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13-inch MacBook Pro

Est. $1,200 and up
Reviewed
February 2013
by ConsumerSearch
13-inch MacBook Pro

Pros
  • Optical drive
  • Good range of ports
  • Ample storage
Cons
  • Relatively low-res display
  • Needs more speed
  • Not enough bang for the buck
Where to Buy
 

Bottom Line

The 13-inch MacBook Pro feels like a blast from the past. It lacks the speed and sinuous silhouette of lighter laptops, and value could be better. But some users will appreciate its optical drive, generous storage and wide array of ports.

Performance

A decent everyday performer with a disappointing display. With a 2.5 GHz dual-core Ivy Bridge i5 processor and 4 GB of RAM, the 13-inch MacBook Pro can easily handle everyday computing. While the 500 GB hard drive in the base configuration provides plenty of storage, it can't compete for speed with the blazing flash storage of the snappy 13-inch MacBook Air (*$1,200 and up). Power-hungry users who feel a need for speed can look to step-up configurations (*Est. $1,499 and up), which feature an i7 processor; you can also optionally replace the hard drive with flash storage.

Critics find the display a bigger disappointment. The Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A (*Est. $1,100 and up), the HP Envy 14 Spectre (*Est. $1,000 and up) and the MacBook Air each have better resolution, while the gorgeous 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display (*Est. $1,700 and up) blows them all away. Yet some reviewers say this laptop's accurate colors, crisp images and excellent viewing angle may satisfy many users. Most mainstream games should be no problem if played at lower graphics settings.

Ergonomics

Slightly heavy but still comfortable. At 4.5 pounds, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is a bit heftier than most ultraportable laptops. Some of its comparative bulk is due to the 500 MB of storage and an optical drive that, like the built-in Ethernet and Firewire ports, are no longer included in Apple's other small laptops. If you depend on all or any of these classic features, you may not mind toting a bit of extra weight. Two very modern 3.0 USB ports, a speedy Thunderbolt port, an SD card reader, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 round out a substantial package of ports and connections.

Design

Time-tested design. The aluminum unibody, backlit keyboard and smooth glass trackpad look and feel as polished as ever. The build quality remains top-notch. Despite those positives, a few experts express a wish for a change-up that would get their attention. They all agree that upgrades and repairs are fairly easy since the 13-inch MacBook Pro has fully swappable components.

Support & Reliability

You're in good hands. Apple has a stellar reputation for customer satisfaction. Its products are superbly engineered. The company provides 90 days of 24/7 support over the phone. That's much less than the industry norm. But if problems occur, you can get free personal technical assistance at the Genius Bar of any Apple Store. A standard one-year warranty covers parts and labor.

An optional AppleCare plan will extend the phone support and warranty to three years. Though some experts say the plan is pricey, you may find it worth the investment. The full cost of AppleCare is less than a single flat-rate repair after the warranty expires.

Value

The package keeps the 13-inch MacBook Pro in the game. Experts say there are plenty of alternatives that deliver more bounce for the buck. But users who require some old-school features and ample connectivity will find value in this laptop.

Where To Buy
Apple MacBook Pro MD213LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop with Retina Display (OLD VERSION)

 
Buy new: $1,999.00   15 Used from $980.00

 

Our Sources

1. PCMag.com

Review Credibility: Excellent The 13-inch MacBook Pro tested here is an upgraded version with an i7 processor and 8 MB of RAM. Though it earns a 4-star rating, it fails to earn Editors' Choice recognition. It offers little that "stands out from the crowd" of less expensive notebooks that perform just as well, Brian Westover says.

Review: Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (Mid 2012), Brian Westover, July 3, 2012

2. CNET

Review Credibility: Excellent Scott Stein assigns a rating of 3.5 (out of 5) stars to the base configuration 13-inch MacBook Pro. It provides "plenty of computing power for most users." However, he's dissatisfied with a "lack of dramatic improvements or any price cuts."

Review: Apple MacBook Pro review (13-inch, Summer 2012), Scott Stein, June 21, 2012

3. Notebook Check.net

Review Credibility: Excellent The 13-inch MacBook Pro has been extensively tested by this German reviewer. The selection of ports is said to be "second to none." But due to a disappointing display and graphics card, this laptop is "not quite up to par any longer," according to Patrick Afschar Kaboli.

Review: Review Apple MacBook Pro 13 2.5 GHz Mid 2012 Notebook, Patrick Afschar Kaboli, Aug. 8, 2012

4. Anandtech.com

Review Credibility: Excellent Looking at a lineup of 2012 MacBooks, Vivek Gowri "doesn't see the allure" in the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Its aging design retains features that "matter less and less," although Gowri recognizes an advantage in its "significantly" greater upgradeability.

Review: The 2012 MacBook Pro Review, Vivek Gowri, July 18, 2012

5. Engadget.com

Review Credibility: Excellent Sarah Silbert says the 13-inch MacBook Pro doesn't "pack any surprises." Users will get "solid performance," but be happier with a stepped-up version. Silbert offers a long list of ultraportable laptops that provide greater value.

Review: MacBook Pro review (13-inch, mid-2012), Sarah Silbert, July 30, 2012

6. Amazon.com

Review Credibility: Very Good The 13-inch MacBook Pro earns a handsome 4.4 stars based on reviews from more than 400 Amazon.com users. Nearly all are highly satisfied with their purchase. Many report that storage and the built-in optical drive played a critical role in choosing this laptop.

Review: Apple MacBook Pro MD101LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop (NEWEST VERSION), Contributors to Amazon.com, As of February 2013

Apple Laptops and Desktops Runners Up:

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5 picks including: Amazon.com, Anandtech.com…

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21-inch iMac Est. $1,300 and up

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