PROS / Category-leading battery life keeps you working up to 12 hours.
CONS / Apple doesn’t offer any business-focused support options.
VERDICT / The Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina display is a capable business laptop, with great processing and graphics performance and all-day battery life.
The Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina display is the smaller sibling to the Silver Award-winning MacBook Pro 15, and like the larger version, it’s a highly capable business laptop. Unlike the larger model, that workhorse performance is paired with good portability and superb battery life.
The standard model of the MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina comes equipped with an Intel Core i5-5257U processor, a dual-core 2.7GHz CPU. It’s paired with a healthy 8GB of memory. Because it’s a fifth-generation processor from early 2015, it is older than the current sixth-generation processors used by the competition, but it doesn’t lag behind in terms of performance – it actually leads with a solid A rating. In Geekbench 3, the laptop scored 7,113 points, ahead of most competing systems. It completed the Laptop Mag Spreadsheet test in a three minutes 28 seconds, faster than every other business notebook in our review.
If you want to improve the laptop’s capabilities further, the MacBook Pro can also be configured with a faster 2.9GHz Intel Core i5-5287U, or you can step up to a 3.1GHz Intel Core i7-5557U. You can also bump up the RAM to 16GB.
With Intel Iris 6100 graphics, it offers some of the best graphics performance you can get without a dedicated graphics card. Unfortunately, our 3DMark tests are Windows-only, so we have no benchmark results to compare, but our real-world use showed it to be extremely capable – even in image and video editing. You also have the option to connect the MacBook Pro to a secondary display with 4K resolution.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro comes with Apple’s OS X El Capitan, the latest version of the company’s operating system. It’s Apple’s alternative to Windows 10 and comes with a free software productivity suite that includes Pages, Keynotes and Numbers (Apple’s competitors to Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel), along with some fairly robust video and audio editing tools.
Storage is on the small side, coming standard with a 128GB solid-state drive. If you want more space, there are configurations available with 256GB and 512GB, and the last model can be upgraded at purchase to a full 1TB.
Apple’s high-quality construction is as good as it has ever been, with an aluminum unibody chassis that measures 0.71 x 12.35 x 8.62 inches and weighs just 3.48 pounds. While that’s nearly a pound heavier than some of the lightest work laptops we reviewed, it’s still quite portable. It’s made even more so with a category-leading 12 hours of battery life.
The laptop’s 13-inch Retina display boasts a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels, which is higher than full HD but doesn’t match the highest resolution available on competing systems. Despite this, the display is still one of the best around, with the best brightness of the bunch (389 nits) and excellent color accuracy (DeltaE of 1.2). What you won’t find on the MacBook, however, is a touchscreen – Macs don’t support touch input beyond the trackpad.
The laptop has a decent selection of ports, with two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card slot and two Thunderbolt 2 ports, which do double duty as connections for both video and data. There’s no Ethernet port, but networking is available through 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Bluetooth 4.0 offers additional wireless connectivity for audio and other accessories.
Apple covers the MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina display with a one-year warranty, but you can extend coverage to three years with an AppleCare protection plan. Despite the warranty, free phone support is only available for the first 90 days after purchase – the exact support offered to regular consumers and a stark difference from the wealth of support options offered by competitors on other business-class laptops. In fact, Apple doesn’t offer any sort of business-specific support services for its Mac products, even those that are labelled “Pro.” Despite this, in independent testing by our sister site LaptopMag.com, Apple was found to have the best tech support services of any laptop manufacturer, ranking first out of 10 major brands.
The Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina display is found in offices across the country and for good reason. This compact laptop is well suited to professional use, and with its portable design, 12-hour battery life and solid performance, it’s a smart investment for your small business.