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Small Mac Notebooks, January 2018 Edition


<h>Use Cases</h> This evaluation is for a machine that is excellent at the following tasks: <ul> Photo editing with Photos Playing HD movies Using Word processors like Pages and Word </ul> The following tasks are not a priority: <ul> Playing high-powered 3D games Video editing </ul> <h>Requirements</h> <ul> Must run MacOS<fn> Must be relatively quiet (fan noise only in extreme usage scenarios) Long battery life (6+ hours) Lightweight/portable/easy to store in most bags Sturdy (doesn't feel plastic-y or cheap) High-quality touchpad and keyboard High-resolution screen (i.e. "retina") At least a solid I5 Kaby chip At least 8GB of RAM </ul> <h>Models</h> Since portability is a requirement, we're going to take a look at two smaller models, leaving out the 15" MacBook Pro, which is more of a high-end, developer-style machine. <h level="3">12-inch MacBook Pro</h> Pros: <ul> Runs MacOS No fan, so it's dead silent 10-hour battery life Under 1kg and smaller than a sheet of Letter-size paper 12" Retina display with native 2304-by-1440 resolution Full-size keyboard and large touchpad with Force Touch 1.3GHz i5 (turbo to 3.2GHz) or 1.4GHz i7 (turbo to 3.6GHz) (both Kaby) Available in Space Gray, Gold, Rose Gold and Silver </ul> Cons: <ul> Lo-res Webcam (480p) Only has one port USB-C port for everything---including charging. You have to dongle everything off of that. USB-C port doesn't double as a Thunderbolt 3 port At 12", screen space is limited; you can increase resolution, but sacrifice readability. Only 81% of 13.3" MacBook Pro. Graphics card is weaker than MacBook Pro, but probably more than enough for a non-gamer </ul> <h level="3">Macbook Pro</h> Pros: <ul> Runs MacOS Experience shows the fan comes on rarely, even under medium load 10-hour battery life Under 1.5kg and just a bit larger than a sheet of Letter-size paper 13.3" Retina display with native 2560-by-1600 resolution Full-size keyboard and giant touchpad with Force Touch 2.3GHz i5 (turbo to 3.6GHz) or 2.5GHz i7 (turbo to 4.0GHz) (both Kaby) Available in Space Gray and Silver Hi-res Webcam (720p) USB-C ports are also Thunderbolt ports Has an HDMI out that can drive a 5k display Speakers are pretty good for a laptop </ul> Cons: <ul> Lo-res Webcam (480p) Has two port Thunderbolt/USB-C ports for everything---including charging. You have to dongle everything off of that. </ul> <h>General Comments</h> <ul> The standard SSD size of 128GB is a joke if you have any movies, photos or songs. Anyone who's been accumulating data for a while is going to need at least 256GB, if not 512GB. Apple's default size is set with a cloud user in mind. Most home users will not need that much space, but 512GB is a good sweet spot for me (I have 82GB of pictures and 112GB of music). Not a heckuva lot of ports. The MacBook only has one. That said, you can get an adaptor or two for when you're hooked up at home. They each cost about $50.-- to $70.--, though. The screen size is small for developers, but just fine for everyone else, I think. MacOS accommodates full-screen apps really well, letting you quickly navigate between windows and desktops. The TouchBar looks interesting and having a fingerprint sensor would be nice, but I just don't see this feature being used that much. I've seen it in stores and it seemed kind of interesting, so it's up to the user. </ul> <h>Recommendations</h> You're going to have to know for yourself, but here are the specs I would recommend for each model: <h level="3">12" MacBook</h> <ul> 1.4GHz Processor 512GB Storage 8GB RAM Multiport adaptor for USB devices/charging </ul> <h level="3">13.3" MacBook Pro</h> <ul> 2.3GHz Processor 512GB Storage 8GB RAM Multiport adaptor for USB devices/charging </ul> <h>Links</h> The following reviews were helpful: <ul> <a href="">13-inch MacBook Pro vs. 12-inch MacBook (2016)</a> <a href="">12-inch MacBook vs 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar</a> </ul> <hr> <ft>There are certain killer features like Time Machine, integration with iPhone, the Photos application, restore-windows-on-restart that are a must for the user in mind.</ft>