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Toshiba KIRAbook vs. MacBook Pro with Retina display


April 26, 2013

We take a look at how Toshiba's KIRAbook and Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display compare

We take a look at how Toshiba's KIRAbook and Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display compare

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Last week, Toshiba entered the ultra high-end laptop market with the KIRAbook, a thin and light Ultrabook with a number of compelling features. The laptop is the first Windows 8 device to feature a Retina-level display (or PixelPure as Toshiba calls it), throwing it into direct competition with Apple's MacBook Pro with Retina display. We take a look at both devices to see which (if either) comes out on top.

We'll be looking at the three stock KIRAbook configurations and the two standard 13-inch models of Apple's device.

Size and weight

The two devices are very similar in size, though the KIRAbook is slightly shallower than the MacBook Pro and comes in a millimeter thinner. Toshiba's offering is also a little lighter than Apple's device.


Both systems pack a very healthy number of pixels into their 13-inch panels, and while the MacBook has the edge when it comes to pixels-per-inch, Toshiba's machine comes with the option of a touch screen display – something that's becoming increasingly common on Windows 8 laptops.


The KIRAbook comes with a choice of i5 and i7 processors, while the MacBook Pro offers two i5 variants. Neither system offers a quad core option, and while the i7 is the best choice here, all the processors are sure to provide steady performance.


Both systems feature integrated Intel graphics.


Both devices come fitted with 8 GB of RAM.


All available models of Toshiba's laptop come with 256 GB of SSD storage, while the MacBook Pro offers a choice of 128 GB and 256 GB options.


Both laptops come with 802.11b/g/n wireless and Bluetooth 4.0 as standard.


Apple's device comes out on top here, with the company claiming that the larger-capacity battery will run for seven hours on a single charge compared to the KIRAbook's six hours. The MacBook Pro also features a MagSafe magnetic power port.

The batteries on both systems are non-removable.


Both systems feature HD webcams.


With both systems featuring high-end specs and performance, the biggest and most tangible difference is the software.

Unlike certain competing products, both the MacBook Pro with Retina display and the KIRAbook run on fully featured operating systems with a wealth of third party software support. This means that whichever you pick, you'll have no problem running standard applications like Office, iTunes and Photoshop.

A lot of users are likely already entrenched in either the Windows or OS X camp, in which case, your choice has probably already been made. However, if you're somehow still on the fence, then both platforms have their charms.

Windows 8 features a love-it-or-hate-it touch-centric user interface which makes the KIRAbook's touch screen a good fit. It's a very well-established and stable OS and offers a huge range of software.

It's fair to say that OS X is more geared towards creative types, with certain software such as Final Cut Pro and Aperture being Mac exclusives. Apple's Mac App Store is also significantly better stocked than Microsoft's current offering, though there are of course countless traditional Windows desktop apps available elsewhere.

Your choice of operating system will be entirely based upon your personal preference, though both options are solid.


The starting price of the KIRAbook is US$100 more than the Retina MacBook Pro, with the $1,600 configuration of Toshiba's laptop featuring an i5 processor and lacking the touch screen functionality of the more expensive models. The specs of each competing device's lowest-priced models are almost identical, with the exception of storage, where the KIRAbook doubles the MacBook Pro's offering of 128 GB to 256 GB.

The $1,800 KIRAbook comes with an i5 processor and a touch screen, while the pricier $2,000 model provides the i7 processor upgrade. The more expensive of the MacBook Pros comes with a larger 256 GB SSD hard drive and features a slightly quicker i5 processor.

The prices here largely reflect their respective specs, with no significant bang-for-your-buck argument to be made in either machine's favor.


Both Toshiba and Apple's systems have a lot to offer here, and it's impossible to crown a clear winner here. The KIRAbook is an impressive system, and with its 2,560 x 1,440 display, it's the new king of the Windows 8 Ultrabook hill. The touch-centric nature of the OS makes the touch screen versions of the system a better choice, but also a more expensive one.

The Retina MacBook Pro is an equally impressive machine with a bevy of compelling features. Its lower price adds to the appeal, though we'd actually recommend the pricier of the two models for its more substantial storage capacity.

At the end of the day, the Toshiba KIRAbook is a very capable laptop, and it's the only Windows 8 system that can compete with Apple's Retina-touting machines. That said, it doesn't quite do enough to topple the MacBook Pro from its pedestal.

For more on the MacBook Pro with Retina display, check out our in-depth review.

About the Author
Chris Wood Chris specializes in mobile technology for Gizmag, but also likes to dabble in the latest gaming gadgets. He has a degree in Politics and Ancient History from the University of Exeter, and lives in Gloucestershire, UK. In his spare time you might find him playing music, following a variety of sports or binge watching Game of Thrones. All articles by Chris Wood

Worth mentioning that those are just the base configurations for Apple's MBP. They can be configured with a 3.0 GHz i7 chip, and storage up to 768G. Couldn't quickly find info on the KIRAbook's options.


@Siger - those MBP specs set you back $5000+ when you finally drag out your credit card (I know, that's what mine cost).


@Christopher, sorry dood but if you bothered to go to the Apple site, your the 13inch Macbook retina with the 3.0Ghz Core i7 is $200 the base price so $1899 with a 256GB SSD. If you add the 768GB SSD its $2599. This is all with 8GB of RAM. neither is very cheap but still very very far away from your $5000 price. also the Toshiba is in the same exact price range.

Sebastien Derenoncourt

As pointed out, all the options were not raised and the utility and performance of each platform is not considered. Windows historically slows down the more you use it. OSX is much more productive and stable than windows generally, with more applications of actual creative use. Windows is great for spreadsheets and word processing. OSX is good for handling large files, video, audio, etc. love the multiple desktops and hot corners too. And my OSX /iOS devices are all as fast now as when I bought them over the last 4 years. Not to mention integration with iCloud, iOS, iTunes, iMovie, iPhoto, etc. that just works - no farting around for hours like with windows.

Andrew Cox

Unfortunately the author did not mention that the Mac choice are much greater, you can also get a slightly higher priced 15" I7 with 512 GB SSD and a much higher resolution and more extras. By the way whatever Ifix it might have said, it is a piece of cake to upgrade your SSD for a far lower price than Apple charges and the nonsense that Apple OSX is for more creative people is rubbish. Ask any windows user how creative they must be in order to get their machines going. You must be a creative wizard to work with windows.

The Barbarian

as someone who has both a PC (sony vaio F series with i7) and Mac (MBA 13" w/128 config)....i really don't get the debate. i use my PC for most of my 'creative' stuff. my camcorder like most DVs has firewire 400 which the PC came equipped with a 400 port, unlike the 800 port of Mac. I have Adobe (Master Collection) and make quite a bit use of it (Indesign, Dreamweaver, Premier Pro, Photoshop). Likewise I run Office on my Mac with no hiccups....the ancillary programs of Mac such as itunes works on a PC equally well or their are better alternatives: iMovies (doesn't do AVCHD), Even the battery debate has not proven true.... the Mac doesn't last as nearly long as Apple's claim and PC batteries have gotten better over the years and seem to retain it's charges better than Mac. I thought once mac went intel-based there would be less Mac vs PC: creativity vs productivity 'debates' ... the truth is they are equally serviceable and it comes down to the silly ephemeral stuff of perceived affluence. The one thing I think is not up for debate is the inflated price tag of a Mac....spec-for-spec PCs are just less expensive -- hence why my next computer will be an PC.


@HipHopSay Absolutely. I've been a Windows user for many years, and now own an MBA 13" - love it hardware-wise (wish I'd got the 256 instead of 128GB SSD though) - now use it almost exclusively... running Windows7, not OSX (I use many windows apps that wont run on OSX). Pricey? yes, but I can't deny the quality - I highly recommend it - except for one thing: the keyboard is missing Home, End, PgUp and PgDown keys - I now need to use a Fn button on the opposite side of the keyboard + arrow keys. This is the one reason I would go for a native windows machine in the future.

The Huff

I would use linux on both, imagine the possibilities..


@Andrew Cox

I dont know where you got this "Windows slows down the longer you use it" but that is completely false as long as the hardware is good and you take care of your machine. "OSX is much more productive and stable than windows generally" How is OSX more "productive" than Windows? Also stability has not been an issue since Windows 7 came out, where have you been?

"OSX is good for handling large files, video, audio, etc. love the multiple desktops"

Again, old stereotypes. I have worked in two animation studios and been to 6, NONE of them have an Apple-exclusive environment, all are PCs. Also, I am also a 3d modeler and if you knew anything about my industry you would know that 3ds Max only runs under Windows. Multiple Desktops and Hot corners? We've had multiple desktops for years, and hot corners are in Windows 8. I am still shocked that people like you exist and spread these incredible falsehoods.

Jordan Burke

I own a 13 inch rMBP. I have a 3 Ghz. Intel Core i7 and 256 GB of storage for an $1800 price tag. It can be configured with a 768 GB hard drive. I am not sure if this was different when this review came out, but now some important information in the article is incorrect.

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