One year on, a review of the base 2015 MacBook

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by lite426, Oct 17, 2016.

  1. lite426, Oct 17, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2016

    lite426 macrumors regular

    May 24, 2013
    After a year of ownership, I've sold my base 1.1GHz, 256GB 2015 12" MacBook. I can now provide a review of my experience. I'd like this review to be different from others - free of fluff hyperbole, and actually based on long term use rather than a week's review as you find on many tech sites. I used this as my only computer for a year. While initially I was sceptical of how suitable the MacBook would be for me, over time I grew more and more fond of it. Overall it exceeded expectations.

    My first try of the MacBook was in an Apple Store. The thing that left the biggest impression on me from those few minutes of use was not the new butterfly keyboard or new force touch trackpad, but the incredibly smooth closing and opening action of the lid. Such a simple thing but it really is vastly smoother to open and close than the Pro/Air and makes it feel premium. I love that it can be shut quickly without worrying about damage, as it automatically decelerates when about to close. Great for quickly flicking it open and close.

    When I first got the MacBook, one concern was keyboard noise and comfort. The MacBook is the quickest keyboard I've ever typed on, but the MacBook Pro keyboard seemed quieter and more comfortable. I can't say I ever grew to love the keyboard but it's certainly a unique experience with crisp typing action.

    Another concern is the comfort of the laptop in the lap. Its small size meant I would crane my neck down. On a desk, I propped it up on a riser.

    Throughout the year I've spent an equal amount of time between OS X and Bootcamp Windows. I devoted half of the 256GB of space to each OS. This laptop was my first long term use of OS X. I can say that OS X offers a polished experience but isn't always intuitive. I liked OS X as I felt safer visiting banking websites etc and felt less liable to attack, while on Windows I was more cautious about which websites I entered credentials on.

    I thoroughly recommend this MacBook even if you intend to only use Windows. Bootcamp Windows was fantastic. Gaming battery life on Windows was very good. I could get 3-4 hours per charge. It did struggle with lots of tabs open in Firefox sometimes. I also found the trackpad to be more accurate on Windows. There were some negatives like not being able to set "light press click" like on OS X. Trackpad++ is one of the worst cases of nagware, requiring a weekly reinstall to continue to function. I couldn't possibly recommend it as a solution.

    One poster, Boltjames went as far as to say that this is best Windows ultraportable around. At first I found that hard to believe, but I now see there's truth to it. You get the best of both worlds - exceptional Apple build quality combined with the familiar Windows environment. Also, I'd like to thank him and several others for help with Bootcamp's initial setup.

    Performance wise, it far exceeded my expectations. I feared it wouldn't be possible to game at all, but it did handle the specific (source engine) games I like to play, well enough that I could have a lot of fun. Although frame rates did drop at times which made it frustrating and difficult to be truly competitive. What pleased me most however was that I could game with no system noise at all - a revelation.

    In fact, anyone who categorically states that 3D gaming isn't possible is wrong. I've spent hundreds of hours FPS gaming on this MacBook and had many good times. Plus, the trackpad is even accurate enough (on Windows) that I could aim well enough without a mouse, for casual play. On OS X however, the cursor movement was a bit jerky.

    Throttling was another concern. During hot days in the summer, gaming on Windows wasn't possible due to throttling. One poster suggested limited the CPU to 99% in power options. This may help. I didn't know about that trick back then. I relied on OS X for gaming during the summer, but the past few months I used Windows almost exclusively and throttling wasn't an issue. If like me you live in a cold country like the UK and your room tends to be cool, get the MacBook. The fact that it's passively cooled won't be as much of an issue.

    Having the charging port and interface port in one did mean I had to alternate between external mouse and plugging in, as my Logitech mouse still requires a nano USB adapter. As a result, my battery cycle count at the end of the year was ~450 with 87% battery capacity. Initially I was concerned about the rapid decrease in battery health but it did seem to stabilise around that mark eventually.

    I've sold it as I now see how I could benefit from more power and I didn't take full advantage of its portability. I also had a good offer for it that was difficult to refuse. Plus, I'm interested in what's being released. However, at £760 refurbished this is still a great buy. This laptop has proven to me that it's not all about raw power.
  2. ghanwani macrumors 6502a

    Dec 8, 2008
    Thanks for the review.

    This is true in year 1 of ownership. Maybe year 2. By year 3, the laptop will take a lot of patience to use. Power matters a lot for delaying obsolescence.
  3. Channan macrumors 68030


    Mar 7, 2012
    New Orleans
    Yep. I have a late 2013 MacBook Pro and there are no signs of it slowing down yet. My previous core 2 duo MacBook Pro lasted me about 4 years. By that time it was noticeably slower and had enough lag to get me to upgrade. I'm not sure how long this Mac will last me, but I'd be shocked if it wasn't at least three more years.

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