Macbook 1.3 Ghz - ~4 weeks in

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by Sean.Something, Jul 15, 2015.

  1. Sean.Something, Jul 15, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2015

    Sean.Something macrumors newbie

    Sean.Something

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2015
    Location:
    Hong Kong
    #1
    About four weeks ago, my 15 inch Macbook Pro (2.7 ghz i7 Matte, Hi-res) laptop decided it was time to evacuate the planet. I've owned many Apple products over the years and at the time I owned an iPad air 2, an iPhone 6 plus, and the above described machine. In need of a computer that actually worked, I went to Craigslist and found someone who had decided they loathed their new Macbook (SG, 1.3 Ghz, 8 GB Ram, 512 SSD) and was looking to sell for 10,000 HKD. In Hong Kong this effectively was the cost of purchasing a new MacBook Air. Given the item was barely used and my lust for a new shiny Apple product was kicking in with full force, I bought it. I sold my old laptop for parts and the iPad air 2 to absorb the cost of this experiment/splurge

    Previous to this machine I had never owned a Macbook Air but I had really begun to notice how much I was personally bothered with carrying around a 15 inch laptop when I barely tapped it's performance power. Thus the idea of getting something more mobile became a motivating factor in my search for a replacement.

    What I use my computer for: Almost everything I do is based in working with web tools, Notes, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Preview for converting photos, and I stream a lot of television with my Indian takeout. Photo editing is limited to the Photos app, I leave sound production to Skrillex, and I do not use this machine for any type of coding. Generally speaking I have Safari and Firefox open with about 8 tabs per window open, I run a VPN with Firefox, and have Skype, E-mail, Calendar, and iTunes Open.

    Things that I like:
    • I have been very pleased with the performance so far. Core M had me a bit nervous but it has met my expectations. I will say that using HandBrake to convert video is an absolute time funnel so anything particularly CPU bound will obviously - as expected - move at a glacial pace. It took about an hour to convert Thor: the Dark World in Blu-Ray (about 2.8 GB) to Mp4 from Mkv. This was not a surprise - I was just somewhat spoiled by my last machine's proficiency in this area.
    • The battery life has exceeded my expectations in almost all cases. I have no problem reaching 8-10 hours on normal usage with the above described activities.
    • The MacBook CAN BE CHARGED BY AN EXTERNAL BATTERY! This has been huge breakthrough for me. I am sloppy about charging my devices and have a Xiaomi 16,000 Mah battery with me at all times. The fact that I can charge my laptop with this should I forget to plug it in the night before is a revelation.
    • The display is gorgeous, clear, and a huge upgrade from what I was working with previously. I do not miss the extra screen real estate.
    • The machine is incredibly mobile. I use the same man purse I used with my iPad and I haven't noticed a difference in how it feels to be constantly walking around with a laptop over a tablet
    • It looks really good - which when you're paying for a premium product - the looks matter. (Oddly, the MacBook label is back at the bottom of the display. Can't figure out why Apple added this back as it somewhat distracts from the clean lines of the device).
    • I really enjoy the new trackpad and use force touch when browsing frequently to call up a preview window. Not a lot to say here - I think it's a great trackpad.
    Things that piss me off:
    • The bottom edge along the trackpad will scuff if you breathe too loudly. I am used to handling my iPhone like a newborn with brittle bone syndrome but I was not expecting the same with my laptop.
    • I am not sure if this is 1.3 Ghz limited, but the device can get very hot at the bottom. I know the device relies heavily (entirely) on passive cooling, so this isn't a surprise that it gets hot. What has surprised me is how hot it gets.
    Things I've noticed, didn't expect, and am not sure how I feel about:
    • The Keyboard is very easy to type on once you get into a groove. It reminds me of typing on the iPad - you have to trust yourself a bit with it. The problem is that whenever you switch to any other keyboard, you have to adjust back. And then when you switch back to the MacBook, one needs to adjust again. This is probably a personal quirk.
    • While the device is no slouch it performs noticeably better when plugged into an outlet OR an external battery. When I say noticeably better I mean that quite literally. I can see a visual difference. Handbrake conversion queue times go down, lag between switching full screen apps decreases, etc.
    • Based on the reviews I have read - apparently only having one port is an issue. It hasn't been for me and I've never thought about it or really even noticed. I connect all of my devices wirelessly and move my photos from my Nikon onto my phone via lightning to SD Card and then place them in iCloud. I can see others being upset if they need to change their workflow - this however was not my experience.
    Overall: I am very satisfied with my purchase and given my current needs I think the MacBook hits all the marks well enough and then some. I think folks need to consider their needs before purchasing. If you need an SUV, you shouldn't buy a Prius. I will say that I haven't missed that iPad yet, and it's really amazing having a machine that runs OS X with this level of portability. We will see how the device ages but for the moment, the battery life, performance, mobility, and user experience have all been exactly what I was looking for in my next device.
     
  2. JoePa2624 macrumors regular

    JoePa2624

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2014
    Location:
    AZ
    #2
    Great read! I'm glad you're enjoying your machine and welcome to the club!!!
     
  3. Sean.Something thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sean.Something

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    Jul 14, 2015
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  4. BoneHead001 macrumors 6502

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  5. BlueEyedSon macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2015
    #5
    Thanks for your review. I'm also shopping for a new laptop and currently have something that sounds similar to what you had before. Just out of curiosity, did your old Macbook Pro have a solid state drive? Either way, apart from the heavier load of converting a video, did you find your new macbook comparable to the older pro in terms of speed and performance?
     
  6. Sean.Something thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sean.Something

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    #6
    Hey BlueEyedSon,

    My last machine was using a physical hard drive at 7200 rpm. I'll default to the cliche - this machine actually feels "snappier".

    I think there are a couple of reasons for this. 1) my old machine was set to run on an Intel 3000 integrated gpu. I had set it this way to conserve battery. 2) I suspect Apple has done a lot to leverage the all flash architecture of this kind of machine. So it's my hunch there are some optimization at work here. 3) my old machine died due to a logic board failure. So the performance I was used to probably wasn't the machine's best demonstrations.

    There also may be some bias because - let's be honest - we all want to believe our new product is better than our old one.

    In short, performance - other than the cpu intensive tasks- is as good if not better.

    Does this help you out?
     
  7. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    #7
    Nice! Sounds like the perfect transition from big and bulky to light and svelte!

    I agree about the keyboard - I am perfectly fine with it, but as I transition from the long travel mechanical boards on my desk to the MacBook it takes a bit of adjustment. It helps me type lighter on all of my keyboards however.

    If I had to use this machine to do a specific processor intensive task like encoding a video from time to time, it might be worth setting up a simple external cooling mechanism. Setting it on a simple ice pack would probably do wonders to the processor speed.
     
  8. Rusty33 macrumors 6502

    Rusty33

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2011
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    Australia
    #8
    Thanks for your review! It is wonderful to hear about real-world usage.

    But are you missing your iPad at all now?
     
  9. Sean.Something thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sean.Something

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    #9
    @zhenya - I'll poke a bit of fun here - I think if one has enough motivation and need to arrange an ice based cooling set up then perhaps their time is better spent elsewhere and they should go for a more well spec'd Air or perhaps even a Pro.

    @Rusty33 - I don't miss my iPad. I really enjoyed the iPad Air 2, but I really haven't experienced a moment where I felt I would rather have it. My personal experience with an iPhone 6 Plus and the MacBook allow for both experiences to really cater to what they do best.

    If one were to create a spectrum where on one end you have pure mobility and on the other you have pure compute power - I'm well on the side of mobility. So the MacBook works well for where I sit on the spectrum. If someone's compute needs pass a certain threshold, I could definitely see an iPad paired with a Pro making more sense for that kind of user.
     
  10. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

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    #10
    Thanks for taking the time to write about your impressions and experiences.
     
  11. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    #11
    Perhaps. On the other hand, I could see myself wanting to do something like encode a video a few times a year. The time it would take me to take an ice pack out of the freezer, wrap it in a kitchen towel, and set it under the MacBook is oh, 15 seconds. And for the rest of the year I get to use a device that fits my needs much better. What's much crazier to me would be to buy a more powerful machine because I might very occasionally want to do something that utilizes that power.
     
  12. BlueEyedSon macrumors newbie

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    Jun 14, 2015
    #12
    Thank you very much! Your response is incredibly helpful to me. Thanks, again!!!
     
  13. Ka Tec macrumors newbie

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    Jul 16, 2015
    #13
    Thank you for your great review. I myself have just ordered the MB 1.3ghz, I am bit nervous on power given the intel M but you're review makes me more confident on my decision. One question I have however how long does it take to charge the computer using the Xiaomi 16,000 Mah battery ?
     
  14. relbhcb macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2011
    #14
    Good review, and I'd agree with almost all of it now that I have had my 1.3 for a week. The only aspects that I am not keen about are
    1. it is difficult to type quietly - somehow the keys rattle more than my MacBook Air keyboard, and
    2. the way that the charging cable sticks out is far less elegant than the 90 degree MagSafe wire on the MBA. I can live without the MagSafe functionality, but hope a more streamlined USB-C cable is released by someone soon.
    But the display is stunning, and I love the technology behind the trackpad.
     
  15. Rusty33, Jul 28, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2015

    Rusty33 macrumors 6502

    Rusty33

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    Jul 8, 2011
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    Australia
    #15
    A really neat way of putting this - thank you! I'm currently using a cMBP and an iPhone 5c...and just don't feel like i've hit that sweetspot. My cMBP has a decently size screen and an excellent keyboard, but isn't as mobile as it could be. My phone is super sleek and offers tremendous mobility...but then is a tremendously cumbersome when I really need to get some work done.

    I really do just want a portable little computer that I can easily cart around, and some sort of mobile device that make email, and the occasional PDF possible. If only I could fit a 6+ in my hipster pants :(
     
  16. Sean.Something thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sean.Something

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    Jul 14, 2015
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    Hong Kong
    #16
    @Ka Tec - the core M is fine. I wouldn't sweat it as long as your use cases are Appropriate. My external charger works slowly but will at the very least prevent the machine from dying. It's definitely not a quick charging solution but it's great to have in a pinch.

    @relbhcb - based on the machine I came from I don't think I can relate to the experience you've described with the keyboard-it's quiet on my end. The charger works fine for me. It reminds of an iPad sitting on my night stand. I always hated MagSafe to be honest. That's all personal preference.
     
  17. tbirdparis macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 30, 2015
    #17
    Nice overview, having a pretty similarly positive experience myself so no need to double up on anything you said. But one thing I def would second is the fact that the MacBook label under the display seems unnecessary and detracts from the clean look. Actually I didn't know this had gone away on recent Mac notebooks, had it? My 2010 i7 MBP also says MacBook Pro in the same spot under its (now rare and coveted) matte display, somehow it seems like obtrusive on that one. Maybe it's because it's a gigantic 17 incher so the label is small in comparison. But yep, probably would have looked slicker without it... and if they really felt like they absolutely had to put some branding there at all, then a subtle embossed Apple logo might have been less distracting?
     
  18. palmwangja macrumors regular

    palmwangja

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    #18
  19. MacBoook160 macrumors 6502

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  20. sunapple macrumors 6502a

    sunapple

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    The Netherlands
    #20
    I would love to switch from my 15" rMBP (2014 Iris Pro) to the top-of-the-line MacBook. However, besides browsing, I use this computer for school (product design) which involves 3D CAD programs like SolidWorks. This runs OK on my current machine, maybe slightly-less-than-OK on a MacBook.

    Also the screen size is probably not ideal if you're doing this sort of work for a few hours on it. I have an external monitor at home, so maybe I'll be able to just do the serious stuff there. Or maybe the 12" screen won't be that much of a problem at all.

    On the other hand, CAD software isn't something I'll be doing all day, every day of the week. More like a few hours a week. All the other things I'll be doing can be done on the MacBook as far as I'm aware (reading your review really helped and I've looked at lots of other reviews).

    I think I'll be saving up some money for the next generation MacBook so I can use it besides my current machine and see how it goes. Imagining the reduced weight in my backpack really makes me want to have one...
     
  21. sunapple macrumors 6502a

    sunapple

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    #21
    I heard water cooling is really effective...
     
  22. unixunderground macrumors member

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    #22
    Agreed, looks really cool for the price, I just ordered one.

    How long does it take to fully charge from 0%?
     
  23. Queen6 macrumors 603

    Queen6

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    #23
    You might just be surprised at what a small powered cooler can do, if the fan is directly under the middle rear of the Unibody baseplate, my own 1.2 is able to hold a steady 2Ghz + with all cores "lit up" remove the cooler and the MacBook will throttle down to around 1.4Ghz under 100% CPU load...

    Q-6
     
  24. Sean.Something thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sean.Something

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    Jul 14, 2015
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    Hong Kong
    #24
    It's been working very well so far. I have four devices that need to be charged every night (iPhone, Headphones, Macbook, and Apple Watch) so having something that can handle more than one full charging instance for when I forget to plug one is a relief.

    With the Macbook in particular the external battery pack's charging abilities can vary based on what I am using the Macbook for. For example. I recently used Handbrake to convert the entire Gundam 00 series from MKV to M4V (I am shocked why I am single) At this point in the day my battery was at about 36% percent. I connected the Macbook to the battery and started the conversion queue. It took about 4 hours for all of the conversions to be completed (50 videos at about 300 MBs each) but it held steady at 36% the entire time. In Instances where I am not using much power - such as now - it is able to charge at a decent pace though slower than with the charger.

    @unixunderground Xiaomi provides a very basic charging adapter for the battery so without a third party power brick it can take hours to fully recharge.

    @Queen6 That wouldn't surprise me at all to see some pretty noticeable performance improvements when using a fan or a cooling system of some kind. I stick to my guns though that if one needs to do this more than a few singular times, then one should probably consider the macbook that already has a cooling system in it. That aside, I bet it's still really cool to get the machine moving that quickly :)
     
  25. Sean.Something thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sean.Something

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    #25

    I can understand your feelings. My arrangement was definitely obscure when I had a 6+, iPad, and cMBP all in my workflow. Too many screens and too much overlap between them without enough specialization. Once I sat down and figured out all the tasks I actually do and what type of performance power I actually need, I was able to cut out the iPad. Though my laptop dying did help nudge me into making some decisions. That said - I wear some pretty tight pants myself and the 6+ can usually...fit...sort of. I carry a man purse around with me because I am a disorganized mess and constantly am fumbling for lighters or an MTR card or something.
     

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