Depending on the lighting, the rose gold version of Apple's new, slightly faster MacBook looks either kind of bronze or incredibly pink. Sitting here on my desk next to last year's space gray version, it's so vibrant it looks almost like I would get an electric zap of energy if I touched it.
The speed improvement on the inside are not quite as electric. Apple gave us the 1.2Ghz Intel Core m5 version to test, and though I can notice the difference, it's small enough that it's not an easy or automatic upgrade from the previous MacBook. I ran a few benchmark tests and have been poking around for the last twenty minutes or so — nothing too crazy — and here's the long and short of it. Geekbench 3 pegs the speed improvements on raw processor operations at around 20 percent, but disk-write speeds using Blackmagic saw bigger improvements, as much as 80 or 90 percent faster (reading speeds look like smaller, incremental improvements). Overall, the thing feels about 25 percent faster to me.
But benchmarks and just a couple minutes of use are one thing, while actual extended use is quite another. My hunch is that if you were worried that the last MacBook was too underpowered for you, the new MacBook will only assuage your concerns by, well, 25 percent or so.
For a lot of people, that's actually enough to get over the purchasing decision hump. The new Skylake architecture might be coming to us in this "M class" processor instead of something more powerful, but I'm hopeful that the difference will be enough for me. I currently use last year's MacBook as a daily driver, and I find myself hitting the speed wall a couple times a week — usually because of too many tabs combined with some light photo editing. With this year's machine, I still fully expect to hit that wall, but I'm already starting to feel confident it won't happen nearly as often.
One thing that isn't quite resolved: dealing with the single USB-C port. The ecosystem of accessories and adapters is getting better (and safer), but you should budget a hundred bucks or so for adapters to go alongside the $1,299 (for the base model) you will spend on the laptop itself. (And futurists take note, Apple's USB-C implementation doesn't support the full Thunderbolt spec you can get on some Windows laptops). I'm starting to see more cables and drives that directly work with USB-C without the need for an adapter, so that helps clear out a pocket in your bag if you can find them.
It also helps that Apple is claiming that it's managed to increase the battery life on this laptop to 10 hours of web browsing. The company says that those improvements come thanks to the new processor architecture and new chemistry on the battery that increases its output from 37 watt-hours to 40 while keeping the size of the batteries the same.
Really, if you want power, get a MacBook Pro. And if you want the best all-around utilitarian MacBook get an Air. Or — actually — don't do either if you can wait a little bit. The MacBook might be all new, but everybody's expecting the rest of the Mac lineup to get updates as the year drags on.
But if you want a rose gold laptop that somehow manages to look conservative in some light and absolutely florescent in other light, this rose gold MacBook has you covered.
Video by Mark Linsangan
Photography by James Bareham