final rating

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Criteria Comments Rating
  • Speed and features Speed is pretty good, but discarded features detract from usability. good
  • Design and form factor To achieve the slim form factor, Apple has crippled it as a "pro" machine, by omitting the optical drive, RJ45, Firewire, 2nd audio socket & security slot. poor
  • Battery life Good, but not as good as expected in a machine where the only moving part is the fan. good
  • Display The Retina Display is Brilliant, but would benefit from more V-RAM for a GPU that can be called on to run 2 external monitors on top of the high-res Retina one. great!
  • Durability It is likely that the scary hot running temps will adversely affect life expectancy. poor
  • Expandability Upgrade and repair sacrificed for the sake of a few mm of thickness. Portable, but the "bag of bits" one is forced to carry to restore functionality isn't. poor
  • Noise Very quiet in normal operation, but this changes when the fan struggles to cool it when working hard. good
  • Portability (size / weight) The machine itself is light and portable, but the necessary bag of hubs, adaptors and external drives cancels this out. so-so
Detailed review
The MB Pro R would have been a near perfect "Pro" machine if Apple had simply added the Retina display, USB3 and extra Thunderbolt port the the previous model. The sacrifices made to strip a few mm off the thickness, take the gloss off what would otherwise have been an excellent Pro portable.
Whoever decided that no user would want a security slot to secure their $3k+ portable computer should be beaten severely about the head. "Find my Mac" is a poor substitute for preventing it walking in the first place.
The Retina display is beautiful, but the GPU struggles with 1 GB of V-RAM when asked to run external displays. You'll be amused when you see Windows on the high res 15" display through a virtual machine.
Speed is good, but largely due to the SSD. Dumped is the optical drive. There is no RJ45, only one 3.5 mm audio socket, two Thunderbolt, USB 3, but only two of them and no Bluetooth iPhone connectivity. It runs frighteningly hot. With RAM soldered to the motherboard and HDD glued to the chassis, don't forget your Apple Care.
Apple has put form ahead of function in the design of this laptop. Be prepared to buy a large bag to carry all the drives and adaptors required to replace those omitted from your thin, light laptop. Fortunately, 3rd party suppliers like Lacie and Canopus are making Thunderbolt hubs to restore some of the missing ports. Belkins, the most comprehensive, missed its 4th qtr 2012 release target and looks like it will miss the 1st qtr 2013 date.
I like my 15" MB R Pro, but wish I could have purchased a 2012 17" MB Pro, with SSD, two or three Thunderbolt ports, four USB 3 ports and a RAM upgrade.

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Hi, thanks for your good review. I miss another thunderbolt and usb 3 socket as well. FYI, you can get a refurb 17" mbp on the apple ebay store