Buying a new 12" MacBook today.. some questions

M-1

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 5, 2010
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I was really hoping Apple was going to update the 12" MacBook alongside the 13" MacBook Air. It's been 17 months since it was last updated.. 17 months with the same pricing.. it seems so wrong to buy it new today but it's the only option I'm left with besides finding one 2nd hand.

Having silent operation and being light weight is why I still prefer the 12" MacBook over the newly released 13" MacBook Air. I actually prefer slower performance with no fan noise. Had Apple omitted the fan in the 13" MacBook Air, I would have considered it.

It looks like even if Apple was prepared to launch an updated 12" MacBook, they wanted the focus to be entirely on the 13" MacBook Air before doing so. Those of us who were waiting for an updated 12" MacBook will now have to wait till at least March/April of next year. I've however run out of patience.

In the next update I expect a similar updated feature set to the new 13" MacBook Air with added Touch ID, 3rd Generation Keyboard, T2 chip and Thunderbolt 3 port while retaining a fanless design. These are realistic updates and could potentially be the ultimate fanless portable mac. I wish I was buying this today but instead have to opt with the 17 month old MacBook as I can't wait any longer.

I've decided on the 12" MacBook but have a few questions before I buy:
  • Going from a 13" to a 12" screen, does the working screen space feel a lot smaller? Did it feel like a downgrade or did it still feel comfortable and right to you?
  • Is it worth upgrading from 8GB to 16GB RAM on this Mac with its 5W CPU? Are there tangible differences in performance when using pro software like Final Cut, Logic Pro, Adobe software?
  • Is the single USB 3.1 port capable of running and transferring files between two 2.5" external hard drives with a dual port hub? From my experience transferring files between 2 drives off one USB-C port on a MacBook Pro make at least one of the drives fail and eject due to insufficient power. It could be my Satechi USB-C hub though, so I wonder if anyone has more experience with this and can recommend a better hub?
  • Does the 2017 MacBook feel uncomfortably hot on the lap after CPU intensive high workloads?
  • Any photographers / videographers have any opinions to pitch in on RAW file editing and Final Cut timeline editing? Specifically also any opinions on the retina screen color profile accuracy?
 
Last edited:

EugW

macrumors 604
Jun 18, 2017
7,297
4,683
1. The 12" MacBook has a 2304x1440 screen, which means its effective "native" resolution equivalent is 1152x720, at least in old MacBook Pro terms. However, many people find that a bit small, so the current default is an effective 1280x800, which happens to be the exact same resolution as the old non-Retina 13" MacBook Pros, and is a good size for a lot of people.

2. For RAM, I got 16 GB, but it depends on a number of factors. Get 16 if you are a heavy multitasker and plan on keeping the machine for a long time. If you are light user and don't plan on keeping it more than a couple of years, maybe stick with 8 GB. For the apps you mention, that suggests 16 GB, especially if you multitask. Note though, that the machine may feel sluggish for heavy duty multimedia work.

3. The single USB C port is a definite hindrance. Remember also you'll want to charge the laptop too at the same time. What it also potentially a hindrance is the fact the port isn't Thunderbolt.

4. The bottom of the MacBook can get quite warm although usually not blistering hot. However, I'm not the best to ask since I usually use mine on a table.

5. I can't answer most of this, but neither the MacBook nor the Air have wide colour gamut screen. The Pro does however. The Pro also gets significantly brighter if necessary.

For everything you've mentioned, I'd say you should get neither the 12" MB nor the 13" MBA. You should get a MacBook Pro, and maybe a quad-core model. Yes there will be fan noise, but at least it will powerful enough to do what you need it to do, and it has multiple Thunderbolt/USB-C ports.

BTW, remember that the Pro only weighs 10% more than the Air, and is better in so many ways for your usage except battery life and maybe fan noise. Neither will be silent like my beloved 2017 though. ;)
 

mikeray

macrumors regular
Jan 17, 2006
210
55
Brooklyn, NY
  • Going from a 13" to a 12" screen, does the working screen space feel a lot smaller? Did it feel like a downgrade or did it still feel comfortable and right to you?
The default resolutions is 1280x800. You can also bump it up to 1440x900. Sometimes it's perfect, but sometimes it feels small. I dunno, I love this little guy. I bought the original 2015 maxed out model and use it every day. I love that it's fanless.

Now that the Retina MacBook Air is out the only thing I wish it has was a Thunderbolt 3 port so I could hook it up to the LG 5k display. I hope they add that in the next iteration, and in the meantime I use the LG 4k display and love it.
 
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lowkey

macrumors 6502a
Jul 16, 2002
529
398
australia
The MacBook will suck ass running Logic if your are trying to use Audio Unit plugins. The little 5w CPU is great at short bursts of effort where it can hit full turbo boost then drop back down to idle.

Under continuous load it’s going to overheat and then slow down.

Any app that needs continuous power won’t run optimally on a MacBook. That said, Photoshop (if not huge files) Indesign, and general computing tasks are all very snappy.

The screen is pretty good size for most things. Again for Indesign with multiple palettes it gets a bit cramped but so does any of the 13” models too. An external monitor might be required depending on what you actually do.

Buy a refurb and save some money if you can’t wait till the next update.
 
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widescreenparis

macrumors newbie
Nov 10, 2015
20
5
The MacBook is a wonderful machine, but definitely not for your use case. It looks like you need power, connectivity, and display real estate. Which are the exact downsides of the MacBook.
For most people though, CPU power is sufficient, and most connectivity limitations can be easily mitigated with a simple hub.
But Final Cut, Logic Pro, color accuracy and moving files around within external mechanical drives? Get a MacBook pro.
 
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BeatCrazy

macrumors 68000
Jul 20, 2011
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I have the 2017 retina MacBook (256GB/16GB) and also a 2016 (256GB/8GB) MacBook Pro. You should probably get a Pro, considering your software uses. My MacBook is really just for web browsing, some office applications, and occasional heavier software.
 
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Mike Boreham

macrumors 68000
Aug 10, 2006
1,640
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UK
  • Is the single USB 3.1 port capable of running and transferring files between two 2.5" external hard drives with a dual port hub? From my experience transferring files between 2 drives off one USB-C port on a MacBook Pro make at least one of the drives fail and eject due to insufficient power. It could be my Satechi USB-C hub though, so I wonder if anyone has more experience with this and can recommend a better hub?
Have a read of this thread: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/two-external-usb-drives.2020631/#post-24365475
 
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