Apple spruces up its one-ported MacBook with Skylake and rose gold

Apple logoApple has announced the first major hardware update for the 12-inch Retina MacBook, just over a year after releasing the first version. Apple first tipped its hand in a recent OS X Server update, which indicated that an "Early 2016" MacBook model was coming but revealed nothing else.

You'll find most of the hardware updates on the inside: the laptop has been upgraded with Intel's Skylake Core M processors, which consume roughly the same amount of power but improve CPU and GPU performance. Apple says the laptop's storage should be slightly faster and that it picks up an extra hour of battery life. And a new rose gold finish joins the space gray, silver, and gold options, following in the footsteps of the iPhone 6S, 9.7-inch iPad Pro, Apple Watch, and iPhone SE. Otherwise, this laptop looks mostly the same as its predecessor. It has a 12-inch 2304×1440 Retina display and uses a low-travel keyboard and Force Touch trackpad to make the system as thin as possible. The MacBook is 0.14 inches (3.5mm) at its thinnest point and 0.52 inches (13.1mm) at its thickest, and it weighs just over two pounds (0.92kg). The Core M CPUs mean that there's no fan, so like an iPad or iPhone the system will never make noise no matter how hard you're pushing it.

If you were hoping for updated ports on this year's model, you'll be disappointed. The MacBook still uses a single USB Type-C port for everything from charging to data, display output, and docking, and Apple hasn't updated the computer with Thunderbolt 3. This is surprising, since Apple has been a big booster of Thunderbolt since its first iteration, and the new version uses the same USB Type-C port. Some PC makers are even offering it in laptops similar to the MacBook in size and weight. We'll have to hope Apple adds it in a future update.

Pricing is the same as it was before. The $1,299 base model is a reasonably well-rounded machine with a 1.1GHz (2.2GHz Turbo) Core m3 CPU, 8GB of 1866MHz DDR3 RAM, and 256GB of storage. For $1,599, you get a 1.2GHz (2.7GHz Turbo) Core m5, the same 8GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage. And a 1.3GHz (3.1GHz Turbo) Core m7 CPU can be added to either model as an optional upgrade. All systems include the Intel HD 515 GPU, which Apple says is "up to 25 percent faster" than the HD 5300 in the 2015 MacBook. This may be a conservative estimate based on the Skylake Core M laptops we've already seen, but it depends in part on how Apple has configured the processors in these laptops.

Apple spruces up its one-ported MacBook with Skylake and rose gold

The new MacBook is only Apple's second Mac to get the Skylake treatment—the 27-inch 5K iMac got it last fall. All others are still using Broadwell or something older, including the MacBook Airs and Pros, all 21.5-inch iMacs, the Mac Mini, and the Mac Pro. We're still waiting for news on other refreshes—Apple's next major event is the opening-day WWDC keynote on June 13, and the company has been known to introduce new Macs in front of developers who use them to build their apps.

The new MacBook is available to order online today and will be in Apple Stores tomorrow, and we'll give the new laptop the full review treatment in the coming days. Last year's model showed promise but had some notable shortcomings compared to the MacBook Airs and Pros. The single port on the MacBook will continue to limit its appeal to some, but the internal upgrades may make it a better replacement for older Mac laptops.

Finally, Apple also gave the 13-inch MacBook Air a minor upgrade. All models now include 8GB of RAM by default—this used to be a $100 upgrade. All other specifications, including the Intel Broadwell CPUs and the $999 starting price, remain the same. Eleven-inch models still include 4GB by default but can be upgraded to 8GB.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Apple, notebooks

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