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

Performance Summary & Conclusion

Performance Summary: Apple's new MacBook wasn't designed to outperform the company's other mobile products, it was built for ultra-portability in a world no longer ruled by wires. That's something our benchmarks reflected -- in Cinebench, for example, the MacBook's low wattage Core M-5Y31 processor didn't have the raw compute power to outclass the current competition. That's not to say the MacBook is slow. The Core M part is still faster than many previous generation CPUs, and the MacBook's PCIe-based flash storage helps pick up the slack with blazing fast reads. The bottom line here is that the new MacBook can hold its own for general computing tasks, but at just 1.1GHz with two physical computing chores, it's not going to set any benchmark records.

Apple MacBook Open

We don't see a whole lot of middle ground when it comes to the new MacBook. Potential buyers are either going to embrace the super thin and incredibly lightweight laptop along with Apple's effort to deliver an almost entirely wireless experience, or they're going to poo-poo the lack of connectivity and cost of adapters.

Here's the thing, both ways of thinking are correct. There's no middle ground because Apple took an extreme approach to the MacBook's design, one that the company even boasts is "the future of the notebook." What that statement insinuates is that the new MacBook is ahead of its time and perhaps not ideal for the modern world. Naturally Apple isn't going to highlight that fact, as it wants to sell as many of these things as it can. Understandable.

If you're not ready to embrace the wireless world that's fast emerging and have a desk cluttered with USB thumb drives and other USB devices, this isn't the laptop for your. Yes, you could buy a $19 adapter or, better yet, a $79 adapter that adds multiple ports so you can charge the MacBook while still plugging in a USB gadget, but you'd still be better off getting a laptop with the ports you currently use.

Way over on the opposite end of the spectrum, if you're ready to live wirelessly and have embraced the cloud (iCloud or otherwise), this might be the laptop you've been waiting for. As previously pointed out, it's not going to break any CPU or GPU performance benchmarks, but it does have enough horsepower to run through common tasks, especially on the productivity side. Even better, the battery life in the new MacBook ranges from very good to flipping fantastic -- crank the brightness down to 50 percent and spend your time surfing the web and you won't have to worry about charging the MacBook until the next day.

Apple deserves credit for going out on a limb and building a laptop that bucks convention. Or Apple deserves scorn for being so pretentious as to pass off the elimination of popular ports as a feature that you should buy into. Whichever statement you believe will determine if the new MacBook is for you.

  hothardware recommended

  • It's lighter than Air! (the MacBook Air, that is)
  • Backlit keyboard w/ individual LEDs
  • Retina display is gorgeous
  • Crazy fast PCIe-based storage
  • Long battery life
  • Sexy design

  • Overall performance isn't on par with competitors' laptops
  • Only has a USB Type-C connector and 3.5mm audio port
  • Adapters are expensive
  • Non-replaceable battery and can't upgrade parts on your own

Related content