Anyone using the 12" MacBook as his/her primary machine? How is the overall experience?

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by kylera, Mar 27, 2016.

  1. kylera macrumors 65816


    Dec 5, 2010
    So while I wait for the 2016 iteration of the 12" MB to finally appear, I've been thinking about whether this would be a suitable primary machine or not.

    My 2011 27" iMac is my primary machine right now, but it's close to 5 years old, and since it's stock, it has a spinning HDD inside. I was thinking of getting a 512GB version of the MB because of the possibility of my iMac's HDD dying suddenly.

    I don't do anything that would severely tax a Mac. Most of the time, I have a bunch of Safari tabs along with Word or Nisus Writer open doing translations. I have an external drive for my music needs. As far as entertainment is concerned, I play games, but they're all really old games; my current obsession is Diablo II, followed up by emulation of 8 and 16-bit consoles.

    Other than a much smaller screen size, would the MB be a suitable-enough primary machine?
  2. noobinator macrumors 603


    Jun 19, 2009
    Pasadena, CA

    My base model RMB 12" is my primary machine. I do mainly what you do. I surf safari, use word, excel, etc. and play old games. I haven't noticed any sort of performance issues for my use case. It's portability trumps any extra power that I may never need. I carry this around in a sleeve and most people think it's an actual notepad, not a computer. The fanless design is real pleasure as is the new keyboard. I love this machine.

    On a side note do you do your emulation of old games on OS X or do you use windows? I play Nintendo games but have to log into windows 10 on bootcamp. Just wondering if you found a way to do this in OS X that works well?
  3. sasha.danielle, Mar 27, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2016

    sasha.danielle macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2015
    I use it as my primary machine. It wasn't my intention to do so, but last year my plan to also buy a riMac fell by the wayside due of some unexpected expenses.

    My usage isn't heavy--writing, freelance editing, surfing etc. I found the machine quite sluggish at first, but El Capitan solved many of those problems. My chief difficulty is when I'm editing large documents and accumulate around 1000 tracked changes (in either Pages or Word), my CPU usage goes through the roof and the app becomes laggy. With a desktop, I wouldn't even really worry about this because I would probably be doing most of my editing on the larger machine, but it does get annoying on this one. I should say also that I've had this problems on other kinds of machines too--including PCs, and Android phones. Strangely, my iOS devices (iPad Air 2 and iPhone 6S+) manage these exact same documents without any lag. I'm curious to find out what exactly causes this lag. Even now, though, because I take this machine with me everywhere I go, its portability trumps this hassle. This thing weighs the same as my first iPad did. That's phenomenal to me. I don't even notice it in my bag. And it is so portable I'm not even totally sure why I have an iPad still, tbh (I do find my iPad useful when I'm teaching, but the MacBook would do just as well if I wanted it to).

    I would not worry about the smaller screen (unless of course you're comparing to a 15", but that's apples and oranges). The aspect ratio on the rMB is far superior to the rest of the MacBook lines. I find I actually have more usable space on the 12" screen than I do on a 13" rMBP.

    I also cannot say how much of a relief not having a fan is. When writing, I find fans to be horridly distracting and I'm glad to have it gone.

    I have no qualms about the keyboard either. I fly on this thing. I've been whining about wanting a keyboard like this for years and now I have it and I love it. I have found it's especially prone to debris under the keys though--even a little bit can cause you problems, so you have to be careful.

    Battery is not bad also. Generally I never run out of battery during an 8 hour work day, but sometimes its close (especially if I watch Netflix over lunch). It's a good battery, but it's a close call somedays if it'll need a charge before the end of the day and I'd rather not have that on the back of mined (I petulantly refuse to carry the charger because that to me seems to defeat the purpose of the portability).

    I'm curious to see what Skylake will bring. It might solve problem with large complex documents and bring the battery around the turn. I won't upgrade though. I'd rather spend my money on a new iMac. I anticipate upgrading this rMB at the end of my Apple Care, I expect.
  4. David58117 macrumors 65816

    Jan 24, 2013
    Mine has become my primary machine. It's the 1.2 512GB version.

    I also have a 15" rMBP, but that's primarily sitting in the corner now and used as a desktop.

    I've owned a lot of macs over the years (11" air, 13/15" retinas) - this is by far my favorite mac.
  5. pacmania1982 macrumors 6502a


    Nov 19, 2006
    Birmingham, UK
    I went from a 2.0GHz quad core i7 Late 2013 Retina MacBook Pro to the base level 12" Retina MacBook and haven't looked back. I love this little machine. I don't tax it too much but have done in the past.

  6. kylera thread starter macrumors 65816


    Dec 5, 2010
    There is an emulator on OS X called OpenEmu. I'm not sure whether they are as fully featured as emulators for Windows, but it works well enough for me.
  7. mathpunk macrumors regular


    Jan 31, 2015
    I have the base model rMB as my only computer, and it does everything I need. The retina display, portability, and silence are key to me, but it is also fast enough for my needs. I run R, develop a lot of C++ code using Xcode, write papers in TeXShop, and use Mathematica heavily. For larger computations, I need a bigger machine and run remotely on servers, but I would need to do that even if I had fully loaded a 15" rMBP, so the rMB is not a compromise. I actually prefer the keyboard of the rMB now, but it took a few days to get used to it.
  8. IowaLynn macrumors 65816


    Feb 22, 2015
    Went from i7-4771 3.5GHz 16GB SSD III to rMB low-end. Replaced 2006 Mac Pro running Lion.

    My one concession is a 3-port dock w/ HDMI 24" monitor Appke BT KB/mouse so it feels like old desktop and when I want as portable as tablet can be.

    Wifi feels slower, higher latency and ping so I'm using Ethernet with the dock also and Safari seems snappier again.
  9. FilmIndustryGuy macrumors regular

    May 12, 2015
    Manhattan Beach, CA
    I own a rMBP 15 and this base macbook. I set the 15 inch up with a 34 inch curved ultra wide monitor. The setup was aimed to allow for multiple documents opened at same time with the macbook being underneath monitor in middle. Now that I have the 12 inch, I stopped using the 15 inch and the 12 looks sleeker with the big monitor without the monitor needing to be too high. The 15 inch is big looking and feels like more premium solid computer now but I don't like using it and don't like the old keyboard. I do notice that the 15 inch is snappier and more responsive in comparison to the 12 inch but the 12 inch grew on me and is my primary machine now. If you mostly do document and web stuff then I don't see why you would need another computer. This 12 inch is so thin that I can't imagine it getting any lighter or thinner. It will probably slide around the desk during typing if it got any lighter.

    Unless Apple doesn't update the OS X and make this little guy sloppy in a couple of years, I don't see myself replacing it for a new one. I don't need any more ports either. The apple adapter is good enough. If I needed a hard core video editing machine, Id just buy a used 1st gen Mac Pro trashcan when the new ones come out.

    If you don't use a big monitor for more productivity and you can only have one computer to do you work than possibly the 15 inch is a better option.
  10. seifer48 macrumors newbie

    Sep 28, 2015
    I use my 1.2GHz 512GB as my primary machine. All of my high powered rigs are mining. For general purpose computing there is very little to no difference between this machine and my i7-4790k @4.8GHz, my i7-2920xm @4.9 GHz, it generally outperforms my 27" mid 2010 i3 iMac as well. I mostly use it to play WoW or various steam games. As far as emulation goes, it has more than enough horsepower to emulate Twilight Princess and Windwaker upscaled to 1080p native at full speed with 0 frameskip. I'm sure that you won't have any problems with 8 or 16 bit systems at all. I do basically everything in OS X, but I do have bootcamp installed in order to run Intel Extreme Tuning Utility to undervolt the CPU and GPU to get better battery life and increased performance due to less/no throttling. 50mv undervolt to CPU and GPU are basically required to raid in WoW at all. Without it the rMB throttles hard in a 25 man @ 1280x720 everything low but textures on max and view distance on high, frame limiter set to 28fps. With it its easily playable.
  11. kylera thread starter macrumors 65816


    Dec 5, 2010
    When you undervolt in Windows, how much of an improvement do you notice in battery life? Are the settings fixed once you set them, or do you have to re-set them every time you restart?
  12. seifer48 macrumors newbie

    Sep 28, 2015
    Using the first version of XTU that supported the core M, I'd lose my undervolt settings after a reboot or when it went to sleep. I just updated to the latest version a week ago and it seems to hold the undervolt consistantly through sleep, haven't tested for reboot yet tbh. I haven't been using it long enough to say that it persists 100% though. My battery life undervolted when I first got it was about 15-16h brightness on 6, KB backlight on 1, ~6 safari tabs open, launcher running, connected to 2.4GHz 802.11n, bluetooth off. Battery capacity at 88% now, I get ~11-12h with the same usage.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 27, 2016 ---
    When playing WoW I get ~6-8h worth of gaming in when undervolted as well.
  13. JamesGoodman macrumors member

    Dec 3, 2015
    I am a writer and professor and this is my primary machine. I agree with all the super positive things others have said, my only caveat being you have to use your two week return period to make sure you can get used to the keyboard. Keyboards are the most subjective element of any laptop. No one can tell you how the keyboard is going to be for you. I've been using laptops since the middle of the 1980s, and through Thinkpads were by far my favorites, I have had many different ones I have liked and even more that I have got used to in a few days.

    I can't get used to this one. The typing itself is okay, but for me the tight squeeze of keys and palm rest results in my palms and thumbs striking the trackpad while I am typing, which (especially when I am using control and alt key combinations -- I am a touch typist and I do whatever I can do with keystrokes) causes the cursor to fly all over the screen.

    Hundreds and hundreds of other users are having no problem with this keyboard so you have to try it for yourself. But it is my one complaint about this machine and alas I think this is the Mac keyboard of the future.
  14. melman101 macrumors 68030

    Sep 3, 2009
    My primary machine is a 13" Macbook Pro, but when that machine goes into the shop (it's in the shop now for the A & S keys not working), I use my wife's 12" Macbook 256gb with my own account.

    I absolutely love it and could use it as my primary machine. I have no issues with the one port, and as a database administrator, it does everything I need it to do (unlike an iPad).

    I think the portability on this machine is incredible. It really is like carrying an iPad around but it's a full computer. As for the keyboard, once I start typing on it, I get used to it immediately.
  15. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    I've the 1.3 and honesty it was purchased for mobility. Now it's my go to machine and everything else comes second.
  16. gooser macrumors 6502a

    Jul 4, 2013
    your old games may not play on the new macbook. hooking the external drive up to the macbook may be fiddly. you will miss the larger screen. where the macbook shines is in portability and you don't mention a need for that.
  17. kylera thread starter macrumors 65816


    Dec 5, 2010
    Sorry, I figured that since this is the 12" model, portability was automatically implied, but yes, portability is by far the biggest reason I've got my sights set on it.

    If gaming doesn't work, no big deal. Worse comes to worst, I still have my iPad. Being able to do work just about wherever I go or am at is what counts the most.
  18. gooser macrumors 6502a

    Jul 4, 2013
  19. xmichaelp macrumors 68000


    Jul 10, 2012
    OpenEmu is the best emulator in existence and it's Mac only.
  20. Sy7ygy Suspended

    Nov 16, 2012
    I use my rMB (Base model) as my primary portable. It's good enough for day to day tasks but once you get some serious multitasking going it lags behind unfortunately.

    I've found disabling OS animations improves the performance; I've also enabled the 1680x1050 resolution for more real estate.

    Aesthetically it's beautiful; portability is tops and the battery life is fantastic. Is it worth the £1049 retail? Subjectively no - the performance is not there to justify that cost but it is a fan-less, well built super portable that does what it says on the tin; a high resolution; lightweight machine with no claims to being a speed demon.

    My main machine is my custom build PC which I use mainly for gaming - I'm looking to buy a high performance Windows laptop in the near future in effort to alleviate the stress on this machine.

    Typical usage scenarios where the machine will lag behind a little - lag as if in GUI; Safari with multiple tabs; iTunes playing AAC tunes, Pixelmator editing various images; Tweetbot with x3 timeline trackers; Apple Mail w/ Push; Messages & Aperture.
  21. melman101 macrumors 68030

    Sep 3, 2009
    I don't have any issues with Safari myself.
  22. kylera thread starter macrumors 65816


    Dec 5, 2010
    Maybe @Sy7ygy has a significant number of tabs open at the same time. Or the tabs are media-rich.

    I didn't realize that AAC was more CPU-intensive than MP3s.
  23. iKaushal macrumors 6502


    Jun 7, 2011
    Mumbai, India
    The 12" Macbook has become my primary machine for all work except video conversion / encoding. It does all the work just fine and its super light weight solved my shoulder pain issue.
    Even Photoshop is super fast in it.

    Battery life is exceptional and even in bootcamp windows 10, it performs superbly.
  24. melman101 macrumors 68030

    Sep 3, 2009
    Ok I got my 13" macbook pro back, and I want to go back to my wife's 12" Macbook. It's just sooo good.
  25. dranakin macrumors 6502

    Mar 6, 2005
    Dang, that's disappointing. I like to leave open 30+ tabs when I review PDFs, while listening to music. Guess I'll hold out for a redesigned rMBP.

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