Apple unveiled a refreshed MacBook lineup today. The 12-inch MacBook got a performance boost, and is now available in rose gold, but it’s received a tepid—or even outright negative—response right out of the gate. The Apple MacBook is inferior in many ways to its own outdated MacBook Air siblings, and can’t really compare with the Microsoft Surface Book.
The base model of the new MacBook uses a 1.1 GHz 6th generation Intel Core M processor—with Turbo Boost up to 3.1 GHz. It uses faster 1866 MHz memory, and up to 25 percent faster graphics performance thanks to the Intel HD Graphics 515 technology. Apple also claims that the new MacBook yields better battery life as well.
Aside from the incremental boost in processor power, though, and the addition of the rose gold model, not much has changed in the 12-inch MacBook—which starts at $1,299 for the base model with 256 GB SSD storage and 8GB of RAM. The equivalent Surface Book with 256GB of SSD storage and 8GB of RAM will set you back $1,499—but you get a lot for that extra $200.
For starters, the Surface Book uses Skylake processors—Intel 6th generation Core i5 and Core i7. The Core M processor enables the Apple MacBook to be fanless—reducing both noise and power consumption. However, the Core i5 and Core i7 processors in the Surface Book offer significantly more computing power, and superior Intel HD 520 graphics. If you want to invest more money, you can also purchase a Surface Book that includes a discreet Nvidia GPU in the keyboard base.
Granted, the comparison of MacBook to Surface Book isn’t completely Apples to apples (see what I did there?). The MacBook is smaller, thinner, and lighter—it has a 12-inch display, in a device that is 11.04 by 7.74 by 0.52 inches (at its thickest point) and weighs 2.03 pounds, compared to the Surface Book with a 13.5-inch display and a form factor that is 12.3 by 9.14 by 0.9 inches (at its thickest point), and weighs 3.34 pounds. If size and weight are your primary considerations, the MacBook is the better choice.
In most other areas, however, the Surface Book is simply superior. The MacBook has a Retina display with a resolution of 2304 x 1440 and a pixel density of 226 PPI. The Surface Book, on the other hand, has a PixelSense display with a resolution of 3000 x 2000 for a pixel density of 267 PPI—and it’s a 10-point multi-touch touchscreen display as well. Oh! The Surface Book display also detaches to become a complete Windows PC in a tablet. You know, if you’re into that sort of thing.
The MacBook has a single USB-C port that it uses for charging, USB, and external video. Of course, doing more than one of those things at a time requires the purchase of extra adapters or hubs. The Surface Book has a mini DisplayPort connection and Surface Connect charging port—which is also used to connect the Surface Dock—on the right side of the keyboard base, and two USB ports and a full-size SD memory card slot on the left side. The Surface Book ports are also somewhat limited, but at least you can connect it to power and an external display and still have room for a USB thumb drive or two without buying additional hardware.
The MacBook has a sad, 480p FaceTime camera—exceptionally poor resolution by today’s standards. The Surface Book has a 5.0 megapixel front-facing camera, and an 8.0 megapixel rear-facing camera, both of which can record 1080p HD video. It also has a Windows Hello camera in the front for extremely accurate facial recognition.
The MacBook has a Force Touch trackpad, which enables some unique interaction with force clicks, accelerators, pressure-sensitive drawing and multi-touch gestures. However, the Surface Book has an ambient light sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer. It also comes with a Surface Pen, which allows you to open OneNote with a single click, capture the screen with a double-click, or access the Cortana virtual assistant by holding the button down. The Surface Pen also has 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity for very precise drawing, sketching, or painting.
If you’re interested in a sleek, sexy, high-end laptop, invest in a Surface Book instead. But, hey—at least you can get an Apple MacBook in pink…I mean rose gold.