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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

Apple Retina Laptop Shootout

Posted July 17, 2015, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

I admit it. I have become a "Retina Snob." When planning this article, I could not bring myself to include the MacBook Air. With three models of Retina Apple laptops to choose from, I can't imagine why anyone would choose a 'non-Retina' MacBook Air. Therefore, here is a Storage, CPU, and GPU shootout between the fastest MacBook 12" Retina, fastest MacBook Pro 13" Retina, and fastest MacBook Pro 15" Retina.

M2015 rMBP 15" = 'mid 2015' Retina MacBook Pro 15-inch Intel 2.8GHz Quad-Core i7-4980HQ CPU, 16GB 1600MHz DDR3L memory, AMD Radeon R9 M370X Discrete GPU (2GB GDDR5 memory), Intel Iris Pro Integrated GPU, 1TB PCIe-based Flash Storage
E2015 rMBP 13" = 'early 2015' Retina MacBook Pro 13-inch with 3.1GHz Dual-Core Intel i7-5557U CPU (Turbo Boost to 3.4GHz), 16GB 1866Mhz LPDDR3 memory, Intel Iris Graphics 6100 GPU, 512GB PCIe-based Flash Storage
E2015 rMB 12" = 'early 2015' Retina MacBook 12-inch with 1.3GHz Dual-Core Intel Core M processor (Turbo Boost to 2.9GHz), 8GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3 memory, Intel HD Graphics 5300 GPU, 512GB PCIe-based onboard Flash Storage

RED bar in graph indicates the FASTEST result.

RED bar in graph indicates the FASTEST result.

RED bar in graph indicates the FASTEST result.

With two exceptions, the performance is progressively better as the price and size of Apple's laptops increases. The first exception is the write speed of the 'early 2015' MacBook Pro Retina 13" which essentially matches the 'mid 2015' MacBook Pro Retina 15-inch. However, when it comes to small random writes, the 15" MacBook Pro blows away the 13" MacBook Pro (909MB/s versus 668MB/s).

The second exception is the single core Cinebench CPU test where the 13" Dual Core MacBook Pro edges out the 15" MacBook Pro. Important to note that if the CPU intensive apps in your workflow only use four cores or less, the dual-core 13" MacBook Pro will likely complete the task just as fast as the quad-core 15" MacBook Pro. But if that same task also leans heavily on the GPU and/or Flash Storage, then the 15" model will have the clear advantage.

The 13" MacBook Pro was up to 47% faster than the 'early 2015' Retina MacBook 12" in the GPU tests featured here and up to 55% faster in the CPU tests. The 13" MacBook Pro's flash storage was up to 231% faster in the flash storage tests. Yet the FASTEST CTO 13" MacBook Pro 3.1GHz with the 8G of RAM and 512G flash storage costs only 14% more than the FASTEST CTO 12" MacBook 1.3GHz with 8G of RAM and 512G of flash storage ($1999 versus $1749). That makes the 13" MacBook Pro is a better buy -- especially when you consider the 13" MacBook Pro adds two Thunderbolt 2 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI port, and SDXC card slot.

The 12" MacBook Retina's claim to fame: thinner, lighter, and quieter than any other Apple Retina laptop.

As I indicated in the first paragraph of this article, the newest MacBook Air lacks a
Retina screen. That makes it almost obsolete in an Apple product line that includes not only three models of Retina laptops but also a Retina iMac, a Retina iPad, a Retina iPhone, and Retina iPod. We are so Retina crazy, we even have a 'Retina' Dell 5K screen connected to our 2013 Mac Pro 'tube' and 2010 Mac Pro tower.

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copyright 2015 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"