Apple Refreshes MacBook with Skylake-based Core M and New Rose Gold Colorby Ian Cutress & Anton Shilov on April 19, 2016 11:10 AM EST
Today Apple has introduced its new generation of its MacBook laptops. On the specification sheets, this generation introduces Intel Skylake based Core m processors, updated integrated graphics, a faster storage solution (either controller or NAND), faster DRAM and bigger batteries. The new notebooks use the same thin chassis and retina-class display as the Broadwell-based MacBooks released last year, but in using the new Skylake silicon the new models are are expected faster and more energy-efficient, and combined with bigger batteries should mean longer battery life. Apple is also expanding the color options, bringing the popular Rose Gold option from the iPhone line to the Macbook.
The new Apple MacBook line is based on the dual-core Intel Core M processors based on the newest Skylake microarchitecture as well as the ninth-generation of Intel's integrated graphics (HD 515, Gen9) with improved media playback support. The new processors are the Core m3-6Y30, the Core m5-6Y54 and the Core m7-6Y75, but are upgraded from their listed base frequencies due to Apple using them in a 'configurable 7W TDP up' mode. This adjusts the base frequency up by 100-200 MHz and offers more TDP headroom for longer turbo periods. The latest microarchitecture and increased frequencies should increase the base performance of the new laptops in general-purpose applications whereas hardware-accelerated playback of HEVC and VP9 video streams should improve battery life in video streaming scenarios. Just like predecessors, the new laptops use 8 GB of memory, using LPDDR3 to minimize power consumption of memory sub-system. This time, Apple uses LPDDR3-1866 memory for its MacBook, which is a tad faster than the LPDDR3-1600 DRAM it used last year. This should have a knock-on effect on the integrated graphics performance as well.
|Apple MacBook Line|
|2015 (Broadwell)||2016 (Skylake)|
|cTDP Up||7W cTDP Up|
|Base||1.1 GHz||1.2 GHz||1.3 GHz||1.1 GHz||1.2 GHz||1.3 GHz|
|Turbo||2.4 GHz||2.6 GHz||2.9 GHz||2.2 GHz||2.7 GHz||3.1 GHz|
|GPU||SKU||Intel HD Graphics 5300 (GT2)
24 EUs, Gen 8
|Intel HD Graphics 515 (GT2)
24 EUs, Gen 9
|Base||300 MHz||300 MHz|
|Turbo||850 MHz||900 MHz||850 MHz||900 MHz||950 MHz|
|DRAM||8GB LPDDR3-1600||8GB LPDDR3-1866|
|PCIe SSD||256 GB||512 GB||256 GB
|256 GB||512 GB||256 GB
|PCIe 2.0 x4||PCIe 3.0 x2|
|Display||12-inch 2304x1440 IPS LCD|
|Ports||1 x USB 3.1 (Gen 1) Type-C
3.5mm combo jack
|Network||2x2:2 802.11ac with BT 4.0|
|Battery||39.7 Wh||41.4 Wh|
|Weight||2.03 lbs (0.92 kg)|
Since the chassis and the monitor essentially remained the same as last year, we are still talking about a machine with 12” IPS display panel with 2304x1440 resolution and a full-size keyboard. The maximum thickness of the new MacBook is 1.31 cm (0.52”) and the weight is 0.92 kg (2.03 pounds), similar to the first-gen model.
Apple claims that the new MacBook laptops feature upgraded solid-state storage, which relies on the PCIe bus, but it offers higher performance than the previous-gen SSD the company used on its 2015 MacBook. Last year the company essentially used its own SSD with its own controller, based on iFixit.com’s findings. Perhaps, this year Apple uses a new-gen SSD design developed in-house. Unfortunately, the company remains tight-lipped regarding the nature of its SSD improvements, but only discloses that they are faster than the predecessors. Last year's MacBook used a PCIe 2.0 x4 NVMe interface - moving to Skylake Core M and the fact that Skylake's PCH supports PCIe 3.0 by default means that the new drive is most likely PCIe 3.0, but we're not sure if it is still x4, or if something else has changed. We are asking about this!
In addition to the new components, Apple also uses larger 41.4-watt-hour lithium-polymer terraced battery, compared to a 39.7 watt-hour battery used on the previous-gen model, which should enable longer battery life. Apple itself declares up to 10 hours of wireless web browsing and up to 11 hours of iTunes movie playback, which is an hour longer than before.
The laptop still features a single USB Type-C port with 5 Gbps transfer rate, which can be used for charging, connection to an external display (up to 3840x2160 resolution at 30 Hz refresh rate is supported) and so on. The notebook also has two microphones, a TRRS connector for headsets and a 480p FaceTime camera. Wireless networking capabilities of the notebook also remained untouched: the notebook supports dual-band 2x2 802.11ac Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth 4.0.
One element worth noting is that the use of Skylake Core M should open up features such as Speed Shift to Apple, where the system has the ability to respond quicker to CPU demands up to 30x and finish quick tasks faster than the previous generation even recognizes the request for a high-performance mode. This becomes significant for responsiveness and user experience, but Speed Shift requires specific OS support. Intel worked closely with Microsoft to enable it for Windows 10, and at this point Apple has not stated publicly if the new MacBook will support Speed Shift out of the box or will be in a future OS update.
The new Apple MacBook laptops are available from Apple directly starting today and from its partners starting April 20, 2016. The most basic Apple MacBook model with Intel Core m3-6Y30 SoC, 8 GB of memory and 256 GB of solid-state storage costs $1299. The more advanced model featuring the Core m5-6Y54 and 512 GB of storage retails for $1599. The Core m7-based model is built-to-order and its price will be higher although we expect it to be similarly priced to the upgraded Broadwell model.
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Flunk - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - linkJust don't buy one then.
fazalmajid - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - linkHalf a pound more is a 25% increase in weight, not to mention that their chargers are also significantly larger. What part of "mobility" don't you understand?
I have a 15" Retina MacBook Pro boat anchor with 16GB RAM, but I replaced it with the base model MacBook (1st Gen) for the weight savings. My primary computer is a desktop (Mac Pro at home. 5K iMac at work).
The MacBook is plenty good enough for what I use a laptop for - email, web browsing, terminal and SSH sessions. It certainly feels faster than the clock speed suggests thanks to the speedy NVMe SSD. I replaced my wife's MacBook Air with the highest-spec MacBook, and she is quite happy with it (once I got her the USB-C video dock).
Sure, I'd love to have an extra USB-C port (and an ecosystem of USB-C devices, most of the no-brand ones are complete garbage). A full day's battery would be nice as well, but the rMB is a device designed for no-compromise portability and mobility, and it delivers.
smilingcrow - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - linkFor some of us a Core M is all we need and the advantage of having a fanless system is a much bigger pull than having extra CPU power that I will rarely if ever require.
shadarlo - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - linkFor apple this seems like a tiny upgrade, year to year. And that pink is PUTRID!
Overall it's a decent laptop, but I'll take the XPS13 any day over it.
fazalmajid - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - linkThe pink is really a copper color, and quite fetching in real life.
The XPS13 is a great machine, but I would suggest you also have a look at the new HP Spectre (not the Spectre x360). It's got carbon fiber, a faster CPU and more ports, but you do have to endure the gold finish.
tareyza - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - linkThey refresh this while the MacBook Pros (emphasis on Pro) still have old Haswell processors almost a year after Skylake was launched...
solipsism - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - link"They" don't control Intel. You don't want these Skylake processors in the MacBook Pro, and the Skylake processors for the MacBook Pro weren't available a year ago.
solipsism - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - linkIt wasn't until Q1-2016 that the proper Skylake Core-i7s even hit the market, and who is to say they now have enough capacity for Apple. At this point, I'd say it's likely going to be the 6770HQ, 6870HQ, and 6970HQ.
jann5s - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - linkThis! I own a haswell MBP and misread the title to find out the "one-port-wonder" got an upgrade. :(
arthur449 - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - linkWhat's odd is that Intel lists these CPUs as capable of 4K @ 60Hz, whereas Apple claims only 30Hz.