New 12-in MacBook vs. 2015 MacBook Pro with Retina Display

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Gizmag compares the features and specs of the new 12-in MacBook (left) and the latest (13-in) MacBook Pro with Retina Dispaly

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A couple of weeks ago, Apple announced a product that many notebook users have been waiting on for years: an ultra-light and thin MacBook that also has a Retina Display. How does it size up next to Apple's pro-level laptop? Join Gizmag, as we compare the features and specs of the new 12-in MacBook and the 13-in MacBook Pro with Retina Display.

Size

The new MacBook is all about portability, as it's more compact than this 13-in Retina MacBook Pro – and much thinner.

Specifically, the 13-in MacBook Pro with Retina Display (rMBP) is 11 percent taller, 12 percent wider and 37 percent thicker.

Weight

We're kicking off with the new MacBook's two most flattering categories, as it's also 42 percent lighter than the Retina MacBook Pro.

Build

No surprises here, as aluminum unibody designs are now standard across almost all of Apple's product lines.

Trackpad

Both new MacBooks include Apple's new Force Touch trackpad, which uses advanced sensors and haptic feedback to take a static piece of glass and make it feel like a moving trackpad.

It feels a lot like using Apple's old (moving) trackpads, with the advantage that you can click it anywhere and face equal resistance (on the moving trackpads, it was difficult to press them down near the top end).

It also opens the door to a new way of interacting with your Mac: the Force Click. It's a click where you press deeper than you normally would. Right now it's basically a replacement for the old three-finger double-tap (for bringing up quick definitions system-wide), but Apple is likely to add more Force Click support down the road.

Colors

Before the new model's arrival, modern MacBooks were only sold in one silver color. But the new 12-in MacBook will ship in the same three color options that you'll see on the latest iPhones and iPads.

Display (size)

At first glance, the 12-in MacBook might sound like it hits a spot smack dab in between the 11-in MacBook Air and the 13-in Macbook Airs and Pros. But remember that the 11-in Air screens are really 11.6 inches, and those 13-in MacBook displays measure 13.3 inches. So this one is much closer to the smaller end.

Compared to this Retina MacBook specifically, the new MacBook only gives you 81 percent as much real estate.

Display (resolution)

Pixel densities are only off by a hair, making this category a wash. Both displays are going to look ultra-sharp.

Processor

This is a big advantage for the rMBP, as the 12-in model uses one of Intel's new Core M Broadwell chips, which are designed for ultra-portable machines like this. Core M allows for smaller machines with long battery life, but they don't deliver pro-level power.

The Retina MacBook Pro's Core i5 (configurable to a Core i7) does.

Note that the speeds in the above visual range from standard max speeds to max Turbo Boost speeds.

RAM

Apple didn't skimp on RAM in the new MacBook, as it ships standard with 8 GB – the same as the Retina MBP. You can, however, configure the rMBP up to 16 GB of RAM.

Storage

Both laptops have speedy PCIe-based SSDs. This is where the 2015 MacBook Pro with Retina Display gets most of its performance boost over its 2014 predecessor.

The 1 TB option for the Retina MacBook Pro is a made-to-order configuration.

Battery

Apple is estimating an extra hour (of web use) for the Retina MacBook Pro. During our time with it, we were impressed with its uptimes.

USB ports

Buyer beware: the 12-in MacBook has one port. We don't just mean one USB port – its Type C USB port is the only port on the device.

The next few categories should help put into perspective what this will mean (spoiler: there will be adapters).

Standalone charging port

If you want to use USB accessories on the new MacBook, you can forget about charging at the same time – as that's the same port where you'll be juicing up.

The Retina MacBook Pro has a dedicated (MagSafe 2) port for charging, so it's no problem making large external hard drive transfers or camera imports while charging.

SDXC

The rMBP also has an SDXC slot, handy if you own a DSLR. If you want to make SD card imports on the 12-in MacBook, you'll need to buy – you guessed it – an adapter.

If you don't often use SD cards for other purposes, the MacBook Pro's SD slot can help you get by with a cheaper model. Accessories like the Transcend JetDrive Lite discreetly plug into the PC's SD slot to augment your internal storage (great for large iPhoto libraries).

HDMI

That USB-C port in the new MacBook is natively compatible with DisplayPort cables for video out, but you'll need another adapter if you'd rather use an HDMI cable. The Pro has a dedicated HDMI port.

Thunderbolt

By putting all of its chips into USB Type C with this new MacBook, Thunderbolt's lone champion has essentially thrown in the towel on the speedy standard. Given the relative lack of Thunderbolt accessories (and their high cost), this shouldn't be too big of a surprise.

If you have any Thunderbolt accessories lying around, the Retina MacBook Pro does offer a couple of ports.

Graphics

Neither comes close to the power of a dedicated graphics card (i.e. don't expect to do any serious gaming at respectable frame rates here), but as far as notebook-friendly integrated graphics go, the Iris 6100 in the Retina MacBook should offer a notable improvement over the 5300 found in the 12-incher.

Webcam

Apple dropped the resolution of the webcam in the new MacBook, with a mere 480p resolution.

Software

Of course both machines run OS X Yosemite, and will receive updates to future versions of Apple's desktop OS.

Release

The latest 13-in Retina MacBook launched after Apple's latest March event. The new MacBook doesn't hit store shelves until April 10.

Starting price

Starting prices are dead even, though the new MacBook gives you double the internal storage (256 GB vs. 128 GB) for that US$1,300 price. Again, though, the Retina MacBook Pro makes it easy to expand that on the cheap with SD-based accessories – something that isn't an option on the single-ported MacBook.

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