Watch: Apple's 2016 MacBook vs. 2015 MacBook in speed test comparison

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited May 2016
Apple was able to squeeze out an extra hour of battery life and modest performance gains from its second-generation 12-inch MacBook, but is that enough to warrant an upgrade from the 2015 model? Find out in AppleInsider's head-to-head video.






With the recent update of the 12-inch MacBook, Apple touted not only battery life increases but also improved performance. Packing a new Skylake processor and integrated graphics, along with faster storage and memory, we wanted to check for ourselves how much of a performance boost the 2016 MacBook provides over last year's model.

We started off comparing the SSD speed which was faster and more consistent in the new MacBook. This should result in a faster loading applications and bootup of the Mac, but in real world usage, we didn't notice much of a difference.

Next, we used GeekBench 3 to test processor performance. Both finished the test at about the same time with the latest MacBook being just slightly faster. Our next test is a CPU and GPU rendering test called Cinebench. Once again the 2016 Macbook pulled ahead by just a bit. (show on screen 4 percent CPU and 10 percent GPU). Moving onto the web browsing benchmark Octane, the new MacBook gets a marginal improvement.




For photographers, we put these MacBooks head to head exporting edited photos with latest version of lightroom. The latest MacBook was about 14 percent faster, which is really negligible unless for some reason your editing thousands of photos on this machine, of the much better suited MacBook Pro.

Taking it one step further we ran the Final Cut benchmark BruceX, which pushed the machines to their limits in video editing. This is the one area we saw a major improvement in, with an almost 300 percent improvement with the 2016 Skylake Macbook. Even so, unless you really need the ultraportable design, video editors will have a smoother experience on a MacBook Pro, which starts at the same price of $1,299.

If you wanted to buy a 12-inch MacBook but were waiting for some big performance improvements, you'll likely need to wait a few more years, or just settle for one of Apples slightly larger offerings that pack a more powerful punch.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 47
    irelandireland Posts: 17,422member
    I wouldn't in a million years edit a FCP project on a 12" display. I even find a 13" display small for watching films on. That's more of why I think Apple should move to 14" and 16" models now that's it's obvious the 12" models are here to stay.

    rMBA 14" (thinner with with new ports and narrow bezel)

    rMBP 16" (where the Pro name really belongs in the Mac notebook lineup; thinner plus narrow bezel etc.)

    A simpler layout for the Mac notebook lineup that consumers would actually remember and understand.

    And over the next couple of years kill off the non-Retina notebooks, move the prices down and faze out the use of Retina everywhere but the tech specs and keynote bullet point presentations.

    MacBook = 12"
    MacBook Air = 14"
    MacBook Pro = 16"

    All Retina, each one slighter thicker, more powerful and with more ports than the last. All 16" model should include dedicated graphics along with integrated graphics. And MacBook should start at $999 at current RAM and HD sizes.
    edited May 2016
  • Reply 2 of 47
    satchmosatchmo Posts: 2,699member
    It sounds like unless you really want Rose Gold the 2015 is the better buy.
    More so if you can find a discounted price because it's last years model.


  • Reply 3 of 47
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,285member
    ireland said:
    I wouldn't in a million years edit a FCP project on a 12" display. I even find a 13" display small for watching films on.
    That's good for you, but the question is — could you? If you can't work on a FCP project because the screen is too small, that's a weakness of you, the operator, instead of a weakness of the machine. Workflows can be 3-dimensional. On my 13.3" screen, I'm just as, if not more productive than my work colleagues when they have much larger screens. Why? Because I can switch between applications (working with depth of the OS) instead of spreading things horizontally and vertically. Of course, I'm not a video editor, so the smaller screen is probably a drawback with the large, sophisticated interface that FCP has.
    latifbpsteveh
  • Reply 4 of 47
    kpomkpom Posts: 604member
    The question is whether this is a realistic test. Cinebench and Geekbench are not necessarily the best examples of "real world" usage. How about encoding a video in VLC, editing a photo in Photos, or running Windows 10 in Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion? Generally 10% is the threshold of noticeability for "real world" tasks.
  • Reply 5 of 47
    kpomkpom Posts: 604member
    Another question is which model did they test? The m3 is actually a "downgrade" relative to the Core M Broadwell chip Apple used last year (Intel culled the Core M line a bit with Skylake and went to 4 available processors from 7). The turbo boost on the m3 is 200MHz slower than last year's base model. On the m5 and m7, it is 100MHz and 200MHz faster, respectively. So if the Skylake m3 is able to outperform the Broadwell 5Y31 chip that Apple used in last year's base, even slightly, that bodes well for more noticeable improvements in the m5 and m7 models.
    edited May 2016 ration al
  • Reply 6 of 47
    irelandireland Posts: 17,422member
    That's good for you, but the question is — could you? If you can't work on a FCP project because the screen is too small, that's a weakness of you, the operator, instead of a weakness of the machine.
    Yes it's my fault. I'm not claiming to speak for everyone so no defensive stance is necessary. I say this from the point of view of a filmmaker. I can edit a film on my phone, but that does not mean I should. That guy installed XP on Apple Watch, but it doesn't make it a good idea. For me, yes, for me as a filmmaker a FCP export comparison between last year's 12" MacBook and this year's is irrelevant. I'd be far more concerned with the other metrics that were compared. And so by all accounts for how I see the machine being used it looks like a marginal improvement.

    Filmmakers and videographers—the kind of people who use FCP aren't buying the 12" MacBook for this use. It'b be a silly investment for said task, so a FCP export comparison is questionable and thankfully the person making the video here had the sense to recommended a MBP as a better choice for said use.
    edited May 2016
  • Reply 7 of 47
    bugsnwbugsnw Posts: 707member
    How in the world could the flash ram be so much faster and yet it boots a sliver slower than last year's model? FCP is faster, but damn.... I would have expected a jump in speed in loading applications, booting, working with photos, etc.

    I hope the upcoming MacBook Pros have a larger chasm between the new and old.
  • Reply 8 of 47
    irelandireland Posts: 17,422member

    kpom said:
    The question is whether this is a realistic test. Cinebench and Geekbench are not necessarily the best examples of "real world" usage. How about encoding a video in VLC, editing a photo in Photos, or running Windows 10 in Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion? Generally 10% is the threshold of noticeability for "real world" tasks.
    And a Handbrake export comparison. Agreed.
  • Reply 9 of 47
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    For years Apple fans were crying for Skylake. Now that we have it no one cares.
    Goes to show how hard it is pleasing fans.

    Proof speed/specs don't impress us it's Apple's innovations that do.
  • Reply 10 of 47
    lightknightlightknight Posts: 2,312member
    cali said:
    For years Apple fans were crying for Skylake. Now that we have it no one cares.
    Goes to show how hard it is pleasing fans.

    Proof speed/specs don't impress us it's Apple's innovations that do.

    "for years" is exactly the issue. 

    the fact that fans aren't pleased when Apple is slow to give them something proves that speedier updates are needed (or wished for), not that speed is unimpressive. Try editing a big storyboard with a MacBook, the wait between screen resizes, code switches, storyboard switches... Ewww. 

    I don't necessarily disagree with your "innovation over specs" point, only with the logic you use to prop it ;)

    (wow AppleInsider!!! Commenting in-app is horrible!)
    edited May 2016
  • Reply 11 of 47
    tokyojimutokyojimu Posts: 373member
    (wow AppleInsider!!! Commenting in-app is horrible!)
    No Kidding! No wonder there are way fewer comments these days. It is so painful I usually don't bother. 
    chiaireland
  • Reply 12 of 47
    SilicoSilico Posts: 7member
    My 2015 1.2 GHz Intel Core M RMB works great - no speed issues and I use it ~12 hours per day - but no video editing.  After a year I still love this machine.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 13 of 47
    metrixmetrix Posts: 220member
    As much as we hate to admit it, these MacBooks are more about style than function but that is the market that they are shooting for. They are suited for high school , college students, professionals that aren't looking for performance but quick access to e-mail and internet access and an occasional spreadsheet. There are many more of these customers than high powered users. It's absolutely crazy to complain about the higher price of a Macbook compared to a Windows laptop when you are facing $20,000/yr for college tuition, room and board.
  • Reply 14 of 47
    bobschlobbobschlob Posts: 1,074member
    "SSD speed which was faster and more consistent"
    I'm curious about what is meant by "
    more consistent".

    "...
     waiting for some big performance improvements, you'll likely need to wait a few more years"
    LOLOLOLOL .. So. like, year 2020!!  
    I'm expecting my 
    Apple teleportation machine by that time.   :D
    edited May 2016
  • Reply 15 of 47
    stanthemanstantheman Posts: 285member
    I suppose Apple execs are underwhelmed, too. And that they are making alternative processor plans for Mac, 2-3 years hence.
  • Reply 16 of 47
    bkkcanuckbkkcanuck Posts: 814member
    metrix said:
    As much as we hate to admit it, these MacBooks are more about style than function but that is the market that they are shooting for. 
    No, it is just that many here refuse to accept that an ultra-portable (ultra-light) is in itself a function - it is just apparently not something you value.  
    stevehbobschlobwilliamlondonireland
  • Reply 17 of 47
    Herbivore2Herbivore2 Posts: 362member
    metrix said:
    As much as we hate to admit it, these MacBooks are more about style than function but that is the market that they are shooting for. They are suited for high school , college students, professionals that aren't looking for performance but quick access to e-mail and internet access and an occasional spreadsheet. There are many more of these customers than high powered users. It's absolutely crazy to complain about the higher price of a Macbook compared to a Windows laptop when you are facing $20,000/yr for college tuition, room and board.
    That's true and it makes such a machine meaningless with the availability of the iPad Pro. 

    Intel's glacial pace of CPU development these days is in contrast to the incredible advancements of the A series which powers up the mobile devices. The pencil also makes note taking far easier and quieter than typing on a keyboard. 

    I just don't see much value in a MacBook. For the same price, a fully tricked out iPad Pro or the MacBook Pro with a real GPU makes far more sense. 


  • Reply 18 of 47
    stevehsteveh Posts: 480member
    bugsnw said:
    How in the world could the flash ram be so much faster and yet it boots a sliver slower than last year's model? FCP is faster, but damn.... I would have expected a jump in speed in loading applications, booting, working with photos, etc.
    A faster SSD might not show much improvement if the task is CPU bound. The two machines might not be set up identically, one loading more resources than the other a boot up. Lots of possibilities.
  • Reply 19 of 47
    loquiturloquitur Posts: 103member
    ireland said:
    I wouldn't in a million years edit a FCP project on a 12" display. I even find a 13" display small for watching films on. That's more of why I think Apple should move to 14" and 16" models now that's it's obvious the 12" models are here to stay.

    rMBA 14" (thinner with with new ports and narrow bezel)

    rMBP 16" (where the Pro name really belongs in the Mac notebook lineup; thinner plus narrow bezel etc.)

    A simpler layout for the Mac notebook lineup that consumers would actually remember and understand.

    And over the next couple of years kill off the non-Retina notebooks, move the prices down and faze out the use of Retina everywhere but the tech specs and keynote bullet point presentations.

    MacBook = 12"
    MacBook Air = 14"
    MacBook Pro = 16"

    All Retina, each one slighter thicker, more powerful and with more ports than the last. All 16" model should include dedicated graphics along with integrated graphics. And MacBook should start at $999 at current RAM and HD sizes.
    Or, how about no MacBook Air at all?   Just fanless MacBook 12" plus 14", and fanfull MacBook Pro 14" plus 16", the latter powerful enough to drive the ever-imaginary 5K external Thunderbolt Display.   If Intel can't do that maybe AMD can.  The 14" size commonality can work as part of the up-sell. 
  • Reply 20 of 47
    hucom2000hucom2000 Posts: 37member
    I noticed that both MacBooks were running without a charger connected, on battery power. I wonder, if the full performance was available? MacBook Pros reduce speed to conserver battery, as far as I know. Maybe the same is true for MacBooks? What if the actual peak performance was only available when connected to a power source?
    cpsroireland
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