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New Retina MacBook Pros Hands-on: Cheaper 13-inch Steals the Show

Apple has debuted new 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros in time for the holiday season with cheaper prices and beefier fourth-generation Core processors with Iris graphics. We spent some brief hands-on time with both models, and we're more psyched about the 13-inch version, which starts at $1,299--or $200 more than the Air. 

There's another reason to be more excited about the 13-inch MacBook Pro. It's a bit lighter at 3.46 pounds and thinner at 12.35 x 8.62 x .71 inches, versus 12.35 x 8.6 x 0.75 inches and 3.57 pounds for the older Retina MacBook Pro. The 15-inch weighs a heftier 4.46 pounds, but that's pretty light for a 15-inch notebook

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The 13-inch MacBoook Pro starts with a 2.4-GHz Core i5 CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB PCIe SSD, which will supply plenty of power. We had a blast with the Iris graphics when zooming around San Francisco in the new Apple Maps app. We also expect much better performance when playing games and editing video.

If you step up to the $1,999 15-inch model, you'll get a zippier 2-GHz quad-core Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. So you're definitely getting beefier specs for your money. You'll also enjoy dual stereo speakers that flank the keyboard, thanks to a bigger deck.

The other difference between the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the 15-inch is the display. The 13-inch makes do with a 2560 x 1600 resolution screen while the 15-inch model goes all the way up to 2880 x 1800. Nevertheless, the 13-inch Pro still has one of the sharpest screens you'll find on any laptop, and unlike the Windows and Chrome OS competition has optimized apps to go along with it.

With 9 hours of battery life expected out of the 13-inch MacBook Pro and 8 for the 15-inch, Apple's new powerhouses should run as long as most Windows-based machines while providing heavy doses of eye candy and power. Stay tuned for our full reviews.