Differences between the Retina Macbook model years?

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by Cool Pup, Oct 3, 2017.

  1. Cool Pup, Oct 3, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2017

    Cool Pup macrumors 6502a

    Cool Pup

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2010
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    #1
    Hey everyone, I'm pretty new to the world of the Retina Macbook and I think I'm finally ready to come on board with the lightweight retina screen and the world of no ports for mobile computing. I'm a power user of Macs so I really like the flexibility of MacOS as opposed to iPads and iOS 11 for actual work and productivity. I love my (2015) Macbook Pro but it is getting a little hefty and I'm looking for a smaller footprint to travel with and to work and compute away from my desktop. I've honestly never really considered this laptop model until recently so I stayed pretty far removed from learning about it and curious about its benefits.

    I just would like to know the overall differences between the various models of the Retina Macbook from 2015 to current? I know it's obvious that the current model is faster and more supreme, but from a cost case, I might not need the speed considering I would just use it for text editing and mobile browsing. The latest hardware isn't really all that important because I don't plan to play games or edit videos on here and I'd rather get a larger SSD of an older model if that is an option. I don't want a slow operating system of course, but I don't necessarily want or expect it to zip on rendering 4k videos. Is the price increase really worth it considering I can get refurbished models of older Retina Macbooks for a substantial discount (up to 500 dollars off) if I don't plan to utilize the hardware to the brink of its potential? I'd like to consider that this computer would last at least 5 years of usability or so.

    I hear a lot about the keyboard from the different models but I don't know a thing about it and what it's like. Is it really bad on certain models? I use the Apple chiclet style keyboards and completely have transitioned to that style and find that small real estate pretty comfortable and I'm able to type with maximum efficiency on it. How comparable is the Macbook's keyboard to the stock, smaller-size keyboard they sell for iMacs?

    I guess I am looking for a lowdown here on the different year models and how they stack up and the general hardware differences between them if people experienced with these can provide them. Like I said, I'm going to work with text editing and internet browsing so the specs mean less as much as the weight and the input of the keyboard and trackpad.
     
  2. kiranmk2 macrumors 6502a

    kiranmk2

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2008
    #2
    2015 - CPU underpowered, GPU massively underpowered, keyboard gen 1, battery degradation issues, no Rose Gold
    2016 - CPU decent at m5 1.2 GHz level (m7 1.3 is actually worse as it throttles), GPU improved, keyboard geb 1, battery degradation seems to be less of an issue. Will struggle with 10 bit HEVC video
    2017 - m5 and i5 are good CPUs, 16 GB option, GPU similar to 2016, keyboard gen 2, no reports of battery issues so far. No issues with 10 bit HEVC video.

    All models have 480p Facetime Camera, USB 3.1 gen 1 port, no Thunderbolt (not even v2/v1), Force Touch Trackpad.

    If you don't care about 10 bit video or 16 GB, the sweet spot would be the 2016 m5 model.
     
  3. mp2017 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2017
    #3
    kiranmk2 provided a nice summary. I picked up an open box 2016 m5 model for $875. I decided the higher capacity SSD (512GB) for the price was more important than the 2017 m3 configuration (which has a 256GB SSD).

    One thing to keep in mind is the 2017 model line has m3, Core i5, and Core i7 processors compared to the m3 / m5 / m7 processors in the previous generations. Although they bear the Core i branding these are essentially m5 / m7 processors (Intel decided to muck with the naming convention).
     
  4. Cool Pup thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Cool Pup

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2010
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    #4
    Thanks for the posts. I was considering the 2016 model myself and am glad to see it being a good spot to jump in at a fair price.

    Today I tried out the 2017 model keyboard and noticed there isn't much bounce to the keys. It wasn't terrible, but how does that compare to the 2016 model? I wasn't able to find a 2016 model on display to experiment with. Typing will be the most important aspect to this and I'm wondering if the 2016 model has more or less give, or something entirely different as compared to the current mdoel?
     
  5. mp2017 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2017
    #5
    I wasn't able to tell them apart. But if it's important to you then I highly recommend you find a 2016 model to perform a side by side test.
     

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4 October 3, 2017