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Apple MacBook (2016): Is it a worthwhile update?

By Ian Chee & Kenny Yeo - 25 May 2016


Still the most portable Mac, still the same problems…

The Apple MacBook is a stunning example of the company’s prowess in design. And even now, a year on, it doesn’t look or feel any less stunning. The thinness is amazing, and in your hands, it feels just like a slightly heavier iPad. If portability is your top priority, you’d be hard pressed to find another notebook that is as portable as the MacBook.

The MacBook's thickness is amazing. Here it is next to an iPhone 6S Plus.

Overall, the new MacBook represents an incremental update over last year’s model. But these updates are much welcomed. The new rose gold finish is not for everyone, but it will appeal to users who already have a rose gold iPhone or Apple Watch Sport Edition.

On the performance front, the MacBook has received upgrades in the form of new Core M processors and slightly faster SSDs drives, and the benchmarks do show noticeable improvements. In fact, the new MacBook's performance now comes close to that of the MacBook Air.

But to be honest, most users will be hard pressed to notice the difference in real world day to day usage scenarios. Which is also to say that the MacBook is still an immensely capable machine for running productivity apps and tasks like web browsing, watching videos and emails.

The new MacBook offers improved performance and is a dream machine for those looking for a lightweight notebook. However, for most users, the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro is the more sensible option.

Unfortunately, much of the issues we had with last year’s model still holds true for this year’s one as well. For example, the keyboard still needs getting used to, and the Core M processors are still susceptible to heat soak - especially if heavily taxed for extended periods.

But our biggest gripe with the MacBook is still the single USB Type-C port. Despite USB Type-C’s many benefits - smaller size, reversible operation, and the ability to transmit power and data - there’s only a handful of devices that support this new connector. And because the MacBook only has one USB Type-C port, on which it has to rely on for both power and data, what this really means is that adapters and hubs are necessary. We wrote about the problems of the MacBook’s single USB Type-C port in detail in our review and you can read it here.

As for cost, Apple has left the pricing of the two models unchanged, which is great. The entry-level model with a Core m3 processor and 256GB of storage will set users back RM5,499, whereas the higher-spec’ed model with a Core m5 processor and 512GB of storage is RM6,699.

In short, our assessment of the MacBook hasn’t changed with the updates that it has received. It’s a fantastic notebook for users who seek portability above everything else, but for more casual users, it’s best to stick with the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro.

  • Design 9.5
  • Features 7.5
  • Performance 7.5
  • Value 7.5
  • Mobility 9.5
The Good
Gorgeous design and now available in rose gold
Unbelievably thin and light
Awesome Force Touch trackpad
Great Retina Display
Excellent build quality
The Bad
Less powerful than other Mac notebooks
Shorter battery life than other Mac notebooks
Only one USB Type-C port
No dedicated jack/port for power
Keyboard needs getting used to