Apple didn’t revamp the design for its ultra-slim 2-pound MacBook Air laptop. Instead, the company focused mostly on internal upgrades for the 12-inch MacBook. These enhancements include a more powerful 6th-generation Core M processor, faster flash storage and an extra hour of battery life. This is a more capable sequel for sure. For this kind of money, though, we wanted more — namely, an extra USB Type-C port and other improvements.
The 12-inch MacBook is better than its predecessor, but certainly you need to compromise a lot for going with MacBook 2016. Here is our review on the ultra-slim Apple Laptop.
The 12-inch MacBook remains a beautiful piece of hardware, made of sturdy aluminum and measuring just 0.5 inches thick. Apple added a rose-gold color option to the mix. Yes, the rose-gold MacBook has a pink hue to it, but it didn’t mind being seen using this laptop on the bus or at Starbucks. After all, at least some guys wear power pink shirts, too.
By comparison, the aluminum-clad HP EliteBook Folio boasts an even thinner 0.47-inch profile and weighs a slightly heavier 2.2 pounds. But that’s justified by the larger, 12.5-inch screen. With its 13-inch display, the Vaio Z weighs 2.56 pounds and is a chunkier 0.66 inches, while the Dell XPS 13 is 2.7 pounds and 0.33 to 0.6 inches thick. Lenovo’s 14-inch ThinkPad X1 Carbon packs a much larger display and keyboard but weighs 2.6 pounds and is 0.59 to 0.65 inches thick.
The MacBook’s extreme minimalism may be a selling point, but the lone USB Type-C port is still a problem for it. If you want to plug in the laptop’s power cable and attach an external display or another device, such as the iPhone, at the same time, you need to connect the USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter ($79), which has a power port, USB 3.0 port and HDMI port.
Keyboard and Force Track Pad
To achieve the MacBook’s razor-thin profile, the MacBook sports a flat keyboard that uses a unique butterfly mechanism. The keys have very little travel- just 0.5 millimeters. That’s half of what the MacBook Air provides (1 mm), and also shallower than the keys on the Vaio Z (1.04 mm) and the XPS 13 (1.2 mm). The MacBook’s keyboard isn’t comfortable, but it is usable.
MacBook’s large, 4.4 * 2.7-inch Force Touch track-pad tricks your brain into thinking that it’s physically clicking down when you press it. It’s not. Instead, the pad uses a Taptic Engine to deliver haptic feedback. It worked brilliantly as I clicked on links, opened apps and selected text.
As with last year’s MacBook, the Force Click feature lets you save time by deep pressing on items. For example, you can look up the definition of a word by Force Clicking it, or you can preview a web page or preview an address in Maps with a deep press. Though its a new feature, but again, it depends on the user if they like it or not.
The MacBook’s 12-inch display is sharp and colorful. The laptop has a resolution of 2304 * 1440 pixels, which blows away the Air’s low-res 1400 * 900 panel.
Registering 327 nits on Laptop Mag‘s light meter, the MacBook’s screen is in between the brightness readings for the touch-screen version of the XPS 13 (336 nits) and the nontouch XPS 13 (318 nits), and higher than the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (292 nits for full HD, 257 for 2560 * 1440). However, the Vaio Z’s display hit a sky-high 548 nits.
The MacBook’s display can produce an impressive 107 percent of the color gamut, which beats the touch XPS 13 and the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (both less than 105 percent). However, the Vaio Z reached 117 percent.
Apple’s panel is also quite color accurate, notching a Delta-E error rate of 0.99 (0 is perfect). While that’s not as good as the X1 Carbon or the Vaio Z (0.5 to 0.8 range), it trumps the touch XPS 13 (3.13) and the category average (2.7).
Graphics, Audio and Webcam
The integrated Intel 515 graphics in the MacBook will be fine for editing photos and playing some light Mac games, such as Rayman Origins, but don’t expect more than that.
On the benchmark for the DiRT 3 racing game, the MacBook mustered just 27 frames per second at its native resolution with all of the details on low, and various effects turned off. That’s below 30 fps. Still, the action seemed relatively smooth.
Apple should not get a pass for stuffing a low-resolution 480 p camera into a $1,299 laptop. It’s not that you want to use for video chat. It feels disappointing for a laptop with such high price.
The MacBook’s sound quality left us surprised. Even with its thin profile, the sound quality if quite clear and loud when compared with previous MacBooks. The speaker (located above the keyboard) produced loud volume without distortion. That’s a very good plus point for such a thin laptop.
The biggest changes to the 2016 MacBook are its internal components, which is powered by a 6th-generation Core M processor, 8 GB RAM and faster flash storage (256 GB or 512 GB). You have your choice of a 1.1-GHz Core m3 or 1.2-GHz Core m5 CPU.
Overall, we found this machine more responsive than its predecessor when opening apps and switching among 10 or more tabs in Google Chrome, but there were still times when OS X’s spinning ball appeared, such as when we tried to search for one app while downloading another in the Mac App Store.
On the Geekbench 3 benchmark, which measures overall performance, the Core m5-powered MacBook scored 5,906. That smokes last year’s MacBook (4,631) and also beats the latest 13-inch, Core i5-powered MacBook Air (5,783), though the latter system has an older 5th-generation Core Series CPU. The XPS 13, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon and the Vaio Z, all of which had 6th Generation Core i5 processors, predictably scored a higher 6,374; 6,828; and 7,252, respectively.
The updated MacBook also benefits from faster PCIe-based flash storage. On Laptop Mag‘s file-transfer test, in which we time how long it takes to move about 5 GB of files, the MacBook took a brisk 14.3 seconds, which translates to 355.9 Mbps. Neither the touch or the non-touch version of the XPS 13 crossed 250 Mbps, but both the X1 Carbon and the Vaio Z managed 419 Mbps with their PCIe drives.
Also, as per Laptop Mag‘s heat test, The MacBook registered fairly cool temps after streaming Hulu video for 15 minutes, but it ran warm on the underside of the system. The touch-pad and the area between the G and H keys stayed below 95-degree comfort threshold, at 84 and 90 degrees, respectively. However, the bottom of the notebook reached 100 degrees. That’s 5 degrees warmer than last year’s MacBook.
Apple promises up to 10 hours of battery life on the new MacBook when surfing the web, and it got close to that mark. On the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves continuous web surfing at 100 nits of screen brightness, the system lasted a strong 9 hours and 38 minutes. That’s about an hour longer than last year’s MacBook.
The MacBook’s run time soundly beat that of the touch-screen version of the XPS 13 (8:08) but was well behind the non-touch model (11:54). The Vaio Z and X1 Carbon lasted 9:04 and 9:06, respectively. However, the 13-inch MacBook Air lasted an astounding 14:40.
Apple offers two configurations of the MacBook. The $1,299 (approx Rs 90,000) base model comes with a Core m3 processor, 8 GB RAM and 128 GB flash storage. Jumping up to $1,599 (approx Rs 1,08,000) will get you a faster Core m5 CPU and double the storage.
The 2016 MacBook is certainly an improvement over its predecessor. It’s significantly faster, especially if you opt for the Core m5 model, and it lasts an hour longer on a charge, all while being extremely portable. But we really mind that flat butterfly keyboard that will take time for you to adjust on it. Also, for this kind of money, we would really like to plug in a power cable and a second device sans a dongle.