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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

SHOOTOUT: 12" Retina MacBook
versus two MacBook Pros

Originally posted April 14th, 2015 by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

The new Retina MacBook 12" is a sexy, minimal laptop by design. Some call it a glorified netbook. It's not meant to be a ball of fire, but since performance testing is our game, we were compelled to benchmark it against two examples of the MacBook Pro.

L2013 rMBP 15" = 'late 2013' Retina MacBook Pro 15" with 2.6GHz Quad-Core Intel i7-4960HQ processor, 16GB 1600MHz DD3L SDRAM, 512GB PCIe-based Flash Storage, Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200 GPU, NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M GPU (2GB GDDR5 VRAM)
E2015 rMBP 13" = 'early 2015' Retina MacBook Pro 13" with 3.1GHz Dual-Core Intel i7-5557U processor (Turbo Boost to 3.4GHz), 16GB 1866Mhz LPDDR3 SDRAM, 512GB PCIe-based Flash Storage, Intel Iris Graphics 6100 GPU
E2015 rMB 12" = 'early 2015' Retina MacBook 12" with 1.2GHz Dual-Core Intel Core M processor (Turbo Boost to 2.6GHz), 8GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3 onboard memory, 512GB PCIe-based onboard Flash Storage, Intel HD Graphics 5300 GPU

The 15" and 13" MacBook Pros were running OS X Yosemite 10.10.2. The 12" MacBook was running OS X Yosemite 10.10.3.

Geekbench 3
Primate Labs' cross-platform processor benchmark uses a scoring system that separates single-core and multi-core performance. Workloads simulate real-world scenarios. The overall score is an amalgam of Integer, Floating Point, and Memory performance tests. (
HIGHER number means FASTEST.)

Cinebench R15 -- Render 3D Model using a Single Core and then Multiple Cores with Hyperthreading. This is a hybrid benchmark since it uses the same rendering code as the full professional version of Cinema 4D R15. (RED graph bar means FASTEST CB Rating.)

This tests the performance of the Javascript "engine" of your Mac. It's run using your browser. We used Safari. (RED graph bar means FASTEST in MILLISECONDS.)

HandBrake 1.0.2
This free utility is useful for converting nearly any video formats to a selection of widely supported codecs. We used it to convert a two minute 1440x1080 Apple ProRes 422 clip to 960x720 H.264 MP4. (RED graph bar means FASTEST in SECONDS.)

LuxMark 3
This is an OpenCL benchmark. We rendered the LuxBall scene using the Intel integrated GPUs only.
(RED graph bar means FASTEST in Thousands of Samples per Second.)

GFXBench 3 has a "T-Rex HD" test a game simulation where a Tyrannosaurus chases a dirt bike rider. The "OFF-screen" mode runs the test at 1920x1080 offscreen, providing a way to compare results of Macs with varied screen resolution. (RED bar means FASTEST in Frames per Second.)

Unigine Valley OpenGL Benchmark "flies" through forest-covered valley surrounded by vast mountains. It amazes with its scale from a bird's-eye view of 64 million meters of extremely detailed terrain down to every leaf and flower petal. It features advanced visual technologies: dynamic sky, volumetric clouds, sun shafts, DOF, ambient occlusion.

We chose the BASIC Preset. We posted AVERAGE frames per second. (RED bar means FASTEST in Frames per Second.)

We used AJA System Test to test file level sequential transfer speed using a 16GB test document.
(RED bar means FASTEST in Megabytes per Second.)

We used a range of 4K to 1024K blocks in the Standard Random test in QuickBench as a predictor boot volume 'house keeping' performance and a simulation of an application that does multiple small random transfers.
(RED bar means FASTEST in Megabytes per Second.)

As expected, the MacBook 12" is not as fast as the MacBook Pros running CPU or GPU intensive apps. However, the flash storage performance is on par with the 'late 2013' MacBook Pro.

The appeal of the new MacBook is in the harder to quantify features such as retina screen, improved keyboard design, advanced touch pad, lightness, thinness, and smallness.

Like the MacBook Air, it is made for light duty. If it is your only Mac, you will likely feel constrained when running demanding apps. To see what we mean, go to the follow-up page featuring Final Cut Pro X, Motion, and Photoshop CC as well as four demanding games.

Also see how the 12" Retina MacBook compares to multiple MacBook Airs.

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copyright 2015 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"