Boot Camp Behavior

When the MacBook Pro with Retina Display first started shipping Apple hadn’t even released Boot Camp drivers for the system. Since then Apple has uploaded a Windows Support package to its servers, and the Boot Camp Assistant will give you drivers for everything in the machine should you ask for it.

The driver bundle and Boot Camp Assistant work with both Windows 7 and the Windows 8 Release Preview, although Apple only explicitly offers support for the former. You don’t have to do anything to make the Windows 8 RP work with the Boot Camp Assistant, just supply the Win 8 RP ISO instead of the Windows 7 image during the Boot Camp setup and you’re all set.

Like all previous MacBook Pro Boot Camp installs, only the discrete GPU is “connected” under Windows. Apple relies on a lot of its own software to switch between processor and discrete graphics which obviously isn’t made available under Windows, thus you only get the dGPU. Apple uses NVIDIA’s 296.49 drivers for the GeForce GT 650M under Windows. Since the standard Windows desktop doesn’t support integer DPI scaling (see update below as you can force 2.0x scaling) Apple picked the next best option and configures Windows for 1.5x DPI scaling and 2880 x 1800 as the defaults. The result is a desktop that looks like this:

At the largest text scaling setting Windows is remarkably usable on the 15.4-inch display at 2880 x 1800. Unfortunately as I mentioned in the Zenbook Prime review, Windows 7 and third party handling of DPI scaling is hardly elegant. While applications that aren’t Retina-aware under OS X tend to simply have blurry text, those that don’t behave properly with DPI scaling under Windows just look odd. Some text elements will be huge and overflow outside of their normal borders, while others will ignore the scaling setting entirely and just be too small. It’s passable in a pinch but suboptimal for certain.


Windows 8 RP on the rMBP. Note the Skyfall trailer is in a full 1080p window

Windows 8 does a somewhat better job, but only under Metro. Metro supports integer DPI scaling at 1 and 2x factors, similar to OS X. With DPI scaling enabled under Windows 8, Metro looks like it would at 1440 x 900 - similar to the default setting for the Retina MacBook Pro under OS X. 


2
00% DPI scaling under Windows 7

Update: As many of you have correctly pointed out, Windows allows you to specify custom DPI scaling modes including an integer 2.0 setting. The result is the same "1440 x 900"-like desktop you get under OS X. Application compatibility still appears to be an issue, check out the gallery below for some examples. Overall Windows is very usable on the rMBP, but just as under OS X the overall experience really depends on application support.

Software Funniness

With the Retina MacBook Pro I get the distinct impression it was launched before the software was ready to support it. Apple did an amazing job enabling Retina support in all of the iLife applications, but iWork isn’t ready for it yet. The system technically launched without Boot Camp support although that was soon added. Then there are the UI performance issues in applications like Safari under the currently available version of Lion. There are also occasional graphical glitches under Lion. the occasional flashing of UI elements, nothing major but just not the polish we’re used to from Apple. Once again, Mountain Lion addresses a lot of this and is only a month out but you still have to deal with reality in the interim.

I also had a strange experience where the CPU clocks on the system magically decided to get clamped down to around 1.2GHz on battery power. A simple reset of the PRAM and SMC fixed the problem but it was odd behavior for sure. I can’t completely fault Apple for this one, as I know I subjected the rMBP to a bunch of strange tests over the course of the past week and a half.

If you’re buying today, just be aware that the best experience will come with Mountain Lion and even then you’ll have to wait an unspecified amount of time for Retina-aware app updates.

Driving the Retina Display: A Performance Discussion All Flash Storage
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  • seapeople - Sunday, June 24, 2012 - link

    Wow, is that the Sony everyone here has been harping about "outdoing Apple" years ago?

    Reading that review basically says that while the general specs of that Sony are outstanding, every other possible aspect of user experience (keyboard, hinge design, trackpad, thermals, and noise) is completely terrible.

    Oh, and it looks like it costs more than the rMBP and comes loaded with bloatware.

    There's a reason that didn't get an Editor's choice award, and it's not some great conspiracy...
    Reply
  • OCedHrt - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    Not really. You can buy it without the bloatware, you just need to select Windows Pro. They got a review unit from Sony, and Sony shipped them their "consumer" version which is loaded with bloatware (although I agree, that is even more reason to not have bloatware).

    The hinge is by design and something Sony engineers are quite proud of. Not everyone likes it when something is different, especially when it comes to keyboards.

    Simply read the comments (http://www.anandtech.com/Show/Index/5530?cPage=5&a... and you can see only the reviewer had an issue with the hinge that he couldn't even explain very well.

    I have been using the Z1 for 2 years now and the experience is awesome. It may just take some time to get used to a small laptop.

    Trackpad can glitch every once in a while and for noise you can make it silent in the Sony control center (change fan from performance to silent).

    There is always going to be fan noise in a high end laptop when stressing the system. This applies to the rMBP as well (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=13918...
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    Moron. Reply
  • mlambert890 - Thursday, November 29, 2012 - link

    Were you two on the design team of the Z? LOL!

    You just called the guy a moron for pointing out why *ANAND* didnt like the Z.

    OK you guys are right. The Z is amazing and it is a crime against humanity that only you and your fellow crusader "get it". Sony should be the #1 PC maker rather than approaching junk bond status and it is only Apples "marketing hype" their ability to "buy off" guys like Anand and the "stupidity" of everyone on earth (except you two) that keeps Apple profitable. What an amazingly arrogant pile of crap that is

    Im a huge Vaio fan and Im 100% sure Ive spent more on them than you two have combined over the years and even *I* think the two of you sound nuts.
    Reply
  • UltraTech79 - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    You're talking out your ass. Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    Amazing argument.

    Truth hurts dude, sorry
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    Nothing you noted is cutting edge, and it is also thicker and heavier than Apple's machines Reply
  • OCedHrt - Sunday, June 24, 2012 - link

    How is 2.5 lbs and 0.66" thick thicker and heavier than Apple's machines? Apple does not have a single laptop lighter and thinner than Sony's Z. Not even the ridiculously slow MBA can compete. Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    Since when were Ivy Bridge i5 and i7 CPUs ridiculously slow? Reply
  • Spunjji - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    Comparatively? Since forever. Stop trying to undermine people's valid arguments by failing to read them, jackass. Reply

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