MacBook Kaby Lake review: Pricing, Specifications, and Features – Macworld

It’s now year three of the MacBook as we know it, and it seems that after initially being a laptop without an ecosystem, and then a laptop that we’re still getting used to, the MacBook has settled into its groove. It’s established its place in Apple’s laptop line, and it’s finally gain acceptance by the consumer.

But maybe you’re still a holdout. You’re out there, I know, still not convinced that the MacBook is a good buy. Well, I have some good news: The newest MacBook is a better buy than it has been, thanks to performance improvements by its processor and graphics upgrade. What Apple has in the MacBook is a small and light laptop that packs a nice speed punch.

Kaby Lake, graphics, SSD upgrades

The speed increase is largely due to Kaby Lake, Intel’s seventh-generation CPU. In the $1,299 MacBook (which is the model this review focuses on), you’ll find a 1.2GHz dual-core Core m3 processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.0GHz, which replaces a Skylake (Intel’s sixth generation CPU) 1.1GHz dual-core Core m3 processor with Turbo Boost up to 2.2GHz that was in the 2016 $1,299 MacBook. Apple also offers a $1,599 MacBook, which has a Kaby Lake 1.3GHz dual-core Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz. That replaces a Skylake 1.2GHz dual-core Core m5 processor with Turbo Boost up to 2.7GHz.

macbook 2017 usbc portRoman Loyola

The MacBook has one USB-C port. Invest in a USB-C hub if you want to connect multiple devices.

The MacBook’s graphics gets an upgrade, too. It’s still an integrated graphics chip (where the graphics processor is part of the main CPU and uses part of a computer’s main memory); the Intel HD Graphics 615, to be specific. It replaces the Intel HD Graphics 515 from 2016.

To top off the speed upgrades, Apple says that the solid-state drives in all of its laptops are now 50-percent faster than before thanks to an improved hardware controller.

Benchmark results

In order to see how much the speed of the 2017 MacBook has improved, we ran a set of benchmarks and compared the results to the previous MacBooks. We also include a new 2017 13-inch 2.3GHz Core i5 MacBook Pro—the model that sells for $1,299 and does not have a Touch Bar, like other MacBook Pros.

Geekbench 64-bit Single-Core and Multi-Core CPU Test

macbook 2107 geekbench cpu IDG

Results are scores. Longer bars/higher scores are better. Click to enlarge.

The Geekbench 4 64-bit Single-Core test gauges the computer’s performance with CPU intensive tasks that require only a single processing core, like using a web browser, a spreadsheet, a text editor, or email. In this test, the $1,299 MacBook, with its Kaby Lake 1.2GHz dual-core Core m3 processor, surpassed the 2016 and 2015 MacBooks, to no one’s surprise. But what might be surprising is by how much. The new MacBook is a whopping 28 percent faster than the 2016 1.2GHz Core m5 MacBook. Against the 2015 1.1GHz Core M MacBook, the new MacBook left the old one in the dust, with a 63 percent improvement. As expected, the new $1,299 13-inch MacBook Pro was faster that the new MacBook, but only by 10 percent.

To see how a processor handles multi-core tasks, like those performed by pro-level apps, we used the Geekbench 64-bit Multi-Core test. Again, we saw a significant speed gain by the new $1,299 Kaby Lake MacBook—compared to last year’s 2016 1.2GHz Core m5 MacBook, the new MacBook was 21 percent faster. The speed improvement compared to the 2015 1.1GHz Core M MacBook is definitely something to brag about: a juicy 67 percent.


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