October 28, 2012, 8:45 PM — When Apple released the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro (), it was only a matter of time before the Retina display made its way to other Apple laptops. That time is now, and with the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, a compelling argument can be made that Apples newest laptop is a perfect combination of performance, portability, and features.
Making a small laptop feel big
The 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro has a 13.3-inch LED-backlit screen with a native resolution of 2560-by-1600 pixels. Do the math: Thats 4,096,000 pixels. Under the Display system preferences, OS X offers four scaled resolution settings: 1680-by-1050, 1440-by-900, 1280-by-800, and 1024-by-640 pixels. For comparison, the 13-inch non-Retina MacBook Pro (which Apple still sells) has a native resolution of 1280-by-800, and the 13-inch MacBook Air's is 1440-by-900.
If youve eschewed 13-inch laptops because they dont offer enough on-screen real estate, its time to reconsider. The 1680-by-1050 setting (what OS X calls More Space) gives you more room to work, and with the help of third-party software such as the free QuickRes (), you can use scaled resolutions that go beyond 1680-by-1050. For example, QuickRes can set the Retina display to a mind-boggling 3360-by-2100 resolution, which made the icons and text on screen much too small for my eyes. (Its possible that using the Retina MacBook Pro at these very high-scaled resolutions can adversely affect performance, though I didnt record any benchmarks at these settings.) You can also use third-party software to set the laptop at its native 2560-by-1600 resolution.
Unless your eyes cant tolerate the small on-screen sizes, its hard to argue that you cant get enough workspace on a 13-inch laptop with a Retina display. Of course, some apps and tasks do work best with a 15-inch screen, but I bet some longtime users of the 15-inch MacBook Pro will decide that its time to switch to a 13-inch Retina model.