Today Apple has introduced its new generation of its MacBook laptops. On the specification sheets, this generation introduces Intel Skylake based Core m processors, updated integrated graphics, a faster storage solution (either controller or NAND), faster DRAM and bigger batteries. The new notebooks use the same thin chassis and retina-class display as the Broadwell-based MacBooks released last year, but in using the new Skylake silicon the new models are are expected faster and more energy-efficient, and combined with bigger batteries should mean longer battery life. Apple is also expanding the color options, bringing the popular Rose Gold option from the iPhone line to the Macbook.

The new Apple MacBook line is based on the dual-core Intel Core M processors based on the newest Skylake microarchitecture as well as the ninth-generation of Intel's integrated graphics (HD 515, Gen9) with improved media playback support. The new processors are the Core m3-6Y30, the Core m5-6Y54 and the Core m7-6Y75, but are upgraded from their listed base frequencies due to Apple using them in a 'configurable 7W TDP up' mode. This adjusts the base frequency up by 100-200 MHz and offers more TDP headroom for longer turbo periods. The latest microarchitecture and increased frequencies should increase the base performance of the new laptops in general-purpose applications whereas hardware-accelerated playback of HEVC and VP9 video streams should improve battery life in video streaming scenarios. Just like predecessors, the new laptops use 8 GB of memory, using LPDDR3  to minimize power consumption of memory sub-system. This time, Apple uses LPDDR3-1866 memory for its MacBook, which is a tad faster than the LPDDR3-1600 DRAM it used last year. This should have a knock-on effect on the integrated graphics performance as well.

Apple MacBook Line
  2015 (Broadwell) 2016 (Skylake)
CPU SKU Intel Core
Intel Core
Intel Core
Intel Core
Intel Core
Intel Core
cTDP Up 7W cTDP Up
Base 1.1 GHz  1.2 GHz 1.3 GHz  1.1 GHz 1.2 GHz 1.3 GHz
Turbo 2.4 GHz  2.6 GHz 2.9 GHz  2.2 GHz  2.7 GHz  3.1 GHz
GPU SKU Intel HD Graphics 5300 (GT2)
24 EUs, Gen 8
Intel HD Graphics 515 (GT2)
24 EUs, Gen 9
Base 300 MHz 300 MHz
Turbo 850 MHz  900 MHz 850 MHz 900 MHz  950 MHz
DRAM 8GB LPDDR3-1600 8GB LPDDR3-1866
PCIe SSD 256 GB 512 GB 256 GB
512 GB
256 GB 512 GB 256 GB
512 GB
PCIe 2.0 x4 PCIe 3.0 x2
Display 12-inch 2304x1440 IPS LCD
Ports 1 x USB 3.1 (Gen 1) Type-C
3.5mm combo jack
Network 2x2:2 802.11ac with BT 4.0
Battery 39.7 Wh 41.4 Wh
Dimensions H: 0.14-0.52-inch
W: 11.04-inch
D: 7.74-inch
Weight 2.03 lbs (0.92 kg)
Colors Space Gray
Space Gray
Rose Gold
Price $1299 $1599 $1749 $1299 $1599 $1749 ?

Since the chassis and the monitor essentially remained the same as last year, we are still talking about a machine with 12” IPS display panel with 2304x1440 resolution and a full-size keyboard. The maximum thickness of the new MacBook is 1.31 cm (0.52”) and the weight is 0.92 kg (2.03 pounds), similar to the first-gen model.

Apple claims that the new MacBook laptops feature upgraded solid-state storage, which relies on the PCIe bus, but it offers higher performance than the previous-gen SSD the company used on its 2015 MacBook. Last year the company essentially used its own SSD with its own controller, based on’s findings. Perhaps, this year Apple uses a new-gen SSD design developed in-house. Unfortunately, the company remains tight-lipped regarding the nature of its SSD improvements, but only discloses that they are faster than the predecessors. Last year's MacBook used a PCIe 2.0 x4 NVMe interface - moving to Skylake Core M and the fact that Skylake's PCH supports PCIe 3.0 by default means that the new drive is most likely PCIe 3.0, but we're not sure if it is still x4, or if something else has changed. We are asking about this!

In addition to the new components, Apple also uses larger 41.4-watt-hour lithium-polymer terraced battery, compared to a 39.7 watt-hour battery used on the previous-gen model, which should enable longer battery life. Apple itself declares up to 10 hours of wireless web browsing and up to 11 hours of iTunes movie playback, which is an hour longer than before. 

The laptop still features a single USB Type-C port with 5 Gbps transfer rate, which can be used for charging, connection to an external display (up to 3840x2160 resolution at 30 Hz refresh rate is supported) and so on. The notebook also has two microphones, a TRRS connector for headsets and a 480p FaceTime camera. Wireless networking capabilities of the notebook also remained untouched: the notebook supports dual-band 2x2 802.11ac Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth 4.0. 

One element worth noting is that the use of Skylake Core M should open up features such as Speed Shift to Apple, where the system has the ability to respond quicker to CPU demands up to 30x and finish quick tasks faster than the previous generation even recognizes the request for a high-performance mode. This becomes significant for responsiveness and user experience, but Speed Shift requires specific OS support. Intel worked closely with Microsoft to enable it for Windows 10, and at this point Apple has not stated publicly if the new MacBook will support Speed Shift out of the box or will be in a future OS update.

The new Apple MacBook laptops are available from Apple directly starting today and from its partners starting April 20, 2016. The most basic Apple MacBook model with Intel Core m3-6Y30 SoC, 8 GB of memory and 256 GB of solid-state storage costs $1299. The more advanced model featuring the Core m5-6Y54 and 512 GB of storage retails for $1599. The Core m7-based model is built-to-order and its price will be higher although we expect it to be similarly priced to the upgraded Broadwell model.

Source: Apple

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  • doggface - Wednesday, April 20, 2016 - link

    Cool anecdote bro.
  • rozquilla - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - link

    That's hefty price tag of difference for a negligible day-to-day storage and RAM performance difference, and just 280 grams (A cell phone? Wallet?) of weight.

    The negligible bit is because these aren't powerhouses, is the same CPU as a Microsoft Surface, so they are coffee sipping companions.

    In the end, as many, I'm looking for such a cappuccino mate, and was waiting for this release from Apple, but keeping tabs on the other options (ASUS just released an i5 version of the UX305 too), I don't get going on with such a price difference. I actually need to install Linux for my needs, so even while Apple provides a Unix environment, the math doesn't add up for me.

    True, Apple tech support might be worth it, but my wallet doesn't agree with me...
  • aliasfox - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - link

    Please add a second USB C to it. I could get used to the shallow keyboard and the it-clicks-but-doesn't-move trackpad. But if I'm on the go and I can't charge a phone and the laptop at the same time off of one wall plug, that seems like a really big annoyance.
  • jamyryals - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - link

    I know this form factor is relatively new, but a 480p camera is nonsensical in a $1300 computer.
  • kurahk7 - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - link

    People can complain about everything. The new 9.7" ipad pro has the same camera as the 6s and people question what the need of such a good camera is. Even if they included a 720p or 1080p cameracamera, people will complain that the bitrate sucks and the quality isn't good enough. Maybe apple is also trying to discourage those that use those selfie sticks with a MacBook?
  • danbob999 - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - link

    Both complains are valid. 480p is not enough. 12MP is too much for a webcam.
  • Burns101 - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - link

  • sorten - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - link

    A 7W processor would be a bottleneck for an eGPU setup even if OSX supported it. The general consensus seems to be that even a 15W processor won't be enough, though I have yet to see any benchmarks.
  • sorten - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - link

    I was really hoping that this was the refresh announcement for the full line. I'm holding out for an updated MBP to be my first OSX development machine.
  • Snake_Doc - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - link

    Its beyond me how anyone could use the keyboard on this thing for extended periods. I find the keyboard on my SP4 much more usable.

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