MacBook 2015 released with 12″ Retina Display. My Thoughts & Comparison


On 9th March 2015, Apple announced (among other things…) an all new MacBook, I won’t go into the marketing details as you’ll find those everywhere else. Essentially however its an ultra low power, ultra light, 12″ MacBook with a Retina Display. As a heavy 11″ MacBook Air user I can confidently say I think they’ve really pulled it out the bag this time.

Firstly looking at the overall dimensions of the 12″ MacBook I was very surprised to see its smaller than the 11″ Air (just about) in every dimension, whilst also being lighter and having a 1″ bigger display.

Device Height Width Depth Weight
2014 MacBook Air 11″ 0.11-0.68″ (0.3-1.7 cm) 11.8″ (30 cm) 7.56″ (19.2 cm) 2.38 lb (1.08 kg)
2015 MacBook 12″ Retina 0.14-0.52″ (0.35-1.31 cm) 11.04″ (28.05 cm) 7.74″ (19.65 cm) 2.03 lb (0.92 kg)

To summarise, the thinnest part of the MacBook is thicker than the thinnest part of an Air by 0.05 cm (which perhaps is a good thing if you’ve seen how thin and almost transparent the MacBook Air 11″ display is) and its slightly deeper, apart from that its almost identical in its dimensions, which is great if (like me) you’ve invested in bags/sleeves and the likes, all your non-technical accessories will still work.

Additionally its battery life estimates and tech specs are very comparable if not identical to the battery in the 11″ MacBook Air. Meaning you get your retina display without any compromise… Except one…

The next part of this post is purely speculation until proper benchmarks arrive, however, after some digging into the Intel Core M, i’ve noticed only 5 Broadwell architecture CPU’s exist and one in particular matches the top spec CPU mentioned by Tim Cook in the Apple Keynote almost identically. I’ll take a look at that top spec CPU vs the top spec CPU of the 11″ MacBook Air.

Device CPU Power Cores Benchmark
2014 MacBook Air 11″ Intel Core i7-4650U 15W Max TDP 2 (4 logical) 4156*
2015 MacBook 12″ Retina Intel Core M-5Y71 4.5W Max TDP 2 (4 logical) 2780*

* according to

What this shows is the 2014 MacBook Air 11″ in its top spec config scores 66% higher than the 2015 MacBook 12″ Retina. However what it shows me is that trade off has been made in choosing an ultra low powered CPU to maintain battery life whilst giving the user a Retina Display. Remembering, the benchmark used isn’t a real world scenario, its more of a point scoring benchmark and additionally, I have no idea what CPU the new MacBook 12″ Retina actually uses… This is just an intelligent guess. Interestingly again, both CPU’s support up to 16GB Memory, however the configs at Apple top out at 8GB.

Nevertheless if price wasn’t a factor, it’d be really tough to choose an MacBook Air 11″ over a MacBook 12″ Retina. Having a black bezel, retina display, edge to edge keyboard really sells it here for me. I was happy with the existing size of the MacBook Air 11″, but every little helps. Mondays keynote was the first time I truly agreed with and believed Jonny Ive when he said something along the lines of “we’ve really tried to optimise the efficiency of the MacBook’s design as much as possible”.


The next thing that sparked by interest was the inclusion of USB-C for… everything, (for those who don’t know, its a new USB standard that allows power, data + different standards over a single cable). I travel a lot and although my Air rarely runs out of a battery when i’m out of reach of a power outlet, its interesting to think that you could buy a 29$ USB-C to USB cable and potentially charge your MacBook 12″ Retina using the same portable battery pack you use to charge your iPhone / iPad, it is to be confirmed, but i guess it wouldn’t be reaching far to expect this. UPDATE: I can confirm you can charge your MacBook 12″ with a portable battery pack you use for your iPad/iPhone. 🙂

Power pack charging MacBook


Those are my initial thoughts beyond the keynote and various tech blog info out there and i’ll try to update this post once my Space Grey top spec MacBook 12″ with Retina Display has arrived and i’ve (with sentiment) retired my trustworthy and fantastic MacBook Air 11″.


Overclocking & Optimising the Raspberry PI

My Raspberry PI

Out the box the Raspberry PI comes with a ARM1176JZFS Core (armv6 with hard float aka armhf arch) running at 700 Mhz as part of the Broadcom SoC. Additionally the memory frequency is also limited. In recent firmwares however… tinkerers have had the ability to “overclock” the Raspberry PI to squeeze some extra juice out of it. Mine’s currently running at 1Ghz at a solid 48C temperature when under load. So the first question that springs to mind is… why doesn’t everyone overclock their Raspberry PI? Well… there have been (well founded) reports of SD card corruption, heat/power issues and instability. The idea of this post is to show the user how to safety squeeze every last bit, cycle and IOP out of their PI safely’ish and without being an astrophysicist. Read on for the know-how. … 


How to generate max CPU Load (stress test your CPU)

It’s a bit of a random thing you’d think, but recently I had an issue where one of my servers would keep dieing when under abnormal load… So I thought, how can i replicate this in a lab environment… So I wrote a tiny bash script (that you can just paste into a terminal) that will max out each “thread” of the CPU until you kill the processes or reboot… Useful for stress-testing or burning in a CPU…



NexentaStor ZFS Bonnie++ Benchmarks

Following on from my previous post regarding AFP and iSCSI benchmarks i’ve decided (after many requests) to post a few raw benchmarks of the system gathered by bonnie++, the environment is as follows:

CPU: Athlon 64 3700+
RAM: 2gb DDR400
Controllers: 2x SATA-II and 1x SATA-I
Hard Drives: 7x Samsung 2tb Spinpoint F3 5600 RPM
OS: NexentaStor 3
ZFS Config: Standard raidz1 with dedup=off and compression=off

So I gathered a few results… after some annoying results I found a bottleneck in my system on 1 of the drives that seemed to bring the benchmark result down greatly, however once this was worked out I acheived the following: … 


NexentaStor AFP & iSCSI Xbench Benchmarks


I’ve recently setup a ZFS raidz with 7 disks using NexentaStor, natively this doesn’t come with AFP, but I managed to get a package and get this all working (which i’ll demo in an upcoming tutorial), one thing i noticed however is that I could never find any benchmarks that tested the general use of a NAS… i.e. using CIFS or AFP over a network to another machine and testing performance. There are literally 0 AFP benchmarks for NexentaStor due to its non-native support. So here it is

Test Environment:

NAS: 7 SAMSUNG Spinspoint F3 2tb Hard drives connected via SATA & SATA-II, in a ZFS raidz running on NexentaStor 3
Network: 1000BaseT Gigabit LAN
Test Machine: MacMini with 1gb memory (disk tests are cached in memory for speed) running XBench to benchmark