Gear Reviews

Macbook Pro 13″ Retina Review – AppleCare Worth it? My Experiences with 3 Dead Apple Products

Six years ago, I had my second PC fail me. From then on, I decided to try a Mac. Since then, I’ve owned two Mac’s, both of which have died within two years.

This review will share my real-world experiences with Apple support, genius bar, the laptops, software stability, and of course my thoughts on the laptop itself.

My Macbook Pro 13″ Retina had a 2.4GHz (Turbo Boost to 2.9Ghz) Dual Core i5 Processor, 8GB of memory and a 256 GB SDD. I used it primarily for photo editing and my high school and now university studies. The latter really wasn’t at all demanding. Mostly Microsoft Office work. The former… Well, not so much.

Photo/Video Editing Performance

For photo editing, the computer absolutely struggled. Admittedly, I have pushed the machine beyond what it was ever intended to. I often edit Photoshop files around 8GB, which obviously resulted in the computer stuttering when zooming and panning and even when using the brush tool. Median blending for my astrophotography took hours and sometimes even days. Lightroom was also painfully slow. I’ll cut Apple some slack here. Lightroom is inherently a slow program, especially in converting to DNG, creating previews and exporting. Any exposure or RAW adjustment would take several seconds to implement the change. It would take 5 seconds or more to update the noise reduction to the amount I specified. After the a7ii released uncompressed RAW files that surpassed 50 MB, the computer really started to struggle. Zooming in was a drag, and panning around would usually have a 3-second delay. This results in you scrolling past what you wanted to retouch, infuriating. Using Nik collection was also painfully slow. Processing the filters would take you out of productive editing for almost 30 seconds per picture depending on file size and amount of filters. Video editing on the machine in iMovie was absolutely unusable. Warp stabiliser and roller shutter correction left the machine unusable almost an hour. Even when exporting a one minute video.

I should mention, my Macbook Pro Retina had always plenty of storage space to spare. In LR, I’d give the computer plenty of room on my SSD to cache. Also, I kept my Macbook in great condition. “Cosmetic Condition: Machine is in very good condition, no signs of markings of scratches, no dents or damage.” – Apple Store. So if any of my experiences seem abnormal, I wanted to extol any doubt that I abused the machine.

Apple Support – My Experience

After two years with the Macbook, it died whilst I was on holiday. Around 15% battery, the computer suddenly died completely. I tried charging, and the green/orange light wouldn’t turn on at all. I tried to boot into recovery, tried a different charger, hard SMC & SMC resets and basically everything Apple tried when I brought it into the Apple store a couple of days later. Their solution was to replace the entire logic board. They covered the cost of $800 and took care of it. Although my experiences were mostly good, there were some things that really bothered me.

“File Recovery”

First of all, they couldn’t take the files of the SSD using an SSD reader, something that the Apple engineer admitted he was aware existed. His response: “Apple does not specialise in data recovery.” To put this in perspective, years earlier, I “recovered” my files off my old Macbook Pro 2011 model by just taking the storage disk out and plugging it into another computer. In terms of execution, its as simple as plugging a USB drive into another computer and copying the files over. So if Apple can’t even do this, you’ll have to buy your own reader and custom screwdriver to take data off when your computer fails. The custom screwdriver is a requirement because Apple uses proprietary non-standard screws. The engineer then made me sign an agreement that said it is my fault for not backing up my data if they lose it. Now I can live with this, but not if it is so easy for Apple or even me to take the files of the disk. Additionally, I backup all the time using time machine and external RAID network drives. However, I was on holiday for a couple of weeks, so I didn’t have access to my backup disks. I didn’t even use the computer intensively for the holiday at all. At the time, the computer was using Google Chrome and Photoshop editing a 1 MB file. I ended up recovering my files off my D750’s formatted SD card using some command prompt software.

Turnaround Time

After 6 days, the laptop was ready. Happily, the Apple engineers had left the old SSD in the Macbook, so it booted like it always had. So in the end, their inability to take files off a storage drive didn’t end in calamity. However, if you need to depend on your computer for professional use, keep this in mind. In my experience of two Macbook Pro’s and an iPhone all dying within 2 years, just be prepared whether it is to recover your files manually or through a backup.

Upgrade During Repair?

I asked if I could upgrade the laptop’s logic board and take the expense on my end. This would allow me to pick a logic board from the original late 2013 model Macbook Pro 13″, yet pick more RAM and a faster processor. This would mean the unfolding calamity wouldn’t all be for nothing. Sadly, they said nothing could be upgraded during the repair process, as everything in the database is serialised. Having created and worked with databases in the past, I see this as Apple being inflexible and not being able to deliver to customers desires. There is no reason why they couldn’t do it. Make it happen Apple.

Apple Store Vs Other Stores?

I have two lessons I learnt from this. First of all, buy from an Apple Retail Store and not somewhere else; in my case, JB-HI-FI. The Apple engineer told me I could have returned the laptop if I would have bought it from an Apple Store. However, that wasn’t possible since I bought it from next doors JB-HI-FI. The reason I bought it from JB-HI-FI is it wasn’t in stock at the time from Apple themselves. Next, Apple Care. I don’t usually condone extended warranties, but Apple care in my experience (two broken Macbook’s and a broken iPhone) is worthwhile. If I would have had it, I could have returned the broken laptop, despite it being purchased through JB-HI-FI. Now that I need to upgrade to a more powerful computer as my workflow demands it, I have purchased a top of the line Macbook Pro 15.”


At the end of it all, I was somewhat satisfied, perfectly deserving of the average of 3/5 stars that most Apple Stores in my area have been rated on Google Plus. I didn’t think the Apple engineer was particularly respectful and I could not believe how inflexible Apple was in a variety of ways. But, for the normal consumer, I think most would be satisfied. I say this because the normal person usually has no idea what is and is not possible, and hence likely wouldn’t have many of my complaints and accepted Apple for not being able to do anything but get the laptop working again. For the working professional though, there is lots of room for improvement. I hope my constructive criticism is informative for all consumers, professionals and hopefully Apple.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.