Gift Guide: 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro

Short Version

You waited this long, you might as well go big: Apple’s smaller 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is a very worthy sequel to the 15-inch variety released this past summer, and while it will still strain the average buyer’s budget, it definitely won’t inspire any buyer’s remorse.

Long Version


  • 1,280 x 800 (best for Retina), 232 ppi display
  • Dual Thunderbolt ports
  • Just 3.57 lbs and 0.75 inches thick


The 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is…

… Apple’s second notebook with a HiDPI display that qualifies for its ‘Retina’ moniker, and the one that is the most portable with a smaller physical footprint than the 13-inch MacBook Air, and significant weight savings over the 15-inch Retina MBP. All of which it accomplishes while still boasting the same 7-hour battery life as the 13-inch non-Retina variant.

Buy the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro for…

… yourself. This is a pricy machine at $1,699 (or $1,999 for the configuration with 256GB of flash storage, plus configurable options), so it’s unlikely that anyone else will be buying this for you, unless you’ve been very good this year. Also, since you’re reading this on or after Christmas Eve day, you could spring for this if you completely forgot or couldn’t get to someone on your list who’s incredibly important. They’ll forget how inconsiderate you were the first time the desktop swims into view on the Mac’s amazing display.


… you could go for the 15-inch model for only $600 more, which also introduces a dedicated graphics card into the mix, but you likely don’t need to. In practice, I’ve used both interchangeably and only very occasionally noticed the difference: when editing video and outputting to dual high-resolution displays, for instance. Otherwise, the weight and size savings you’ll get with the 13-inch are worth any minor performance trade-offs. But if you’re after a computer that can come with you to any shoot and handle photo editing duties in eye-popping style (thanks to Adobe’s recent Retina-supporting Photoshop update), this is definitely the machine to get.