MacBook (Mid 2017)
Looking for a refresh? Look this way…
$1,299 From Apple, apple.com Features 1.2GHz dual-core Intel Core m3 processor, 8GB 1866MHz LPDDR3 memory, 256GB SSD storage, Intel HD Graphics 615 processor
Apple hasn’t changed the ultra-slim MacBook much in the little over two years since the computer’s 2015 debut. A glance down the tech specs for the 2017 version reveals a lot of things are unchanged, for better or worse: the FaceTime camera still captures a 480p picture; there’s still a 3.5 mm headphone jack on the right side; and – as you probably expected – Apple hasn’t shifted on its single-port design.
Storage capacities are also unchanged from 2015 and 2016 models, but when you compare the amount that’s provided in $1,299 models of MacBook and MacBook Pro, that isn’t cause for concern. With the MacBook, Apple is generous – not merely because you get twice as much storage as in the Pro, but also because it has boosted the speed by up to 50 percent for the 2017 refresh, which was borne out in our tests.
Where the MacBook’s processing capability is concerned, though, we weren’t expecting much given that its fanless design imposes constraints on what components can be used in the ultra-thin body without overheating.
But Intel’s processor optimizations in the two years since 2015’s MacBook show headway is being made – even if the low-end Core m3 naturally can’t hold a candle to its Core i5 brethren, at faster clock speeds, used in the 13-inch MacBook Pro. So, our CPU-intensive HandBrake test completed 17 minutes more quickly on the entry-level MacBook as compared to 2015, thanks to two generations of architectural tweaks and a slight boost in clock speed.
The MacBook is improving more slowly where graphical capabilities are concerned, as shown by our Batman: Arkham City tests, which is now a fairly old game. Another big sticking point with the MacBook for many people has been its keyboard, so as part of this year’s refresh, Apple has improved the overall feel when typing by adding its second-generation butterfly key mechanism.
One thing makes this generation more appealing than anything else we’ve talked about: being able to get 16GB of memory as a $200 build-to-order option. If you happen to push the MacBook hard now and then with large photos, or just by leaving lots of apps open, this is a very welcome change.
We still can’t ignore the awkwardness of having to unplug power to connect storage or some other accessory. For many people that won’t matter at all, but if you have to plug in a hard drive to back up with Time Machine, it forces you to spend on adapters.
the bottom line. If power is what you mostly (or only ever) connect, and you like the new keys, this is a great portable Mac. Alan stonebridge