Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display Iris Pro the Best

Can you get by with integrated graphics alone? If it’s an Iris Pro, you can.

For creative professionals around the world, Apple’s MacBook Pro lineup is the gold standard in quality, reliability, and performance. Many of the apps that these pros rely are designed with Apple’s OS X in mind, and a MacBook Pro is the top of the line device to run them on the go. But with so many configurations to choose from, the question is: which MacBook Pro is best?

At the top of the 2014 MacBook Pro lineup there’s one key decision you have to make: do you rely on the Iris Pro graphics card that sits within all new MacBook Pros or go with one that also has a dedicated graphics card? If you want the best of the best, then dedicated graphics is clearly the way to go, as we found in our review of that machine.

However, if you’re looking to save a couple hundred dollars, the integrated graphics version of the 2014 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display (Starting at $1,999, MSRP $2,499 as reviewed) is appealing. After all, Intel’s Iris Pro chip is no slouch. But how does it stand up to the top of the line MacBook?

Design

Apple sticks with the sleek, space-age look

Under the hood, this MacBook Pro is a little trim compared to its beefier bigger brother, but it’s still extremely impressive. An Intel Core i7 chip with integrated Iris Pro graphics is about as good as it gets, before we even consider the 16 gigabytes of RAM (and up to 1 terabyte of SSD) backing the whole thing up. It may lack a dedicated graphics card, but you’ve still got a serious machine.

It’ll easily fit in any number of small laptop bags.

From the first time you take the computer out of the box, to the last time you shut it down, everything about the MacBook Pro screams clean, minimal design. Apple was able to cram a 15-inch display, and its top-of-the-line hardware into a package only 0.71-inches thick. It’ll easily fit in any number of small laptop bags and won’t ever weigh you down.

For starters, the keyboard remains one of the industry’s best. With backlit keys, satisfying key travel, and the most responsive, reliable trackpad around, this is still a very enjoyable laptop to use. There’s also a general sturdiness about the entire board, with very little flex despite how thin and light the MacBook Pro is. Gamers may not like how flat the keys are, but for everyone else this is an ideal machine for working on the go.

Refreshingly, the MacBook Pro features two small speakers that sit beside the keyboard, facing the user. That’s a nice change from most laptops, which blast their sound towards whatever surface they rest on. And though these are hardly pro-grade speakers, they’re good enough to get the job done when necessary.

On the sides of the MacBook are no small number of available ports. Two Thunderbolt 2 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, a full HDMI port, a headphone jack, and a MagSafe power plug make for a capable collection of peripheral connections. Should you want to extend your desktop onto another monitor, you can use the full HDMI port on the right side. When outputting via HDMI you can push pixels to an HD display at 60Hz or even to a UHD/4K display at 30Hz/24Hz, respectively. For photographers, a full-sized SDXC slot will enable easy access to your images without having to carry an extra card reader around.

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