Two years ago, April 10th 2015, Apple unveiled a new platform for the Ultra-thin, ultra-light, fan-less 12” MacBook and it received disapproval from every tech savvy person who lives more on stereotypes than on actual experience.
Year after year, it got refined with the newer chips, with Skylake processors in 2016 and finally releasing the one with Kabylake chips and the Second-Gen Butterfly switches which are also found on the new MacBook Pros.
I got my 12” MacBook in January of 2016 with the Broadwell Dual Core Intel Core M5 Processor (1.2GhZ Turbo-boost to 2,9GhZ), Intel HD Graphics 5300, a 512 Gig SSD and 8Gigs of RAM at a price point of US $1599 [Indian price of ₹1,39,000 would give an equivalent cost to around the US $2175].The specifications it had were complimented by a Retina Display with a resolution of 2304X1440 (2K), a force touch trackpad, a Keyboard with the first-Gen Butterfly switches and a Potato 480 facetime camera.
And with that hardware, I’ll be sharing my experiences, which I hope could be a step forward to understanding what the MacBook is and what it isn’t.
First, let me tell my use case scenarios, being actively involved in the management and marketing side of things, my work mostly revolves around Microsoft Office Suite, extensive browsing and me moving around a lot with my laptop so basically, the necessities were portability and battery life.
As for portability, this device weighs around 900gms, so I don’t think that for a full fledged laptop, this could be bettered upon with this build quality.
Right now am writing this article down during my spare time in my office and the laptop is on 65% of charge, with 3 Hours and 40 Minutes of use, during which I have 4 Word files, 3 large excel sheets, 7 Tabs on Opera and Spotify streaming music in the background. Also, the brightness is at Max and the Backlit Keyboard at 50% brightness, so extrapolating this can give you around 10 Hours and 40 Minutes of usage, and actually I get around 11 hrs of usage easily out of this.
So you can easily note the fact that the battery life almost certainly is not an issue with the device.
Let’s move ahead with the performance side of things.Since it isn’t a Power User device and if you are one of them, obviously any laptop with an integrated GPU isn’t an option for you. But my instances with light editing of photographs were a breeze, also, moving through many large files and apps have no lag induced and also, for a little bit of fun I did light editing of a 4K 4 Minute video on the iMovie Suite, and it rendered smoothly with no hiccups and exported the file in around 8 Minutes which is comparable to a Dual Core i5 Processor’s performance by the way.
For me, the ultra-portability and its ability to take in all my use cases were the big reasons for me adapting and enjoying my experience with the MacBook.
Now, let us move on to the Mid 2017 12” MacBook.It features a brighter retina display with higher colour gamut, the latest KabyLake m3,i5 and i7(Y-Series) processors and the second generation Butterfly Keyboard switches.People are still heavily criticising it and calling it hugely underpowered and even go so far as to call it an iPad with macOS.Lets backtrack now…
Looking at Geekbench scores for a while –
The Core i5-7Y54 in the Mid 2017 MB-12” scores about 3800 and 7200 for single and multi-core scores respectively.
The Core i5-5257U in the Late 2016 MBP-13” scores about 3700 and 8200 for single and multi-core scores respectively.
The Core i7-6567U in the Late 2016 MBP-13” scores about 4300 and 8700 for single and multi-core scores respectively.
So, basically, The Y– series chips are extremely close in the performance to the 15W U-Series Processors. So close that the 12″ can basically do anything any other Macbook Pro can until you get to the insanely huge 15″ quad core. Within 10-30% even on the most maxed out i7 28W part.
For those who shouts about Geekbench not being the right metric to compare the performance –
You guys are essentially saying that you can’t trust auto performance metrics because the cars being compared use a different type of fuel or that you can’t trust the stopwatches or accels being used.
CPUs all compute math and move data. GeekBench is a natively compiled C++ program executing common functions used by most applications, that compute math and move data. Primate Labs uses the native tools of each platform to compile the code to the native machine language. It’s eminently comparable, and a common way to compare CPU performance for 50 years now.
You can criticise that these are benchmarks, not full applications, and a particular application or function is not covered by the benchmark. There will be applications or code not covered by the benchmark, or the code doesn’t exercise certain aspects of a CPU architecture, or that certain applications are hand-tuned for performance which a compiler may not do.
A lot of applications use common core libraries that don’t translate to native libraries well, like MS Office or Adobe CS, and that results in slow apps. But having a higher performance system is advantageous for this type of development system too.
You can criticise Primate Labs for not using the right compiler or developer environment for Windows, Android and macOS/iOS. Maybe they should be using Intel’s ICC instead of MS’s compiler. But the numbers above are for macOS and hence: same OS, same compiler.
So, finally, I without any other notion, can easily say that a MacBook 12” is a better buy even compared to 13” MacBook Pro with a 600gm Heavier body, bigger chassis, fans and just a 20% Performance boost at max, all of which for a user with his work mostly on the portability side of things, would be a disadvantage. UNLESS you plan on using your MacBook Pro with an External GPU or connecting to a RAID Array or so with the Thunderbolt port for which I already said, the MacBook isn’t for the power users!