MacBook 2016 review: how much performance is reasonable for an extreme 1500 euro laptop?

From time to time Apple tends to present a first generation of certain products in which, whether successful or not later, there are quite a few commitments to make. And usually with a higher price than for pure specifications one would expect. The MacBook we met last year was one of those products.

A few months ago, the second generation of the MacBook arrived with the usual renovation of essential hardware. At Xataka we have been working for a few weeks every day with the new MacBook 2016 to be able to tell you how evolution has been and to what degree the deficiencies of the first generation are rectified without affecting the great values ​​of a unique laptop for good and bad. This is the review of the Macbook 2016 in Xataka.

MacBook 2016, main characteristics of a computer that is no longer unique

I had planned to start this analysis of the Macbook 2016 with a headline that had haunted my head in the moments before I started writing this review: "a unique team for good and badBut soon I realized that it would not be according to reality.

The Macbook is no longer a unique team but maintains leadership in aspects such as autonomy while insisting on being the worst of all in physical connectivity, today a reality

The 2016 Macbook is no longer unique. There are already on the market computers that are direct competition and that contribute part of the values ​​that we find in this Macbook, such as weight and minimum thickness, very good design or an excellent screen.

That does not mean that the Macbook 2016 should be considered a computer where there is no doubt about the great exercise in industrial design that Apple has carried out, placing in a very light and thin design most of the features that a sector of the market will need for use. typical of a laptop. What is not missing is also not the sacrifice in direct physical connectivity due to that single USB-C port.

Macbook 2016 screen 12 '' IPS (2304x1440 pixels) (16:10 aspect ratio) Processor Intel Core M3 / M5 / M7 (2x1.1 / 1.2 / 1.3 GHz) Memory 8 GB Graphics Intel HD 515 Storage 256/512 GB SSD Connectivity WiFi 802.11ac + BT 4.0 Battery 39.7 Wh
Ports USB-C (USB 3.1 Gen 1), headphone jack, microphones Cameras FaceTime 480p Others Backlight keyboard Dimensions 280 x 196 x 3 / 13.1 mm Weight 920 g Price 1449/1799 euros

Video analysis of the MacBook 2016

Throughout this analysis of the Macbook 2016 you will get to know what we thought about this hardware renovation made by Apple, but before we leave you with our video review so you can visually know how it is at the level of design, performance or the operation of this Apple computer.

What remains: portability and the single port

Nothing you see in this new Macbook 2016 gives you any clue that it is a renewed model. Virtually everything around the new Macbook remains, both the highlight and what we thought Apple would improve in a second generation.

Design

The only design-level novelty we find in this 2016 Macbook is the color pink. The arrival of this color to the catalog of options of the Macbook is something that a few years ago we would have seen as something very strange, like gold, but that little by little, with the push of smartphones, every day more manufacturers dare to put on the shelves.

For the rest, the Macbook is still an incredibly thin, compact and very light computer, under a kilogram of weight. It's practically like taking nothing with us and leaves us with the most faithful possible idea of ​​an ultrabook. Here portability prevails over everything else and as we will see, this implies sacrifices.

Can you survive on a single USB-C port? Of course, another thing is that with this you feel at many times that you have a limited main team and that it does not give you everything you ask at each moment.

The most obvious or the one that causes the most controversy is the single port. A USB-C for charging and connection with peripherals. There will be those who between cloud services and others (full-time battery, for example) feel made with this single port, but we do not think it is enough.

It may be that a good part of the use you make of it does not feel that you need anything else, but whether it is a USB memory that you want to connect, a moment of charging for having forgotten to leave it ready to go to work or wherever, or resort to an external screen ... We firmly believe that at least a second USB-C port was necessary if we aspire to make this equipment the main one at the price it has.

That said, in the day to day the Apple adapter has become essential to have HDMI output, another USB-C charging port and a classic USB one. But you will have to pay for it, because nothing comes standard with the Apple team.

screen

That the Macbook is a very compact laptop should not deceive you. With it you get a 12-inch screen, a value that in computers where we want portability above all, is surely the most successful.

In the Macbook the IPS panel does not occupy the entire surface, but there is a good exercise to reduce its thickness as much as possible and leave a thinner equipment in that part, but also a screen quality that takes advantage of that laminate.

If you are looking for maximum mobility and a very good screen, the Macbook does it justice and allows us to forget about the mediocrity of the Air in this regard

The IPS panel of the Macbook 2016 offers a resolution of 2304x1440 pixels, more than enough for this diagonal. Here we do not appreciate that we need more as it happens to us with the Air of the own Apple. The format is 16:10 and the quality we obtain is maximum in color reproduction, contrast, brightness level and outdoor display. There are reflections, of course, but they are very small and it is one of the laptops with which we have most comfortable working outdoors in this section.

With the "separation of powers"Which is very tightly maintained by Apple, there is no touchpad on the Macbook. Perhaps in the future, if macOS evolves towards the mobile version, we can start to glimpse touching the screen. It seems to me something practical and I instinctively repeat the gesture many times without want.

In content viewing, Apple maintains the ability to switch from native resolution to virtual equivalents of 1153x720, 1024x640, 1280x800, or 1440x900 pixel displays, in addition to native. Here it will already depend on your tastes or needs.

That great screen quality is well accompanied by a fairly powerful and clear sound for what one would expect on a computer with the profile of this Macbook. Good for Apple then.

Finally, despite the price and level of demand that Apple has given its new Macbook, the webcam remains stagnant in a ridiculous 480p resolution. It is a secondary functionality perhaps but of those details that give you food for thought.

Battery

Without modifications in the exterior design and just a better generation of Core M processors, we could not expect many new features in the autonomy of this 2016 Macbook. It is still a point in favor of the Apple Macbook, but it does not make a difference like in the others two ranges.

There are few computers with similar characteristics that can offer us maximum portability and battery to get closer to a workday, but Apple is no longer alone in that race. In our test, with continuous video playback we were able to exceed 9 hours, and in more intense sessions with more brightness, continuous connectivity and office tasks, navigation and communications, we mediated about 7-8 hours, a very good figure. There are not many new features in this section.

As for the charging system, we have a fairly compact charger with a USB-C port, but as in the first model, we do not like the loss of the magnetic connection. We have lost the security that a trip with the cable does not end up with the Macbook on the ground, something that, with a team of such a low weight, is not crazy.

Keyboard and touchpad

Surely in the future, accustomed to typing more and more on touch screens and with external keyboards integrated in different accessories, technologies such as those that Apple has included in the keyboard of its Macbook since the first generation have their important place. In my case I am still fighting with it.

Perhaps when the vast majority of time we type on screens, a keyboard like that of the Macbook is something natural and does not transmit strange sensations like today

From the keyboard of the Macbook 2016 I still love the size of the keys, their layout that is easy to get used to, that the backlight is automatic thanks to a light sensor (and then being able to regulate that intensity of the support light) or the little noisy it is to handle it. But for a laptop in which, at least in my almost, you end up writing a lot, the journey of its butterfly system has not convinced me yet.

The response is less than with other keyboards, and even once we have carried out the adaptation period for that peculiar touch, the reduction of the impact with each press compared to the classic keyboards, can end up resulting in greater fatigue before time than with classic solutions. Of the good ones, of course.

Layout, size of the keys, that the backlight is individual and automatic ... everything seems to me to be of the highest level but I still feel that it is not a keyboard to spend many hours typing

If with the keyboard I don't have all of them with me, the same doesn't happen with the trackpad. Here Apple has managed to take a very prominent advantage over Windows computers and you will not find a better trackpad than the Macbook. The Force Touch technology is integrated so that there is no classic physical system but it is the vibration response of the system itself that gives us the feeling of activating a physical button when we do it.

This is a very basic summary of the possibilities of technology on this trackpad. It remains to be seen if they end up taking advantage of it because the response or operation of this part of the team does not depend on where we press or to choose the amount of pressure to exert to manage a certain action opens a range of options that we like to have.

If with the keyboard one can have feeling we face by the peculiarity of the system created by Apple, with the touchpad everything is excellent sensations

Otherwise, the movements on the touchpad are fast, precise, pleasant and the gestures work perfectly. Here Apple remains by far unbeatable.

What changes: more power for essentials with a laptop

Is it all in the new 2016 Macbook "old"? No. Apple has brought the new generation of Core M processors to its laptop, as well as faster SSD memory. They are subtle changes that improve the experience with this team, although without going crazy or excessively changing the idea behind this team.

performance

If the light and slim design of the MacBook (and other ultrabooks under Windows) is possible, it is thanks to the use of Intel's Core M processors. With them you can do without fans and together with the SSDs, we get an experience of use in which we do not know if the equipment is on or not.

This is what remains, which is not a little, on the very positive side of the use of Intel's Core M chips. On the opposite side we have that what we can or cannot do with a laptop has been polarized plus. Maximum portability with a good battery is synonymous with fair performance (and what is needed in more and more areas).

The world of the laptop evolves basically by the extremes: either maximum power at the cost of battery and design, or absolute portability for more basic tasks

The new Core M and integrated graphics units improve the performance of the Macbook, placing it in some cases with the same gross power as the Core i5 of the previous generation, but for demanding tasks such as editing RAW files or 4K video, and of course any game, This is not the laptop of choice.

It does more than comply for a more playful and increasingly common use of the laptop: online video playback, web browsing, social networks or office automation. At the benchmark level, with GeekBench we have obtained this data with the Core M3 version and 256 GB SSD, the entry into the Macbook world sold by Apple:

Macbook (2015) Macbook (2016) Surface Pro 4 (Core M3) Surface Pro 4 (Core i7) Thinkpad X1 Tablet (Core M5) Single Core 2383 2579 2397 3412 2744 Multicore 4383 5080 4520 6904 4430

At the specification level, Apple's interior design completely limits configuration options. It is another of the great commitments of its form factor. All 2016 Macbook models come with 8GB of standard RAM, and not even Apple can modify it. Whether you want a Core M3 or an M7, it is what it is. As for SSDs, there are 256 or 512 GB as options.

The performance of the internal memory also improves the results of the model from last year, staying at about 660 MB / s in writing and 942 MB / s in reading, very good figures but also not outstanding over its rivals in its price range.

Macbook 2016: the note and opinion of Xataka

Consolidated its Pro ranges and especially that of the Macbook Air as benchmarks in the field of notebooks, Apple released last year its most radical ultrabook. The new 2016 Macbook repeats the strategy by foot with the exception of a processor update. And it is still a product that you know you risk and also at a price that is not exactly reduced.

With Core M processors that compromise performance, you get other clear benefits to getting a machine where portability comes first and foremost. Apple also applies new features to the touchpad and keyboard, with uneven flavor depending on what you expect, especially on the keyboard.

8,1

Design8 screen Performance7.5 Keyboard / trackpad7.5 Software8.25 Autonomy8,5

In favor

  • Correct autonomy
  • High-quality display
  • Touchpad without rival and with many possibilities
  • You don't seem to have a laptop with you

Against

  • Not a laptop for demanding multimedia tasks, much less gaming
  • A USB-C port is scarce for a main computer
  • High price for what you give us
  • Very personal and tiring keyboard for long typing tasks

The computer has been loaned for testing by Apple. Can inquire our policy of relationships with enterprises

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