As most of you all know, I’ve been a big proponent of the 12″ MacBook. I purchased the m5-equipped 512 GB version back in the spring, and I’ve been mostly a fan since acquiring it.
But with the arrival of the new entry-level 13″ MacBook Pro, the one devoid of Apple’s splashy new Touch Bar, the arguments for purchasing a 12″ MacBook just got a lot more hard to come by.
Let’s start with the price. The cost of an entry-level 13″ MacBook is $1499. For this price you’re getting a significantly faster 2.0GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor that turbos up to 3.1GHz, 8 GB of RAM, 256 GB of storage, Intel Iris Graphics 540, and two Thunderbolt 3 ports. It’s no screamer, but it’s a fairly solid machine that features tons of expandability thanks to Thunderbolt 3.
Now compare that to the entry-level MacBook. At $1299, $200 less, you’re getting a feeble 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Core m3. In fact, I can’t even recommend the m3 entry-level MacBook, because the m3 just isn’t enough for all but the most elementary of tasks.
In my original hands-on with the MacBook, I recommended that users start with the m5 processor with 8 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage. The m5 makes a big difference in day-to-day usability. In that configuration, you’re starting at $1599, which is $100 more than the entry-level 13″ MacBook Pro. You can probably see where this is headed…
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The 13″ MacBook Pro has shed significant weight with its refresh, going from 3.5lbs to 3lbs. The 12″ MacBook, at 2.03lbs, is still significantly lighter, but the difference isn’t as dramatic as it once was. The new MacBook Pro is now only .07″ thicker than the 12″ MacBook, and less than an inch more in length and width.
Apple even went above and beyond to showcase that the 13″ MacBook Pro featured a smaller form factor than the 13″ MacBook Air. Although it’s still selling the Air for an entry-level $999 price, it’s basically promoting the 13″ MacBook as the new Air — a product that was likely Apple’s most popular laptop for consumers.
With the new MacBook Pro, you’re also getting a higher resolution display with slightly better pixel density, along with P3 wide color support, similar to what we’ve seen on the 9.7″ iPad Pro and 4K/5K iMacs.
With the existence of the entry-level 13″ MacBook Pro, there are only a few reasons why I would even consider a 12″ MacBook at this point, especially at its current selling price:
- If size is of utmost importance. If you travel a lot, and don’t care about performance, then a 1lb difference can certainly matter. It’s a real reason to still consider the 12″ MacBook.
- If fan noise is a primary concern. It’s hard to understate how nice it is to have a machine that’s dead silent all of the time. The 12″ MacBook is the only Mac in Apple’s entire lineup that can make this claim. If you do creative work, particularly voiceovers or podcasting, it’s a legitimate reason to consider this machine.
Outside of those two areas, however, it’s hard to find a reason to go with the 12″ MacBook over the 13″ MacBook Pro. The keyboard on the new MacBook Pro is better, with a second-generation butterfly mechanism that allows for better key travel, and the FaceTime camera is actually in HD, instead of the paltry 480p camera found on the MacBook.
More importantly, you’ll get two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3 instead of just one without Thunderbolt 3. That can make a huge difference in day-to-day workflows. Instead of having to deciding between charging your MacBook and connecting to a peripheral, you can do both. After using this machine for nearly six months, I can’t stress enough how inconvenient it can be at times to only have access to a single port.
This post isn’t here to disparage the 12″ MacBook, or to make 12″ MacBook owners feel bad about their purchase. It’s still a great machine for what it is. I simply wanted to make those who might now consider a 12″ MacBook that there’s probably a better option available.
We’ll be back in the following days with more MacBook Pro coverage. In the meantime, please comment with your thoughts on the new Apple laptop lineup.