2015 Macbook Review

Rating:

Before the Macbook (2015) was released, the rumour mill was abuzz in whether it was going to be a a larger iPad “Pro” version to square off against more functional productivity based tablets like the Surface 3  or a Retina Macbook Air. It turns out while not exactly that, there was something else brewing at Apple.

Right off the bat, no matter which colour you’re picking up, whether it’s the silver, carbon grey or gold, you’ll undoubtedly get asked a lot what you think of your brand shiny new Macbook and if they can check it out. It is seriously thin. I’d dare say that it “out Airs” the Macbook Air without the Air in its name.

Design & Form Factor

MacBook looks great in coffee shops!

MacBooks look great in coffee shops!

 

 

DSC_0383

You thought the MacBook Air was thin? Think again.

It is razor thin. If you thought the Macbook Air was thin, you’ll be amazed at how far Apple has pushed the boundaries of what’s possible in how thin a Macbook can actually be.

They’ve looked at it from all angles to be able to get the design to where it is today, from the ports, the fanless design, the PCB layout, cramming as much utility in the small 12” package as it possibly can with their latest and greatest technologies at their disposal.

As cliche as it sounds, the more they removed from the Macbook, the more elegant and unique the Macbook feels. Less, in the Macbook’s case, is certainly more, even with its diminutive frame.

Keyboard

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In order to shave precious millimetres off its profile, Apple re-engineered how keys are made and implemented into their Macbook. With their unique “butterfly” design,

While the design takes a bit of getting used to as you’re not getting the satisfying “clacking” tactile feel of traditional scissor mechanism based keyboards. Your fingers (and words per minute) will be flying after an hour or two with your new Macbook.

macbook butterfly keyboard mechanism

In addition to the innovations to the keyboard, the new Force Touch trackpad is present in the new Macbook. What the Force Touch trackpad does is that registers any presses on the trackpad and simulates a button press, without physically pushing a button down.

The track pad takes a bit of getting used to, because it doesn’t actually go down, but there’s a Taptic feedback engine that gives you the impression that you’re pressing down on a button, but you’re not. It’s actually kinda trippy when you think about it. It’s tricking your brain that you’re pressing down on something, when in fact it’s not. It doesn’t feel as comfortable or tactile, as a say a real button, but it’s certainly cool to know the lengths that Apple gone to shave every millimetre off of the Macbook.

Performance

While not quite the speed demon compared to its more performance oriented counterpart, the 2015 13″ Macbook Pro Retina, the Macbook is no slouch when it comes to performance. Considering it was built and optimized to be featherlight and ultraportable, I was surprised that it didn’t skip a beat when I installed all of my office productivity apps, Xcode IDE to build apps, and playing Spotify in the background, along with a bajillion other tabs open in Google Chrome.

This was in large part to its solid state drive storage (SSD) and plentiful 8 GB of RAM.

Macbook 2015 12 inch DiskSpeedTest

Simply put, you’ll be amazed at how much you throw at it, but it just keeps on impressing you with performance. It’s really the little Macbook that could.

Battery Life

While the claims of having 9 hours of wireless web use can probably be reached. I was able to eke out about 5.5 hours at 12 of 16 bars or 75% brightness. Not bad considering how thin, light and small the Macbook is.

With the diminutive frame and thinness of the Macbook, you are trading battery life for it’s ultra-portability and all the bleeding edge innovation it crams in.

Screen

With a retina screen onboard, it makes it for a visual buffet when it comes to the sharp screen that Apple provides. At 2304 x 1440 resolution and cramming in 226 pixels per inch, it rivals that or beats other Retina screens. It’s simply a joy to dive into the rich and crisp colours that the IPS Retina display outputs.

Ports

The coolest and maybe the most annoying thing about the Macbook is it’s one USB-C port that it’s reliant on charging and connecting to a monitor and other peripherals. With it’s sole and only charging port, you’ll need to shell out another $70 for a proprietary breakout dongle that splits the USB-C port, providing a USB-C port, an HDMI and Lightning connector.

While I appreciate Apple’s relentless focus on making things simple, can be seen as annoying for some, especially with charging extra for the dongle. But that’s the Apple tax you’ll be paying if you want the bleeding edge and latest hardware.

Macbook vs. Macbook Air

MacBook 12″ 2015 vs MacBook Air 13″

Thinness & ports comparison

Thinness & ports comparison

Thinness & ports comparison

Thinness & ports comparison

Having used a early 2014 13″ MacBook Air side by side with the MacBook, I am baffled that I’d admit that my 13″ MacBook Air feels “heavy” compared to the MacBook. It’s silly to admit, but knowing this fact and having access to both these devices, I’m amazed at the care, time, resources and consideration poured into this tiny little MacBook.

For those who have owned an Air and pick up a MacBook, it’s certainly a step up in terms of user experience, gorgeous design and innovations crammed into such a device.

If you’re shopping between the MacBook versus the MacBook Air, some things to consider are the maturity of the design and hardware. If you want the latest and most bleeding edge technology, I’d suggest you seriously consider the newest MacBook. However if you want a mature design and battery life, and a price point that’s a little easier on the wallet, you won’t go wrong with picking up a MacBook Air instead.

Specs

  • 12” LED display with IPS technology
  • 2304 x 1440 resolution at 226 pixels per inch
  • 1.1 GHZ dual-core Intel Core M processor (configurable up to 1.3 GHz)
  • 8 GB of RAM
  • Force Touch track pad
  • 9 hours of wireless web use with 39.7-watt-hour lithium polymer battery
  • 256 GB or 512 GB flash hard drive
  • Intel HD Graphics 5300
  • One USB-C Port
  • 480p FaceTime Camera
  • Height is 0.35 cm at thinnest point to 1.31 cm at thickest point
  • Width 28.05 cm
  • Depth 10.65 cm
  • Weight 2 pounds

The Bottom Line

While it comes with a price premium compared to Apple’s now mature line of MacBook Airs, some might find it hard to justify the price tag. But there’s just the undeniable sexiness and coolness factor of owning the latest iteration of the MacBook lineup.

If and when you do decide to buy a new MacBook, know this, you’re getting a rock solid, all around performer that will surprise you (and others) in many ways. With its thinness, featherlight weight and size, you might not even notice that you have it in your backpack or bag. If you’re carrying it in your hands, you’ll feel a sense of pride that you have pretty much the best the market has to offer in terms of laptops – all things considered.

The product is perfect for: people who want the ultraportable laptop that’s designed and crammed with the latest and greatest of Apple’s bells and whistles. One USB-C port, a gorgeous Retina screen and the tiniest size to performance footprint for a product that Apple has released yet.

Key things to be aware of: even though it is built out of aluminum. It’s still good to consider an AppleCare plan in case anything goes awry with your MacBook after the year 1 mark. The keys will take a bit to get used to, and same goes for the Force Touch trackpad. Finally, you’ll have to buy a dongle to allow to connect to other peripherals, like another monitor, HDMI output and USB. It would have been nice if Apple included it right out of the box.

Final Review Score: 5. Despite its shortcomings, this is the best of the best that Apple has to offer in terms of engineering, design, battery life and performance. You’ll drool over it, and others will too.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
2015 Gold MacBook
Author Rating
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Will obsesses over the latest and greatest in gadgets, startups, does CrossFit and writes about technology, growth marketing, programming and personal development. He curates the Startup Digest in Toronto and is a coffee enthusiast.

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