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Mid-Range 1.2 GHz Retina MacBook CPU Shows Nice Speed Boost Over Low-End Model

Ahead of last Friday's launch of the new Retina MacBook, we saw several early benchmarks for the entry-level notebook running a 1.1 GHz Intel Core M processor, putting CPU performance for the new machine roughly on par with the 2011 MacBook Air according to Geekbench.

With the machines now available for purchase, we're starting to see Geekbench results for the mid-range 1.2 GHz processor, revealing a significant performance boost over the low-end chip for multi-core benchmarks, but less so for single-core testing.

It will take a little while for Geekbench results to firm up as the machines work through their early housekeeping tasks, but the best results we're seeing so far for the 1.2 GHz model are approaching 2600 on 64-bit single-core tests and over 5300 on multi-core tests. That performance compares to roughly 2400/4450 for the 1.1 GHz model, meaning that the mid-range model seems to be showing performance improvements at least in line with the 9 percent increase in CPU frequency. Multi-core performance in particular seems to be seeing a nice bump with the faster chip.

geekbench_1_2_ghz_macbook
These scores for the 1.2 GHz Retina MacBook are roughly in the same range as the low-end models of the previous-generation Early 2014 MacBook Air, despite the much lower power consumption that has enabled Apple to build an ultra-thin fanless design.

In addition to the 1.1 GHz and 1.2 GHz chip options, Apple is also offering a 1.3 GHz processor as a build-to-order option. We have, however, yet to see any Geekbench results for these chips, and shipping estimates for machines with these chips were at 3-4 weeks when Apple began taking orders on Friday, suggesting it may yet be some time before we see data on their performance.

Apple is taking advantage of Intel's latest "Core M" Broadwell chips for the new Retina MacBook. The chips offer extremely low power usage, but Apple is slightly overclocking these chips for higher performance. The low-end MacBook uses a 5Y31 chip that runs by default at 900 MHz but which supports overclocking to 1.1 GHz at the cost of bumping power consumption from 4.5 watts to 6 watts, and Apple has elected to use the faster speeds to improve performance.

The mid-range MacBook uses the 5Y51 chip, which defaults to 1.1 GHz but which Apple has bumped by 100 MHz to run at 1.2 GHz. The high-end custom MacBook takes advantage of the 5Y71 chip that is designed to run at 1.2 GHz, and Apple has similarly bumped this one by 100 MHz to run at 1.3 GHz.

The Retina MacBook is in very short supply following its launch last Friday, with all stock and custom configurations currently listed as shipping in 4-6 weeks from Apple's online store. The company's retail stores also have yet to begin stocking the new machines, although some (mainly in the United States) do have models on display for customers to test out.

Related Roundup: Retina MacBook
Tag: benchmarks
Buyer's Guide: MacBook (Neutral)


Top Rated Comments

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18 months ago

I still do not understand the selling point of this device.

It is more pricey than an Air and slower. Sure but has a nice screen but if there is an Air revision then it's expected to have the ForceTouch and also a Retina display.

The 256GB 11in Air + 8GB RAM is $100 less and much faster, and if you want a bigger screen then the 256GB 13in Air + 8GB is the same price. Both giving you more ports, performance, and the same battery life(11in Air) or more 13in).

I know I'm probably going to be based but unless you REALLY need USB-C or REQUIRE Retina on a sub 13in device I do not get why you would buy the MacBook. I'm all ears as to why ANYONE thinks this is the perfect device for them over the Air, but I have not seen a single person make that statement.

I do admit the Space Grey is sexy though.


I don't understand why people are trying to figure out why someone wants to buy it.

I'm getting it because I insist on having a retina screen and want something more portable than my 13" rMBP. I don't want to wait for the Airs to get a retina screen. I don't care about having 1 port. I don't do anything that needs a faster more capable CPU. Is this machine expensive? Yes but if I'm willing to pay that much for what it offers, why does it bother others so much?
Rating: 34 Votes
18 months ago
Very nice machine.

Incoming: all the comments from people who are far from the target of this laptop.
Rating: 32 Votes
18 months ago

1.2 Ghz? What a joke. My 2001 Pentium IV was almost twice as fast at 2 Ghz.


Someone needs to get you an instruction manual.
Rating: 30 Votes
18 months ago
Finally a Computer that's as fast as an iPhone ... :D
Rating: 26 Votes
18 months ago

Very nice machine.

Incoming: all the comments from people who are far from the target of this laptop.


And who is the target of this Macbook? People with more money than brains?
Rating: 23 Votes
18 months ago
Wow, even slightly faster than an iPad Air 2 :P
Rating: 22 Votes
18 months ago

I don't get it either and I'm theoretically the target market for this machine (enough disposable income, travels often, generally keeps more than one machine). The only thing there that's an upgrade from my 2012 MBA is the screen. The weight is darn close to the same, the keyboard on my MBA is better, the processor on my MBA is more powerful.

I do think, in a few years, the following devices in this line will be really great.


The screen is exactly why so many of us ordered the new Macbook. I wanted a tiny, portable companion to my 15" rMBP. I tried the 11" Macbook Air, but I returned it, because the screen was awful. The new Macbook is smaller than the 11" Air, but with a larger, much better screen, which is exactly what I wanted.
Rating: 13 Votes
18 months ago

1.2 Ghz? What a joke. My 2001 Pentium IV was almost twice as fast at 2 Ghz.


Close, but no cigar. Even a 2.6 GHz Pentium 4 only scored 633, so you're probably looking at around 500 for your 2 GHz thing. On single-threaded tasks, that would make this MacBook five times as fast; on two threads, well over ten times.

But, yeah, your CPU would be way faster at one thing: racking up your power bill.
Rating: 12 Votes
18 months ago

The target audience of this Mac are people like my mom, whose most intense task they do with it is updating the OS :D


I'd wager that this thing is up to the task for what 90% of the entire computer user base uses computers for.
Rating: 11 Votes
18 months ago

When you said "more portable" you lost me as you just grabbing at straws. If you have a hard time taking around a 3.5lb 13in machine but are just fine with a 2lb 12in machine you must be a really frail 80+yr old man or have a medical condition.


I've never understood this logic. When I'm traveling and the portable office backpack is just 1 of the bags I'm lugging thru the airport, every pound counts.

I'm sure others are loaded down with camera gear, video gear.. etc.
Rating: 8 Votes

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