General Performance

The Retina MacBook Pro can complete a full boot from power off to usable desktop in just over 17 seconds. It’s a hair faster than last year’s MacBook Airs, a bit quicker than the old SSD equipped MacBook Pro, and night and day compared to any Mac with a hard drive. Four years ago I said that Solid State Drives were the single biggest upgrade you could do for your computer, and it couldn’t be any more true today.

Boot Performance

The Retina MBP behaves more like the 3rd gen MacBook Air in how it goes to sleep and wakes up. Both happen virtually instantaneously, and if your battery dies while asleep you don’t get the greyed out screen with progress bar as your environment is restored from disk - it just appears, taking a couple of seconds for the clock to update and everything else to come to life. It’s a small but subtle change that tells you the rMBP is in a distinctly different class. Apple’s tight control over firmware and storage interface help it deliver up to 30 days of standby power, a number I’ll really need to verify one of these days.

3D Rendering Performance - Cinebench R11.5

Raw CPU performance is up handsomely over the 2011 MacBook Pros, at least in their standard configurations. The 2.6GHz chip in the $2799 rMBP can turbo up to 3.6GHz when only a single core is active, delivering a 13% increase in performance over the previous generation 2.2GHz part. Compared to the upgraded 2.4GHz Sandy Bridge Core i7 from last year (not pictured) however, I would expect a sub-10% advantage.

3D Rendering Performance - Cinebench R11.5

With all four cores active the 2.6GHz chip can run at up to 3.4GHz, which it regularly hits as long as the Kepler GPU stays asleep. The 2.2GHz Sandy Bridge based 2011s we’re comparing to on the other hand can only turbo up to 2.8GHz. Here the advantage is a more tangible 19%, although once again if you are comparing to one of the 2.4GHz parts from last year I would expect notably smaller gains (mid to high single digit percentages). The improved thermal characteristics may allow mobile Ivy Bridge to operate in turbo modes for longer than Sandy Bridge, however I don’t have any data to actually support that claim. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen, it’s just complex to test and model.

While the Cinebench tests are largely CPU bound, many of the following tests are largely influenced by the SSD in the Retina MacBook Pro. Here we see some huge gains, especially compared to older HDD based Macs.

iMovie '11 Performance (Import + Optimize)

iMovie import time is heavily influenced by disk as well as CPU performance. As a result there are big improvements over both the HDD and SSD equipped 2011 MBPs.

iMovie '11 Performance (Export)

Export time is more heavily CPU bound and here the advantage over the previous generation notebooks is pretty much nonexistent.

iPhoto 12MP RAW Import

Our iPhoto import test stresses both disk and CPU, giving the rMBP a tangible advantage compared to the SSD equipped 2011 MBP. None of the dual-core or HDD based Macs stand a chance here.

Adobe Lightroom 3 Performance - Export Preset

Our Lightroom test continues the storage/CPU dependencies as only the SSD equipped 2011 MBP is able to come close to the rMBP’s performance. There’s not much of a performance advantage here when you compare similarly equipped systems though. Ivy Bridge may have been a good upgrade from a power standpoint, but it doesn’t tell a significantly different performance story in all cases.

Adobe Photoshop CS5 Performance

The rMBP cranks through our Photoshop workload fairly quickly. The performance advantages here are likely due to increased memory, a much faster SSD and obvious CPU speed improvements as well.

Final Cut Pro X - Import, Optimize, Analyze Video

The same holds true for the advantages in our Final Cut Pro X test. As a default configuration the $2799 MacBook Pro with Retina Display is easily the fastest notebook Apple has ever shipped. It’s only if you had an upgraded 2011 model (perhaps with an aftermarket SSD?) that you’ll be unimpressed by the move.

I can’t stress enough how much the new SSD improves the overall experience. It’s just so much faster than what Apple used to ship.

WiFi, SD Card Reader & Speaker Improvements GPU Performance


View All Comments

  • blackmagnum - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    New super resolutions are coming to notebook/ laptop computers. Thanks to Apple and their forward looking business sense. Wonder when it comes to PCs..... with Windows 8? Reply
  • Fleeb - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    I don't get it, I mean, what if another manufacturer thought of the idea first. I guess it wouldn't sell then. Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    It probably wouldn't happen since other manufacturers are more focused on cutting corners and driving costs down as much as possible. Great for making their products more accessible but not so good for putting in bleeding edge technology. Reply
  • Johnmcl7 - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    Rubbish, there are plenty of other companies who are far more innovative than Apple whose machines look basic in comparison - Sony's older Z series had a very high resolution 13.1in 1080p screen, blu-ray writer, quad SSDs in RAID 0, integrated and discrete graphics card and the fastest of te dual core i7's while still smaller and lighter than Apple's 13in machines and that was a couple of years ago. Apple aren't even close to touching most of its technology and probably never will.

  • tayb - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    Link to prove the existence of that product? It does not seem possible to put all of that into a 13" chassis that is thinner than the incredibly thin MB. Honestly, it doesn't possible to fit all of that into a 13" model in general. Reply
  • DeciusStrabo - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    and that's the third iteration of it, 1080p 13.3" - they did it 4 years ago already.
  • tayb - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    That doesn't have 4 SSDs, which was the biggest red flag in my eyes. Reply
  • Turbobusa311Hp - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    I remember that laptop. It didn't have 4 separate SSD's like you are thinking, but individual chips in a RAID 0. The Signature model was like $4700 though. Reply
  • DJTryHard - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    It had quad Raid 0, 4 separate chips.

    To summarize:
    Core i7 620M
    13.3inch 1080p matte panel
    256gb ssd in quad raid 0
    6gb ram
    geforce GT 330M w/ 1gb vram
    optical drive

    and all this was in 2010...
  • extide - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    i7 620M is Dualcore Arrandale, not Quad.

    Anyways, yeah, that laptop is pretty sweet for it's day.

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