MacBook (Mid 2017)

Look­ing for a re­fresh? Look this way…

Mac|Life - - NEWS -

$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

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