When Apple's 12-inch MacBook launched last year, it provided an interesting set of trade-offs for business users. On one hand, the system was ridiculously slim and light, making it one of the most portable work companions. On the other hand, it came with a slightly underpowered processor and offered just a single USB Type-C port, which made it difficult to plug in many peripherals — or to connect to a secure, wired work network — without shelling out for an adapter.
The second iteration of the 12-inch MacBook is notably speedier and offers an extra hour of battery life. But Apple's decision to keep just a single USB Type-C port is sure to leave some workers feeling frustrated. In addition, its 12-inch display may feel a bit too cramped for serious multitasking.
At least the system is still shockingly lightweight, so much so that you probably won't even notice that it's in your work bag. At just 2 lbs., it's noticeably lighter than Dell's 2.7-lb. XPS 13 and Lenovo's 2.6-lb. ThinkPad X1 Carbon, though both of those systems have larger displays than the MacBook. HP's EliteBook Folio comes closest, weighing 2.2 lbs. with its 12.5-inch display.
Frequent travelers will also appreciate the system's longevity; it lasted a very solid 9 hours and 38 minutes on our battery test, which simulates continuous web browsing over Wi-Fi. That's an hour longer than the first-generation 12-inch MacBook, and it also beats rival systems like the touch-screen-equipped Dell XPS 13 (8:08), the Sony Vaio Z (9:04) and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (9:06). Some rival laptops last longer on a charge, though, including the nontouch XPS 13 (11:54) and the 13-inch MacBook Air (14:40).
The new MacBook also includes a new 6th-generation Intel Core M processor with 8GB of RAM, giving it a significant speed boost over its predecessor. On the Geekbench 3 test, which measures overall system performance, it racked up a respectable score of 5,906, which leaves the previous model's score of 4,631 in the dust. For users, that translates into snappier multitasking and less lag when launching apps.
But as a work machine, the MacBook's biggest weakness might be its shallow keyboard, which provides a meager 0.5 millimeters of travel. That's well below the 1.5 mm we look for in a laptop. Deeper keyboards are more comfortable for long typing sessions because they stop you from "bottoming out" when you strike a key. On the bright side, the keys provide good tactile feedback, which makes for a decent typing experience overall.
Check back for a full review of the new 12-inch MacBook very soon, or check out our picks for the best business laptops currently on the market.