If I'm honest, I've never really been a huge fan of Apple products. Yet, it seems over the past year or so I find myself purchasing more and more of them. What started with my wife having an iPhone 4 has blossomed now into her also having a Mac Mini in her office here at home. After she graduated from college with a bachelors degree in business management a few years back, she immediately took a high level salary based position at a local care facility, and imagine my luck, they too use Apple products in their offices. For the longest time my wife and I had the debate of Mac OS X vs. Windows, a debate that never really went anywhere because to her it don't matter as long as it works.
To me, for some reason it did matter. Maybe a part of me was resisting the dark side of the force that has always been Apple. Though, if you really sit down and think about it, why are Apple products so loathed by PC users? Are they inferior products, do they lack something that we otherwise would have if it were a PC? The short answer is no, in fact most Apple products are what push forward technology, minus the last few iPhone releases obviously, but for the most part the iMacs, Mac Pro and MacBook Pro's always release with the latest available technology.
Back to my story, everyone knows Thunderbolt II will see a massive presence in the market this year with LaCie and Promise both announcing products in just this first month. This led me to a recent decision I had to make in regards to future testing of such products. In my Lab here at home, I currently have five Windows based machines at my disposal to test everything from Networking to External Storage. With Thunderbolt II products already on the way I needed to make a choice, build another full on test rig with a Z87 chipset board and Haswell processor, thus adding another PC to the rack or grab something off the shelf that was ready to go. Now I could grab a Windows based PC off the shelf with Thunderbolt II support but then again Thunderbolt technology was developed with Apple, and to be honest Windows doesn't really get the support from vendors. Of course, that isn't to say Thunderbolt II won't have support with Windows, I just see it as the second OS when it comes to the technology. By now you might have figured out I purchased another Apple product.
As you can see above, I chose to go with the MacBook Pro Retina 13". In part because it has Thunderbolt II support and OS X Mavericks, but also because it's extremely light, has tremendous battery life and of course the massive 2560 x 1600 resolution of the Retina screen. With this being my first "real" OS X machine, rather surprisingly it hasn't taken me to long to get acquainted with the OS, in part because I have played with OS X before but even more, its tremendously easy to figure out.
The I/O port layout for the rMBP is quite simple,but gives you everything you need. On the left side there is the Magsafe 2 port next to the dual Thunderbolt II ports, single USB 3.0 and audio output.The two small dots are the dual mics,one for inout and the other noise cancellation.
On the right side the layout continues with the SD,HDMI and second USB 3.0 port.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of the new MacBook Pro, is the SSD. While the PCIe SSD isn't anything new to notebooks, Apple has still found a way to make the M.2 form factor proprietary by changing the slot layout. This means we cannot simply throw any M.2 SSD into the MacBook Pro and install OS X, rather we have to wait for OWC or Apple themselves to come out with upgrade modules, which of course will carry a premium price tag. So with our upgrade path completely cut-off for now lets see what the PCIe based SSD in the rMBP can do.
okay so the write speed is pretty dismal at best,and to be honest I would expect slightly more performance from a PCIe based drive. Then again the read speed is pretty impressive.
Here we have a quick run of xbench. Overall, the rMBP offers some decent performance for such a small unit.
To give the Intel Iris graphics a small workout, I ran both Unigine Heaven 4 and Valley 1.0. Using the Basic preset we came up with a score of 419.
Heaven on the other hand came in at 378.
In the rather short time, i have had with the rMBP I can tell you it takes some getting used to, especially if your coming from a large notebook. I, myself am coming from a HP ProBook with a 15" screen and 1366 x 768 res, so while the rMBP does have a smallish screen at 13.3" the resolution does offer more desktop real estate. The keyboard offers only a slight amount of feedback but far less than what I am accustomed to,but at the same time I think I can get used to it without too much pain. One really nice feature is the large trackpad,and while Apple doesn't believe in right clicking, you can get around with the old control click method.
At any rate the new rMBP will make a great platform for testing upcoming external storage products, especially Thunderbolt II equipped units and with units on the way we will be able to put it to the test in a short few weeks.
Not being a fan of Apple products my whole life, actually having the chance to use them does tend to change your mind, they are exceptionally well built and the performance is on par with other notebooks on the market, its just the price that will get you. Until next time, TB.