Apple MacBook (2016) Review

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Lowest price Product: Apple MacBook MLHA2LL/A 12-Inch Laptop with Retina Display (1.1GHz Dual Core Intel m3, 8GB RAM, 256GB HD, OS X), Silver - $1,149.00
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“Definitely better, but not for everyone”

The Apple MacBook (2015) had a mixed response among critics and users alike. While it was lauded for its slim design, good looks and portability, the lack of any connectivity options beyond the single USB-C port was a deal breaker for many. The 2016 MacBook can almost considered an S variant – like Apple has for its iPhones. The exterior has stayed pretty much the same with the internal components getting an upgrade.

Enhancements for this year’s edition include a more powerful Intel Core M processor, longer battery life and faster storage. Even though it is a better laptop than its predecessor, it still involves a number of compromises, not least of which is the presence of only one external port.

Design

As with most things Apple, the MacBook continues to be a gorgeous device and looks the same as last year’s model. This time around, however, there is a new Rose Gold color option too. This pinkish hue may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it does give buyers more options to choose from.

The aluminum chassis is just 0.5 mm thick and the device is extremely light, making it very easy to carry around. It is much lighter and thinner than some of its competition which includes the Dell XPS 15 and the Lenovo X1 Carbon. However, at 12 inches, the MacBook has a smaller screen than both those devices.

Just like last time, there is only one USB-C port for connectivity, which doubles up as the charging port also. If you want to connect different devices, you will need to buy an adapter which is available from Apple and third-party sources.

Display

Absolutely brilliant – that’s the best way of describing the MacBook’s display. The 12-in screen has a resolution of 2304 x 1440 pixels, a definite improvement over the MacBook Air. At 327 nits, it’s quite bright and can reproduce 107% of the RGB color range. The accuracy of the colors are great as well and the panel notched an error score of 0.99 (0 being perfect) in Delta-E. This is not quite as good as the X1 Carbon, but is a considerable improvement over the category average (2.7).

Keyboard and Trackpad

To maintain its thin profile, the MacBook has a unique butterfly mechanism in its keyboard. At 0.5 mm, the keys have very less travel and take some getting used to. But, after a few hours of typing, you will grow accustomed to it. It is not the most comfortable keyboard in the world, but it is perfectly useable.

The Force Touch trackpad is brilliant as expected. This 4.4 x 2.7-inch space uses a Taptic Engine to trick your brain into thinking that you are actually clicking when you use it. You can use the Force Click to speed up some tasks like preview a website before opening it or look up the definition of a word.

Performance

Internal components have changed considerably in the 2016 MacBook. It comes with a 6th generation Core M processor (1.1 GHz Core M3 or 1.5 GHz Core M5), 8 GB RAM and speedier flash storage (256 GB or 512 GB). The Core M5 variant was used for testing.

When opening apps or switching between tabs, the machine is much more responsive than its predecessor. But put it under too much stress, and things will slowly start lagging. On Geekbench 3, it scored 5906, way more than the 2015 edition (4631) and better than the latest Core i5 MacBook Air (5783). Expect the Core M3 variant to score lower.

The faster flash storage has improved data transfer rates. The system transferred 5 GB of files in 14.3 seconds, which is about 355.9 MBps. In comparison, the Dell XPS 13 did not cross 250 MBps.

Graphics is handled by an integrated Intel 515 chip. This is adequate for some basic photo editing or playing light games such as Rayman Origins. Don’t expect playable framerates for any of the more graphics-heavy titles. For example, at native resolution, DiRT 3 registered just 27 frames second with all details set on low and effects like multisampling turned off.

Battery Life

Apple claims that the new MacBook will give 10 hours of battery life. In our battery test, which involves setting the screen brightness to 100 nits and continuous web browsing, the machine lasted for 9 hours and 38 minutes, a whole hour longer than last year’s model and better than the category average of 8 hours and 10 minutes.

Final Thoughts

PROS:
  • Light and easy to carry around
  • Bright and colorful screen
  • Longer battery life
  • Improved performance
CONS:
  • Single USB-C port
  • Webcam is low-res
  • Can power only a single display

The Apple MacBook (2016) is a definite improvement over its predecessor when it comes to performance and battery life. However, some of the 2015 edition’s biggest drawbacks have been left unaddressed.

9.7 Total Score
Excellent!

Design
9.4
Display
9.8
Preformance
9
Battery Life
9
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