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2012 MacBook Pro 15-inch

The June 2012 15" MacBook Pro quad-core Intel Core i7 is an alternative to the MacBook Pro with Retina display, also a 15" model.

Both are the most compelling laptops for photographs and videographers ever produced by Apple. Following on the heels of Apple’s already-excellent quad-core 2011 Macbook Pro, they make further improvement with slightly faster CPUs and the very useful USB3 ports for fast external drives, a key feature for backup and storage expansion.

Price and features

The standard model appears to cost $700 less than the Retina model, but the actual price is more or less the same when configured similarly.

The Retina model offers several key advantages:

  • The magnificent Retina display (but watch for burn-in problems, my replacement turned out fine).
  • Two Thunderbolt ports (1 in the non-Retina model), but the FW800 and ethernet adapters eat up one or both of these ports unless an external expansion box is used.
  • Firewire 800 and ethernet require external adapters via Thunderbolt.
  • Two USB3 ports, one on the right hand side.
  • 1.1 pounds lower weight.

On the other hand, the conventional 15" non-Retina MacBook Pro offers:

  • Choice of hard drive or SSD in a wide variety of capacities, upgradeable with standard 2.5" hard drives or SSDs.
  • One or two internal hard drives or SSDs (2nd one requires removal of the optical drive). Thus, RAID-0 striping or RAID-1 mirroring are possible internally, or an internal backup drive, etc.
  • Built-in Firewire 800 and gigabit Ethernet.
  • Anti-glare screen option.
  • Upgradeable memory to 16GB.

The screen on the Retina model is appealing, but the dual-drive capability and built-in FW800 and ethernet are attractive for some field uses. That said, my choice for my own use is definitely the Retina model— I love the screen quality.

  MacBook Pro 15" 2.6 GHz MacBook Pro 15" Retina Display 2.6 GHz

+ $170 for 16GB memory
+ $564 for OWC 480GB SSD
= $2933

$2999 with Apple 16GB, Apple 500GB SSD
Optical/DVD drive built-in optional external drive for $79
Screen 1440 X 900 glossy screen
1680 X 1050 hi-res anti-glare (or glossy)
2880 X 1800 Retina display
(settable to 1920 or 1680 or 1440 screen for unmodified apps)
Memory 8/12/16G, upgradeable at any time 8GB or 16GB. Non-upgradable.
Be sure to order with 16GB.
Drives Replaceable with standard SATA 2.5" drive;
can use dual internal drives SSD or hard drives
Single non-standard slot, Apple offers SSD only up to 768GB.
Thunderbolt ports 1 2
Firewire 800 YES NO, but optional adapter promised (Thunderbolt to FW800)
Ethernet YES NO, but fast Thunderbolt to ethernet adapter
USB3 2 USB3 ports, both on left side 2 USB3 ports, one on each side
Audio Audio line in + Audio line out Audio line in + Audio line out
Apparently a combo port (tip, ring, ring, sleeve) stereo out + mic
Kensington keylock slot YES NO
Weight 5.6 pounds 4.46 pounds
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