First Impressions of the Newest MacBook

Taking a look at the slim and tiny 2015 MacBook from the perspecitve of a web designer and developer.


Let’s be honest, web design and development is not usually a processor-heavy profession. Most of our work days consist of drawing color squares and typing commands into terminals. We aren’t rendering hours worth of videos while playing 3D video games.

With the announcement of the newest MacBook, many designers and developers were wondering if the 1.1GHz and 1.2GHz options would be able to stack up for daily use. Slightly nervous of the outcome, I decided to take the dive and pick up a new MacBook as my primary machine for daily use.

Specifically, I picked up the space gray, 1.1GHz, 256GB MacBook with 8GB of RAM. Here are my first impressions…


Peripherals

Of all the major changes made to the MacBook, the revamp of the “butterfly mechanism” keyboard and the “Force Touch” trackpad are the two that will have the most immediate and dramatic effect on designers and developers.

The keyboard is strangely different, especially when it comes to muscle memory. The spacing of the keys and the travel of each keypress takes a bit of getting used to, but I’ve actually found that my hands are not nearly as tired of typing at the end of the day (and the end of an article) because of how easy it is to type.

As for the trackpad, the haptic feedback is the first time in Apple’s history where I was truly confused if what I was feeling was hardware or software. For example, if something I am clicking doesn’t have a force click option, I can press as hard as I want to but will never find a second click. Another example is when the computer is off, clicking doesn’t exist at all, it’s just a piece of glass on a computer. This is all because of the haptic feedback, which is definitely worth reading up on.

Power

After a quick 72 hours of owning the machine, I was incredibly surprised to see that the battery lasted at least double the amount of my previous MacBook Pro. After some brief research, I believe this is attributed to the very thing that makes most people nervous about the machine: the 1.1GHz processor. Because of Intel’s baffling engineering, they have seemingly packed a ton of muscle into the incredibly tiny processor they call the “Skylake” Core M. Also, no fans are needed to cool the chip off, so power isn’t being spent in that corner.

With that said, it does seem to take a bit longer to charge possibly due to a charger that’s more reminicent of my phone’s charger than the awkward MacBook Pro chargers we have all wrestled with but come to love. And yes, it’s not MagSafe but rather a USB-C connection for charging, so I have to be very careful or make sure it’s unplugged when the toddler comes running and tripping around the corner.

With that said, the smaller-sized charger is really great to pack up and toss into a backpack. And if the charge ends up lasting as long as it has unplugged, I doubt a longer charging time will be an issue.

Size

The size was what really closed the deal for me. I occasionaly commute on my bike which ends up being aroud 2 hours of bike riding a day. After spending that long “in the saddle,” it’s astonishing how heavy a backpack can become with clothes, shoes, accessories, and a computer. With the computer obviously being most of the weight, “upgrading” to a 2lb computer should make a huge difference. The screen size and resolution is also quite nice. As previous mentioned, my previous machine was a 13" MacBook Pro with a retina screen, and with the correct settings I’ve made this 12" retina screen feel seemingly identical to the the former.

Performance

While most people think that the processor speed is the main contributing factor to the performance of a machine, the 12" MacBook easily disproves that notion. Because of the combination of 8GBs of RAM and a processor that requires very little battery life, the balance between the two has really made this machine feel much speedier and more effecient than I would have imagined.

I believe only time will tell if the processor can stack up, but just the other day I was running the iOS Simulator, iTunes, Photoshop, Wunderlist, Terminal, Messages, Slack, Mail, Sublime and Safari simultaneously without any problems.

Next Steps

Over the next month I will be loading up a very large, enterprise-level application that we wrote at Envy for Cisco. This will easily be the largest test of the machine on the development side of things. After doing so, I hope to revisit this post and follow up wih a more detail review of the performance aspect of the new MacBook.

In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions or tests you would like me to run and I’ll do my best to get them in the next review!