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The brand-new 12-inch Macbook is a lot more powerful than you think

Published Mar 11th, 2015 1:52PM EDT
MacBook vs. MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro
Image: Apple Inc.

The 12-inch MacBook is Apple’s slickest laptop yet, a device that offers a bunch of features and technologies that haven’t ever been used in other MacBooks. But can it be used for actual work? The laptop is not available in stores yet, as Apple will launch it on April 10th, so it can’t be properly tested by professionals looking into benchmarking its performance. But there are plenty of signs that indicate the MacBook will be more powerful than you think and could definitely serve as a fine work laptop.

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Sure, the MacBook will not be on par with the MacBook Pro models when it comes to certain specs, including processors but that doesn’t mean it’ll be a slow machine.

While it’s not clear exactly what type of Intel Core M processor the device packs, benchmark tests performed in mid-September last year by AnandTech and Tom’s Hardware have revealed the Core M processor is very powerful, putting it on par with Surface Pro 3 performance in some tests.

Comparing the same Intel Core M-5Y70 processor version used in the aforementioned benchmarks with the four-year-old Core i5-520UM model that’s still used in plenty of work laptops, Intel has found that the Core M is both faster when it comes to regular tasks (up to two times faster for productivity chores, web apps usage and photo editing) and also gaming (up to seven times faster than older devices). Unsurprisingly, the Core M processor is also significantly more energy efficient, allowing companies to come up with ultra-slim laptop designs such as the one Apple unveiled this week.

In addition to what looks like a great processor, the 12-inch MacBook also ships with 8GB of built-in 1600MHz LPDDR3 RAM — the same kind of fast memory found in other MacBook models including Air and Pro versions, though the MacBook has more memory than the basic 11-inch and 13-inch Air models.

Moreover, the cheapest new MacBook model comes with more storage than the entry-level 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Airs, MacBook Pro, and even the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display (these models all ship with 128GB of flash storage). Interestingly though, all Apple’s laptops have the same kind of memory — that’s PCIe-based flash storage — that should offer the same read and write speeds across the board.

As for graphics, the MacBook’s Intel HD Graphics 5300 isn’t on par with the graphics on the Air or Pro families, but it should still be good enough to support both Retina resolution on the MacBook and an additional 4K display.

But the one area where the MacBook might be the clear winner is energy efficiency and battery life: The Intel Core M processor will consume significantly less power than the Intel chips used in other Macs. Not to mention that carrying around a 12-inch MacBook laptop that weighs just 2 pounds could be a major asset to professionals who have to lug around electronic equipment all day long.

All in all, it looks like the 12-inch device, no matter how light and small it is, could be turned into a powerful work laptop.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.