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Don’t be fooled: The new Retina MacBook is more than just benchmarks

Published Apr 2nd, 2015 4:36PM EDT
Retina MacBook vs. Air vs. Pro Performance
Image: Apple Inc.

The Retina MacBook went through its first benchmark test and some people are already freaking out about it after finding out the extremely thin and light laptop will deliver roughly the same performance of the 2011 MacBook Air. That wasn’t really a secret though, as Intel never hid the fact that the Intel Core M processor will deliver a performance that’s on par with computers launched four years ago. But to call the new MacBook a four-year step backward, like Business Insider does, is simply missing the point of Apple’s new laptop.

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First of all, it’s likely that anyone seriously considering buying the MacBook doesn’t care about benchmarks for most of their daily activities. Instead, they probably appreciate a device that’s ultra-portable, silent, and delivers great battery life more than one that has a strong Intel chip inside.

Those Mac users who do look at benchmarks before anything else likely have very plausible reasons for considering performance first, and might end up getting MacBook Pros, iMacs or Mac Pros to get whatever they’re working on done instead.

Customers who bought MacBook Airs before will probably appreciate the MacBook significantly more, however. The MacBook Air line is one of Apple’s iconic products, not because it’s better than any of its peers when it comes to performance, but because it delivers other things buyers want.

Saying that the Macbook is a “major step backward,” just because it can’t offer 2015-grade CPU performance is really not relevant if you’re looking at the entire picture. In fact, you could say the same thing about any MacBook Air model launched to date. None of them has delivered the same performance as same-year Pro computers, yet somehow Apple sold millions of them.

The MacBook really is a remarkable laptop, considering what Apple has done with it, and that not-good-enough processor is what made it all possible. Intel’s Core M chip let Apple ditch internal components such as the fan and to further miniaturize the motherboard to make space for more batteries.

The entire motherboard of the Retina MacBook would fit in an iPhone, something not possible with any previous Air motherboard designs. Furthermore, because of the Core M’s power efficiency, Apple is still able to deliver the same chip performance as a four-year old laptop, while simultaneously improving graphics: The Retina MacBook supports a 4K and 2K display at the same time, something the 2011 MacBook Air can’t brag about.

So yes, if you only care about what the processor can do, the MacBook isn’t on the same level as any of Apple’s 2015 laptops and you’d better stay away from it. But in every other way, the MacBook is nothing but a major step forward and is offering us a sneak peak at the wireless, energy-efficient, ultra-mobile future of computing that’s just around the corner.

Chris Smith
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.