Using the 12” MacBook in 2021

The 12″ MacBook is my main computing device now and I wanted to share my thoughts on using it as part of my daily work flow. You can pick them up pretty reasonably used now and I think they are worth considering if you’re after a more affordable Mac.

First off my MacBook is an early 2016 base model with 8GB ram and 256GB SSD. It was bought refurbished from Apple back then and from a hardware perspective I’ve had no issues. I did have a tab key that stuck down a couple of times years ago but it sorted itself out and I’ve had no issues with the keyboard at all. The trackpad is the same, no issues. After all this time the battery still lasts me a long time and I only have to charge every couple of days. The screen quality is great and the resolution is fantastic. Very occasionally the one port annoys me but it’s not something that would drive me to upgrade.

From a performance perspective on macOS Catalina I was starting to think about an upgrade as it was slowing down a lot but after an upgrade to Big Sur it became completely useable again and the responsiveness went up. Even with my base spec macOS runs great and aside from the occasional stutter in Safari I have no issues.

It’s important to understand your use case though as this will determine what you can do on it. Mine is

  • Zoom meetings
  • Job searching: heavy pages use and web searching
  • GarageBand recording: plugging in my guitar and recording some music
  • Mail, messages and productivity apps

I don’t do any video editing so that’s one thing to call out. If you’re going to do video and want a 12″ MacBook then make sure you get one with 16GB ram. 8GB can do it but it’s pretty slow on the export and don’t even think about anything higher than 1080p.

I do think though that this MacBook shows that whilst Mac’s are more expensive initially they outlast a PC of similar age, certainly in my experience anyway. You won’t game or do any mega video production but if you’re looking for a small and light laptop that does the job then you can’t go wrong with the MacBook.

On that butterfly keyboard: I know some will be wary of the keyboard but I’ve actually grown to love it. It’s flat but I actually quite like typing on it but I appreciate that there are well documented issues. I haven’t had any but if you’re worried then ask the seller if they have been through Apple service and also check if it’s still covered under warranty. I’m pretty sure Apple extended it for this particular keyboard but cover yourself off so you don’t have to spend a fortune on a new keyboard at some point.