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Apple updates its 12-inch MacBook with faster chip and rose gold, but no extra USB

A speed bump and a bit more battery life should make the 12-inch MacBook better. Hope you weren't expecting anything more.

Sarah Tew / CNET
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If you've been holding out for a new MacBook, Apple's finally answered your call. Maybe.

The 2016 update to the 12-inch MacBook that debuted last year is now available to buy, but note that it's more of a spec bump than anything else.

The new MacBook starts with a current-gen Intel Core M3 processor, the step-up chip from the first-generation Intel Core M in the 2015 model. While faster, it's not as muscular as Intel's full-fledged Core-i processors found in all Apple's other Macs. Its battery life claim is now an hour longer -- 10 hours, versus 9 (but on our CNET tests, we averaged a bit less last year).

The updated 12-inch MacBook is still $1,299 in the US, £1,049 in the UK and AU$1,999 for the entry-level model with the same 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD. The step-up Core M5 version, at $1,599 £1,299 or AU$2,449, still features 8GB RAM and a 512GB SSD, too. But the MacBooks get improved Intel HD Graphics 515, faster PCIe flash storage and an optional extra upgrade to a 1.3GHz Core M7 processor.

Most importantly, the new MacBooks don't add any extra ports. There's still just a single USB-C port. But you can get the MacBook in rose gold now, just like the iPhone, Apple Watch and 9.7-inch iPad Pro.

That single port was one of the few ongoing issues cited when my colleague Dan Ackerman recently declared that, despite its limitations, the 2015 version of the 12-inch MacBook had become his favorite on-the-go laptop.

macbook-air-gold-2015-18.jpg

The single USB-C port, as seen here on the 2015 MacBook, remains.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Apple Store has now been updated to offer the new models, which replace the 2015 models. MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros aren't getting updates today, but the Airs now offer 8GB of RAM as standard for the same price as before, instead of what used to be a $100 upgrade from 4GB.

Update: Dan Ackerman's initial hands-on impressions of the MacBook are available in the video above and in our hands-on first take.