No-one could ever really doubt that Apple would launch a refresh of their Macbook lineup this year, I’d bet. The company’s smallest, and thinnest laptop was based on old tech when it launched, using Broadwell Core-M processors and Intel’s integrated eighth-generation graphics. It’s certainly a great performer despite its size, and a lot of people have found them to be fine replacements for the Macbook Air, which has yet to see a Retina display upgrade. Apple this past week has refreshed the Macbook family with Skylake hardware, but the price remains the same.
There aren’t any changes being made to the chassis or the port selection, so we can rule out ever getting more than one USB 3.0 Type-C connector. The new Macbook family retains everything that made the original interesting, including a ForceTouch trackpad, the new butterfly key switches, a Retina display with a 16:10 aspect ratio, and USB Type-C charging. The only external difference is the colour – the new Macbooks come in a choice of space grey, gold, silver, and rose gold, which should really just be called pink at this point.
Internally, the battery spec changes from a 39.7Wh unit to 41.4Wh, and the RAM speed is bumped up to DDR3L-1866. All told, these improvements lead to Apple’s claims of 10 hours of web browsing and 11 hours of iTunes movie playback, which are both one hour longer than the previous generation.
There are three versions of the new Macbook lineup. The first is based on the Core M3-6Y30, a dual-core, hyper-threaded processor with a base clock of 1.1GHz and a boost to 2.2GHz. It boasts Intel’s HD515 Gen 9 graphics (all of the Skylake Core M products do), 8GB of soldered RAM, and 256GB of NVME storage. This model has a starting price of $1299, which is approximately R18,500. Expensive, sure, but that’s par for the course these days with Apple products in the country.
The next one up is the Core M5-6Y54. It’s still a dual-core chip, but with a base clock of 1.2GHz and a boost clock of 2.7GHz. It receives the smallest of graphics boosts over the iGPU in the Core M3-6Y30, clocked at 900MHz compared to 850MHz. Storage is now a 512GB NVME drive, and there aren’t cheaper options available. This model has a base price of $1599, or around R22,800 converted.
The final model is based on the Core M7-6Y75. This chip has a base clock of 1.3GHz and a boost of 3.1GHz, and a further graphics boost of 50MHz to 950MHz. 256GB and 512GB storage options are on the table, and the base price starts at $1749, which is almost R25,000 locally. Interestingly, there’s no price difference between the Core M3-6Y30 and the Core M5-6Y54, which means that Apple’s only using the Core M3 in the cheapest model because it can.
These new models haven’t yet arrived on our shores, but they should be here soon. If you’re hoping for a bargain, keep an eye out on the older Broadwell-based notebooks, which will surely see a small price drop as the older stock is cleared out.