The new MacBook is about beauty, not power

Apple’s new MacBook finally releases Friday — the first reviews came out Thursday.

Critics are praising the MacBook’s beautifully thin exterior and new innovative features, like the thinner but wider keys and the new Force Touch ability that lets you press down into the touchpad to access extra controls.

Both inside and out, the new MacBook is beautifully thin, simple, and symmetrical. But as The Verge’s Dieter Bohn points out in his review, Apple compromised on the processors that power the MacBook in order to make it so sleek and efficient.

The new MacBook comes with an Intel Core M processor that clocks in at 1.1GHz — for an extra $US300, you can get a 1.2GHz processor, and it costs even more to get a 1.3GHz configuration. While these MacBook models have a “Turbo Boost” that helps them more than double their speeds, benchmarks show the 12-inch laptop performs at similar speeds to the MacBook Air — from 2011.

Here’s Bohn:

Basically, if you do anything that’s going to really tax the processor, this laptop probably isn’t going to cut it for you. In that sense it’s actually kind of like a Chromebook. It’s fast enough for 70 per cent of what I do, but a little slower than what I’m used to. For about 20 per cent of what I do — mostly photo editing — it works but requires patience. But it’s the last 10 per cent that’s hard: video editing, really big iPhoto libraries, basically anything processor-intensive can get rough.

Wired’s David Pierce was met with similar results:

As soon as I open Photoshop, fire up Steam, or even crank up the brightness to watch “The Tudors” (great show), the laptop slows and the battery drains quickly.

Mashable’s Christina Warren found this new MacBook to be “every bit as fast and responsive as a 2012 MacBook Air I used daily for more than two years,” but mentioned “there can be slowdowns, particularly if I’ve got tons of tabs open in multiple browsers.”

Can this do Photoshop CC 2014? Well, it can, but you’re better off running something like Acorn. I also wouldn’t want to do any serious video or audio editing on the new MacBook. But it managed to do 95% of what I do in a workday without much fuss.

The bottom line? The new MacBook is a beautiful computer with lots of interesting innovations hidden under the surface, but it’s a little ahead of its time. Battery life isn’t great, there’s only one port to handle all your various inputs and outputs, the computer itself isn’t very powerful.

If you’re looking for an Apple computer to handle “pro” applications like Photoshop or Final Cut, you’d be better off buying a MacBook Pro.

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