The story about the regular MacBook Pro's display is more about what it isn't (game changing) because we already know what it is (very competent). As always, the display is a very high quality one, essentially the same as the previous 3 years of MacBook Pros and testing very similarly to the other 15" MacBook Pros we've reviewed over the last few years. Our evaluation unit had the base 1440x900 display, though I'd have preferred the matte WSXGA+ panel. The higher resolution is nice to have, and with the matte screen finish, it was one of my absolute favourite notebook displays.

LCD Analysis - White

LCD Analysis - Black

LCD Analysis - Contrast

LCD Analysis - Color Gamut

In terms of display performance, the 2012 MBP matches up very close to the 2011 and 2010 models, with very good contrast ratio and colour reproduction. But that’s the thing with the regular 2012 MBP – it’s just like the 2011 and 2010 MBPs, just updated to IVB/Kepler. 

The real story here is about what you’re giving up. After using an rMBP, it's actually a little bit difficult to go back to a normal MBP display. I mean, this is by far the biggest differentiating factor between the two, and if you’re looking for a solid reason to put the money down for a Retina, this is it. The normal MBP has a good display, a very good display if you go for the matte high-res option, but the Retina MBP display is just on a completely different level. Like the new iPad, the resolution difference doesn’t add to the screen real estate so much as allowing for a vastly improved UX with higher resolution UI elements and better text rendering. It’s difficult to quantify, and it’s easy to dismiss on the surface, but when you actually use a super high-res panel for a prolonged amount of time, you understand the difference it makes. Obviously, there are still some bugs, and it’ll take probably one full development cycle for most applications to be updated to Retina-spec textures and UI elements, but that is all to be expected in a radical shift such as this. If you’re comfortable sticking to the tried-and-true MBP display, it’s not a bad way to go, but I’d advise you to use a Retina MBP before making a decision to go one way or the other. 

Performance and Battery Life - Ivy Bridge and Kepler At Work. The 13" MacBook Pro - What Now?
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  • tipoo - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    If you want one, I'd advise waiting at least until the end of October, a few sources have been saying the 13" is next up on the Retina upgrade docket. If it's anything like the 15"s, that means a few hundred more for a far better screen, SSD, and more RAM.

    As for the current one, pretty easy to extrapolate, slightly better battery life, slightly better CPU performance, up to 60% better GPU.
  • secretmanofagent - Thursday, July 19, 2012 - link

    That makes no sense to me. The 13" to my knowledge has never had a discrete graphics card, and it would be very close to the 13" MBA (and has never had quad core). It would make more sense to drop the 13" MBP and just do the updates on the MBA.
  • joer80 - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    I agree with this review. (Owner of rMBP.) Good job AnandTech!
  • nikolayo - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    Am I the only one who believes that in 2012 a 1440x900 screen is entirely inadequate for a top-tier notebook which MBP aspires to be?
  • tipoo - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    On this site, probably. I love my 1920x1080 on 15".
  • pmhparis - Thursday, July 19, 2012 - link

    I appreciated my Dell e6500s 15" 1920x1200 too but
    - it was heavy, & I carried it work-home half the time on my back
    - It had throttlegate problems where GPU use would throttle the CPU down to 10%
    - It's middle of the road build quality meant that it was coming apart at the seams.

    My daughter's 2009 MBP is in great shape even if has a few dents from being put in a bookbag that was dropped a couple times.

    I now have a rMBP that I'll certainly use 2 x longer than any PC I've had up to now. Why is it that some people believe that a PC that is cheaper but needs to be replaced more often is less expensive?
  • Death666Angel - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    Wow, I don't see how you manage to engage in any of the conversations to which you replied. You just ended up bashing on Dell notebook, praising an Apple notebook and making a general statement that is (as most general statements) very flawed. Good job! :D
  • tipoo - Thursday, August 16, 2012 - link

    Whoops, read OP as adequate, not inadequate.
  • sudokill - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    If you buy a 2012 MBP, ditch the optical drive and put a 256GB SSD, upgrade to the higher res screen, you essentially get the rMBP price. But for losing the retina screen, you get completely replaceable parts (keep in mind the warranty is still the same at 1 year for both), over 1TB of total internal storage (you keep the original 750GB HDD), same SSD speed, ethernet port, FW port, and the ability to upgrade/change components. The retina screen is nice, but is it really worth all that??

    The most important is the peace of mind... if any little component goes bad on the rMBP after a year, you'll have to scrap the whole thing or pay an arm or leg to fix. With the regular MBP, you can easily replace your own parts.
  • inplainview - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    That is if you live in the US with the crappy warranty. However in Europe the warranty is two years...

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