It wasn’t just the 13-inch MacBook Pro (with Retina – the old MacBook Pro didn’t get a thing except OS X Mavericks) that got updated today; Apple also updated its flagship 15-inch models.
Inside of the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina, you’ll find much of the same thing that lives inside of its smaller, 13-inch sibling. There’s a 4th generation Intel Core processor, but here you’ll find quad-core Intel Core i7 CPUs, often called Haswell models. More than just Haswell, though, is Apple’s use of Intel’s high-end Crystalwell cores. These CPUs come with 128MB of embedded DRAM on die, acting as a sort of L4 cache.
Likewise, you’ll get Intel’s Iris Pro integrated graphics, which have been almost universally well received – the days of Intel’s integrated graphics being terrible are far behind them. In fact, the Iris Pro GPU is generally considered to be very near last year’s GeForce GT 650m in performance, despite being an integrated solution.
Many rumors suggested that Apple would ship the 15-inch MacBook Pro solely with this integrated solution. It wouldn’t be the first time; they went with an Intel integrated GPU for the 2nd generation of the modern MacBook Air, despite the fact that it was a little worse than the GeForce 320m that it replaced.
Were the rumors correct? Well, sort of. Some models of the 15-inch MacBook Pro will be shipping without a dedicated GPU. If you want to pick up that NVIDIA GeForce GT 750m (which is perfectly capable, though depressingly not much better than the 650m it’s replacing – it’s basically a slightly higher clocked 650m.
In addition the the above specs, the new 15-inch rMBP will get at least 256GB of PCIe-based flash storage, Intel’s Thunderbolt 2 interconnect, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, as well as OS X Mavericks.
The new models, just like the 13-inch units, will start shipping today for an appreciable $200 less than last year’s starting prices.
At $1999, you’ll get the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro with a 2GHz Intel Core i7 quad-core CPU, 8GB of 1600MHz DDR3L RAM and 256GB of flash storage. You’ll also only be able to get the Iris Pro graphics – there’s no option to add the discrete GPU unless you want to spend much more money.
By much more money, we mean at least $600. For $2599, you’ll get the MacBook Pro with a 2.3GHz Core i7 ($100 upgrade), 16GB of DDR3L RAM ($200 upgrade), 512GB of PCIe storage ($300 upgrade), and the NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M with 2GB of GDDR5 video memory and automatic GPU switching.
That’s a tough sell for users who actively desire the increased capabilities of the 750M over the superior battery life of the Iris Pro-only solution.
Speaking of that battery life, Apple is promising 8 hours, though it doesn’t how the different GPU SKUs modify that estimate.
Like the 13-inch rMBP, the new 15-inch units can drive 4K displays over Thunderbolt as well as over HDMI – though the HDMI port only supports 4K at 24 or 30Hz, depending on the resolution used, which is a limitation of the HDMI standard.
Would you be willing to spend the $2599 to get an NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M? I suspect the move may drive some seekers back into the Windows ecosystem.