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New Retina MacBook Pro Models Thinner, Lighter, and Cheaper

Apple has overhauled its 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro laptop line, making the models thinner and lighter, and outfitting them with faster processors, PCIe-based flash storage, and Thunderbolt 2. They are available to order immediately. The remaining relic is the popular entry-level 13-inch, which starts at $1,199 with a 2.5 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, 4 GB of RAM, Intel HD 4000 graphics, a built-in SuperDrive, and a 500 GB 5400-rpm hard drive. Unless you need the disk space for a low price, this is the model to avoid, as it’s clearly the thing of the past.

The updated 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display weighs 3.46 pounds (1.57 kg) and is only 0.71 inches (1.8 cm) thick, but still offers up to 9 hours of battery life. Internally, it boasts new dual-core Intel Haswell chips, Intel Iris graphics, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Thunderbolt 2, and faster PCIe flash drives.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,299 and includes a 2.4 GHz dual-core Intel i5 processor, 4 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of flash storage. For the mid-range $1,499 model, you get a 2.4 GHz dual-core Intel i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage. Optional upgrades include a 2.6 GHz Intel i5 for $100 and a 2.8 GHz dual-core Intel i7 for $300.

The beefiest 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,799 with a 2.6 GHz Intel i5 and 512 GB of storage; it can be upgraded to a 2.8 GHz Intel i7 for $200 and to 1 TB of storage for an additional $500. In all three models, you can upgrade RAM to 16 GB, with the jump from 4 GB to 8 GB priced at $100, and the jump from 8 GB to 16 GB at $200.

The redesigned 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display (now the only 15-inch MacBook Pro) features Intel Crystalwell quad-core processors, PCIe flash storage, Thunderbolt 2, and up to 8 hours of battery life. It’s the same thickness as the 13-inch model, but weighs an extra pound to clock in at 4.46 pounds (2.02 kg).

The low-end model of the 15-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,999, and features a 2 GHz quad-core Intel i7 processor, 8 GB of RAM, 256 GB of flash storage, and Intel Iris Pro graphics. Optional upgrades include a 2.3 GHz Intel i7 for $100, 2.6 GHz Intel i7 for $300, 16 GB of RAM for $200, and either 512 GB of storage for $300 or 1 TB for $800.

For the higher-end model’s $2,599 price point, you get a 2.3 GHz quad-core Intel i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, 512 GB of storage, and, in addition to the Intel Iris Pro graphics, an Nvidia GeForce GT 750M with 2 GB of RAM. For an extra $200, you can upgrade to a 2.6 GHz Intel i7 and for $500, a 1 TB flash drive.

The transition to Retina displays in the MacBook Pro line has happened fairly quickly, and prices have dropped over time (for the previous pricing, see “Apple Tweaks MacBook Specs and Prices,” 14 February 2013). That said, the move to flash storage is unfortunate in some ways, as it’s still so expensive per gigabyte. Apple charges a $500 premium to jump from 256 GB to 500 GB — sticker shock for users accustomed to 500 GB or 1 TB of hard disk space. Of course, flash storage is one of the main places Apple boosts its profit margin — the same is true in the iPad and iPhone lineups, where relatively small increases in storage have large price jumps.

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