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Apple MacBook review

Liking Apple’s latest MacBook more than we want to

Apple MacBook
Apple MacBook

The 2017 MacBook is still using fanless M-and Y-series Intel processors, but that probably won’t mean much to everyday users. Just know this: it’s powerful enough to handle most day-to-day tasks you throw at it in 2019. Those tasks might involve some light video editing, but that’s probably already pushing it.

We didn’t really run into any slowdown or slugging while testing the Apple Macbook, and that’s while running more than 20 Chrome tabs open at the same time. Keeping in mind that these tabs were generating everything from text editors and spreadsheets to streaming music and live chat, that’s a remarkable feat.

Benchmarks

Here’s how the MacBook 12-inch (2017) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

Cinebench CPU: 264 points; Graphics: 26 fps
Geekbench 4 Single-Core: 3,879; Multi-Core: 7,072
TechRadar Battery Life Test: 8 hours and 4 minutes

We pitted the MacBook against a laptop running Chrome OS and one that was released in early 2017, before we adopted the Geekbench 4 test, so straight comparisons in the numbers would be foolish. 

What these numbers should tell you, though, is that this laptop is more than capable of handling basic tasks as well as a few advanced ones, like Java-based graphical map generation.

That said, don’t be surprised when see this laptop get left behind by competitors packing full-fat, mobile U-series Intel processors. When you consider these stark differences as well as the minimal gains in weight and thinness that those laptops present, it’s not hard to question the premium price of this otherwise appealing device.

Apple MacBook

The MacBook gets a battery life score of 8 hours and 4 minutes in our TechRadar Battery Life Test.

Battery life

A clear advantage that the Apple Macbook have over most of its competitors, however, is pure longevity. It gets a battery life score of 8 hours and 4 minutes in our TechRadar Battery Life Test. That’s almost half an hour longer than the Pixelbook, and nearly three hours longer than the 2017 Acer Swift 7.

This is a few hours shorter than Apple’s battery life claims of up to 10 hours of wireless web browsing or up to 12 hours of iTunes movie playback. However, it’s well beyond what most Ultrabooks of 2019 have reported in the same test, which sets screen brightness and audio volume to 50% while all other back lights and radios are turned off except for Wi-Fi. Considering this, its score is still pretty impressive.

Apple MacBook

The sheer thinness and lightness of the device is a downright impressive feat.

We liked

The 2017 MacBook boasts massive improvements to the keyboard, especially when it comes to feedback strength. These make the typing experience on this model far more comfortable and accurate. 

The sheer thinness and lightness of the device is a downright impressive feat as well, and the boost in processor speed are very much a welcome improvement, despite how modest they may be in real-world use.

Apple MacBook

The price of this laptop should be at least 100 bills less.

We disliked

The price of this laptop should be at least 100 bills less regardless of currency, and a key performance feature of this laptop – 16GB of RAM capacity – is simply too pricey.

Considering that steep price, it’s also hard to ignore the glaring lack of ports and the middling 480p webcam.

Apple MacBook

It’s in the everyday use where the MacBook is able to hold its own against its rivals.

Final verdict

Given its extravagant price for what’s on offer hardware-wise, it’s a little irrational that we like the 2017 12-inch MacBook as much as we do. 

The laptop is rather easily beaten by many of its competitors in terms of pricing and brass-tacks components – from storage capacity to ports to screen sharpness. However, it’s in the everyday use where the MacBook is able to hold its own against its rivals.

Plus, that latest MacBook design upgrade has proven to be unsurpassed over the last few years, so what you’re getting is an experience that’s both fast and portable in ways that most other laptops in its class just couldn’t quite live up to.

The indisputable fact is here is that doing some work or browsing the internet with our legs crossed feels better on the MacBook than with most other laptops we’ve tested. Packing this MacBook into a backpack – and maybe even forgetting the charger – feels like nothing's there. 

And, when you do take it out, you have a laptop that wakes up in the blink of an eye, can handle pretty much anything short of gaming or intensive graphical editing, and sees you through a full day’s work. If you can get past its price that’s undeniably steep even for Mac fans, then get ready to own what’s unexpectedly been one of the best MacBook in years – Pro or otherwise.

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