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It is vital to take note that most notebooks in this Q&A are no longer available. Which is why we updated this page to remain useful for anybody who plans to buy or sell one of these models available in the second hand or used market.


Apple published a press release for the 13-Inch “Late 2012” Retina Display MacBook Pro such as the likes of “Core i7” 2.9 13” (Retina) and “Core i5” 2.5 13” (Retina) claiming that they are made of fast and flash architecture but place more highlight on graphics rather than performance.


On some other promotional materials, the company emphasized the performance of most 15-Inch Retina Display MacBook Pro versions which feature faster quad-core processors and dedicated graphics.  On the contrary, the 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro lines only include dual-core processors and as well as slower integrated graphics that hold the same memory with the system.


It is just right to expect that the 13-Inch Retina Display MacBook Pro lines are way slower than their 15-inch counterparts. However, to determine how slow it is would surely ask for world testing and benchmarking. To compare the performance of the MacBook Air and “regular” MacBook Pro can be a pretty good idea as well.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro (Photo Credit:

General Performance Overview

To provide a solid overview between the 13-Inch “Late 2012” Retina Display MacBook Pro units, we made a quick side-by-side comparison of the 32-bit and 64-bit versions to know their performance.


Based on a test, the build-to-order MacBook Pro “Core i7” 2.9 13” (Retina) is 16% faster than the typical model such as the MacBook Pro “Core i5” 2.5 13” (Retina).


Moreover, the MacBook Pro “Core i5” 2.5 13” (Retina) is said to be 39% slower than the entry-level of the 15-Inch Retina Model like the MacBook Pro “Core i7” 2.3 15” (Retina).


The same is also true with the custom build-to-order MacBook Pro “Core i7” 2.9 13” (Retina) which is substantially 29% slower than the entry level of the MacBook Pro “Core i7” 2.3 15” (Retina) even when configured with an upgraded processor with the same 256 GB flash storage as that of the 15-Inch model entry-level, both the 13-Inch and 15-Inch Retina Display models which also have the same price tag.


Far from the non-Retina Display 13-Inch MacBook Pro versions including the MacBook Pro “Core i7” 2.9 13” (Mid 2012) and “Core i5” 2.5 13” (Mid 2012) — the overall performance of this line is the same with 13-Inch Retina models for obviously, these units come with identical processors and architectures, except that most tasks are slow in non-Retina versions despite featuring the larger traditional hard drives.


Basically, if the non-Retina 13-Inch MacBook versions are installed with SSDs, the performance would be resembling that of the 13-Inch Retina models.


Lastly, reports demonstrated that the standard version, the MacBook Pro “Core i5” 2.5 13” (Retina) is only about 9.5% faster than its standard counterpart, MacBook Air “Core i5” 1.8 13” (Mid 2012), and even the custom-line MacBook Pro “Core i7” 2.9 13” (Retina) is just around 14.5% faster than another custom unit, MacBook Air “Core i7” 2.0 13” (Mid 2012). These are the differences.


Other Benchmarks & Real-World Test Results

A website, Geekbench gave a fitting overview of overall performance; however, it would still help to conduct a benchmarking and real-world testing most especially for disk-related activities.


One good example of which was the Speedmark 8 tests done by Macworld that placed more highlight on drive performance. They have found out that overall, the 13-Inch Retina Display MacBook Pro is 52% faster than the 13-inch non-Retina MacBook Pro despite sharing the same processor. After their disk-intensive tests, they have discovered that the flash storage of the Retina MacBook Pro is more advantageous than the non-Retina model’s 5400-rpm hard drive. As for the CPU-intensive tests, the non-Retina MacBook Pro closed the gap in terms of performance.


Thus, the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro dominated, overall. Just remember that this unit was only 11% faster than the recent MacBook Air that has a 1.8 GHz dual-core Core i5 processor.


Performance Summary

Definitely, the 13-Inch “Late 2012” Retina Display MacBook Pro models are really fast only because of the large SSD storage they have, rather than their processor or graphics capability. However, these lines are not faster than the “Mid 2012” regular MacBook Pro, and even the MacBook Air models as far as overall performance is concerned; and they are way slower than the “Mid 2012” 15-Inch Retina Display MacBook Pro series.


If you are very certain about what you need from a laptop, and then selecting the best one for you among these options should not be that difficult.

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