I wanted to take a closer look and see how much faster the new Retina MacBook Pros are compared to the previous Retina MacBook Pros. I've collected Geekbench 3 results for all of the Retina MacBook Pros and charted the results below.
If you're not familiar with Geekbench 3, it is a cross-platform processor and memory benchmark. Higher Geekbench scores are better, with double the score indicating double the performance. If you're curious how your Mac or PC compares, you can download Geekbench 3 to find out. It's a free download and only takes a couple of minutes to run.
13-inch Retina MacBook Pro
Here are the results for the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro. I've also included results for the 13-inch MacBook Air, as people often have trouble deciding between the 13-inch Pro and the 13-inch Air.
There are only minor performance gains (2% to 4%) between the new generation and the previous generation. This isn't surprising given that the design focus of the new processors was power consumption, not performance.
What is surprising is that the high-end Pro is only 5% faster than the high-end Air in single-core performance (the difference increases to 13% in multi-core performance). Users with applications that only use one core won't notice much difference between the Air and the Pro.
15-inch Retina MacBook Pro
Here are the results for the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro.
There are some significant performance gains for the high-end model as it's 10% faster than the previous generation. The same gains aren't present in the mid- and low-end models, though. Both are 2% to 4% faster than the previous generation.
What's interesting about these gains is that they come from processors with lower frequencies (e.g., 2.6GHz vs 2.8GHz for the high-end models). These frequencies are somewhat misleading, as they're the "base" frequencies. The processors are capable of "boosting" to much higher frequencies when needed. Running at a lower "base" frequency helps save power.
Much like the MacBook Air update earlier this year, the MacBook Pro update provides only a modest improvement in processor performance. However, the improvements in other areas, such as battery life and graphics performance, may make this a compelling upgrade for users with a first-generation Retina MacBook Pro.