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I’ve been using a second generation MacBook for a little over a year now, and in many ways I love it. The performance is good enough most of the time, and the portability has helped me get a lot more done because of how easy it is to carry the MacBook and use it in a variety of places.

All that said, I had enough performance and stability issues that I was eager to upgrade when the third generation model was announced at WWDC. While I have no issues upgrading my iPhone every year, it’s been very unusual for me to want to upgrade a Mac that often. I decided to try the MacBook Escape1 alongside the latest MacBook because I want to be sure I’ll still be happy with my Mac this time next year.

I tested the following configurations.

MacBook (Early 2016) MacBook (2017) MacBook Pro (13”, 2017, w/o TouchBar)
1.3GHz Dual-Core M7 1.4GHz Dual-Core i7 2.5GHz Dual-core i7
Intel HD Graphics 515 Intel HD Graphics 615 Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640
8GB 1866MHz LPDDR3 16GB 1866MHz LPDDR3 16GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 SDRAM


My chief complaint with the 2016 MB was stability. Early on with Sierra, it would lock up and need to be rebooted about once a week. This most often happened when connecting or disconnecting from an external monitor, but it would just happen randomly sometimes too. Stability did improve greatly in later versions of Sierra, but it was still one of the least reliable Macs I’ve owned.

Sometimes the transition into the Spaces selection UI at the top of the screen would get stuck, requiring either killing the Dock process or rebooting. I suspect a lot of these stability issues may be related to the meager 8 GB of memory in the 2016.

I didn’t notice any of these issues with the 2017 MB, but I didn’t use it very heavily. The 2017 13” MBP has been rock solid.


Performance on the 2016 MacBook was often good enough, but it was noticeably slower at any kind of long running task. Web browsing would sometimes also feel sluggish, especially on sites with lots of images. A reboot would often improve things.

The 2017 MacBook feels faster. I think the memory makes the biggest difference. The first run of Geekbench that I did on the 2016 was almost half of the scores below, with subsequent runs after a reboot all being around the same. I suspect that is representative of the general performance hit I would notice if I hadn’t rebooted in a while.

  MacBook (Early 2016) MacBook (2017) MacBook Pro (13”, 2017, w/o TouchBar)
Geekbench Single / Multi 3567 / 7080 4152 / 8080 4950 / 9735
Unarchive Xcode 9 7:40 5:50 4:16
Build & Test app
(launching simulator)
1:02 0:59 0:46
Build & Test app 0:24 0:24 0:17


While I still appreciate the lightness of the MacBook, the size of the 13” Pro works better for me. I’m a pretty big guy, and the 12” MacBook would often feel like it was going to slip through my legs, while the 13” Pro rests comfortably. I also appreciate the slight increase in screen size. It’s just enough to fit an editor and web browser side by side when doing web development. Simply put, I think the 13” is small enough. Oddly I found the larger power adapter of the 13” to be more concerning than the larger size of the computer itself.

2017 12", 2017 13", 2015 15"

Final Thoughts

The 2017 MacBook is a solid update. It feels faster, and I think the extra memory would have resolved most of the performance issues I had with it. The keyboard has a nicer feel to it, making the 2016 model feel mushy in comparison, although the original keyboard never bothered me. For some reason the USB port on the 2017 seemed to stick a little. I’m not sure if that was an actual change, or if the one I got was just on the tighter end of the acceptable range.

Ultimately I still felt like I’d be tempted to upgrade again next year, so I’m sending the 2017 MacBook back and keeping the 13”. I think it will be better for the things I use it for, and the second USB port will save me from needing an additional adapter in all but the rarest of cases. My only real regret is the extra pound I’ll be lugging around with me, but I think the other benefits are worth it.