Last week, I wrote a "first impressions"-style of review of my new MacBook Pro with Retina Display. In it I said that I needed to use the laptop more so that I could give a more educated opinion about certain aspects. So, here we go:
Performance: the machine is very, very fast. Cold-boots in about 10 seconds (and this includes ~2 seconds of the grey bios screen). The SSD + fast ram + i7 Ivy Bridge processors combination works amazing. Anything that I've thrown at it hasn't slow it down. A VirtualBox instance + Adobe Lightroom 4 importing and pre-processing a few hundred RAW images, with a terminal having brew building several packages from source, all at the same time: no problem whatsoever. The computer was just as responsive as when I have a single browser instance open. You really can't tell the difference.
Retina Display: simply put, and to reiterate, it's amazing. Vibrant, rich, contrasty colors. Excellent shadows and blacks. The text looks awesome (specially with Retina-enabled applications). When the screen is off it gives the impression of being incredibly glare-y, but when it's on, even at half brightness, the glare is negligible. Watched a dozen or so "4K" videos and the colors and details were astounding.
Gaming: although gamers probably aren't the target audience of this machine, this machine is very competent in that regard. It played all the Humble Bundle games maxxed out @ 1080p resolution at very decent frame rates. When in boot camp mode, it played a few MMOs on High or Ultra High settings @ 40-50 FPS even on public instances and "hub" towns which is where frame rate drops dramatically on most MMOs. So the NVidia 650M definitely pulls its own weight.
Windows: although Mac purists might chide at the notion of installing Windows on such new machine alongside their revered OS X, truth is, there are some things -- at least for those of us who work in the development arena -- that play nice on Windows. Another issue is games, specially with older titles that don't have Mac versions or if you don't want to spend more money on software you already own. I tried Parallels and CrossOver, but neither gave me the gaming experience I was looking for and both of them have hefty license prices specially considering I can boot camp for free with a Win license I already own.
Boot Camp: The process was fast and flawless. I went from partition to fully installed windows in a matter of 20 minutes or so, no exaggeration. I then installed the Apple-supplied drivers and all was setup correctly: video, sound, trackpad, HDMI, etc.
* Noise: I forgot to mention about cooling fan noise. Apple made a big fuss out of this issue in their marketing campaign and thankfully I don't find noise to be a make or break sort of thing. The machine runs very quiet
so long as the NVidia video card is not in use. As soon as the graphics
are switched to the NVidia whether for games or anything requiring 3D rendering, the fan noise is very noticeable and I would say it's equally bad as any other laptop sporting a powerful graphics card.
So, after using for both work and fun, I have to say that I am very happy with the purchase. However, it's hard for me to issue a blanket statement whether I recommend it or not, mainly because it's quite pricey. So, all I can do is stand last week's opinion: it's a great machine that won't disappoint, and would definitely recommend it, if you can afford it and you are looking for a Mac.
* added after publishing