Thursday, April 2, 2015

Guess I won't be upgrading to the new 12 inch MacBook

I was looking forward to the new MacBook Air because was considering upgrading our 2011 model as it was showing signs of battery wear. Instead Apple launched a MacBook. Not an Air,  not a Pro, just a MacBook. That's fine as I couldn't care less about the name. As beautiful as it may be with its super thin profile, Retain display with every thin bezels, super silent operations as it has no fans, doubled SSD performance and better (according to Apple at least) key switches, I have concerns about this model, all of which are due to heavy compromises Apple had to make to make it so thin.
Firstly, it has less battery life than the last generation MacBook Air: 9hrs compared to 12hrs on the 13-inch MBA. Although it is still higher than that of the one we are hoping to replace, I feel that it is a downgrade. The reason for the reduced battery life is the thinness of the body which doesn't allow as much battery cells as before. The low power 1.1GHz Core M CPU cannot save the MacBook either. If not for this chip, the battery life would have been substantially lower. However, since I do not take the laptop with me on long journeys, this might not be a real issue as I would be couple of feet away from a wall socket. (Now you must be wondering why I have to have a laptop in the first place. I don't need one. But my wife does. She watches tele-dramas on the laptop, and this allows me to keep her away from the desktop.)
Secondly, it has a single port to connect external devices. That would not have been a problem if it was just there for plugging in devices. No, that's also the port to which the charger plugs in. So, you want to plug in a device while the laptop is running off the main power, you either have to unplug the charger or you have to have a splitter. However to be honest, this might not be a deal breaker for me because I have hardly connected anything to our MacBook Air.
So am I getting 12-inch MacBook?
Wait a second! There is a real deal breaker.
Today, there were reports saying the CPU in the new MacBook is only as fast as the CPU in the 2011 MacBook Air, which is the exact model that we have. What? So basically, I'm not getting any performance benefits by getting this new laptop? To be frank, it is not that hard to believe because Intel has hardly improved the performance of their CPUs since SandyBridge. They have only been worried about power consumption and the iGPU performance. Except for a couple of new instructions, which hardly any application other than stress testing applications can make use of, we only could see around 2-5% improvement over the last few iterations. It's been so underwhelming for an enthusiast like me. For the cheapskates, it's way more than what they could expect.
However, the proper reviews are not out yet, so don’t base your decision solely on just GeekBench scores. But for me, I guess there is no point searching for that one thing which can win me over. This laptop isn't for me, if it is not faster than what I’m replacing. I probably should look at the MacBook Pro 2015 model which has the same retina display, larger battery, same high speed SSD, bigger keyboard and more importantly much better performance with a proper quad core CPU. It also looks more professional. The only issue is that they ask for an arm and a leg for that laptop. You cannot even game on it. Making up my mind to dump that much money into a laptop is going to be a difficult. Perhaps building a Mini-ITX desktop from the scratch would be more beneficial.


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