Apple 12-inch MacBook 500 GB
We've been using the standard 1.1GHz model which has an Intel Core m3 processor. The 2015 MacBook's legacy has been, and will remain, that it wasn't very powerful. So far we have no complaints against the 2016 model in day-to-day use - it zips along very nicely for all your everyday computing needs. Geekbench 3 benchmark tests gave the MacBook a multi-core score of 5053. Compare this with the 2015 model's 4618 and the 2015 13in MacBook Air's 5821 and you get an idea of power.
There won't be any tech snobbery here, incidentally, against the idea of 'everyday computing', as though all tech journalists and specialists actually need and frequently use the power of the MacBook Pro they probably own. The 2016 MacBook, even in its lowest-spec model, is more than adequate for the needs of most - although video editors and gamers should look elsewhere.
It's the first Apple MacBook to ship with Intel's latest generation of processor, 'Skylake'. Along with Intel's HD Graphics 515 card, the MacBook has faster performance and storage speeds across the board. It's fair to say that these aren't extremely noticeable in use compared to the 2015 model, but the laptop is agile and responsive.
The standard 8GB of RAM helps, as does the flash storage - there are no moving parts in this laptop, and therefore no fan. It barely runs warm, even when put under a bit of pressure with multiple programmes running. A laptop that doesn't scald your lap is always a plus.
Bonus points: pleasingly for a laptop this small, the speakers are outstanding.
Our attractively grey (Space Grey, because space is grey) review model in particular has picked up many compliments on its short travels. (The Rose Gold model is more of an opinion divider.) There's no denying this is a beautiful product.
Instead, we are drawn to notice, and potentially criticise, the one sole port on this computer. (Bar the headphone port. First name on the team sheet.) It's USB-C, a relatively new standard of USB connection. The bundled charger connects to the port, which is also able to transfer data and act as a video output port. You'll need an adapter to do all three at once.
But so what? If you know you'll want to attach several USB sticks to your computer every day, then you just won't consider this laptop - much like those who will want to connect an external monitor. The MacBook doesn't support Thunderbolt 3, so the best option for second screening is with an HDMI adaptor to connect to a compatible monitor.
Apple has made the travel of the MacBook's keys particularly shallow in order to squeeze the size of the chassis down, but it's not as far removed from other more traditional typing surfaces as reports might have you believe. It's not so much a compromise as a conscious design choice, just as the decision to buy this laptop is a choice of whether its design tweaks complement your computing needs.
Not only has Apple impressively included a full-size keyboard in what is the ultimate portable form, but also has managed to fit a well-sized trackpad. Much like the 2015 model, it is a Force Touch trackpad that doesn't physically click, it just gives this impression: Apple created a space-saving mechanism that uses electrical pulses to trick your brain into feeling a click. Press a little harder and you get a deep click, similar to 3D Touch on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.
Display and screen
Where Apple has differentiated this MacBook line from its aging MacBook Air is in the screen. It's amazing. It has Apple's Retina display - but then again, so did the iPhone 4 in 2010. Why Apple has resisted adding such an impressive display to the Air is now slowly being answered by its inclusion here.
The MacBook, in all current models, only ships with a 12-inch screen option. It has a 2304x1440 resolution at 226 pixels per inch. In real-life terms, it is one of the best screens we have ever seen on a laptop, with an outstanding range of colours and backlight brightness levels, the auto-adjustment of which is second to none in its accuracy. You can also scale the resolutions, the most useful being the 'More Space' option that pushes the 12-inch display to its most spacious for multitasking.
Straight up - the battery, despite the improvements, is not as good as the current crop of MacBook Airs and Pros. This comes down to simple physics: this computer is tiny, and Apple has done its best to cram as much battery as possible in there.
The new Skylake processor performance allows for slightly improved battery consumption compared to last year's model, and Apple quotes up to 10 hours of wireless web use. Using the 2016 MacBook day to day we found we could go through the working day without having to plug the mains charger in.
Apple 12-inch MacBook 512 GB