My brief thoughts on the MacBook

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by keysofanxiety, Aug 12, 2015.

  1. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Hi all,

    So we got a gold MacBook/256GB in office and I thought I'd give my brief thoughts on it for anybody interested in what it offers.

    First impressions: the box was tiny. I almost mistook it for an iPad. You get the usual Apple packaging.

    Computer is seriously thin. The infamous one-port.


    USB-C to USB-C cable. Plugs straight into the tiny charger block.


    Edge-to-edge keyboard with a tacky-looking speaker just above the top row.


    SSD speeds are exceptionally disappointing, especially considering you're getting 1.4GB/s read and 1.8GB/s write from the 13" rMBP 256GB. Not sure how much of this (if any) is down to the CPU.


    Keyboard is weird. Feels like you're typing on a flat surface, but you get a satisfying 'click' after pressing each key. Although I got used to it quite quickly, it's a little difficult to touch-type that quickly and accurately as there are no indications as to which key you're pressing -- if you were blindfolded, there's certainly no way you could 'feel' around the keys and quickly figure out which is Backspace, Enter, etc. Certainly not as bad as other reviews, but the keys not being raised would certainly make typing over long periods on this machine quite an ordeal.


    Cranked the speakers. They're surprisingly vibrant for something so dinky, and the bass isn't bad at all.


    Overall, it's amazing for portability and it'll more than aptly handle light computer use. IMHO, the computer this should have been is simply a MBA with a Retina Display. Nonetheless this is here, so that's that.

    That said, the Retina MacBook Pro offers everything this does, though with more power, more ports, better battery life, and better specs - the only thing it doesn't have is the thinness and lightness. I'd personally buy the rMBP if you're on the fence between the two.

    TL;DR: I'd say the MacBook is aimed to those who prioritise portability and weight of a notebook over all other aspects.

    Best wishes and thanks for reading.

    Attached Files:

  2. RUGGLES99 macrumors 6502

    Feb 9, 2015
  3. MacGurl111 macrumors 65816


    Feb 4, 2010
    I can't get over how beautiful it is. I'm holding out, wishing the MBA will be updated. I won't hold my breath, though!
  4. tbirdparis macrumors 6502

    May 30, 2015
    Some good points, especially about the keyboard which definitely requires some personal try-out time to see if it's personally workable.

    A couple of things though: if they'd just have made a MacBook Air, changing nothing except adding a retina display, it would have taken a huge battery life hit... People would then be comparing the old one to the new one and complaining that losing 4 hours of battery life was an inexcusable trade off to have made just for a retina display. Or they would have had to lose some thinness to accommodate more battery, at which point people would then be like - well, may as well get a 13" MBP. Or worse still, if they'd just put in the only CPU currently available that allows this size/weight/retina display combo to work (ie the core M) and still called it a MacBook Air, people would be outraged that they'd been downgraded in performance. I think they really had to present this as a new category or at least a new series of machine for these reasons.
    As for the disappointing speed of the internal storage.. Up until the very latest revision of the MBP only a month or so ago, the read/write speed of the rMB was exactly the same as the pros, which was already really very fast. The only reason the latest MBP is faster is because it just got updated with a faster i/o buss, nothing to do with CPU speed. And so it should be anyway - the pros should have the most rapid storage available to earn their spot at the top of the range. Doesn't mean the rMB's drive is slow by any measure - it's still way faster by a wide margin than any equivalent Windows notebooks in this class. And despite being basically my personal non-work machine, it's currently the fastest drive read/write speed of any of my computers including the iMacs we use for work with thunderbolt drives... So I wouldn't call it disappointing.

    I agree about your main points re the keyboard and the weaker CPU. Those two aspects plus the limited ports are what lost people should be thinking carefully about before buying.
  5. keysofanxiety thread starter macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    You're absolutely right tbirdparis, I already had a massive pre-bias as I'm definitely in the camp of 'how thin does a notebook really need to be before it's counterproductive as a computer?'. Opening up the box, knowing that it only had one port and no USB-C to USB-A adapter -- and doesn't have MagSafe (which on many a thread I've touted as being form over function) -- definitely didn't help. Additionally I absolutely love everything about the rMBP, which certainly affected how impartial my thoughts were.

    I will agree with MacGurl, it is a beautiful product. My problem is that I personally can't see why anybody would buy this over a 13" rMBP, and I really wish I could take a step back to appreciate what it is, what it advertises itself as being, and what niche in the market it fills.

    I think we'll give it time, there'll certainly be a few more incoming opinions in this thread which should give me a better appreciation for the product!

    Thank you for reading and taking the time to write your feedback. :)
  6. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    As already stated, the SSD is already as fast or faster than any laptop was just a year or so, and still faster than most 'more powerful' laptops sold today are. It's a limitation of the Core-M chipset decided by Intel.

    Why would I choose this over a 13" Pro? Because the MacBook is nearly half the weight and volume of the Pro which translates into a device that can slip into my backpack everywhere I go with me barely even noticing that it's there. I can use it on the couch, in bed, on the kitchen counter, at the airport, on the plane, or in a café and it is much less of a space hog in any of those locations. The MacBook feels much more like a constant companion than a laptop the size of the Pro that feels a bit more like an event to pack up and carry with me.

    You see a lack of power, I see an efficient design. There is never any fan noise or excessive heat. With the Pro I'd be carrying around processing power and ports that I would only very rarely use. With the MacBook I get everything I need for 98% of the time in a package that is much nicer to handle day in and day out. Further weight savings are realized because I no longer carry an iPad charger around with me, I keep the usb-c to usb-a adapter connected to my lightning cable and just use the MacBook's charger, which, by the way, charges the MacBook from ~20% to 80% in less than an hour. At my desk I keep the Apple digital adapter and I have a SINGLE connection for power, usb, Ethernet, and display.

    For whatever reason, much of the world is, like you, still hung up on raw speed as the only attribute worth worrying about in a computer. The MacBook is built with a different set of priorities in mind, priorities that I have been waiting years for the computer world to get behind, and for someone like Apple to put together in a cohesive package. The MacBook is it. To put it another way, in your automobile choice, is horsepower the only metric in your choice? Would you buy a top of the line Mustang for the power when most of your time is spent commuting in traffic?
  7. willyx macrumors member

    Apr 25, 2014
    The design is amazing, but the idea of spending $1400+ on the computer and not being able to integrate it on my workflow unless I spend another $200 on expensive dongles seriously puts me off.
  8. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    Who said anything about $200? For $79 the digital adapter basically gives you a portable docking station, something Apple doesn't offer for ANY other laptop.
  9. willyx, Aug 12, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2015

    willyx macrumors member

    Apr 25, 2014
    If you use it at home and at work you have to have 2 of these, otherwise the convenience of the docking solution is lost, as you have to always plug and unplug the cables from the dongle every time. So for me it would be minimum 2 dongles, which would put me at $160.

    Another thing about Apple dock is that it's got only one USB 3.0 port. This forces me to use another adapter (one usb---> multiple USBs) if I want to connect, for example, a wired mouse and an external hard drive at the same time.

    Last but not least, Apple's dongle does not have MiniDisplay port. Right now I only have MiniDisplayPort cables for my monitors, so I would either have to buy HDMI cables and pray that they support my display's resolution or buy more adapters (minidisplay ---> HDMI).

    None of this is a very big deal, but it seems a hassle considering the premium price I would be paying for the laptop.
  10. Fuchal macrumors 68020

    Sep 30, 2003
    It's incredible how quickly 800MB/s read became disappointing.
  11. keysofanxiety thread starter macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Yeah! I guess I'll explain in a little more detail. With it being PCI-e and with Apple having touted it as having faster Flash and stuff, I just expected it to be a little quicker. Especially with the MacBook Airs/Pros easily exceeding 1GB/s read & write.

    Sorry, kinda smashed out this review at work and could've proof-read/phrased things a little more delicately. :)
  12. masotime macrumors 68020


    Jun 24, 2012
    San Jose, CA
    Do people really feel the difference between .8GB/s and 1.4GB/s read speeds when using their laptop?

    IMO if you do, then you probably are doing intensive video editing work, and are probably better off getting a MBP / iMac / Mac Pro.

    It's weird, but the MacBook really does feel like an "iPad replacement". They feel equally light, and the only real "consumer-facing" difference being a full OS + keyboard versus excellent touch-screen / on-the-go handling.
  13. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    No, sequential read speeds like that mean almost nothing in day to day average use. And on the random scores, the new MacBook scores very well. IIRC, Anandtech was quite impressed with the technology used for the SSD in the MacBook.
  14. Harleg macrumors newbie

    Jul 30, 2015
    Regarding adapters, this looks like a well designed and integrated solution:

    Personally, I love the new keyboard design, at least from my recent Apple store-tryout. And I have an old Hermes Rocket typewriter that I love as well. Different strokes for the same folks, lol.

    As a writer who loves to hit the outdoors - and I mean literally - the form factor and ergonomics of the rMB are ideal. I can pack this little dude, 2-octave keyboard, camera, water & snacks, backup charger, and .22 (for the potential crazies) for around a 10lb carry.
  15. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    I had a 13" rMBP and sold it to get the 12" rMB. I don't see ever going back. I was a big fan of the 11.6" MBA, and this combines what I liked about the MBA (the portability) with what I liked about the rMPB (the screen). I haven't had any complaints about the SSD or CPU. I've even run Quicken within Windows 8.1 and now Windows 10 in Parallels 10 side by side with Office 2016 on the Mac, and have not run into any major issues. I can take this just about anywhere. It fits inside the tablet slot in one of my notebook bags.
  16. Dayv macrumors 6502

    Aug 18, 2009
    I'm not sure why people are obsessed with opening up a great new computer and installing performance-testing apps so they can have numbers to be disappointed by. Just use the dang thing.
  17. keysofanxiety thread starter macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Just tested it as best I knew in as little time as I could. I didn't have long to try it out. I was interested to see the SSD speeds which is why I posted them. Sorry if you didn't find the feedback useful, hopefully somebody else did.
  18. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    Do you know if it was running 10.10.3+? I think that's when they enabled the NVM Express interface on the MacBooks.
  19. keysofanxiety thread starter macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Yep, 10.10.4. :) …although now I'm doubting my memory. It 100% wasn't 10.10.2 though, that'd have stuck out like a sore thumb when I checked About this Mac. I'll have to double-check tomorrow :D
  20. dyn macrumors 68030

    Aug 8, 2009
    Blackmagic Disk Speed Test only tests sequential speeds. If you take sequential speeds into consideration then yes they are disappointing. In reality the MacBook has the faster storage due to it being NVMe. This allows it to respond much quicker than the ordinary PCIe SSD in the MacBook Pro for example. The other, far more important, random read/write speeds are probably in the same realm. These things are rather difficult to test. You need to think of various workloads and use benchmarks that are able to simulate such workloads.

    When it comes to computing power, the CPU is the component to worry about. The rest is fine. How's the CPU working out for you?
  21. Costino1 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 1, 2012
    Good review!

    I love mine. Oddly, I don't miss the ports. I do have the USB-C dongle but i might have used it twice if that since I got my laptop 2-3 months ago.

    It's the perfect couch computer to just grab and use. Im traveling in a few weeks so Im excited to use this in the airport/plane/hotel with it's amazing battery life and quick charging and mobility.

    I can't comment if this is a powerhouse or not. I know it's not, but the computing I do it handles everything i threw at it thus far just fine. Which is spreadsheets, Mac Office, etc...
  22. Ulenspiegel macrumors 68030


    Nov 8, 2014
    Land of Flanders and Elsewhere
    @keysofanxiety: Thank you for taking the time to share your first impressions about the rMB. I enjoyed your review as it was one of the few that was objective.
  23. Elise macrumors 6502

    Sep 22, 2007
    I may have missed it, but you didn't say whether you're going to keep it OP?
  24. keysofanxiety thread starter macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Hi there Elise, it wasn't my machine - just one we received in office. I hadn't yet used one so I tested it out for about an hour and gave my first impressions. Overall it's a nice machine but not something I'd personally want to buy.

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