MacBook Pro vs. MacBook Pro Retina: Which Apple should you bite into and why?

13 inch macbook pro vs with retina final

After the glitz, glamor and glitter settled once Apple’s fall hardware reveal extravaganza concluded, we were left with a bevy a new MacBook Pro notebooks tagged at multiple price levels. However, one old soldier remains standing, despite Apple’s new additions.

That’s the non-Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro. Now, we have nothing against companies selling dated tech. If there’s a demand for them, the product is solid and the price is right, there’s a place for somewhat aged gear. Does the non-Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro qualify as a good value buy when compared with oh, say the new base model 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display? Let’s take a look.

How they stack up

Price: Let’s start by laying out the price tags for each MacBook Pro flavor of concern. The 13-inch MacBook Pro without Retina costs $1,200, while the base model 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display will run you just $100 more at $1,300. This begs a key question right off the bat: why is a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina only $100 more expensive than the 13-inch MacBook Pro without Retina? To give you a clearer picture of why this is a significant issue, here’s a pixel resolution comparison: the 13-inch MacBook pro with Retina wields a native resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels. The non-Retina 13-inch MacBook pro? It’s native resolution is 1280 x 800 pixels. That’s four times the resolution for $100 more.

Processor: The $1,300 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display also ships with an Intel Haswell central processor (CPU), which the non-Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro does not. Haswell is Intel’s latest processor and is paired with Iris Pro integrated graphics, which should offer a substantial boost over the Intel HD Graphics 4000 integrated graphics processor (GPU) that you’ll find on the non-Retina MacBook Pro. While the non-Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro offers more storage space in the form of a 500GB 5,400rpm mechanical hard drive, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display offers a significantly speedier 128GB solid-state drive. Got an affinity for HDMI? Then you better cross the non-Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro off your shopping list, because it sure doesn’t include one. The Retina version sure does though.

Drive space: To make up for the discrepancy in hard drive space, you can snag a 500GB external hard drive on for about $40. We wouldn’t be surprised to see prices fall further once Black Friday hits, and we’re betting that you can get by with 128GB for another month and change.

Optical drive: The non-Retina MacBook Pro does include an optical drive that the new one lacks, but if you still make use of discs, you can make up for that by getting an external drive. We found one on Newegg for $30.

Weight: How’s your back? Is it creaky from years of lugging notebooks around? How about that shoulder? Has it been tenderized over time by your need to effectively serve as a tech-hauling urban pack mule? Well, you should know that he non-Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro wears a bulkier frame. The 13-inch MacBook Pro sports dimensions of 12.78 x 8.94 x 0.95 inches, while the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina boasts slimmer measurements of 12.35 x 8.62 x 0.71 inches. The 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is also more than a full pound lighter (3.46 pounds) when compared with the non-Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro (4.5 pounds).

MacBook Pro with Retina is worth the extra $100

To recap: the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display sports double the screen resolution compared with its Retina-less brethren, a newer (and much better) processor, is just over a full pound lighter, sports a speedy SSD and comes with an HDMI port. For an extra $100, that makes the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display a no-brainer buy if you’re trying to decide between that and the 13-inch MacBook Pro without Retina display.

That’s not the say that the 13-inch MacBook Pro sans Retina isn’t a salvageable product from a “why would anyone buy this?” standpoint. It’s just priced too high. If Apple dropped the price to $900 or $1,000, then you could make a strong case for it as a cheaper alternative. At t its current $1,200 price tag it’s not worth it, considering a new, superior alternative can be had for just $100 more.