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Replacing a MacBook Pro with a 12″ Retina MacBook

So I recently decided to sell my 13″ Retina MacBook Pro (2013) and replace it with a 12″ MacBook Retina (2015). I wanted something that was light and portable that I could take with me to work and coffee shops — what I was mainly doing with my MacBook Pro. I have a PC at home I can do more taxing work on, so it didn’t need to be that powerful.

Now I love my 2013 MacBook Pro, I can still edit 1080p video footage, I can browse the web, watch YouTube videos, edit photos, do all my emails and I still have all the ports I could possibly need. However, taking it around with me everywhere I went it was a little bit cumbersome, as by today’s standards it is a little bit chunky. Initially I thought the little MacBook would be too underpowered, with just a 1.1gHz Intel Core M processor. However, the 8gb of ram and the Intel HD 1536mb Graphics paired with Mac OS, I thought it was worth a shot.

First Impressions

I picked the MacBook from a guy on Gumtree for just £600, where buying it new would have been £1200~. I even managed to sell my old MacBook Pro for the same price, which I was pretty pleased with. It was more or less a straight swap. When I first held it opened it up and started typing, I was immediately impressed with the build quality, weight, the screen and the typing experience was way better than I was expecting — more on that later.

I felt it was going to be perfect for when I am heading out to a coffee shop to work, popping it into my bag and away I go. Coming in just over 1kg, it is slightly heavier than a 12.9″ iPad Pro (arguably one of it’s main competitors), but I like the fact I get a full laptop experience on it. I can easily just pick this up and take it into meetings for notes, if I wan’t to go and work on the sofa, this is nice and light enough to do so.

Single-Port Life

Having just the one USB-C port initially was a bit of a change, not being able to plug any of my current devices — External HDD, SD card, phone charger, etc. — where I would be able to do so on my old laptop. However, for the light work I have been doing on it recently, I have not really needed to use the port for anything else than charging. I use Apple’s wireless keyboard and mouse when I am docked into a desk.

When I do need to use the laptop for plugging in external devices or using it with another screen, I picked this dongle for £25, which has a few USB ports, a HDMI, USB-C and SD card slot, so I can plug in everything no problem.

I would really like to have an extra USB-C port, just so I can have slightly quicker charging (the passthrough is quite slow from the dongle), but I admire Apple for it’s move to USB-C as I really do think it is the future.

It would be nice if Apple included a USB-C hub in the box, I think that would soften the blow for people who are unsure of making the switch.

The Keyboard and Trackpad

A lot of people were pissed when Apple made the change to the butterfly switches, especially the first generation switches on this laptop. But I have to say — I absolutely love it. I do think the second generation switches are a solid improvement, but if you gave me option of the old style MacBook keyboard or this, I would choose this hands down.

The travel is shallow, but it is very tactile and I can find I can type a lot quicker, and have a much better experience when I am doing so. The trackpad is almost identical, besides the haptic engine. But I really like it, the way it feels is just a little more satisfying. This is the same thing with the iPhone home button.

The Form Factor

The size of this little thing was the main reason I got it, and the size and weight have not let me down. If you turn the screen scaling down a little bit, you have some more real estate to work with, but the 2304x1440p Retina display is an absolute dream to look at. For some reason Apple always absolutely nail their screens.

Comparing this to my old 13″ MacBook, it doesn’t even come close. At over half the weight and thickness, the form factor is simply delightful.

Performance — Video Editing, Photo Editing, Web Browsing

So, you’d probably be interested in the performance of this thing in comparison to a 2-year older MacBook Pro, with that measly 1.1ghz Core M Processor vs a 2.4ghz Core i5.

It is definitely not as quick — but that is to be expected.

However, the difference in performance is completely unnoticeable doing regular day to day tasks such as emails, browsing the web, watching videos, Spotify, excel and creating word docs — the 8gb of RAM comes in very handy here. It’s just when it comes to using the Adobe Suite, the machine struggles a little bit. Just trying to create a basic image in Photoshop does not work very well, the MacBook simply does not have the graphical power to do so.

But, there is one more thing. I downloaded Final Cut Pro to see if that worked any better, and I was absolutely blown away by the fact I could edit a 4k video with ease. Seeing as video editing is the most power intensive thing I do, I was more than happy with how the MacBook held up.

Battery

If I could outline one negative on this machine, it would definitely be the battery — I haven’t managed to do a full test on this, but I seem to have to charge it a lot more often than my MacBook Pro — but I’d put this down to the size.

Is it better than my 13” 2013 MacBook Pro?

The big question! If I am going to be honest, the answer to this question is completely subjective. For some people, they won’t like the keyboard, the screen being smaller and the lack of ports. However, for what I use it for I would 100% take this over my 2013 MacBook Pro.

Yes, the MacBook Pro is more powerful, it has a bigger screen, the functionality of the extra ports is very useful — but having a machine that does everything it does at half the size and weight, is the perfect change for me.

I really like this MacBook.

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