MacBook Pro 15″ Retina Display Awesomeness


I just received my new MacBook Pro 15″ with the Retina display.

First, I have to mention how blown away I was that Apple has a feature (the “Migration Assistant“) that lets you clone your last computer. An hour or two after setting up, the new MacBook Pro had all the software, data, and settings (well, almost all) from my previous computer, a MacBook Air. All done over my home wireless network (though our sysadmin here at Columbia strongly recommended a wired connection, my Air doesn’t have a port and I didn’t have a dongle).

Yes, text is just as beautiful as on the iPad3. So are photos and images. Everything else I use is looking awfully pixelated in comparison (such as this blog post I’m typing into Safari on my 27″ iMac).

The biggest downside is that it’s big (15″ diagonal screen vs. 13″ on my MacBook Air) and heavy (4.5 lbs vs. 2.9 lbs for the Air). Though big isn’t so bad — the 15” screen seems luxurious after the Air’s rather cramped confines. Some software’s not up to the display, so the text looks really bad on the new MacBook Pro. Firefox and Thunderbird, for instance, look terrible. Overall, it’s just not as nice to handle as the Air. (Not to mention Columbia slapping the ugliest anti-theft stickers ever on it. Now I look like both a hipster clone and a corporate drone at the same time.) The magsafe cable has a very strong magnet compared to the Air’s and sticks out a bit more. And to add insult to injury, they’re not interchangeable, so we had to throw more money toward Cupertino.

I’d say the price is a downside (mine came out to about $2700 before Columbia discounts, including AppleCare). Even if I were buying this myself it’d be worth it, because I’ll average at least 20 hours/week use for two or more years.

Additional upsides are 16GB of memory and four cores. With that, it runs the Stan C++ unit tests in under 3 minutes (it takes around 12 minutes on the Air and the Air starts buzzing like an angry fly). The HDMI port saves a dongle, but then the change to Thunderbolt meant buying another one. I don’t know that I’ll get much use of out of USB 3.0 (the iPad 3 is only USB 2.0). I also get 256GB of SSD, though I never filled the 128GB I had on the Air. The ethernet port and HDMI port are handy — two less dongles compared to the MacBook Air if you need either of these ports.

I haven’t heard the fan. I’ve heard about it — it’s asymmetrical, which according to my signal processing geek friends, reduces the noise tremendously. It’s either super quiet or the machine’s so powerful the Stan unit tests don’t stress it out.

3 Responses to “MacBook Pro 15″ Retina Display Awesomeness”

  1. Daniel Says:

    Thanks for supporting a company that destroys our freedom by patent suits and actively working against any form of freedom and openness :-(

  2. Bob Carpenter Says:

    I’m a bit sensitive on this point. See this blog post:

    But let’s not draw the line at Apple. To support freedom and openness, I’d have to also (a) stop listening to mainstream music and watching Hollywood movies, (b) stop buying from Amazon, (c) stop using Java, (d) stop searching on Google.

    I’m stuck on which country I should live in, though — the first world seems to be in league with the U.S. in spying on its citizens and enforcing copyright and patent law.

    Not to say that this excuses my poor ethical behavior.

    • penguiner Says:

      I don’t mean to gang up on you, or dissuade you from your choices, but I stay away from Apple and Microsoft out of an intense distaste for patent trolls and bullies.

      a) I have failed in avoiding the MAFIAA
      b) Though Amazon enforces the one-click patent on others, the other websites are not really any less functional as far as I am concerned. So I don’t resent Amazon that much.
      c) Google’s recent win against Oracle gives me the impression that Oracle cannot be a bully here, no matter how much it wishes to be. Java is kosher :-).
      d) Apart from its tracking of users, I consider Google a ‘clean’ company. Though I don’t mind Google targeting ads to me, I don’t want my data to ever be available to my government. Since Google does not let me turn off tracking, I use Google only indirectly, via

      I did read your comments from 2011. Resizing windows in Linux is not a feat of hand-eye-mouse coordination if you use the right window manager and the right theme. You can make each border as thick as you want. I recommend a theme with a thick bottom border. As for myself, I prefer the minimal look-and-feel of tiling window managers — everything is so much quicker on awesome, xmonad, i3, etc.

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