between "Mac" and "ipad" / Laptops and PCs

Rumors about the appearance of the MacBook Air with a high-resolution display went for a long time – as well as the fact that the place of 11- and 13-inch models will come with an intermediate version with a diagonal screen of 12 inches. Reality, however, did not fully support these expectations. The MacBook Air line-up remained intact, successfully upgrading the processors to the Broadwell generation, and an ultra-compact laptop with a high-resolution screen was allocated to a special class of devices – "simple" MacBook . The benefit of this position in Apple products has been vacant since the last plastic "MacBooks" were removed from production.

The new MacBook of 2015 is, without a doubt, a full-fledged laptop, but in certain features it approaches the class of tablets and is clearly designed for a similar scenario of use: carry it all day and put it on overnight.

Soil for the emergence of such a "Mac" produced a wave of "transformers" on Windows 8 (and less often – on Android), but Apple did not follow this recipe and released a computer standard form factor, not experiencing a special shortage of performance and at the same time time in dimensions similar to the tablet. But to achieve this goal, Apple had to bend the standards almost as much as it once did with the original MacBook Air. Born at the junction point of the tablet and laptop worlds, the novelty should become a universal device for a wide audience, but due to unavoidable compromises, it risks being targeted by criticism precisely in terms of laptop quality.

Thanks to the shop First Store we received the computer for testing shortly after the official launch on April 10 and tried to study the novelty as detailed as possible in the short time that we had.

# Technical specifications, prices

The basis for the MacBook was the Intel Core M processor with the Broadwel-Y core, which extends the Core architecture to a system-on-chip class with a TDP of up to 4.5 watts, corresponding to tablets. Buyers are given a choice of three configurations with relatively low base CPU frequencies: 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3 GHz. But do not rush to conclusions: Intel left a lot of space for overclocking in Turbo mode – the upper frequency bar is 2.4, 2.6 and 2.9 GHz. By the way, in MacBook chips it is allowed to work at slightly higher base frequencies than specified in Intel specifications. As it manifests itself in practice, we still have to see.

The MacBook has 8 GB of RAM installed as standard, without upgrading to 16 GB when purchased. Such a volume is specified by the capabilities of SoC Core M. The drive is installed in a volume of 256 or 512 GB.

The configuration with the younger CPU and 256 GB of ROM in the US Apple sells for $ 1,299, the top one – for $ 1,749, in the Russian Apple Store it turns into 89,900 and 119,990 rubles, respectively. Thus, MacBook Air 11 still remains the most affordable MacBook Air for $ 899 (62,990 rubles), but if you leave aside the hefty prices for technology in Russia, the new MacBook is not much more expensive than the 11-inch Air , charged with similar components (8 GB RAM, SSD 256 GB), – $ 1,199.

The Apple Macbook Early 2015
The display 12 inches, 2304 × 1440, IPS
CPU Intel Core M-5Y31 (2 cores, 1.1-2.4 GHz) / Intel Core M-5Y51 (2 cores, 1.2-2.6 GHz) / Intel Core M-5Y71 (2 cores, 1.3-2.9 GHz)
Chipset PCH-LP on the substrate of the CPU
Operative memory LPDDR3 SDRAM, 1600 MHz, 8 GB
GPU Intel HD Graphics 5300
The accumulator SSD, PCIe 2.0 x4, 256/512 GB
Input / Output Ports 1 × USB 3.1 Type-C Gen. 1, 1 × mini-jack
Network IEEE 802.11a / b / g / n / ac, Bluetooth 4.0
Battery, W · h 39.7
Weight, kg 0.92
Overall dimensions (LxHxD), cm 28.04 × 19.66 × 0.36-1.32

A set of ports for connecting to the periphery – here's a bolt from the blue. MacBook carries only one USB Type-C port for all needs: charging, connecting flash drives and even an external monitor. We'll start with it: even if we leave aside the whole significance of the new connector for the new MacBook, this is also the first device with USB Type-C, which we got in our hands.

# USB Type-C, Package Contents

The USB Type-C standard is presented as a universal replacement for USB Type-A and Type-B ports, in other words, it is a reversible connector that can be equipped with both host devices and peripherals. Some of the physical lines can be allocated for direct connection of devices by other protocols than USB. Currently, protocols for MHL 3.0 and DisplayPort 1.3 video are supported. When powered by USB Type-C devices, the voltage and current can reach 20 V and 5 A respectively, which gives a power of 100 W.

The actual USB protocol in the MacBook is version 3.1, but it refers to the so-called first generation (Gen. 1). Therefore, the bandwidth (5 Gb / s) there is no difference from USB 3.0. SuperSpeed ​​+ generation 2 with a speed of 10 Gb / s is simply not supported by the integrated SoC Broadwell-Y controller, and the additional controller would not be appropriate on the laptop's compact mainboard.

For all of these qualities, the Type-C standard sounds like the proprietary interface Apple Lightning . To fully support the functions, active, chip cables are also required. Physically, the connectors are similar, with the difference that the USB Type-C has 24 contacts, and the Lightning-16. In addition, the male Type-C USB connector, unlike the Lightning, is hollow inside, and the female part has a tab with contacts. Another USB Type-C plug does not snap into the socket, like Lightning. At first glance, the connector seems to be reliable, but knowing the examples when the notorious tongues broke, from the mechanical point of view, we prefer Lightning. Surely Apple was considering the option with Lightning instead of USB Type-C, but that would definitely make the MacBook a "cloud" device.

Type-C itself is a more convenient connector than Type-A (both in full-size and Mini / Micro-versions) due to symmetrical contacts. Probably sooner or later it will be introduced everywhere. But while the adapter from Type-C to a large Type-A ($ 19 or 1 2190 rubles) is necessary for survival, if you plan to make the MacBook the main computer (and this is not a rare situation for MacBook Air owners). It is a pity that Apple did not include it in the delivery for reasons of economy or, rather, stubbornness.

For connecting external displays Apple offers a splitter for three connectors: USB Type-A, Type-C and HDMI 1.4 or VGA (for $ 79 or 5 490 rubles). Thus, you can simultaneously use the monitor, charge the MacBook and connect the standard peripherals. The MacBook also supports the DisplayPort 1.2 interface with resolutions up to 3840 × 2160, but it's not entirely clear whether Broadwell-Y can provide a 60 Hz frequency and is open in OS X (GPU performance may not be enough for smooth desktop animation in this mode) .

The standard MacBook power adapter also carries a USB Type-C port and is an intermediate step in size between the iPad and the MacBook Air. For devices familiar with the new USB specifications for power, the unit can provide 29 W (14.5 V, 2 A), the rest – 11.4 W (5.2 V, 2 A).

Charging the "macbook" after many years of using the MagSafe connector is unusual. Moreover, you feel wary, remembering why MagSafe has the word safe in the title. Every user of the Macbook just stumbled over the cable at least once in his life and thanked the magnetic connector for the fact that the laptop did not fly to the floor.

Of the other accessories, only a two-sided USB Type-C cable and a brief paper instruction are attached to the MacBook.

# The appearance, ergonomics

The shape of the laptop is cut according to MacBook Air patterns: the same narrowed edges with flat ends, the same narrowing to the front of the case. The outer surfaces are almost entirely metallic, including the hinge of the lid and part of the display frame. The thickness restrictions forced to replace even the standard luminous logo with polished metal, like on the iPad and iPhone.

Another feature that makes the MacBook similar to devices on iOS: three options for coloring the anodized aluminum body – unpainted silver, gray (space gray) and golden. Well and most importantly: the MacBook does not have a fan and even holes for cooling – heat transfer occurs through the case.

The new MacBook is noticeably thinner than the Air: the maximum thickness of the case is 1.32 vs. 2 cm. The weight is close to that of the 11-inch MacBook Air: 0.92 and 1.08 kg respectively. By the way, despite the light weight and thickness of the bottom, the MacBook is balanced, as a standard notebook. The lid does not outweigh, and the hinge is as tight as necessary, so that the laptop can be opened with one hand, but the lid would not fall.

The main question in connection with the size of the MacBook: was it not better to sacrifice such thin edges to accommodate another USB Type-C port? The existing thickness does not allow this to be done by retaining the audio connector of the mini-jack.

The screen with a diagonal of 12 inches has a non-standard resolution of 2304 × 1440. In order to get a 16:10 aspect ratio, the screen width in the WQHD standard is 256 pixels. And rightly: with such diagonals it is more difficult to use productively the screen space with proportions of 16: 9. The density of pixels here is almost the same as on the "retinovyh" MacBook Pro (226 PPI), but Apple states that the power consumption of the display is 30% less than in other Macs. The same number was previously announced for the iMac with Retina display so it's easy to assume that the MacBook also uses an IPS matrix with an IGZO substrate from a longtime partner, Apple, LG.

What's interesting about the screen is the fact that the default setting is 1280 × 800 in HiDP mode. It is not a multiple of the "native" screen resolution, so the image is slightly less clear than in the 1152 × 720 mode, which is also available in the settings, but gives too little usable space.

Following the last incarnation of the MacBook Pro with Retina display the new "Mac" received the Touch Touch touchpad, flawlessly simulating a keystroke due to an electromagnet. As a consequence, the touchpad is equally sensitive to pressing anywhere on the surface.

In order to make the computer so thin, the keyboard also had to be changed. All "Macs" with unibody-cases use keys with a relatively short stroke, but in the new MacBook the move is even shorter, and pressing is softer. Under the cover of the key, a new mechanism is hidden (Apple calls it the butterfly switch), which provides a more stable position of the key plane compared to traditional "scissors."

The keys became larger, and the gaps between them decreased. The size ratio between some buttons also changed: Esc became longer due to the function keys. The arrows "left" and "right" of double height look somewhat unusual.

Each key is highlighted by its own LED. Apple even took care of the individual calibration of brightness, to ensure uniform illumination. The leakage of light around the edges of the keys is minimal.

In general, after the previous MacBooks, the new keyboard requires adaptation, mainly due to a short and soft move. But the fact that the keys are absolutely flat, does not prevent them because of their large size.

# The internal arrangement

Mounting components inside the MacBook has nothing to do with what you can see in the MacBook Air. The battery has a capacity of 39.7 W · h (Air 11 has 38 watts) and the motherboard is attached to the bottom cover and connected to the input / output elements on the opposite half of the body by flexible loops.

The motherboard of this size and density of mounting is more typical for tablets than for laptops. SoC Broadwell-U is made in a compact package BGA-1234. On the back of the board there are two 4 GB LPDDR3 SDRAM chips.

The biggest surprise was that the SSD controller for the MacBook was designed by Apple itself and manufactured at TSMC (as reported by Chipworks ). This is hinted at by the identifier of the AP025H device in OS X (the manufacturers identify the first letters: SD, SM and TS for SanDisk, Samsung and Toshiba, respectively, in previous models).

The SSD is notable for the PCIe x4 interface and the support for the NVMe protocol designed specifically for SSDs, in contrast to the now widely used AHCI protocol that was created with the calculation of hard disks. The main advantage of NVMe is the reduced latency of command processing. Another important factor is the support of several command queues and the increased queue length (from 32 to 64 commands respectively). The new protocol manifests itself more in server-side, rather than client drives, however, and the latter will be able to benefit from the change of AHCI on NVMe. In particular, reduced latency will allow the SSD to spend more time in sleep mode, reducing power consumption. The widespread introduction of NVMe in client computers is inevitable, but Apple, in this case, controlling the process of designing and manufacturing a computer from start to finish, forces events. It's unclear just why you needed to create your own controller, if Samsung and Marvell already have ready-made options for NVMe.

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