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Apple MacBook (2015) REVIEW: Thin and beautiful, but worth the price?

by Brandon Russell | April 23, 2015April 23, 2015 11:20 am PDT

Haven’t we been here before? Following the new MacBook’s announcement last month, I was immediately taken back to the year 2008, when Apple introduced the first MacBook Air. It was so thin you could stuff it in a manila envelope; it was a neat party trick, but we soon found out that Apple’s new show pony sacrificed a lot to achieve the thinner clamshell design.

Years later, and Apple has essentially nailed the MacBook Air formula. Not only is the company’s Air lineup powerful, but they’re relatively affordable, and, as it turns out, the absence of a CD drive wasn’t such a big deal after all. I feel like we’re about to experience the same growing pains with the new MacBook.

There’s no arguing how great the new MacBook’s design is. It’s more beautiful and more elegant than Apple’s entire laptop portfolio; it’s thinner and lighter; the 12-inch screen is absolutely gorgeous; and the new colors add a bit of personality to the mix.

In addition, it also sports a redesigned keyboard, which sports a new “butterfly mechanism” rather than the traditional scissor mechanism, along with a Force Touch trackpad and a single USB-C port. These touches allowed Apple to create a device that’s just 0.35cm and 2.03 pounds; it’s the most portable Apple laptop we’ve seen, and it makes a huge difference when toting it around to and from work.

But for all the new doodads and engineering brilliance, it’s not the most powerful laptop out there, and the entry price is just too high. That’s not to say the MacBook doesn’t have a lot to offer. It is a joy to use, and it’ll run a few games on lower settings; if you’re a student, this will absolutely be fine if you need to write papers and do research online. But if you do more media-intensive tasks, like photo and video editing, you might want to look elsewhere in Apple’s portfolio.

Bottom line is that the new MacBook is too expensive, and has far too many compromises to be a viable daily driver. The model we got — the 1.2GHz dual-core Intel M — is powerful enough to handle most tasks. But really push it, and you’ll notice real quick that’s it’s nowhere near the performance of a new MacBook Air or MacBook Pro.

If the sacrifice of performance is worth the thinner, more modern form factor, than by all means, go ahead and spend the $1,299 on the base model. If you value performance, however, then the new MacBook isn’t for you. This is a first-generation device with aspirations to usher in the future of computing. As such, you should wait to see what the next model has to offer.


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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