M2 Notebook Review
HD Graphics 4400, Core i3 4030U
» Toshiba Portégé R30-A-15C Notebook Review
HD Graphics 4600, Core i7 4600M
» Lenovo M30-70 Notebook Review
HD Graphics 4400, Core i3 4010U
» Lenovo Yoga 2 13 Convertible Review
HD Graphics 4400, Core i3 4010U

Links

Compare Prices

Amazon: Invalid XML response.

Amazon.com

Show results on Amazon.com

Pricerunner n.a.

Pro

+Very quiet
+Long battery runtimes
+Excellent unibody chassis
+High-resolution IPS display with excellent OS support
+Great input devices
 

Cons

-Virtually no upgradeability
-Difficult to maintain and to repair because of pentalobe screws
-Glossy display
-Only 12 months warranty and expensive upgrade to three years

Shortcut

What we like

Apple sets the benchmark in its class once again. 

What we miss

A matte display - at least as an option.

What surprises us

That we could not find many negative aspects.

The competition

Obviously the MacBook Air 13". Amongst Windows devices high-resolution ultrabooks like the Asus Zenbook Infinity UX301LA (Review)Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro, Samsung Ativ Book 9 or the Toshiba Kirabook 13.

Rating

Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
06/27/2014 v4
Klaus Hinum

Chassis
94 / 98 → 96%
Keyboard
92%
Pointing Device
99%
Connectivity
73 / 95 → 77%
Weight
68 / 78 → 77%
Battery
92%
Display
89%
Games Performance
70 / 85 → 82%
Application Performance
88%
Temperature
85 / 91 → 93%
Noise
90%
Audio
82 / 91 → 90%
Camera
63 / 85 → 74%
Average
83%
89%
Subnotebook *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Review Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 Late 2013 Notebook
Author: Klaus Hinum, 2013-11- 5 (Update: 2014-01- 2)