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MacBook Pro (Mid 2014): Minor update offers slightly better CPU performance

James Galbraith | Aug. 5, 2014
Last week, Apple updated its Retina MacBook Pro line, and while the new models are identical on the outside to their 13- and 15-inch predecessors, released late last year, the "Mid 2014" models feature processors that are just a little bit faster. As modest as these internal improvements are, they do provide more performance bang for the buck.

The 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro has a glossy 13.3-inch (diagonal) IPS screen with LED backlighting and a native resolution of 2560 by 1600 pixels. The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display sports a 15.4-inch IPS LED screen with a 2880-by-1800 resolution. By default, both displays are set to pixel-doubled mode: 1280 by 800 for the 13-inch models, and 1440 by 900 on the 15-inch laptops.

As mentioned in previous reviews, the Retina displays look great. Icons and user-interface elements are so sharp and clear that I sometimes find myself just admiring the contents of the Dock and menu bar. If you want to change the resolution to fit more windows, images and documents on-screen, OS X's Displays System Preferences allow you to choose between one of five available resolutions. The Best for Display setting is the default pixel-doubled resolution. Interestingly, the highest resolution setting on the 13-inch is 1680 by 1050; on the 15-inch, the highest available resolution setting is 1920 by 1280. To use these displays at their native resolutions you'll need to turn to a third-party utility such as EasyRes. However, icons and text are terribly small when using these screens at native resolution — I assume Apple doesn't think anyone in their right mind would want that kind of user experience.

Performance

Given such modest internal changes, we didn't expect, or find, significant speed differences between the mid-2014 MacBook Pros and their late-2013 predecessors.

Speedmark 9 scores

Mac model

Score

13" Retina MacBook Pro/2.6GHz (Mid 2014)

158

13" Retina MacBook Pro/2.8GHz (Mid 2014)

174

15" Retina MacBook Pro/2.2GHz (Mid 2014)

246

15" Retina MacBook Pro/2.5GHz (Mid 2014)

280

13" Retina MacBook Pro/2.4GHz (Late 2013)

155

13" Retina MacBook Pro/2.6GHz (Late 2013)

177

15" Retina MacBook Pro/2.0GHz (Late 2013)

241

15" Retina MacBook Pro/2.3GHz (Late 2013)

282

13" MacBook Air/1.4GHz, 256GB flash storage (Mid 2014)

138

   

All results are scores. Higher scores are better. Stock configurations tested. Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.--Macworld Lab testing by James Galbraith and Albert Filice

Each of the newer models was faster than its corresponding predecessor in our application tests, including Photoshop, Aperture, iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, and Handbrake. Unfortunately, all of the newer models were also slower than their predecessors in our copy, zip, and unzip tests. In fact, only on the entry-level 13-inch and 15-inch mid-2014 models were the processor gains enough to keep the new systems' overall Speedmark 9 score above the scores of the late-2013 systems.

 

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