Help? Seeking advice/info on 2017 12” MacBook (2nd gen KB) vs 2016 12” Macbook (1st gen KB)

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by Rory76, Apr 30, 2018.

  1. Rory76 macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2017
    I currently own the 2016 12” MB (M5/8/512) with the original/first generation butterfly KB. For the most part, I really like the computer. I bought it used (from a friend) for a really good deal a year ago ($500). The computer is plenty capable for my needs and the single USB C is not really an issue for me. The main issue I have with this MacBook is the keyboard. One being my dislike of the typing experience on the KB due to the extreme lack of key travel and the other being the notorious sticking/stuck keys problem. This is even with keeping all food and drink away from the MB and doing my best to keep it away from dust. Luckily, so far I’ve been able to fix the “sticky” KB issues through various ways mentioned on the web, including the use of compressed air. And although the computer is no longer under Apple’s one year warranty, I purchased an AppleCare protection on it which is good through most of 2019. But, after seeing so many stories related to failure of this specific MB’s KB across various Apple forums and the cost associated with replacing the top case, I’m worried about what will happen if/when I run into KB problems I’m unable to fix on my own once the AppleCare plan has ended.

    This morning Best Buy had a deal on the 2017 version of this MacBook with the (supposedly improved/fixed) 2nd generation butterfly KB and better specs (i5 (I’m aware it’s really just a rebranded “M”)/8/512). It was $500 off making it around $1100. I ordered it knowing I have 2 weeks to return it without penalty. The biggest reason I purchased it is for the 2nd generation butterfly KB (along with the slightly better tech specs). I figured if the KB has really been improved and fixed with this 2017 model, I could sell my 2016 MacBook and recoup a large portion of the cost of the new one.

    So, short story long, I’d love input/feedback from owners of the 2017 12” MacBook (especially those who have previoudly experienced KB issues on either the ‘15 or ‘16 models) on how the 2nd generation butterfly KB compares with the first generation KB in terms of the issues I’ve had with my 2016 MacBook. Has the “sticking/stuck” keys problem really been resolved on the 2017 model? Is the typing experience on the keyboard much improved?

    Sorry for the long winded question but I could really use some guidance on all of this.

    Thanks so much in advance!
  2. bill-p macrumors 68000

    Jul 23, 2011
    Typing experience: keys are a wee bit clickier (think like 20%), so they have a bit more feedback, but still very little key travel, and actually, the keyboard is louder than the 1st gen. People keep telling me to stop hammering the keys (yeah, it's very very loud!) even though I type on it just the same way I did with the 1st gen keyboard.

    Sticky keys: nope, no improvement. I still have to clean the keys periodically and keys still get stuck.

    Those who say the 2nd gen keyboard is infinitely better than the 1st gen are probably just trying to convince themselves that it's worth it or something. Personally, I think both still suck pretty much the same way, and some things are better while some others are worse. Apple either needs to try and make a far better keyboard for the next iteration, or I may need to consider one of the newer Dell XPS laptops that have a far better keyboard than the MacBook line now (I also have a 15" rMBP 2016 so it's not like the Pro model is any better, really).
  3. Rory76, Apr 30, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2018

    Rory76 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2017
    Hi, Bill. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experience with me.

    I wonder if Apple will ever own up to the “sticky/stuck keys” syndrome affecting many newer MB’s and MBP’s and offer free repair/replacement of MacBooks affected by this even after warranty expiration?

    Any good tips on how to mitigate the “sticky/stuck keys” from occurring and how to resolve/fix it when it does happen? Do you think a decent quality KB protector or this (RadTech Notebook Gear ScreenSavrz, for Apple MacBook 12 - Gray would help things? What’s your cleaning regimen to help keep the KB problem to a minimum?

    You said that you also have the 2016 MBP which I believe has the same 2nd generation butterfly keyboard that is on the 2017 MB. How would you compare your MBP’s KB in terms of the typing experience, key travel, and loudness to the 2015-2016 MB? 2017 MB?

    Did you own the 2015 or 2016 MacBook prior to getting the 2017 model? If so, do you regret upgrading? In my case, it would basically be costing me approximately $300 (best case scenario) to make the upgrade from the 2016 M5 to the 2017 “i5”. Based off your own personal experience with the 2017 MB KB being no better than the first generation’s KB, do you see any real significant improvements that would warrant the expense of upgrading? (such as battery life, processing speed, the extra 1 1/2 years of warranty coverage I’ll get if I add AC, etc)?

    I really like the size, looks, and design (excluding the KB) of the 12” MB and want to stay with the Mac OS. I don’t replace laptops very often and will be keeping one of these (my current 2016 MB or the 2017 MB I ordered today) MB’s for quite a while. The bottom line is I need the MB to reliably last me for at least the next 3-4 years and, like everyone, I want the most bang for my buck.

  4. BeatCrazy macrumors 68000

    Jul 20, 2011
    I owned the 2016 rMB for over a year, then got a 2017. They keys on the 2017 are indeed different, but I can't say I prefer them every time. Neither one really bothered/upset me (like it does for many!), so personal preference may be the ultimate deciding factor here.
  5. Rory76 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2017
    Thanks for your reply. So you’ve never experienced the sticky/stuck keys thing with either of the MB’s you’ve owned?
  6. BeatCrazy macrumors 68000

    Jul 20, 2011
    Nope. No stuck keys in any. And I have a 2016 MacBook Pro, and I'm about to take delivery of my 3rd retina MacBook.
  7. Rory76 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2017
    Thanks for the info!
  8. Naimfan Suspended


    Jan 15, 2003
    Buy an Air. Or a 2015 MBP.

    Both generations of the butterfly keyboard are failing, with the 2017 versions slowly starting to catch up with the 2016s (which were supposed to ALREADY have the improved butterfly mechanism).
  9. Rory76, Apr 30, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2018

    Rory76 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2017
    Thanks for your reply, Naimfan. Are you saying there’s actually been “three” different versions/generations of the butterfly keyboard (the 2015-2016 12” MacBook, 2016 MacBook Pro/2017 12” MB, and the 2017 MacBook Pro) or did I misunderstand you?
  10. SteveJUAE macrumors 68020


    Aug 14, 2015
    Land of Smiles
    I would not waste your money on a new rMB, if the current one is fine then wait for a failure that forces the issue IMO

    Our 1st Gen 2015 rMB are fine and my wife's looks like she rolls pastry on her laptop and stabs her fingers very hard

    You will be doubly annoyed after forking out for a newer gen plus AC to hit potentially the same problem you currently fear

    Get your moneys worth out of the $500 you paid and is working fine for you and is covered till 2019
  11. newellj macrumors 604

    Oct 15, 2014
    Boston, MA, US
    I don't know if you're still following this thread. I saw the BB flash sale price and took a chance on purchasing one of these. Due to a new TV purchase in December, I actually have 30 rather than 15 days to figure this one out.

    I've had the MB for two days now so I can't comment on how well the keyboard will hold up over time. I did do a little quick research in this forum and it doesn't seem to have anything like the number of failure threads that there are in the MBP forum, which is probably a good sign.

    What I will say, having done quite a lot of work on this new MB since Monday afternoon, is that they keyboard is vastly improved in terms of how it feels to me compared to the original 2015 model. I owned one, found the keyboard intolerable, returned it, had an attempted change of heart because the size and weight were so attractive and bought another, found the keyboard fully as disastrous as I had found the first time, and returned the second one. It was, for me, simply unusable. The Gen 2, to me, feels like a much better experience. More accurate, faster, less...I don't know, painful? Something like that. If the rMBP keyboard is 100, the 2015 was <5, but I'd rate the Gen 2 MB keyboard somewhere in the 45-55 range. Really not bad, considering how thin the machine is.

    Let us know what you decide(d).

    FWIW, I have been looking for a dedicated piece of hardware to do work via our corporate virtual desktop while traveling. My most recent idea was an IPP with the ASK and the Pencil (which works pretty much like a one-button mouse on the virtual desktop), but the virtual desktop client runs much better on OS X than iOS and local file management and editing is light years better (needs to be MS Word and Excel) on the Mac. Here's a funny thing - the virtual desktop client actually (IMHO) runs better and functions better on a Mac than on a Windows laptop.
  12. Rory76 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2017
    Thanks for your reply and review of it. I’m glad you were able to get one during the flash sale as they sold out fast! Your opinion on how the keyboard “feels” better to you compared to the earlier generation is very helpful and makes me feel better regarding the purchase.

    Would you mind answering a few questions for me?
    -In your opinion, is the newer keyboard louder/“clackier” than the last generation, about the same, or less?
    -Did you get it with the M3 or “i5” processor? How does the new MacBook compare to your prior one in terms of snappiness and speed?
    -Is the battery life a lot better on the newer MacBook?

    Thanks so much!

  13. newellj macrumors 604

    Oct 15, 2014
    Boston, MA, US
    Bearing in mind I've only had this one a few days -

    "-In your opinion, is the newer keyboard louder/“clackier” than the last generation, about the same, or less?"

    Yes (going on memory), but the old one was actually worse than trying to type on an iPad's virtual keyboard. I know it isn't true, but that keyboard felt like nothing moved at all. I don't remember it making any noise, but I don't remember it being able to!

    The noise that the v2 keyboard makes is definitely different than a standard Apple laptop or the previous version bluetooth keyboard (which I love and own three or four of). I don't think it's necessarily louder. I think it's more that the noise is at a higher frequency, more treble. It probably sounds louder than it is because most of us are used to a lower frequency from the keyboard, perhaps. That's a theory...

    "-Did you get it with the M3 or “i5” processor? How does the new MacBook compare to your prior one in terms of snappiness and speed?"

    The 256GB that they had still available is the M3, so that's what I've got - the base model. This one is *clearly* faster and cooler than whatever was in the two 512GB 2015 rMBs that I owned. I don't think I'd try compiling code or a large number of big files from Lightroom on this, but for general purpose computing this really runs very nicely. And, as you know, it's wicked small and light and thin. I know a lot of us think Apple designs along those lines to a fault, but if that was the goal, this thing hit the mark.

    "-Is the battery life a lot better on the newer MacBook?"

    Too early for me to say.
  14. maerz001 macrumors 65816


    Nov 2, 2010
    If u can't stand the 2016 keyboard than the 2017 isn't for u either. It's a bit stiffer and louder. Nothing else.

    If the speed of the 2016 wasn't sufficient than the 2017 won't be. The speed improvement is about 10-15%.

    Battery life about the same.

    Keep your money and wait for the next generation

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