AnandTech reviews Apple’s new 12-inch MacBook: Impressive

“Though Apple’s device is distinctly a laptop in terms of form factor and design, you’d none the less be excused for mistaking it for a large form factor tablet if you took a look at its overall size and internal configuration, both of which are far closer to a tablet than a laptop,” Ryan Smith writes for AndandTech. “Apple may not be doing any kind of wild 2-in-1 transforming design, or even pushing the concept of a touchscreen OS X device, but they have clearly tapped their immense experience with tablets in putting together the new MacBook.”

“The 2015 MacBook is an interesting take on building a Mac, one whose outward appearance hides just how much Apple has done under the hood to make it possible,” Smith writes. “From the small size, to the low weight, the choice of a Core M processor, the passive, fanless cooling system, and of course the choice of metallic colors, the MacBook pushes against the line that separates Apple’s laptops from their tablets.”

“I’ve come away rather impressed with the MacBook. As an 11” Ultrabook user I already have a fondness for the weight and size of the form factor, and as a journalist frequently carrying around a laptop to trade shows and meetings I particularly appreciate the reduction in weight… what the MacBook fulfills is delivering acceptable performance when I’m away from that workstation and need portability over performance,” Smith writes. “The fact that the MacBook is the MacBook, and not the MacBook Nano or some other named MacBook is something I believe is telling. Although there’s clearly a risk in reading too much into Apple’s future plans based on a name alone, I have to seriously wonder where the MacBook and the MacBook Air go from here. Apple still needs an entry-level Mac laptop, but do they need the MacBook Air in particular?”

Tons more in the full review – recommended as usualhere.

MacDailyNews Take: We want! Our favorite Macs of all time, the current gen. 11-inch MacBook Air, are set to go by the wayside.

Related articles:
Wired reviews Apple’s new MacBook: ‘The future of laptops; I want one very badly’ – April 9, 2015
Benchmarks show Apple’s new 12-inch MacBook is amazingly fast – April 7, 2015
New MacBook destroys competitors’ battery life – March 30, 2015
Why Apple is banking on USB-C for its new 12-inch MacBook and beyond – March 25, 2015
Ports? We don’t need no stinkin’ ports! Why Apple’s MacBook will be a hit – March 16, 2015
Gruber: Apple invented USB-C reversible-plug connector – March 14, 2015
The new one-port Apple MacBook? No problem for those living in 2015 – March 12, 2015
AnandTech hands on Apple’s new 12-inch MacBook: ‘By far the most portable Mac Apple has ever created’ – March 12, 2015
Apple’s revolutionary new 12-inch MacBook heralds world without wires and cables – March 11, 2015
PC Mag hands on Apple’s all-new 12-Inch MacBook: ‘You’ll want to carry it with you everywhere’ – March 10, 2015
Hands-on with Apple’s One-port wonder, the amazing MacBook with 12-inch Retina display – March 9, 2015
Apple unveils all-new MacBook, the thinnest and lightest Mac ever made – March 9, 2015

26 Comments

    1. I agree. To me it’s somewhat confusing. I like what ken1w suggests below as a solution.

      My thought: Apple didn’t want to remove the MacBook Air line at this time. It’s doing well. Killing it off with the new MacBook might have upset some people as it really is radically different. Making a third line of MacBooks (which is what Apple is doing) may well be the best transition to two lines of MacBooks with the ‘Air’ line eventually removed and the new MacBook approach being the default.

      1. Keeping the Air also provides a bridge for people who are afraid to not have a multitude of ports, until they realize they really don’t use ports anyway.

        1. It sounds like a lot of people under estimate how many people use ports. I have a 15″ rMBP and with the exception of the audio port and the HDMI port all are in use. If the rMBP isn’t handy I can plug everything into my MacBook Air with the exception of one thunderbolt drive. I have multiple bootable backups of my boot drive, a superdrive, a media drive plus its backup and a data drive plus its backup and use flash drives all the time.

          The Air series are great back up computers for power users, not very powerful but useful in a pinch. The new MacBook can’t even make a bootable backup while charging without using a dongle.

        2. *blinks* I don’t think you know people as well as you think you do. Some percentage of computer users don’t use ports because they do not own a thumb drive. I have no problem with Apple catering to those who have limited needs/desires because they don’t do much with their computers. That’s fine. However, I — and most people who are savvy with technology — do more. Fear is not the issue; utility is.

      2. That makes sense, DC. The original MacBook Air was a pathfinder device for Apple, and the first generation as met with mixed reviews. But it evolved in terms of design and performance to become a highly desirable laptop, and ended up “inspiring” a multitude of Wintel “Ultrabooks.”

        The new retina MacBook is the pathfinder for new lightweight technologies and design approaches, such as USB-C and fanless cooling. Just as the MacBook Air evolved, so will the new MacBook. The initial version is already a strong product, but advancements in the mobile CPU, batteries, etc. will eventually enable Apple to package the power of the MacBook Pro in the form factor of a tablet plus keyboard with the battery life of the iPad or better.

          1. I agree, the Cube is a fanless design. But the Cube is not a laptop, nor is it battery powered, both of which are significant differences. In addition, the Cube used natural convective cooling (thus the vertical design with vents), not conductive cooling to the chassis. And the Cube did not have the processing power of the new MacBook, either.

    1. I found the “bad” parts about the MacBook in ARS’ review to be a bit silly – e.g., they complained about the lack of ports, but that completely misses the point (and target market) of the MacBook. If you want/need ports, then you shouldn’t be looking at a MacBook. The advantage of only two ports is that the MacBook can be thinner and lighter, so you’re not carrying around a bunch of ports you never use.

      1. What’s the target market? Computer newbies that have no need for flash drives, optical drives, backup drives nor any desire to back up or sync their iDevices? People who don’t yet understand that the cloud is a poor substitute for wired devices and that Time Machine and a Time Capsule are a pathetic substitute for a bootable backup? People who don’t understand that most peripherals are powered or charged by the computer?

        I know people like these. They’re the ones that bring me their bargain-basement wonders and ask me to fix them after a few months or ask me to help them recover all their photos and videos that got erased after bringing their computer to Best Buy to have it fixed.

        That’s not the target audience, these people don’t pay over $1000 for an entry-level machine. The target market is new Apple users dazzled by any new tech Apple comes up with.

  1. Just ordered the 256gb with 1.3 ghz build to order in space gray.

    My favorite laptop of all time was my 12″ Powerbook G4, as it showed what a small form factor can be, a true revelation at the time. Still use it when I need something run in OS 9 – old data and graphs for my work in Cricket Graph.

  2. Just ordered the space gray 256 gb 1.3 ghz build to order.

    My favorite laptop was the 12″ Powerbook G4. It showed the greatness of a small form factor. Still use it to access old data and graphs in OS 9 – Cricket Graph.

  3. I saw the new MacBook in person, when I went to the Apple Store (over the weekend) to see how Apple Watch was being presented. This is the type of highly refined design that Apple can keep using for four or five years, with only updates to technical specifications. It makes the MacBook Air look a bit archaic in comparison. Ultimately, the “starting at” price will be $999, and MacBook Air will be phased out.

    I think this is Apple’s plan for mobile computing devices with at least a 10-inch Retina screen, in terms of price (not counting price reduction for older model)…

    $500 to $1000: iPad. It was originally designed as Apple’s answer for “netbooks,” the expansion of iPhone into laptop territory.

    $1000 to $1500: MacBook. The convergence iPad and Mac. iPad-like technologies and design, with the familiar and flexible Mac user experience. Focused on efficiency.

    $1500 and higher: MacBook Pro. 13-inch and larger screen. Focused on performance. Higher processing and graphics hardware specs, with big battery, dedicated charging connection, various ports, and flash storage slot.

    1. Apple felt no need for an “answer” for netbooks and the iPad was designed before the iPhone.
      The 13 inch MBP starts at $1299 not $1500.
      The Macbook uses what iPad features and design? How does it show convergence between a touch tablet and a laptop?

      1. Back when “netbooks” were considered “hot,” the typical industry analyst was calling for Apple to release a $500 MacBook (Apple’s “netbook”). Instead, Apple’s “answer for netbooks” was the $500 iPad. There was no viable “tablet” market in 2010; Apple created that market with iPad. The iPad’s original purpose was to be the “netbook killer.” And netbooks were soon dead…

        The CURRENT MacBook Pro line actually starts at $1100; it’s the older design. There isn’t enough differentiation between the “Pro” line and 13-inch MacBook Air. I’m describing a near future scenario, when MacBook Air is phased out. The MacBook Pro should move upscale in technical specs, to clearly differentiate it from the MacBook. It should be obvious to the customer that they want a MacBook Pro, with higher-performance and more connectivity options, OR they want a highly efficient, no noise, ultra-light ultra-thin MacBook.

        > How does it show convergence between a touch tablet and a laptop?

        Because the new MacBook is (technically) designed like iPad, with a Mac interface. It has a miniaturized logic board, with everything fully integrated, including storage and RAM. It has no fan. It has just one connection point that is for both data and power. It’s meant to rely on “cloud” storage, not local storage. It has a battery that is contoured to take up ALL available internal volume. Like the iPad’s touchscreen, its touch surface (the trackpad) does not move. The focus is convenience, not pure power. Is that enough…?

        1. Not quite. If it was meant to rely on Cloud storage, there would be no need for offering differing configurations of SSDs, yet Apple does this. Apple is hedging its bets here, and they are wise to do so, given the intense criticism Google took for their Chromebooks.

      2. @ Darwin, OS X and iOS may share some internal code but OS X has a user accessible filesystem while iOS does not. There are certain aesthetic similarities and certain programs that can share data, but unless Apple does something as monumentally stupid as coming out with something like the Surface and Windows 8.x, I don’t think we’re in any danger of the two platforms converging.

        I could see a convertible device that could switch operating systems, but the philosophy of use between the two operating systems is far too different to allow convergence any time soon.

  4. I am glad to see writers like the MacBook, it’s for them. It took me a few days after it came out to understand it. The new MacBook give a great screen for looking at a long time, and studding what was written. It can be used anywhere, even places that don’t have Wifi (take that Chrome Books). It is very portable. It has a keyboard and trackpad (the best trackpad). The one port through me off at first, however it is all one needs for writing on the road. One less cable and cable and power brick is important when needing to travel as lightly as possible. Most everything can be done wirelessly these days. For people working with a lot of photos, audio, and video the one port would suck. The MacBook is not for that kind of work.

    I have gotten pissed off when reading how you could not do “real work” on an iPad. There are a lot of jobs that a iPad is great for. Writing is not one of them. Now Apple has a great computer for writers to get “real work” done. Other writers should take note. Sitting at your desk is going to be harder and harder to do. Your competition will be where the stories are happening and publishing their work as soon as they get a Wi-Fi connection.

  5. My son is heading off to college next year, so we were looking to replace his (my old) MBP 13″. We read as many reviews as we could find, benchmark testing, etc. The Air was out because he wants Retina display. Then we went to the Apple Store and saw the MacBook side-by-side with the MBP – there’s just no comparison at the design and styling. MacBook blows the MBP away, and the MBP is a classically great looking laptop.

    Then you pick up the MacBook – it can’t weigh much more than an iPad Air, certainly not much of a perceivable difference. It was lightning fast in opening Safari, browsing, iMovie, GarageBand, etc. etc.

    My son ordered a slate gray 1.2 GHz 256 MB with the USB adapter for those few occasions when he may need a USB port.

    Oh, and he bought a Beats Pill, which is really nice.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.