From a performance standpoint, the 2012 MBP lines up basically where we would expect it. My tester was the high-spec SKU with the same 2.6GHz i7-3720QM, 8GB of DDR3, and 1GB GT 650M as Anand’s Retina MacBook Pro evaluation unit, with the primary hardware difference being the 750GB mechanical hard drive in place of the Samsung PM830-based SSD in the rMBP. Performance matched up pretty close, with the MBP being just a tick behind the rMBP in most of our benchmark suite. And with the performance deltas we're talking about, it's really almost like splitting hairs. 

3D Rendering Performance - Cinebench R11.5

3D Rendering Performance - Cinebench R11.5

iMovie '11 Performance (Import + Optimize)

iMovie '11 Performance (Export)

Final Cut Pro X - Import, Optimize, Analyze Video

It appears that the i7's Turbo mode is less aggressive in the MBP versus the Retina, possibly due to the revised cooling system that the Retina model has. The 2012 MBP retains the same thermal design as the 2011 model, so it's unsurprising to see that Apple is being more cautious with it.

Boot Performance

iPhoto 12MP RAW Import

Adobe Lightroom 3 Performance - Export Preset

Adobe Photoshop CS5 Performance

The SSD-based Retina obviously has faster boot times and performs significantly better in any disk-based activity. Based on my limited experiences with the Retina, it really feels substantially more responsive. Our usual recommendation from the last couple of years stands here too: if you're buying a new MacBook Pro, your first upgrade should be to add an SSD.

Starcraft 2 - CPU Bench

Starcraft 2 - GPU Bench

Starcraft 2 - CPU Bench

Starcraft 2 - GPU Bench

Half Life 2 Episode Two Performance

GPU performance is substantially improved over the 2011 MBP, with the GT 650M outpacing both the HD 6750 and 6770, to say nothing of the HD 6490 in the early 2011 Pro. We saw roughly equivalent performance with the rMBP again, with the MBP maintaining a slight edge over the Retina, but again with a margin of less than 5%.

We took a look at performance over time, and as expected, Ivy Bridge and Kepler do a really good job of minimizing heat buildup over time and the corresponding amount of throttling that occurs. Through 40 runs of our Half-Life 2 test (at native res with maxed out settings), I ended up with nearly identical numbers the entire way through, with a very slight downward trend emerging (the delta between the average of runs 2 through 10 was a bit under 1% better than the average of runs 32 through 40). It's pretty much a flat line all the way across, the new chips really let the MBP run at significantly lower temperatures. Using it versus a Core 2 or SNB MacBook Pro, it noticeably doesn't get anywhere near as hot to the touch in day to day use.

Light Workload Battery Life

Medium Workload Battery Life

Heavy Workload Battery Life

Battery life is pretty solid – we got a bit over 7 hours in our light web browsing test (with dynamic GPU switching on), a hair over 6 with dynamic GPU switching off (forcing the GPU to stay on), close to 5.5 hours in our medium-heavy browsing workload, and a bit over 2 hours in our brutal, heavy use case test (which adds a 1MB/s file transfer and a looping 1080p video to our heavy browsing test). Apple quotes 7 hours of “normal” use, and that’s about right based on my standard usage – if you use your notebook for light browsing and word processing with medium levels of brightness, you’ll get at least 7 hours if not a bit more. Obviously, once you start hitting the dGPU hard, it’ll die pretty quickly, but at least GPU efficiency has improved enough that just leaving the GPU on in light workloads doesn’t run down the battery too much. 

 

Meet the 2012 MacBook Pro, just like the 2011 MacBook Pro. The non-Retinized Display: Still Good
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  • dillettante - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    The superdrive can be replaced with more internal storage. I use a SSD for a fast system drive and supplement that with a large mechanical HDD for data storage.

    J
    Reply
  • chemist1 - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    Agreed, for many that might be the most significant advantage of the older form factor. Also, you would need the older form factor if you wanted a dual-SSD RAID configuration for better performance. Reply
  • Bonzauker - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    Exactly the reason why I stay away from the retina, at least at the moment. I put one 256 GB as main drive and the 750GB replacing the DVD. For my job, a notebook with only 256GB is useless. Reply
  • GotThumbs - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    I choose to read this additional Apple review since it was written by a different reviewer, but feel it provides little value over just posting the spec comparison sheet directly from Apples website. This is simply a comparison between Apples past iterations of its own past parts bins. How much time was spent on this anyway?

    It would have been more informative if it had included other vendors similarly spec'd systems in the performance. While they won't have resolutions comparable to the Retina screen....Apples hardware is made up of many PC components available in the market place. Of course this excludes Apples proprietary designed reiterations of PC components (SSD).

    I think the only point that really needs to be made ...is that if your an Apple user...here is yet another version of the old case with overdue upgrades in the internals. Non-Apple users need not bother.

    I used to like to read Anandtech because It would provide an opportunity to learn about new technology and provided comparable performance information between components and systems in a clean and unbiased manner.

    From now on...maybe it would be best if any Apple product review begins with..This review sponsored by Apple.

    I'll still continue to read Anandtech, but know that any Apple review is just an advertisement/endorsement and thus read it with limited expectations of an unbiased comparison whats currently available in the marketplace.

    At least this reviewer provided readers with information on an option for savings by passing over Apples overpriced upgrades and go thought a vendor for the parts at a price savings. I'm sure Apple reps were not happy, but it helps provide a small sense of reader centric writing instead of pleasing Apple.

    $2,200 for a laptop...when there are PC alternatives available for hundreds less....yet no mention or comparison of those systems. If readers are only browsing, email and FB'ing...is this really worth the money? Only if your a tech-fashonista.

    Sad.
    Reply
  • Sunburn74 - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    Well said. Pretty much a review for people who have already decided they want to buy a mac and nothing else. Reply
  • Sunburn74 - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    In addition, in this day and age, to sell any machine costing over $1000 without a SSD is an absolute travesty. Reply
  • nevertell - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    Anand has stated before that there is little to no cross shopping between apple and pc laptops.
    It is difficult to review different hardware with different OS's. Whilst many components may seem to be the same, apple has been known before to slip their own secret sauce into the hardware to be able to do things that just wouldn't be possible with the standard PC hardware, like the scaling hardware in the rMBP.
    Reply
  • Freakie - Thursday, July 19, 2012 - link

    Scaling hardware? And I haven't really seem much secret sauce in Apple's hardware. I see lots of lazy sauce, and people confusing design flares with engineering prowess. Reply
  • pmhparis - Thursday, July 19, 2012 - link

    So, in your opinion Apple didn't innovate with the rMBP+OSX scaling Where can i find it then? Not on any PC+Windows nor on any PC+Linux.

    You clearly refuse to see that its the whole package that makes the rMBPs scaling a class above everything else out today. Too much emotional investment in windows like so many others. At least it makes it easy to see that your complains are biased.
    Reply
  • Super56K - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    I think it's more emotional investment in the hatred of Apple as a whole. Reply

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