2016 MacBook review: Portable performance

IDG.TV | Apr 26, 2016

For a lot of people, the MacBook is the ideal laptop. It’s light, small, easy to carry, and offers good performance for productivity software.


What's the deal with the MacBook? It's the laptop for when portability is priority number one, two, and three.

Apple's thinnest and lightest laptop comes with some performance sacrifices, since it can't house a processor as fast as the top-of-the-line MacBook Pro.

But the new MacBook is a little faster than last's year's version, thanks to the new Intel Skylake processors. The high-end MacBook we tested has a 1.2GHz Core m5 processor, and in Geekbench 3 testing, we saw a 10 to 15 percent speed boost.

Things get better when it comes to graphics. The Intel HD Graphics 515 in the new MacBook doubled the Cinebench performance of the Intel HD Graphics 5300 in the older laptop.


When it comes to the MacBook versus the MacBook Air, take note. Last year's MacBook was a little slower than the Air, but it's finally caught up and even taken a tiny lead, with a 2 percent bump over the Air's 1.6GHz Core i5 Broadwell processor.

So, you might be disappointed that the new MacBook did not get upgraded to Thunderbolt 3. That's because Thunderbolt 3 has chip and thermal considerations that don't jive with the MacBook's design.

And you might be even more disappointed that there's still only one USB-C port. That's because this laptop doesn’t want to be tied down by any cables. That means Wi-Fi, not ethernet. You even need to use wireless headphones via Bluetooth.

If you absolutely insist on connecting a bunch of external devices, you'll need to invest in a USB-C hub for about $50.

But as a general-purpose laptop, the new MacBook had plenty of power. When you want a laptop that you can stick in you bag and go, the MacBook is the one to get.
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