For quite a few months I monitored these forums to see how the new retina MBP would go over. I do know that forums are usually the places were people with problems appear. Rarely do you get people showing up and saying everything is just great. So you need to take these forums with a grain of salt and use them to guide your decision making.
So I followed the heat thread, the burn-in thread and a number of others.
I'm a programmer by trade. I use VMWare Fusion every day and I often need tons of RAM. Flash disk is also almost required these days as I need to switch between things quite quickly. So when the retina MBP was introduced my drool production went up about a thousand fold! I've been working on the following models:
A 2008 MBP pro 17" with a core2duo, 4gb RAM and a 256gb drive
Sold that and got:
A 2010 MBP pro, high-res 15" display core i7 with 8gb of RAM.
In some ways the 2010 MBP was a dream machine. The 8gb of RAM made it possible for me to open 2-3 VMs under Fusion and the high-res display made up for the loss of the 2 inches of display real estate when stepping down from the 17".
The battery life on the 2010 sucked. I NEVER got more than a couple of hours out of it. I also noticed that even after a nice fresh clean Lion install with few programs and processes the processors worked hard. This machine got hot and burned through battery power like a million candle spot light. Still it was a great machine and I did millions of lines of code on that machine.
But since the introduction of the retina MBP with its 16gb of RAM and the big flash disk I've been making a mess of my desk whenever I visit Apple's web page. I was trying to temper that with a belief that as a first gen re-work it is bound to have some issues. So I'd go over to BestBuy and play with the machines there. I often got strange looks from the Apple Best Buy guy and I think he sort of came not to like me because unlike most of his customers I was in the system prefs changing settings playing with terminal windows and I don't think he appreciated what I was doing. I didn't care. I wanted to get a feel for the machine.
So last month I made a pitch to my boss to let me do an upgrade. He finally relented and about 2 weeks ago I placed my order. My MBP retina arrived on Monday. So right off the bat I need to qualify my statements here with the fact that I've only had mine about 3 days. Certainly not long enough to find all of the problems. But here is my impression since getting this machine.
I opted for the 15" retina, 2.6gHz, 16gb RAM, 768 Flash Drive.
When I received the unit on Monday I loaded it up with my editors, compilers, programs from the AppStore, music, etc. Of my 768 I'm down to about 210gb free which is plenty. I was expecting to use more.
The first thing I must confess about this new machine is how quiet the processors are. I installed iStat Menus which I like so I can monitor how my MBP is doing. With my 2010 just running a single VMWare Fusion VM had the processor at about 30% and the fan running say 3500 RPM. It was hot and noisy. This new machine, as I type this post has two VMs open. A Windows 7 32 bit, and a Windows 7 64 bit. I'm also listening to iTunes, I have mail, google chrome, calendar, contacts and a number of other apps open. As I sit here the CPU activity almost non existent. The rMBP isn't even struggling in the least with this load. In direct comparison my 2010 MBP would have 30-40% CPU load and the fans would be screaming away, not at full bore but really loud. But here I sit with this new machine and it is quiet, only very slightly warm and I'm doing what I "normally" do.
For this alone the upgrade was CLEARLY worth it to me. The computing horsepower in this machine is insane.
My unit came with (heaven forbid) the LG display that everyone in the "burn-in" thread says is HORRIBLE and some of these guys have gone through 5 or 6 replacements to solve their burn in problems. I don't doubt they've had these issues. I don't doubt they exist. I have none of them. This display is freaking amazing!
Now I've heard it said that the IR (image retention, ghosting, burn-in) can take weeks to appear. So I'm not out of the woods yet. But at this point in time the display is simply awesome and with the background I choose I see ZERO ghosting. I'll say it again. This display is freaking awesome!
Now I'm not a graphic artist and I cannot and will not try to tell you if my color point is correct for the white or not. What I can tell you is that this display looks good to me. I can read even the smallest text easily. The clarity is simply amazing. I'm 55 and have certainly reached that age where my eyes work overtime. I wear progressive glasses and I'm not having any trouble at all with the display.
The only thing I could point a finger at is that this new retina display is bounded by a black area that for my eyes is the same color as my background. I've found myself trying to slide windows into that area and being shocked that they are disappearing (because the display physically ends there). This is just something to get used to or I could set my background to be a little lighter. Anyway this is a pretty damned small negative if I must say so.
Ok on heat. As I mentioned above this machine just idles along 99% of the time so there is little heat being produced. I'm not doing nothing either. In my Windows 7 VMs I'm running compilers and when the are cranking on code the Windows CPU is showing 100% while the rMBP registers this as like 5%. Not sure I understand how that is working yet but I see no speed loss in my VM and yet my rMBP is just coasting even though Windows is registering 100% CPU.
The airflow on this new computer is to take air in from the sides and dispense the hot air out a vent in front of the display. I personally think this is a design flaw. I think this may be causing some of the burn in/ghosting issues because the computer is venting hot air right at the display. I personally would have vented it out the back beneath the screen but perhaps the latch as it is designed for the rMBP may make that impossible.
But as an engineer I have an idea for a way to fix the heat on the LCD panel issue. It would not take much to make a small plastic piece that sat in that hinge area and took the outgoing air and sent it to the sides way from the panel. I'm not gonna design this but if the heat really is the issue this simple $2 piece would probably save the panel.
So my take is this:
For me personally and acceptance of anything is a very personal choice, the retina MBP is exactly what Apple bills it to be. The best, more amazing laptop I've ever owned. It is cool (temp wise), fast (amazingly fast), small, thin, light, has an amazing screen visually and I predict this computer will satisfy my needs for quite a few years to come.
I will not berate or downplay the issues some have had. I honestly believe there have been bad retina MBPs. Bad screens. Heat issues. Failures. They happen and those people have suffered and I hope Apple will make it right for them. But I'm one to say that my unit more than satisfies my goals and intents. Like any piece of machinery it has its small issues. I'm sure my screen will have some IR. I'm sure my unit will get hot but so far it doesn't work even 1/4 as hard as my older 2010 MBP.
So my point to everyone is make your own choice. Do not let the threads you see in these forums convince you that your retina MBP will be problem ridden. Just because other people see and are bothered by a problem you might not be and the problem may not exist on your retina MBP.
For me, this machine is simply amazing. I can only hope my panel does not suddenly start to show massive ghosting. I do plan to keep a close eye on that and on the heat. But right now I'm not expecting issues.
Good luck in your purchase and also to those that have purchased and are not satisfied.