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

Introduction & Specifications

The engineering wizards at Apple have designed a laptop that's lighter than Air...the MacBook Air, that is. It's the new MacBook (early 2015 edition), a forward-thinking laptop that measures just 11.04 inches (W) by 7.74 inches (D) by 0.14-0.52 inches (H), and weighs a mere 2.03 pounds. The super thin and light profile is what prompted Apple's clever tagline, "Light. Years ahead."

At 2.38 pounds, the 11.6-inch MacBook Air is slightly heavier than the 12-inch MacBook we'll be showing you here. It's also marginally thicker at its highest point (0.68 inches), though a tad thinner where it tapers off (0.11 inches). Comparing the size and weight of the two really comes down to splitting hairs and isn't all that interesting in and of itself. What's far more intriguing is what the addition of a third laptop line means for Apple and consumers, and how the new MacBook differentiates itself from the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.

Apple MacBook Open Front

Straight to the point, the new MacBook is a forward-thinking laptop built for a wireless world. Whether or not you're ready to step into that world is a whole other discussion. Even Apple doesn't deny that it thinks the new MacBook is "the future of the notebook," and while the Cupertino outfit makes the claim as a bragging point, it also means that not everyone is going to embrace the design decisions Apple made. We'll discuss that point in more detail later on in this review.

Apple 12-inch MacBook (Early 2015)
Specifications & Features
Processor Intel Core M-5Y31 (4MB cache, 1.1GHz to 2.4GHz)
Operating System Mac OS X Yosemite (10.10.3)
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 5300
Memory 8GB LPDDR3 1600MHz DRAM
Display 12-inch IPS (2304x1440; 226 ppi)
Storage 256GB PCIe-based flash storage
Optical N/A
Ethernet N/A
Wireless Connectivity 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.0
Interface (Left)
USB-C with support for:
  • Charging
  • USB 3.1 Gen 1 (up to 5Gbps)
  • Native DisplayPort 1.2 video output
  • VGA output using USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter (sold separately)
  • HDMI video output using USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter (sold separately)
Interface (Right)
Headphone port
Webcam 480p FaceTime camera
Battery 39.7Whr lithium polymer battery
Dimensions 0.14-0.53 (H) by 11.04 (W) by 7.74 (D) inches
Weight 2.03 pounds
Manufacturer Warranty 1-year limited; 90 days free telephone support
Pricing: $1,299

Apple MacBook Open Angled

For now, let's take a look at the specs, starting with the 12-inch "Retina" display. The IPS panel features a 2304x1440 resolution (16:10 aspect ratio; 226 pixels per inch) and is powered by a 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Core M-5Y31 processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB PCIe-based onboard flash storage, and Intel HD Graphics 5300. There's also a second configuration that doubles the onboard storage and bumps the processor up to a Core M-5Y51 clocked at 1.2GHz (2.6GHz Turbo).

Whichever configuration you choose, the CPU you get is a 14nm Broadwell part with a 4.5W TDP. Or in layman's terms, the processor is highly energy efficient and doesn't require a cooling fan, hence part of the reason Apple was able to construct such a light and thin laptop. Speaking of which, this is the first fanless MacBook ever.

Apple MacBook Stock

You'll notice there's no optical drive, Ethernet port, USB 3.0 or 2.0 connectivity, or display outputs -- welcome to the future of laptops, at least as conceived by Apple. In their place is an all purpose USB-C port. Out of the box, it's used for charging the MacBook, though if you invest in adapters, you can expand the functionality as well.

The model we received runs $1,299. As previously mentioned, there's a second configuration with twice as much storage and a slightly faster CPU, which is priced at $1,599. Unlike the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, there are no upgrade options available for either SKU at this point in time.

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