12" Macbook evolution
August 2, 2018 10:16 PM   Subscribe

Used 12" Macbook buying guide that compares features from different release years?

I’m looking at replacing my current mini / travel / household machine (which is an 11” MBA, mfd in summer 2012).

I definitely want the replacement to be a used or refurb 12” Macbook.

I remember noting (when I last looked into this, maybe a year ago) that there had been some specific feature change or quality change in the 12” models, as of a particular year/season – a change I cared about enough that I thought I should get a 12” from that season or later.

Do you have EITHER a guess at what that change might’ve been (you might jog my memory) OR a link to a buying guide that lists changes in the 12" season by season?
posted by kalapierson to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
(I'm looking for a qualitative buying guide or article [something that would be likely to point out notable changes], not a pure list of specs year by year)
posted by kalapierson at 10:18 PM on August 2, 2018

Was it the keyboard?
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 3:28 AM on August 3, 2018

The complaints about the first generation 12" Macbook were the keyboard (key travel made it feel like chicklet keys) and sluggish performance (the chips they used were slower than the ones used in the Macbook before the redesign). So changes in the updated Macbook were the second generation butterfly keyboard, slightly faster processor, and slightly faster graphics chip. Here's a Macworld article discussing the changes.

Just so you know, with new Intel chips out, there are rumors of a "cheaper, entry-level Macbook" being released this fall. No one's sure if that means a new Macbook Air or a cheaper Macbook. (As the current Macbook Air is heavier than the current Macbook, the line names are a bit screwed up and they might just phase out the Macbook Air name.) Even if you don't itend to buy this one, it might put downward pressure on refurb prices for the current Macbook model.
posted by bluecore at 4:45 AM on August 3, 2018

The keyboards have changed slightly between all 3 revisions. The first generation (2015) is definitely slow compared to the second two revisions. I have a 2016 12" macbook and it's the best laptop I've ever had. Very little has changed besides minor processor bumps and improved keyboards. They're all pegged at 8gb of ram and either 256gb or 512gb of SSD.

I'd get a 2016 (2nd rev) or the 3rd rev and stay away from the first version.
posted by dis_integration at 6:47 AM on August 3, 2018

Every Mac has all the technical info, but often goes into qualitative discussions if you drill down into the detailed Q&As.

I'm sad that the clock is ticking on the old "good" MacBook Pros (the ones with all the ports) that aren't going to be supported by MacOS going forward. I love my little 13" 2011 MacBook Pro/Thunderbolt display setup. Might be the best (and least expensive) computer I've ever had.
posted by lagomorphius at 7:36 AM on August 3, 2018

The keyboards have changed slightly between all 3 revisions.

Just for clarification: AFAIK the 2015 and 2016 12" Macbook have the same first generation butterfly keyboard. The 2017 12" Macbook has the updated 2nd generation butterfly keyboard that Apple introduced in the 2016 Macbook Pro. So if you want the newer keyboard, the 2017 model is the one you want. It was enough of a problem that Apple introduced a keyboard service program to replace them for free if it's causing issues.
posted by bluecore at 9:44 AM on August 3, 2018

Thanks all! It was the keyboard (I haven’t loved a keyboard since my 2006 MBP, with the almost desktop-like key travel... so the farther I can get from chickletland, the better). Really appreciate the reminder of the changes this fall – I’m sure used prices will drop after any big change.
posted by kalapierson at 7:58 PM on August 3, 2018

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