What can I expect for the next-generation of new macbook
April 10, 2015 8:06 PM   Subscribe

The new macbook is incredibly sexy. However, like most of you already know, it has tradeoffs compared to the current Air. So I was thinking that the 2nd generation next year might hit the sweet spot for me.

What makes the new macbook so attractive to me is its really thin form and the fact that it is very portable. Not to mention, again, its incredible aesthetics.

The biggest problem that makes me reluctant to buy it though is its performance. I am currently on a Samsung Chromebook which is kind of slow so I would like something that is quite snappy. And although I have read and seen dozens of reviews online about the new macbook, I am not quite sure how it will feel when I actually use the machine. Its supposed to be decent for everyday web browsing but... what does that translate to exactly in snappiness. So that's why I figured that if I get a processor that's a little above my needs I would be sure that I won't be disappointed by the speed.

But the thing is, if I wait out for the next model next year, can I expect a better processor? I am not that familiar with processors. So if there is no small processors from Intel coming out in the next year for example, this means that they wouldn't even have another small processor to put in the newer macbook... In which case waiting it out might mean waiting for 2 or more years...
posted by iliketothinknu to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Best answer: I wouldn't buy one. (And I'm not anti-Apple: I'm typing this on a 2011 Macbook Pro while my work laptop, which is a 2014 Retina Macbook Pro, sits across the room.)

They seem really under-specced, especially when it comes to RAM, and Apple eliminated the ability to upgrade RAM, storage, and other components years ago, so whatever it comes with from Apple is more or less what you're stuck with.

As a somewhat pricey alternative to a tablet it's not bad, but in comparison to other laptops on the market it seems under-specced for its price range.

Whatever you decide, you should factor into your consideration that the amount of physical memory (RAM) and the access speed and throughput for permanent storage (SSD on these) is often far more of a factor for responsiveness on modern machines than CPU power is. (Which is one reason I'm pretty disappointed to see a product line that doesn't come with any more than 8GB of RAM.)
posted by Nerd of the North at 8:28 PM on April 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Best answer: I am not quite sure how it will feel when I actually use the machine

Go try it out, if you can find an Apple Store. In my experience, they will let you do anything you want with the machine, for as long as you want, without bothering you (unless you want them to).

I am currently on a Samsung Chromebook which is kind of slow

A Macbook is to a Chromebook as a Chevrolet Corvette is to a Chevrolet Malibu. Although the Core M CPU in the Macbook isn't top-of-the line in performance, it's far higher performance than the Chromebook. Further, you'll find that in most real world performance, it isn't the CPU that dominates "snappiness", it's the memory and hard drive in the system. What you want to look for is a laptop with >= 8 GB of RAM and a solid state drive (SSD). The Macbook has both.

what does that translate to exactly in snappiness.

At a very high level, and very over-simplified, responsiveness of a computer is generally related to how fast it can retrieve data that you want. If you have a lot of memory (>= 8 GB), the computer can keep the data you're working on in "fast storage" (memory) without having to put it into "slow storage" (hard drives). If you have a fast hard drive (SSD), if the computer does have to go to "slow storage" to get your data (generally, this occurs when you load a program), it will retrieve it faster and you will start the program faster. None of this has to do with the CPU, which in general, is blazingly fast for the sort of tasks most people do.

But the thing is, if I wait out for the next model next year, can I expect a better processor?

Yes. Intel continuously releases new processors, and Apple continuously integrates them into laptops. This often occurs on a 6-month or yearly basis for Apple. However, "better" is these days more defined based on longer battery life, not improved performance (since for most people, laptop performance is much better than they already use). Further, if you dislike your current computer, you won't start liking it any better just because an even better computer might come along in a year.
posted by saeculorum at 8:29 PM on April 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Best answer: So if there is no small processors from Intel coming out in the next year for example, this means that they wouldn't even have another small processor to put in the newer macbook... In which case waiting it out might mean waiting for 2 or more years...

Indeed, Apple is reliant on the Intel roadmap for processor updates. The current processors in use in the 12" Retina Macbook are the 5th generation Core M chips based on Intel's Broadwell architecture, known on the Intel roadmap as "BDW-Y". Intel has announced the successor to the Broadwell architecture, Skylake, and a 6th generation Skylake version of the Core M processors ("SKL-Y") are on the roadmap for release in 2015.

Does that mean they'll actually get released this year? Does that mean Apple will be able to refresh again this year? Probably... not. Next year? Maybe, sure. If Intel updates the chip, does that mean Apple will definitely do a follow-up to the 12" Retina Macbook? Not necessarily. Intel and Apple's release schedules are a crapshoot, and trying to time the interactions of the two companies until it's getting close to a release is futile. Your guess is as good as mine.

However, we do know Intel has a followup to the Core M chip that's in the 12" Retina Macbook that they intend to release by the end of 2015 but that may be pushed until 2016, and stands a reasonable chance of being packaged in Apple products. Take of that what you will.
posted by eschatfische at 8:31 PM on April 10, 2015


Best answer: They seem really under-specced, especially when it comes to RAM, and Apple eliminated the ability to upgrade RAM, storage, and other components years ago, so whatever it comes with from Apple is more or less what you're stuck with.

The MacBook comes with 8GB standard, the Air is 4GB standard upgradeable to 8GB. I don't think it's under-specced at all given that most normal users won't see huge amounts of memory pressure. Power users, yes. But we buy Macbook Pros for a reason.

Back to the question at hand.

Single core performance hasn't appreciably increased in the past few years. When you take a look at the single core performance of a 2600 to a 4770 you see maybe 10-20% increase in performance depending on the task at hand. And that's over two and a half years between releases! All of the work has gone into stuffing more performance into a lower TDP. Core M is basically the old 15W Core i5 performance level stuffed into a 4.5W package.

The performance of most CPUs has been sufficient since the start of the decade for anything that isn't workstation work or gaming. You'll be fine.
posted by Talez at 8:52 PM on April 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Best answer: Yeah, the benchmarks that say "well, it's a bit like a 2011 MacBook Air for many tasks" gloss over how the 2011 Air is still a very snappy computer, and the gains since 2011 have mainly been in power consumption / battery life and I/O. The roadmap on the non-Pro line has been not so much to bump the CPU but get more hours' use out of it. You are really hard-pressed to find an "underpowered" CPU these days: even the Celeron in the $200 HP Stream 11 is decent enough for what the machine is for. If you're using a Chromebook, you're not playing GPU-heavy games or running CPU-intensive programs. (Though you are running Chrome, Eater Of All Disk Space.)

The precedent here is the MacBook Air. It took three iterations to go from being "niche thing for executives who fly a lot and give presentations" to "OMG WANT". That was the 2011 model. Perhaps it will only take two for the new MacBook.

Going by that precedent, I'd expect the next generation to bring another USB-C port and perhaps some tweaks to the keyboard.
posted by holgate at 9:16 PM on April 10, 2015


Best answer: I don't care that much about bench marks. Look at the actual use and real life performance. Don't be distracted by al the geeks who judge a product by a checklist of bench marks and features without actually owning the device...

The new MB is great for what most users do with a laptop away from home. Browse the web, email, blog, word processing, some number crunching and writing code.

If you want to edit images, movies or music you need more horse power. Frankly a much bigger screen as well.... This is also where the additional ports come in handy.

Remember that the limited HP of the new 12" Macbook is to save power. The battery will last all day. Something the more powerful machines cant.

For some people (students) the MB will be fine as their only Mac. For most other users is a great 2nd Mac for travel or coffeeshop ;-)

I ordered one for my wife, she travels a lot an needs a laptop. This thing will suit her needs very well...
posted by Mac-Expert at 10:30 PM on April 10, 2015


Best answer: For what it's worth, Lenovo's X1 Carbon is pretty ridiculously light, is in a similar price range, and has a fan for those times when you do need it to go fast. (And is silent in normal use)

While it is true that an SSD makes a bigger difference in the perception of speed than the CPU does, beyond a certain point, since it means programs open quickly, it is by no means the be all and end all. The AMD Fusion APU in my netbook is infuriatingly slow despite it having a fast SSD and 4GB of RAM. The 1.1GHz that the new MB can sustain for long periods is not great. That's why they have Turbo Boost, but if the laptop gets hot, you will notice the drop in apparent speed. On the bright side, the lack of a fan does mean that even if Apple does a refresh with Skylake next year, the actual performance difference will be minimal since the limitation is heat, not the raw power of the CPU.

I would not buy if it were to be my only computer. As a secondary machine for travel or whatever, though, it would be perfectly fine.
posted by wierdo at 10:39 PM on April 10, 2015


I tried it out today. That keyboard is a dealbreaker for me.
posted by roger ackroyd at 11:04 PM on April 10, 2015


Best answer: Worst case scenario is that you buy one, try it out, and return it within two weeks if it doesn't work out. The Apple Store doesn't have a restocking fee on returns, so there's little to risk other than your time.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 11:09 PM on April 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


A comparably specced Macbook Air is marginally cheaper and will have a faster processor (though you lose out on high resolution display and I think the air weighs a bit more).
posted by juv3nal at 11:20 PM on April 10, 2015


Best answer: Does that mean they'll actually get released this year? Does that mean Apple will be able to refresh again this year? Probably... not.

They refreshed within the same year with the original macbook air, for exactly this same reason. Processor update, which also brought a new chipset and GPU.

I bought the 1st gen 2012 15in retina macbook pro, and while it still runs fine... i regret it. It has some driver bugs that still haven't been ironed out in yosemite when it shipped with lion, that i think might just be hardware vagaries at this point. It stutters randomly and just isn't perfectly smooth in general, and never was. It's better than it was on lion when it shipped, but it's not that great. It has a lot of power in some ways, but struggles with even scrolling through certain web pages smoothly. It reminds me of the ipad 3(which, heh, i also own)

I also owned a 1st gen macbook air, and would have regretted that if i didn't get it extremely cheap used. It was still a hunk of shit though. Junky hinge, overheated easily and had a loud crappy fan. It struggled with 720p youtube videos even.

Honestly i really expect them to do a "quick refresh" in the fall and not even really announce it, just quietly bump the specs on the site.

I myself am very very interested in this machine but determined to not bite on the 1st gen. I know my current notebook will still sell for a decent price later this year and knock out a huge chunk of the price of one. And as someone who has owned a 1st gen air, retina macbook, ipad, iphone, and even the first aluminum imac i'm gonna sit this one out.


If you want something that's fully baked, still pretty small small, light, and very snappy look at the 13in retina macbook pro. I've used them more than a bit and they're barely bigger than the 13in macbook air(they're actually narrower left to right, but just a hair thicker). It just oozes performance at this point and never feels like it's really trying hard to get anything done. You could even get some medium grade gaming done on it if you wanted, albeit not at panel resolution unless it was an older game.
posted by emptythought at 12:28 AM on April 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Best answer: Broadwell was delayed meaning the gap between those processors and Skylake will be shorter than the usual cycle, since Intel has decided to release Skylake on schedule rather than delay to create a longer frame for Broadwell processors to be sold. Skylake is on track to launch in Q3 of 2015, and I would suspect we will see a refreshed Macbook around October. Skylake should - in theory - bring significant gains to ultra-low voltage processors like the one in the Macbook, and thus it is likely Apple will adopt it as soon as it is in volume.

If you can wait, I would wait for that refresh. If the deal-breaker for others is the keyboard or the 1 port, don't expect that to change. Apple is not in the habit of adding ports to things - if you need more ports, the Macbook Pro or Macbook Air await, though I think it's pretty clear that once ULV processors for the Macbook are up to par with current Air speeds (which Skylake should achieve), then the Air will be phased out and Apple will return to its historic 2 laptop line - Macbook and Macbook Pro.

The reason the Air wasn't updated with a new screen is because it is never going to be - the Macbook is its replacement, but the processors are not quite there yet.
posted by modernnomad at 1:48 AM on April 11, 2015


I've owned countless macs, including at least 15 laptops stretching back to 1990. Beauties, dogs, and in between. I currently own and adore a 2014 13" rMBP. Love it. Best evah.

I can basically buy any laptop I want whenever I want if I can justify it as an improvement in productivity. And yet... After reading reviews and specs on the new MacBook, I'll pass for at least one more iteration. Underpowered, and vastly under-ported for the way I use a laptop. Light and skinny is nice, but not at the price of connectivity and processor power. For any use case where this appeals (basically, airplane and subway use) my iPad does 90% of what I need and my rMBP is not that heavy.

One usb-c port is just bullshit to me.
posted by spitbull at 6:21 AM on April 11, 2015


A decades old 80386 would be fast enough for 80% of what most people do most of the time: email, simple documents, web browsing. Unless you are attempting to do high-end video editing, I suspect the Macbook will satisfy you regarding speed of operation. The real limiting factor is screen size, and if you have sharp eyesight the Retina display can be tweaked, IIRC.

The bottom line is that you buy a Macbook or an Air for its portability. The things are solid little slabs of stiff and durable aluminum with a good battery life. It’s like carrying around a thin clipboard. That they have an excellent keyboard (Air), trackpad (Air and Macbook), screen (Macbook), and are really quite snappy (Air and Macbook) is just tasty icing on a wonderful light cake. I have no idea why people by Pros: they’re faster, sure, but at one hell of a weight and size penalty; and when one needs that kind of power, it seems to me one also needs multiple monitors, gigabit ethernet, and specialized input tools — all indications that a desktop machine is warranted.

Edit: I wouldn’t buy a first-gen anything, though. Let someone else pay to work out the bugs.
posted by davidpriest.ca at 8:27 AM on April 11, 2015


I have no idea why people buy Pros

Screen, keyboard, portability, longevity. It's a toolbag computer, not a Swiss Army Laptop. You can plug a MBP in to an array of external monitors; you can't put a desktop machine in a satchel.
posted by holgate at 8:40 AM on April 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Not that this is the place to discuss it, but the tick-marks you list are those of the Air, with the Air having the additional benefit of being phenomenally lightweight. I suppose if you require a machine that has all the additional power of a desktop machine, and also require a machine that has portability, and can not afford to have two machines, each specialized to their task of power or portability, you’d take the Macbook Pro as a compromise — but it is a compromise: it isn’t hitting the mark on portability, like the Air does, and it isn’t hitting the mark on power, like the Mac Pro or top-end iMac.
posted by davidpriest.ca at 9:29 AM on April 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


they’re faster, sure, but at one hell of a weight and size penalty

I carry my 15" rMBP in one hand, open or closed, multiple times a day - sometimes while using it. It's tiny compared to the previous 15" Dell laptop that I had previously suffered with, but no less capable.
posted by destructive cactus at 4:44 PM on April 11, 2015


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