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MacBook (12-inch, 2016) review



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Our Score:



  • High-quality screen
  • Good battery life
  • Great build quality and portability
  • Excellent trackpad
  • Loud speakers


  • Ultra-shallow keyboard
  • Annoyingly spartan connections

Key Features

  • Intel Core m3 0.9GHz dual-core CPU
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 256GB SSD
  • 12-inch 2304 x 1440 IPS LCD screen
  • OS X
  • USB Type-C connector
  • Manufacturer: Apple
  • Review Price: £1,099.00

What is the MacBook (12-inch, 2016)?

Apple's flagship laptop has had a refresh, and while not huge amount has changed over last year's model, it's the same price for an improved specification. Win-win, right?

Prices start at £1,049, with laptops including Skylake-generation CPUs over the Broadwell versions of last year. We take a look at whether this makes much difference.

Related: Best Laptops 2016

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MacBook (12-inch, 2016) – Design

Since the MacBook saw a redesign only last year, it's no surprise to find that not much has changed with the new model. The 2016 MacBook looks and feels almost exactly like its predecessor.

This is a rethinking of the MacBook Air in all but name, a laptop that aims to fit as much computer into a small space as possible.

The 2016 MacBook weighs 970g and is 13mm thick at its deepest point, making it thinner and lighter than most 12-inch hybrids once a keyboard is considered. As well as being extremely portable, this laptop also has a slightly more modern design than the other MacBooks. The screen surround is slimmer, and unlike the current Air models, the display’s surface is entirely flat.

Related:Apple MacBook Pro 2016: Everything you need to know

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It’s a luxurious but mostly practical device, and as is the case with other MacBooks, it's encased in an all-aluminium shell.

The 2016 MacBook is available in the same colours as last year's model – gold, silver and grey – as well as new-for-2016 Rose Gold option. While this colour option won’t be to everyone's taste, it's certainly more classy than the hot pink laptops we've seen over the years.

Many Windows machines at this price – such as the Lenovo Yoga 900 – now offer either “360-degree” hinges or a full hybrid style, enabling you to remove the screen and use it as a tablet. Don't expect any such features with the MacBook; this is a laptop and nothing more. There's no touchscreen, and the display won't bend back any further than is the norm on a laptop – around 135 degrees.

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MacBook (12-inch, 2016) – Connectivity

Apple may one day merge its OS X and iOS worlds, but there’s no hint of such progress here. The company's vision for the future is about wireless computer use, continuing the precedent set with the MacBook 2015.

With this in mind, the 2016 MacBook features just one main connector, a single USB Type-C port used both to charge the laptop and connect any peripherals. There is a 3.5mm headphone jack on the other side of the device, but that's it.

This will prove a problem for many. Photographers will find that there’s no simple way to connect an SD card. I shoot and edit photos most days, and the process I follow each time is to remove the card from my FujiFilm X-T10 and pop it into my MacBook’s card slot. I don't need to mess around with cables, nor do I have to get involved with any photo-importing processes.

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With the MacBook, however, you’ll either need Apple’s USB Type-C converter (£15) and a camera cable, or the converter and a USB card reader.

More native USB-C devices are appearing all the time, however one issue that can't be overcome here is that the MacBook has a one-port problem. Since its USB-C is used to charge and connect peripherals, it’s pretty useless as the brain of a desktop setup.

Related: Everything you need to know about USB-C

Apple's solution is its Multiport Adapter – but this only adds an HDMI and a single USB, it looks clunky and costs £65. It's not ideal.

Like last year’s MacBook, the port is a Gen 1-spec USB Type-C port, meaning bandwidth is 5Gbps rather than the 10Gbps the majority of USB-C connectors will eventually offer.

However, this is only worth worrying about if you’re holding out for a MacBook dock that will let you plug in a couple of monitors, an external hard drive, a keyboard and so on. My advice: it’s not what this machine is about.

Χρήστος Λάππας

May 5, 2016, 9:47 am

It's probably a silly question, but... will this second generation of Macbook be faster than my 2009 15" MacBook Pro? It's a 2,66GHz core2 duo with 8Gb of ram and G Force 9600MGT graphics card.
I REALLY like the form factor, and the portability of the MacBook will be extremely important for my work. I am quite prepared to compromise heavily on performance compared to a new MacBook Pro, but not if it means that it won't be considerably faster than the 7-year-old-one I have now.

Michael Garry

May 6, 2016, 1:29 am

Real world is hard to say, but going by raw Geekbench 3 scores, the answer is yes, its faster:

2016 Macbook Single Core: 2,561; Multi-Core: 5,041
2009 Macbook Pro 2.66ghz Single Core: 1,444; Multi-Core: 2,585

However, that's 32 bit v 64 bit GeekBench scores, so I don't know how that affects the results.

https://browser.primatelabs..."MacBook Pro (15-inch Mid 2009)" platform:"Mac" processor:"Intel Core 2 Duo P8800" frequency:2660 bits:32

Χρήστος Λάππας

May 6, 2016, 12:29 pm

Thank you very much!


August 28, 2016, 12:44 pm

I'm a bit concerned regarding the battery. In one paragraph you comment that the machine will last 40minutes before moving from 100% which calls into question how reliable reading the batter level that way is. In the next paragraph you quote a 13% drop from watching Netflix.

Why should this 13%/hour carry any weight in light of the previous comment?

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