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Mac Book Pro with Retina Display — Price Drop and Recommendation

See my review of the MacBook Pro with Retina display.

The MBP with Retina display (MBPR) is my favorite laptop yet; it’s what I use for travel.

The MBPR screen is in another league in terms of its sheer quality for displaying images: the pixel density along with the color and contrast make the retina grade images that are presented at in its various publications look stunning compared to any conventional display. is a web leader in retina grade images; most sites still display blurry-looking images on the MBPR, even Apple and just about every photography site.

Getting one

The recent Apple price drops are matched with instant rebates at B&H:

AppleCare 50% off at B&H

Caution on which model 'Retina'

For use with Photoshop and Lightroom or any performance sensitive work:

  • Consider ONLY Retina models with 16GB memory, because the 8GB model is not upgradeable.
  • Consider the 15" Retina model only because the 13" model can only be had with 8GB memory (and is also limited to 512GB SSD).
  • It is not necessary to have the last “bump” of processor speed, but given the total system cost of a 16GB MBPR including AppleCare, it makes some sense.
  • If the spending choice is between 0.1 GHz faster CPU (2.7 vs 2.8) and the next larger SSD, then get the larger SSD.

The 2.3 GHz model is OK, but a little slower— just make sure it has 16GB memory.

Tip: the 2.7 GHz model from 2012 has 8MB on-chip cache vs 6MB cache for the 2013 model also at 2.7 GHz. So the older model can be just a bit faster at the same clock speed and thus appears to be the preferable buy over the 2013 model. However, the 2.8 GHz 2013 model also has the 8MB cache and a faster clock speed, so it is best of all if cost is not an issue.

The Apple SSD and upgrading the SSD

Some very credible information from multiple sources has come to me that the Apple (Samsung) SSD shows intermittent performance glitches when over 75% or so of its capacity is used —

Don’t assume the Apple SSD will be a good performer when full by 75% or more.

  • For storing 500GB or more of stuff, insist on the 768GB SSD.
  • To store up to ~380GB of stuff, the 500GB SSD is OK. More than that, go for 768GB.

OWC has a 480GB SSD Mercury Aura Pro + Envoy Pro upgrade option whose performance will hold up to nearly full (OS X itself becomes an issue over 90% or so ), along with a nifty external bus-powered case (Envoy Pro) in which the extracted Apple SSD can be installed. The OWC SSDs do not “stutter” in performance as they become full.

Also recommended is an external 480GB USB3 bus-powered SSD, which is what I use for a bootable travel backup of the internal SSD in my MBPR. It’s very fast and makes a great companion to the MBPR. A 960GB option can be done externally also, but it is to be used only on certain Macs like the MBPR which supply adequate USB3 bus power.

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