See our Law Technology Buyer's Guide for our top technology recommendations.
The 13″ MacBook Pro (non-retina display) is a solid laptop that should provide years of usage.
What I like about the Macbook Pro 13″ (non-retina display)
If you’re reading a post by me involving an Apple product, it’s going to be a love fest, and this post is no exception.
To me, the number one most important feature for a laptop is that it runs fast, like really fast (and it’s an Apple). I cannot compare this computer to every computer out there, but I can tell you it is lightyears faster than my 2009 MacMini. If you are a nerd, this model has a 2.9 Ghz dual-core Intel Core i7, with 8 gigs of RAM. I don’t really know what any of that means, but I can tell you it is very fast. Noticeably faster than a three-year old MacMini (which also has 8 gigs of RAM).
When I say fast, it boots within about 2-3 minutes (and that includes Dropbox slowdown). Turn off Dropbox and it boot within about 1 minute. I usually have about 5-10 programs open and running, and there is no noticeable drag—which is a huge problem with my MacMini. It also has a ginormous hard drive—I ordered the 750 gigabyte, but it came with a terrabyte. I’m not complaining—although there is no way I would use either amount of space. The bottom line is that the guts are impressive.
Physically, it has the new MagSafe connector, an ethernet jack, two USB ports, Thunderbolt, and a headphone jack. It also has a Superdrive, which is one reason why it is noticeably bigger than a MacBook Air. I don’t plan on using the Superdrive, but I wanted the bigger hard drive at a lower price. The battery indicator has been moved to the side, which is way more convenient than the bottom of the computer (which is what my other MacBook Pro has).
Perhaps most importantly, Apple has made great strides in their cooling elements. I can type all night on my laptop without sweating, getting hot flashes, or putting some weird laptop cover on my legs. In other words: even when doing high powered processing, the computer only gets slightly warm.
In terms of battery life, when it’s fully charged, it usually lasts a good 4-5 hours. I know Apple claims longer than that, but 4-5 hours is what I consistently get. For days when I work from home, I usually can make it through the entire business day without charging it. Pretty sweet.
I’m obsessed with crystal clear resolution, so it was tough to not get a retina display. That said, the non-retina display is more than serviceable. I use a Thunderbolt display at my office, so I can notice a difference when I’m working from home. That said, I notice the screen size (13″ vs. 27″) more than the resolution.
What I don’t like about the MacBook Pro 13″
It’s a really good sign when you have to sit and stare at a wall to come up with negatives. Honestly, the biggest negative is that it’s not a retina display with a solid state drive.
I have a MacBook Air with a solid state drive, and I don’t notice any major differences. That said, there is a five year difference in the computers, so it’s not a very accurate comparison. I do miss the slim feel of my MacBook Air, but in some ways I prefer the thicker feel of the Pro.
Frankly, the biggest negative in my book is the price. I don’t shop for PC’s, so I have no clue what a comparable PC laptop would cost, but I’m quite certain a PC is cheaper.
A new fully-loaded MacBook Pro 13″ with a terrabyte hard drive is $1,599. I purchased mine refurbished through Apple for about $1,350. I have had no issues to this point, and refurbished Apple’s have the same warranty—so I would strongly advise trying to buy a refurbished one and saving that cash. You can also shop around at Amazon and other sites, which will usually save you around 6% off the retail price.
Compared to the new MacBook Pro 13″ with a retina display, I would still choose the non-retina display. The retina version has a solid state drive, but a slightly slower processor. If you need a big hard drive, you will end up paying through the roof. Don’t get me wrong, the retina displays are gorgeous, but a retina version of my MacBook is double the price—$2,999.
If you want to spend that kind of money, my advice would be what I did: buy the best non-retina 13″ MacBook Pro, and then buy a 27″ Thunderbolt monitor. Together, it still costs hundreds of dollars less than a maxed-out 13″ MacBook Pro with retina display.
Who should buy it
Anyone who likes Macs. Even if you don’t like Macs but want a rock solid laptop—this is for you.
Compared to a MacBook Air, you can get a faster processor and a bigger hard drive. You don’t get the same sleekness as a MacBook Air, but in my humble opinion, you can get a better computer for the same price.
MacBook Pro 13″
Reviewed by Randall Ryder on .
Summary: The MacBook Pro 13″ is a solid laptop that should provide years of productivity for a solo attorney.
Overall score: 4.5 (out of 5)