2016 MacBook: a good ‘secondary Mac’ gets even better

My feelings about Apple’s 12-inch MacBook — see my review here — haven’t changed since its debut last year: it’s a great “secondary” Mac, but not a desktop replacement. 

Visually, the 2016 version of the teeny laptop looks exactly the same as last year’s model. Its main selling points remain its incredibly small size (at just two pounds and 13.1 mm thin, you have to wonder how they packed a Mac into that body) and gorgeous display (three million pixels and 2304 x 1440 resolution). What’s changed is that the new model has a bit more processing power and some extra battery life — two changes that certainly aren’t insignificant. It’s also available in “rose gold” — which to my eyes means “pink.”

The 2015 MacBook was powered by Intel’s Core M Broadwell processor, and the 2016 version features sixth-generation dual-core Intel Core M processors up to 1.3GHz (mine packs a 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor) and new Intel HD Graphics 515. The improvements add up to about a 15% bump in CPO performance and about 25% faster graphics performance.

Just as impressively, Apple has bumped up the 2016 MacBook from about nine-hour battery life when browsing the web, or up to 10 hours worth of film-watching on a single charge, to 10 hours web browsing and 11 hours of film playback due to increased battery capacity.


However, the FaceTime camera is still a measly 480p device. There’s no Thunderbolt 3, only one USB-C port, and no DDR4 RAM. The camera situation and lack of additional more ports is probably due to the laptop’s svelte design. However, other USB-C laptops shipping in 2016 support Thunderbolt 3 and it would be great if the MacBook did, too. 

Again, those issues don’t bother me too much, as most of my work is done on a 27-inch iMac, and the MacBook is what I use when traveling. If you’re considering the laptop as your main computer, keep in mind its limitations because, with pricing starting at $1,300, this baby is drool-worthy, but it ain’t cheap.