Apple MacBook 12-Inch (Early 2015) Review: The Laptop Reinvented?

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Windows 8.1 Boot Camp Performance Testing

Here we're evaluating the new MacBook's performance in Windows 8 Pro 64-bit, which we installed using Apple's Boot Camp utility. Boot Camp sets up a separate partition so that you can have a multi-boot environment on your Intel-based Mac system (yes, it only works with Intel) -- one for Mac OS X and the other for Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit. The neat thing about Boot Camp is that it allows you to run Windows natively, so you don't have to worry about losing performance to overhead like you do with virtualized solutions.

Note that Boot Camp no longer supports Windows 7, which is what we used to test previous MacBook systems.

Futuremark PCMark 8
Simulated Application Performance
Futuremark's PCMark 8 has several built-in benchmark tests. The Home test measures a system's ability to handle basic tasks such as web browsing, writing, gaming, photo editing, and video chat. The Creative test offers similar types of tasks, but has more demanding requirements than the Home benchmark and is meant for mid-range and higher-end PCs. The Work test measures the performance of typical office PC systems that lack media capabilities. Finally, the Storage benchmark tests the performance of SSDs, HDDs and hybrid drives with traces recorded from Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office and a selection of popular games.

Apple MacBook PCMark 8

Futuremark's PCMark 8 serves as a reality check for the new MacBook and its lower end CPU, which is clocked at just 1.1GHz (base). The Home Accelerated test represents a mix of common workloads, such as web browsing, gaming, photo editing, and video chat, and as you can see, even though the storage scheme is blazing fast in the new MacBook, the CPU is clearly a bottleneck here.

The system did a little better in the Work Accelerated test, which measures performance of basic office work tasks. It doesn't take into account multimedia chores, like video playback or gaming, and instead focuses on creating spreadsheets, browsing the web, writing documents, and video chat. What this tells us is that the Core M-5Y31 is sufficient for general purpose computing.

Futuremark 3DMark 11
Simulated Gaming Performance

Futuremark's 3DMark11 uses advanced 3D graphics features that are only available with DirectX 11. 3DMark11 isn't simply a port of 3DMark Vantage to DirectX 11, though. With this latest version of the benchmark, Futuremark has incorporated four new graphics tests, a physics tests, and a new combined test.

Apple MacBook 3DMark 11

The new MacBook held its own against a smorgasbord of Windows systems in 3DMark 11. Oddly enough, it trailed the 13-inch MacBook Air with Intel HD 5000 Graphics. In theory, the Intel HD 5300 Graphics should post a higher score here, though with the two integrated GPUs being so close in performance to each other, there are a variety of factors that could explain the switcharoo. It's also worth pointing out that the the new MacBook was running Windows 8.1 in this benchmark, whereas the MacBook Air was running Windows 7.

In any event, you should in no way expect the new MacBook to game at its native resolution, but if you're willing to crank things down, there's enough under the hood to play lighter weight titles.

Futuremark 3DMark Cloud Gate
Simulated Gaming Performance

3DMark Cloud Gate is a separate test from the main 3DMark suite, and it's aimed at entry-level PCs and laptops. It has two subtests: a processor-intensive physics test and two graphics tests. We ran the test suite at its default 1280 x 720 resolution and at default rendering quality settings.

Apple MacBook 3DMark Cloud Gate

The newer 3DMark Cloud Gate test wasn't as kind to Apple's new MacBook as 3DMark 11. As we saw in PCMark 8, the CPU appears to be acting as a bottleneck here, which is something that's going to affect real-world gaming performance.


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