Notebookcheck

Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz Review

Klaus Hinum, J. Simon Leitner (translated by Martina Osztovits), 04/30/2016

Pioneering. One of the hotly debated devices from Apple's line-up has been updated: The MacBook 12 omits non-essential features and focuses on highest portability. Fan, many interfaces, a mechanical touchpad, a long key travel: "You don't need that."

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For the original German review, see here.

Apple has relatively quietly refreshed its MacBook 12 series. While the basic principles remained unchanged compared to the predecessor from 2015 (see review), the notebook hardware was brought up-to-date with an Intel Skylake processor and fast NVMe SSD. A slightly bigger battery (41.1 vs. 40 Wh) and a new color called "rose gold" make the refresh complete.

The price of the MacBook 12 remains on the level of the predecessor. A configuration with Intel m3 CPU and 256 GB SSD for 1449 Euros (~$1659) makes the start. The variant with Core m5 and 512 GB SSD costs 1799 Euros (~$2060), while the high-end model with Intel Core m7 processor is priced at about 1949 Euros (~$2231).

Direct comparable competitors are not available in the Windows world. With the ZenBook UX305CA (see review), Asus offers a 13-inch subnotebook, which is also especially slim and passively cooled. In addition, its display resolution of 3200x1800 pixels is even finer. Its street price of about 1200 Euros (~$1374, m7-6Y75 and 512 GB SSD) lets the comparable high-end model of the MacBook 12 appear hopelessly overpriced. However, the UX305CA is also heavier than the MacBook 12 by as much as 300 grams.

If you want to save money but still not do without the elegance from Apple, Tim Cook recommends the MacBook Air 13 (see review), which is available from 1099 Euros (~$1258). However, it is not that up-to-date in terms of display and hardware and uses an active fan.
The Spectre 13 (we reported) recently introduced by HP might also be interesting as it competes as the "thinnest laptop in the world" (10.4 mm). However, it uses Intel Core i processors and is far better than the MacBook in connectivity with three USB Type C ports. The Spectre is supposed to be available from June for an entry level price of about 1499 Euros (~$1716).

very good (91%) MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz Intel Core m3-6Y30Intel HD Graphics 515 v5.1 - 04/27/2016
Test device courtesy of anonym gekauft im Apple Store
(download rating image as PNG or SVG)
Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz (MacBook 12 (Early 2016) Series)
Processor
Graphics adapter
Memory
8192 MB 
, DDR3L-1866 soldered
Display
12 inch 16:10, 2304x1440 pixel 226 PPI, APPA027, IPS, glossy: yes
Mainboard
Intel Skylake-Y Premium PCH
Storage
Apple SSD AP0256, 256 GB 
, NVMe, 231 GB free
Soundcard
Intel Skylake-U/Y PCH - High Definition Audio
Connections
1 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 DisplayPort, Audio Connections: headset, Brightness Sensor
Networking
Broadcom 802.11ac (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.0
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 13.1 x 280.5 x 196.5 ( = 0.52 x 11.04 x 7.74 in)
Battery
41.4 Wh Lithium-Polymer, Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 10 h
Operating System
Apple OS X 10.9 Mavericks
Camera
Primary Camera: 0.345 MPix 480p FaceTime
Additional features
Speakers: stereo, two microphones, Keyboard: Chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, 12 Months Warranty, fanless
Released
04/19/2016
Weight
927 g ( = 32.7 oz / 2.04 pounds), Power Supply: 171 g ( = 6.03 oz / 0.38 pounds)
Price
1449 Euro

 

Case

As already mentioned in the introduction, the chassis of the MacBook 12 remains unchanged. In terms of stability, haptics and build quality, the laptop is almost perfect. If you can find a weakness in the chassis at all, it might be at the hinges, which move a bit too easily when the display is wide open. The opening angle might change unintentionally when the laptop is subjected to stronger vibrations. But, this is complaining on a high level, since it does not really cause restrictions.

Certainly, not everybody will like the new color "rose gold", which is for example known from current iPhones. However, it might find its fans. During our test we particularly liked how the look of the surfaces changes depending on the light incidence. It goes without saying that the visible pentalobe screws on the underside have the same color as the chassis.

Further information about the MacBook 12's chassis is available in the existing review of the Intel Core m5 variant from 2015 (space gray).

Connectivity

Apple is one of the first manufacturers who use the new USB Type C port. If a compatible adapter is available, the Gen. 1 combo port allows image output via display port, however, only at 30 Hz when connected to an external 4K display, and it provides the notebook with energy at the same time. Apple uses the interface for charging with the included power adapter, which occupies the port, so that it cannot be used for connecting peripherals at the same time. For the latter you'll need an optional adapter from Apple (Type C to USB Type A for 25 Euros (~$28), Type C to HDMI/Type A/Type C for 89 Euros, ~$101) or third-party solutions. For example the Anker Premium USB-C Hub with HDMI, two USB Type-A and USB Type-C for about 50 Euros (~$57) also worked flawlessly in our test.

USB 3.1 Type C Gen.1 supports the same bandwidth as USB 3.0. With an external Adata SE720 SSD, we achieved a transfer rate of 348 MB/s (USB 3.0: theoretically up to 5 Gbit/s, ~640 MB/s).

Dual-array microphone, 3.5 mm headphone jack
Dual-array microphone, 3.5 mm headphone jack
USB 3.1 Type-C Gen. 1 (5 Gbit/s)
USB 3.1 Type-C Gen. 1 (5 Gbit/s)

WLAN Performance

As in the predecessor, an 802.11 ac chip (a/b/g/n compatible) from Broadcom provides Wi-Fi connectivity. In our brand-new test setup with a Linksys EA8500 AC router (at 1 m distance, maximum performance, MSI GE72 with Killer Gigabit-LAN E2400), the MacBook achieved 397 MBit/s in the iperf Client test (sending) and 570 MBit/s in the iperf Server test (receiving). The results are just about the same as the MacBook Pro 13's from 2013 and rank in the mid-field compared to other reviewed devices.

Networking
iperf Server (receive) TCP 1 m
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
Broadcom 802.11ac
735 MBit/s ∼100% +29%
Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz
Broadcom 802.11ac
570 MBit/s ∼78%
MSI GE72 965M Ti
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3165
183 MBit/s ∼25% -68%
MSI CX61 2QC 2970M MS-16GD
Realtek RTL8723AE Wireless LAN 802.11n
24.3 MBit/s ∼3% -96%
iperf Client (transmit) TCP 1 m
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
Broadcom 802.11ac
510 MBit/s ∼100% +28%
Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz
Broadcom 802.11ac
397 MBit/s ∼78%
MSI GE72 965M Ti
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3165
304 MBit/s ∼60% -23%
MSI CX61 2QC 2970M MS-16GD
Realtek RTL8723AE Wireless LAN 802.11n
45.3 MBit/s ∼9% -89%

Webcam

So far, our impression of the notebook was very good. However, this abruptly ended when we had a closer look at the webcam. The 480p FaceTime camera only features a resolution of 0.3 MP and delivers low-resolution, grainy images. In return, recording and transferring voice works very well. The integrated array microphones can definitely replace a headset.

Maintenance

Although the screws can be easily detected on the underside, it is not really simple to open the chassis. As our colleagues from iFixit found out, Apple created a device which is especially difficult to repair by using, among others, a lot of glue. The system cannot be upgraded at all since all the components are soldered to the small Logicboard.

Apple MacBook 12 opened (source: iFixit.com)
Apple MacBook 12 opened (source: iFixit.com)

Input Devices

Keyboard & Trackpad

The input devices of the Apple MacBook 12 remained unchanged. As in the previous year's model, the keys feature a very short travel and the fixed touchpad without mechanical parts only reports clicks to the user by vibrating. However, this works so well that you'll first notice the lack of a mechanical travel after disabling the Force Touch functionality.

Further details about keyboard and Force Touch Trackpad are available in our MacBook 12 from 2015 review

The extremely short travel might cause typing mistakes.
The extremely short travel might cause typing mistakes.
Never again without it: the Force Touch Touchpad
Never again without it: the Force Touch Touchpad

Display

Subpixel grid MacBook 12
Subpixel grid MacBook 12

The display still features a relatively unusual resolution of 2304x1440 pixels (16:10). According to the panel name, it might be identical to the predecessor, although the measurements are slightly different. The brightness of just under 390 cd/m2 in the center segment is very high. The contrast of 823:1 is also good. The color precision is excellent with a DeltaE of only 1.6 (ColorChecker) and 1 (grayscales). The color coverage in the test with Argyll results in a very good 82.2% of sRGB and 61.6% of AdobeRGB. Thus, photographers and designers using the sRGB color space might be very happy.

Exemplary: The Apple does not use PWM for brightness control.

363
cd/m²
362
cd/m²
352
cd/m²
346
cd/m²
387
cd/m²
360
cd/m²
363
cd/m²
350
cd/m²
339
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 387 cd/m² Average: 358 cd/m² Minimum: 6.5 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 88 %
Center on Battery: 387 cd/m²
Contrast: 823:1 (Black: 0.47 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 1.6 | - Ø
ΔE Greyscale 1 | - Ø
97.8% sRGB (Calman) 82.2% sRGB (Argyll) 61.6% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll)
Gamma: 2.26
Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz
HD Graphics 515, 6Y30, Apple SSD AP0256
Apple iPad Pro 12.9
A9X / PowerVR GT7xxx, A9X, Apple 128 GB (iPad Pro 12.9 NVMe)
Apple MacBook Air 13 inch 2015-03
HD Graphics 6000, 5650U, Apple SSD SD0256F
Apple MacBook Air 11 inch 2015-03
HD Graphics 6000, 5250U, Apple SSD SM0128F
Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2015) 1.1 GHz
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y31, Apple SSD AP0256
Response Times
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
41.2
Response Time Black / White *
30.4
PWM Frequency
Screen
-8%
-59%
-52%
-3%
Brightness
358
393
10%
310
-13%
349
-3%
325
-9%
Brightness Distribution
88
92
5%
82
-7%
90
2%
90
2%
Black Level *
0.47
0.22
53%
0.405
14%
0.493
-5%
0.324
31%
Contrast
823
1814
120%
812
-1%
746
-9%
1065
29%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
1.6
2.96
-85%
3.96
-148%
3.29
-106%
1.62
-1%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
1
3
-200%
3.51
-251%
3.06
-206%
1.88
-88%
Gamma
2.26 106%
2.21 109%
3.83 63%
2.68 90%
2.55 94%
CCT
6680 97%
7049 92%
6711 97%
6397 102%
6411 101%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
61.6
71.15
16%
38.4
-38%
38.8
-37%
61.8
0%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
82.2
97.87
19%
59.8
-27%
95.5
16%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-8% / -8%
-59% / -59%
-52% / -52%
-3% / -3%

* ... smaller is better

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
30.4 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 6.8 ms rise
↘ 23.6 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 76 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (27.3 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
41.2 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 15.6 ms rise
↘ 25.6 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 276 (maximum) ms. » 47 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is similar to the average of all tested devices (43 ms).

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM not detected

In comparison: 59 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 655 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 28740) Hz was measured.

Backlight bleeding is only minimal. However, slight color shifts are noticeable in completely black backgrounds. However, this effect appears stronger on the image than to the naked eye.

The viewing angles are very good; there is hardly any color shift. Subjectively, the brightness also remains very stable.

After calibration with our i1Pro 2 Basic under OS X, the DeltaE value decreased to an excellent 0.9 (average) and 1.7 (maximum). However, the DeltaE value of the grayscales slightly increases after a single calibration run. In return, the gamma value reaches an ideal 2.2. A comprehensive calibration, e.g. with CalMAN, might further improve the result.

ColorChecker before calibration
ColorChecker before calibration
ColorChecker before calibration (sRGB profile selected)
ColorChecker before calibration (sRGB profile selected)
ColorChecker after calibration
ColorChecker after calibration
Grayscale before calibration
Grayscale before calibration
Grayscale after calibration
Grayscale after calibration
Saturation Sweeps after calibration
Saturation Sweeps after calibration
Color space after calibration
Color space after calibration
 

Performance

A slim case and a passively cooled SoC do not promise high performance. In addition, our test model is the entry level configuration with Intel Core m3 CPU (1.1 GHz dual-core). Nevertheless, we expect that office applications run smoothly and our MacBook 12 was able to prove that they do so. The passively cooled solution first reaches its limits when load persists.

Processor

As usual for Core M processors, the CPU performance depends on the cooling and the configured TDP of the system. Thanks to a high Turbo clock, the CPU can achieve a very good result in the first run of Cinebench R15. In the multi-core test, the small m3-6Y30 even beats the m7 in the UX305CA (OS X vs. Windows). In the single-thread test, the ranking is no longer that surprising. The m3 MacBook remains behind the Core m5 devices but outperforms the Surface Pro 4 and Galaxy Tab Pro S with m3. The Cinebench results (single and multi) are virtually the same under Windows 10 via Bootcamp. Only the OpenGL test is significantly faster.

You can see when the TDP and cooling start to limit the CPU performance, when running Cinebench R15 Multi in a loop. After four runs, the result falls rapidly and levels off at about 85% of the maximum. Thus, a significantly lower performance has to be expected when the CPU load stays high for a longer time, for example during rendering of videos.

Cinebench R15 Multi test in a loop. The performance significantly drops after the first runs and levels off at 85% of the maximum performance.
Cinebench R15 Multi test in a loop. The performance significantly drops after the first runs and levels off at 85% of the maximum performance.


During the first run of the Cinebench 11.5 multi-core tests, the CPU constantly clocks at 2 GHz. The temperature reaches up to 80 °C.
During the first run of the Cinebench 11.5 multi-core tests, the CPU constantly clocks at 2 GHz. The temperature reaches up to 80 °C.
Later, the CPU cores only clock at 1.7 GHz (here in Cinebench R15). The temperature levels off at about 74 °C.
Later, the CPU cores only clock at 1.7 GHz (here in Cinebench R15). The temperature levels off at about 74 °C.
When the CPU load ends, the CPU temperature falls quickly again.
When the CPU load ends, the CPU temperature falls quickly again.
Cinebench 11.5 single-core benchmark: The CPU clocks at 1.9-2 GHz. The temperature remains lower at 62 °C.
Cinebench 11.5 single-core benchmark: The CPU clocks at 1.9-2 GHz. The temperature remains lower at 62 °C.
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
3353
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
7355
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
5585
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
2.35 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
29.8 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
90 Points
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
99.3 %
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
20.3 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
218 Points
Help
Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
HP Elite x2 1012 G1, Intel Core m5-6Y54
111 Points ∼100% +22%
Dell XPS 12 9250 4K, Intel Core m7-6Y75
104 Points ∼94% +14%
Dell Latitude 13 7370, Intel Core m5-6Y57
101 Points ∼91% +11%
Asus Zenbook UX305CA-FB055T, Intel Core m7-6Y75
100 Points ∼90% +10%
Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700, Intel Core m5-6Y54
99 Points ∼89% +9%
Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2015) 1.1 GHz, Intel Core M-5Y31
98 Points ∼88% +8%
Dell Latitude 12 E7275, Intel Core m7-6Y75
96 Points ∼86% +5%
Dell Latitude 11 5175, Intel Core m5-6Y57
95 Points ∼86% +4%
Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz, Intel Core m3-6Y30 (Windows 10 Bootcamp)
91 Points ∼82%
Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz, Intel Core m3-6Y30 (OS X)
90 Points ∼81% -1%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3, Intel Core m3-6Y30
88 Points ∼79% -3%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S W700N, Intel Core m3-6Y30
86 Points ∼77% -5%
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA, Intel Core m7-6Y75
80 Points ∼72% -12%
CPU Multi 64Bit
HP Elite x2 1012 G1, Intel Core m5-6Y54
255 Points ∼100% +17%
Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz, Intel Core m3-6Y30 (Windows 10 Bootcamp)
218 Points ∼85%
Asus Zenbook UX305CA-FB055T, Intel Core m7-6Y75
214 Points ∼84% -2%
Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2015) 1.1 GHz, Intel Core M-5Y31
211 Points ∼83% -3%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3, Intel Core m3-6Y30
206 Points ∼81% -6%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S W700N, Intel Core m3-6Y30
204 Points ∼80% -6%
Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700, Intel Core m5-6Y54
200 Points ∼78% -8%
Dell XPS 12 9250 4K, Intel Core m7-6Y75
196 Points ∼77% -10%
Dell Latitude 13 7370, Intel Core m5-6Y57
180 Points ∼71% -17%
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA, Intel Core m7-6Y75
177 Points ∼69% -19%
Dell Latitude 12 E7275, Intel Core m7-6Y75
172 Points ∼67% -21%
Dell Latitude 11 5175, Intel Core m5-6Y57
171 Points ∼67% -22%

System Performance

Despite a fast SSD, the small MacBook 12 cannot score particularly high in PCMark 8 under Windows 10. The average of all subnotebooks is about 6% faster. Even the model from 2015 achieved a 5% higher score. The fastest notebook with Core m3-6Y30 is the Asus Zenbook UX305CA, which is 11% better. However, Apple is not really known for very good hardware optimization under Windows 10. Thus, the PCMark 8 results do not unconditionally apply to OS X, which unfortunately lacks a comparable system benchmark. The low score compared to the 2015 model can be explained by the lower single-thread performance of the CPU.

PCMark 8 Home under Bootcamp: The clock rate reaches and mostly remains at 2 GHz in the tests.
PCMark 8 Home under Bootcamp: The clock rate reaches and mostly remains at 2 GHz in the tests.
A further run with a higher result. However, it still cannot reach the level of the predecessor.
A further run with a higher result. However, it still cannot reach the level of the predecessor.
Two 4K YouTube videos run smoothly at relatively low CPU load - without frame drops.
Two 4K YouTube videos run smoothly at relatively low CPU load - without frame drops.
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
2550 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
3550 points
Help

Storage Device

We have selected the proposed encrypted partition (FileVault) under OS X. Anyway, the benchmarks do not show big performance drops.
We have selected the proposed encrypted partition (FileVault) under OS X. Anyway, the benchmarks do not show big performance drops.

The incorporated Apple SSD AP0256 reports the same name as in the model from 2015. However, it got slightly faster according to the benchmarks and Apple. It belongs to the fastest models in sequential transfer rates but cannot completely keep up in the 4K benchmarks of AS SSD and CrystalDiskMark 3 (both Windows). The SSD in the MacBook 12 2015 was slightly faster in the 4K benchmarks but slower in the sequential tests.

Apple SSD AP0256
Sequential Read: 754 MB/s
Sequential Write: 638 MB/s
512K Read: 616 MB/s
512K Write: 678 MB/s
4K Read: 14.6 MB/s
4K Write: 20.5 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 464 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 315 MB/s

Graphics Card

The integrated Intel HD Graphics 515 GPU certainly is an improvement compared to the predecessor. It can significantly outperform the old HD Graphics 5300 (38% in 3DMark 11, 10% in 2013) and ranks in just behind the HD 515 in the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (which also comes with a Core m3-6Y30).

3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU
Apple MacBook Air 13 inch 2015-03
Intel HD Graphics 6000, 5650U
1333 Points ∼100% +12%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
Intel HD Graphics 515, 6Y30
1206 Points ∼90% +2%
Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz
Intel HD Graphics 515, 6Y30
1186 Points ∼89%
Dell XPS 12 9250 4K
Intel HD Graphics 515, 6Y75
1008 Points ∼76% -15%
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA
Intel HD Graphics 515, 6Y75
996 Points ∼75% -16%
Dell Latitude 13 7370
Intel HD Graphics 515, 6Y57
992 Points ∼74% -16%
Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2015) 1.1 GHz
Intel HD Graphics 5300, 5Y31
859 Points ∼64% -28%
3DMark
1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics
Apple MacBook Air 13 inch 2015-03
Intel HD Graphics 6000, 5650U
951 Points ∼100% +29%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
Intel HD Graphics 515, 6Y30
810 Points ∼85% +10%
Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz
Intel HD Graphics 515, 6Y30
735 Points ∼77%
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA
Intel HD Graphics 515, 6Y75
725 Points ∼76% -1%
Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2015) 1.1 GHz
Intel HD Graphics 5300, 5Y31
671 Points ∼71% -9%
Dell XPS 12 9250 4K
Intel HD Graphics 515, 6Y75
606 Points ∼64% -18%
Dell Latitude 13 7370
Intel HD Graphics 515, 6Y57
565 Points ∼59% -23%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics
Apple MacBook Air 13 inch 2015-03
Intel HD Graphics 6000, 5650U
7495 Points ∼100% +23%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
Intel HD Graphics 515, 6Y30
6597 Points ∼88% +9%
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA
Intel HD Graphics 515, 6Y75
6298 Points ∼84% +4%
Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz
Intel HD Graphics 515, 6Y30
6078 Points ∼81%
Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2015) 1.1 GHz
Intel HD Graphics 5300, 5Y31
5512 Points ∼74% -9%
Dell Latitude 13 7370
Intel HD Graphics 515, 6Y57
4658 Points ∼62% -23%
Dell XPS 12 9250 4K
Intel HD Graphics 515, 6Y75
4362 Points ∼58% -28%
3DMark 2001SE Standard
20345 points
3DMark 03 Standard
18019 points
3DMark 05 Standard
9173 points
3DMark 06 Standard
6921 points
3DMark Vantage P Result
4672 points
3DMark 11 Performance
1277 points
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
4446 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
682 points
Help

Gaming Performance

The small MacBook is hardly suitable for gaming enthusiasts. Only undemanding games like BroForce or League of Legends run smoothly on the Core m. The small cursor keys are not advantageous for gaming, either.

Apart from a short game of BroForce, we have also tested League of Legends under OS X. It ran smoothly in high details and at a resolution of 1440x900 pixels with an average frame rate of 50 fps. The performance first dropped to a still smooth 34 fps in the final fight. Apparently, OS X also delivered full performance on battery, since the frame rate did not fall during the game.

The performance is stable and the graphics clock is about 700 MHz in League of Legends (under OS X). The processor clock hovers at about 1.7 GHz.
The performance is stable and the graphics clock is about 700 MHz in League of Legends (under OS X). The processor clock hovers at about 1.7 GHz.
30 minutes long Fraps measurement at the beginning of our benchmark sequence (XGA, min details). The first small changes are at the end (however, there is a dynamic day - night change).
30 minutes long Fraps measurement at the beginning of our benchmark sequence (XGA, min details). The first small changes are at the end (however, there is a dynamic day - night change).
low med. high ultra
The Witcher 3 (2015) 7.4fps
World of Warships (2015) 32.130.216.411.7fps
FIFA 16 (2015) 42fps
Need for Speed 2016 (2016) 6.1fps

Emissions

System Noise

Thanks to fanless cooling and a Solid State Drive, the 12-inch MacBook does not generate a system noise. Moreover, we could not hear transistor whining so far.

Temperature

Our measurements did not show alarming surface temperatures after the WLAN test ran for 8 hours. With a maximum of 26 °C on the top side and 27 °C on the underside, the case remains comfortably cool (ambient temperature: 21.4 °C). While the case reached significantly higher temperatures at the end of 22 runs of Cinebench R15 (multi-thread), these are still not critical. We measured a maximum of 36 °C on the top side and 40 °C on the underside. The palm rests remained relatively cool at 30 °C. During our gaming test, the MacBook gets even a bit warmer with a maximum of 44 °C on the underside and 40 °C on the top side (Unigine Valley). Under extreme stress under Windows, we measured the same maximums. The palm rests also remained comfortably cool here.

1 h Witcher 3 - underside
1 h Witcher 3 - underside
1 h Witcher 3 - top side
1 h Witcher 3 - top side
Idle top side
Idle top side
Idle underside
Idle underside
Max. Load
 35 °C39 °C35 °C 
 32 °C33 °C33 °C 
 30 °C30 °C30 °C 
Maximum: 39 °C
Average: 33 °C
41 °C44 °C38 °C
36 °C37 °C35 °C
33 °C33 °C32 °C
Maximum: 44 °C
Average: 36.6 °C
Power Supply (max.)  38 °C | Room Temperature 21.6 °C | Fluke 62 Mini

Speakers

With a maximum of 84 dB during playing pink noise, the MacBook 12 does not belong to the loudest devices, but it is significantly louder than the average of all devices (77 dB) and certainly subnotebooks (72 dB). Even the 27-inch iMac was only 2 dB louder in our test - respect! The frequency characteristics are also very good and relatively linear from 500 Hz upwards. Compared to our 2015 MacBook sample we could not measure a small peak in the (inaudible) high frequency range. However, this might also have been caused by environment noises.

Surprisingly, the MacBook 12 performs significantly better than the MacBook Pro Retina 13 from 2013. The small 12-inch notebook sounds audibly better and even provides more basses - a notable performance in view of the compact case size.

Pink Noise with 100% and reduced volume (in order to see distortions or the like at maximum volume) compared to ambient noises
Pink Noise with 100% and reduced volume (in order to see distortions or the like at maximum volume) compared to ambient noises
The high-end AKG K701 is driven by the headset port with loud volume and without disturbing noise.
The high-end AKG K701 is driven by the headset port with loud volume and without disturbing noise.
Discussion

Energy Management

Power Consumption

As usual for Macs, the power consumption is lower under OS X than under Windows via Bootcamp. When the system runs idle, we measure significant differences from 1-3 Watt (for example idle with display off: 2.6 vs. 5.8 Watt). The power saving of OS X works significantly better than under the probably not perfectly tuned Bootcamp. Under maximum load, the limitations of the passively cooled m3 processor become apparent. The device draws 30 Watt for one to two seconds. Afterwards, the power consumption abruptly falls to 22 Watt and to 20.5 Watt another 30 seconds later. As a result, the system requires more energy under extreme load (Furmark and Prime95) than during the old 3DMark06 graphics test (22 Watt).

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.1 / 0.9 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 2.7 / 2.7 / 7.2 Watt
Load midlight 22 / 20.5 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy

Battery Life

In a first test, the MacBook 12 proved its good battery life again. With only 115 nit and scaled resolution, it ran for 10 hours and 23 minutes in our Wi-Fi test. With increased brightness (143 nit, level 11 of 16) and normal Retina resolution, the battery life falls to 8 hours and 21 minutes, which is about 9% better than the MacBook variant's from 2015. The effects of the minimally higher battery capacity and the better efficiency of the Skylake processor become apparent here. The slim device performs well when compared to the average of all reviewed subnotebooks (just under 7 hours; 84% of the battery life). By the way, the MacBook Air 13 from 2015 (10 hours) follows the leading Satellite Z30 with 12 hours, while the minimally heavier MacBook Air 11 only lasted 10 minutes longer in the test.

The small subnotebook lasts significantly shorter under graphics load. It achieved just under three hours (2h 53 min) in the Unigine Valley Benchmark with 100% brightness.

Charging the battery took about 2.5 hours during use of the notebook. According to OS X, it achieved 50 % after about 1 hour. The power adapter got quite hot during charging with a measured 52 °C.

Battery Runtime
WiFi Surfing v1.3 (Safari 9.1)
8h 21min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
8h 32min
Load (maximum brightness)
3h 51min
Battery Runtime - WiFi Websurfing 1.3
Apple iPad Pro 12.9
695 min ∼100% +39%
Apple MacBook Air 13 inch 2015-03
620 min ∼89% +24%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2015-03 (Safari 8.0)
539 min ∼78% +8%
Apple MacBook Air 11 inch 2015-03
512 min ∼74% +2%
Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz (Safari 9.1)
501 min ∼72%
Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2015) 1.1 GHz
456 min ∼66% -9%

Pro

+ outstanding Retina screen
+ precise Force-Touch trackpad
+ notable speaker quality
+ high-end aluminum chassis
+ silent as passively cooled, yet still not very hot

Cons

- a single combo port is a serious restriction
- the short key travel causes typing errors again and again
- no charge indicator via LED
- poor maintainability and upgradeability (iFixit 1/10 points)
- single core performance is slightly lower than the model's from 2015

Verdict

Always necessary but not included - adapter for the single USB Type C port
Always necessary but not included - adapter for the single USB Type C port

The 12-inch MacBook is and remains an impressive device. Low weight, an excellent display, and its build quality are outstanding properties. However, not much has changed compared to the model from 2015. Slightly improved graphics performance and slightly longer battery runtimes are no reason to change. Due to the lower single-core performance, the Skylake m3 is even slower than its predecessor in several benchmarks (and in everyday tasks). Nevertheless, the performance of the fanless subnotebook is sufficient for most applications. The Turbo can mostly keep the clock rate at 2 GHz if load does not persist for more than several minutes.

Small, light, limited. With the MacBook 12, you need to be willing to accept omissions in the connectivity, but you'll get excellent solutions otherwise.

The MacBook's single USB Type C port is used for charging the device as well. Thus, you'll require an expensive and complex adapter. Moreover, the entry level configuration is not particularly affordable at 1449 Euros (~$1659). In our opinion, it is worth spending 100 Euros (~$114) more on a 13-inch Air because of its significantly better display.

Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz - 04/27/2016 v5.1
Klaus Hinum, J. Simon Leitner

Chassis
93 /  98 → 95%
Keyboard
85%
Pointing Device
99%
Connectivity
41 / 80 → 51%
Weight
76 / 78 → 95%
Battery
91%
Display
91%
Games Performance
51 / 68 → 74%
Application Performance
68 / 87 → 79%
Temperature
90 / 91 → 99%
Noise
100%
Audio
87 / 91 → 96%
Camera
42 / 85 → 49%
Average
78%
91%
Subnotebook - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz Review
Klaus Hinum, J. Simon Leitner, 2016-04-30 (Update: 2016-07-29)