The Good The 2014 15-inch MacBook Pro offers great performance and a better screen than HD, plus improvements to its performance at the same price as last year’s model.
The Bad Aside from the minor component updates, there is very little new here, and the entry-level 15-inch Pro is the same price as before, even while some other MacBooks saw $ 100. Higher resolution screens are no longer a unique feature.
The Bottom Line Although small updates to the 2014 model are not enough for most existing users to upgrade, the excellent 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro from Apple is still our newest PC of the highest quality.
Editorial Note (June 27, 2017): At this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference , Apple gave its laptop line a modest makeover. The $1,299 12-inch MacBook and $999 13-inch MacBook Air have been updated with faster, more powerful Intel processors. The new MacBook Pros — the $1,299 13-inch, $1,799 13-inch with Touch Bar, and $2,399 15-inch with Touch Bar — have those new chips, too, along with upgraded graphics hardware.
Otherwise, aside from a RAM bump here and a slight price drop there, the 2017 batch is very similar to the one from 2016, with the same enclosures, ports, trackpads and screens. But be forewarned: Buying a new MacBook Pro may require you to invest in a variety of adapters for your legacy devices. Also note that the 13-inch MacBook Pro from 2015 has been discontinued though the $1,999 15-inch model from that year — an update of the 2014 edition, reviewed below — remains available for those who want all the ports and fewer dongles.
Apple’s MacBook Pro gets an early upgrade by Dan Ackerman01:49Replay videoLarge play-pause toggle Take a moment and you’ll miss the little twins of this year’s MacBook Pro AutoplayOnOff 00:00 02:48 Settings
For those who complain that Apple has not released any new products in the first eight months of 2014, we bring you to a a series of under-received but important updates to the Mac lineup for laptops and desktops.
Already this year, we’ve seen processor bumps and price cuts for the 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air, the new lower entry-level 21.5-inch iMac all-in-one desktop, and now similar component upgrades and down-line pricing MacBook Pro.
The 13-inch and 15-inch Retina models doubled their RAM, from 4GB to 8GB for 13-inch and 8GB to 16GB for 15-inch. Both models also got a slightly faster processor: the 15-inch model discussed here goes from 2.0 GHz Intel Core i7 to 2.2 GHz Core i7, but still from the same generation of Intel Core i-series processors (newer processors) are expected by Intel later this year).
In addition, the 15-inch Retina Pro, the base model we’ve been looking at over the last two years, lowered the price by $ 100 to $ 2,499; and the lone MacBook Pro, which is not a Retina, a positively ancient 13-inch optical drive model with a relatively scant 1,280×800 pixel display also lowered its price by $ 100 to $ 1,099.
The model we’re testing here is a 15-inch Pro (entry-level) that starts at $ 1,999 (£ 1,599, £ 2,499 AU) and includes the aforementioned 2.2GHz Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and 256 GB SSD. Unlike the higher-end models we’ve considered in previous years, this Pro does not have an Nvidia discrete graphics card, but rather comes with Intel’s integrated Iris Pro graphics.
The low speed bump and the added memory make it a slight improvement over the 2013 version, but it’s essentially the same machine. As the Retina MacBook Pro has received a very strong recommendation as an excellent high-end premium power, this updated version is there, even if someone looking for Apple’s next big thing will be disappointed that this “new” Mac isn’t really all that new.
|PC Geekbox||MacBook Pro (15 ”2014)||Toshiba Satellite P50t-BST2N01||MacBook (13-inch, 2014)|
|Price as reviewed||$1,999/£1,599/AU$2,499||$1,799/£1,199/AU$2,499||$999/£849/AU$1,199|
|Display size/resolution||15.6-inch, 2,880 x 1,800 screen||15.6-inch, 3,840 x 2160 touchscreen||13.3-inch 1,440 x 900 screen|
|PC CPU||2.2GHz Intel Core i7 4770HQ||2.4GHz Intel Core i7-4700HQ||1.4GHz Intel Core i5 4260U|
|PC Memory||16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz||16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz||4GB 1,600MHZ DDR3 SDRAM|
|Graphics||1536MB (shared) Intel Iris Pro||2GB (dedicated) AMD Radeon R9 M265X||1536MB (shared) Intel HD Graphics 5000|
|Storage||256GB SSD||1TB 5,400rpm Hybrid HDD||128GB SSD|
|Networking||802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.0||802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.0||802.11a/c wireless, Bluetooth 4.0|
|Operating system||OSX 10.9.4 Mavericks||Windows 8.1 (64-bit)||OSX 10.9.3 Mavericks|
Design and features
The exterior design of the MacBook Pro remains unchanged since the 2013 model we looked at (and, in fact, did not change from the original 2012), so much of the analysis we wrote for the previous model remains unchanged.
This notebook is slim but expansive, and feels tighter than it looks at first glance. The 15-inch MacBook Pro is not exactly a day-to-day package, though you can easily move it to work, work, or day trips.
The keyboard and trackpad remain the same as in the last few generations of the MacBook. Other laptops match, but do not exceed, Apple’s keyboard illumination, with the exception of Lenovo, a keyboard research and development company like any.
The large glass trackpad with its multi-finger gestures remains the industry leader, even as Windows laptops move to more touch screen controls, at least in part, to compensate for the hassle of using a Windows 8. Touchpad. Web browsers are what Mac users have always been able to brag about to PC users. However, some basic settings, such as click-clicking, do need to be enabled by default. Instead, I had to go into the settings menu and customize the touchpad and accessibility settings to customize the touchpad just the way I like it.
The Retina 15-inch display remains a major selling point, and Apple is now using the Retina branding on the iPhone and iPad. Some Windows laptops now offer even higher resolutions, and it’s silly to ask when we see this little thing on the MacBook Air line, perhaps in the form of rumored 12-inch higher resolution models. The Retina display has a display of 2,880×1,800 pixels and best displays text or professional photography. Video rarely exceeds 1080p, and most Mac games cannot display higher resolution.
The Retina display looks great even during everyday web surfing, though you will likely notice a difference in resolution when compared to a laptop other than a Retina. Other PC makers also join the party better than HD, up to 3,200×1,800 pixels with resolutions from Lenovo, Dell and others, and even Toshiba’s full 15-inch P50t satellite. This competition means that buyers of laptops are finding higher resolution at lower costs, so the Retina screen here is not exactly a unique selling point that was a couple of years ago.
|AppleMacBook Pro (15 ”2014)|
|Video||HDMI, mini-DisplayPort (x2)|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, combo headphone/microphone jack|
|Data||2 USB 3.0, 2 Thunderbolt 2, SD card reader|
|Networking||802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth|
Connectivity, performance and battery
Many Macs are now closer to the established PC port offerings, with the addition of SD card slots and HDMI ports in some models. It certainly helps people moving from Windows or those who use exotic technical equipment like flat-screen monitors or digital cameras.
Like last year, you get two USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt 2 ports that also double the Mini DisplayPort outputs, an SD card slot and Bluetooth, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. You won’t find an optical drive or Ethernet connector, but they are becoming rarer even on 15-inch laptops.
HDMI and Thunderbolt video outputs can create two additional external displays up to 2,560×1,600 pixels in size, so you can customize the Retina MacBook Pro with a Retina screen that is stitched with two high resolution external monitors, making it a complete command center.
In our benchmarking test, you can fairly rely on a premium laptop such as this one to get the best performance. Unlike the previous two 15-inch MacBook Pro models we tested, this is the lower part (again, a tough term to use for a $ 2,000 laptop), no more advanced version with faster processors and special graphics equipment, but the latest CPU effort is helping, and the MacBook Pro is $ 1,999. The US performed about the same as the $ 2,599 version we tested in 2013. The original 15-inch Retina Pro since 2012 is slightly behind in some tests since its processor was from the previous Intel generation.
The Intel Iris Pro integrated graphics aren’t going to run many high-end gaming games, especially anything close to native 2880 x 1800 resolution, but last year’s Tomb Raider reboot was clocked at 39.6fps at high detail settings when we typed up to 1440×900 pixels resolution.
Excellent battery life is a modern MacBooks, but without changing the battery and processor technology of the same family as the previous generation, you should not expect an improvement over last year’s Pro. The new system ran 9 hours and 21 minutes in our video play life test, while the 15-inch MacBook Pro 2013, which had slight differences in components but was generally similar, ran 9 and 52 minutes in the same test.
Apple has so far seamlessly updated almost the entire Mac lineup by 2014, minus the still-new Mac Pro desktop and the often-forgetting Mac Mini. However, these updates are, at best, insignificant, and in most cases not as important as lowering prices for some models (but not this one).
With $ 1,999 and above, the 15-inch Pro remains a powerful capital, and with the 13-inch MacBook Air now down to just $ 999, it can be harder to justify, especially since the basic design and the ideas behind it are now three generations old.
Still, despite the lack of a new dazzling blind, the only slightly newer 15-inch MacBook Pro remains one of our favorite premium, power-packed laptops with its rugged Unibody design, excellent display and great performance.
Find more shopping tips in our Laptop Buying Guide.
MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2014)
OSX 10.9.4 Mavericks; 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7-4770HQ; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz; 1,536MB Intel Iris Pro Graphics; 256 GB SSD
MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2013)
OSX 10.9 Mavericks; 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7-4850HQ; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 750M + Intel Iris Pro Graphics; 512 GB SSD
Retina MacBook Pro (15 ”, 2012)
OSX 10.7.4 Leo; 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7-3610QM; 8 GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600 MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 650M + 512MB Intel HD 4000; 256 GB SSD
MacBook Air (13-inch, 2014)
Apple OS X 10.9.3 Mavericks; 1.4 GHz Intel Core i54260U; 4 GB 1 600 MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1.536 MB (shared) Intel HD Graphics 5000; 128 GB SSD
Toshiba Satellite P50t-BST2N01
Windows 8.1 (64-bit) 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-4700HQ; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz; 2,048 MB (dedicated) AMD R9 M265X; 1TB Hybrid HDD 5,400rpm