This latest version of the (still white) MacBook is available in just one basic configuration, priced at £749. That’s a slight increase on the previous price of £719, but the Core 2 Duo processor has been bumped up to 2.13GHz and the hard disk goes up from 120GB to 160GB. The memory stays at 2GB, but the bus speed has increased from 667MHz to 800MHz.
CPU and HDD capacity tweaks are the only changes
Everything else remains the same, including the 8x DVD/CD burner, two USB 2.0 ports, single Firewire 400 port, built-in webcam, 802.11n wireless networking and Mini DVI for connecting an external monitor. There are ‘build to order’ options for adding more memory or a bigger hard disk, but the processor speed is fixed.
This is obviously a relatively minor upgrade then, but our Mac benchmark tests do show a worthwhile increase over the performance of the previous model. Graphics performance seems to come off best, with frame rates in Doom 3 increasing from 47fps to 55fps – an improvement of 17 per cent.
This time, we also used the Mac’s BootCamp option to install Windows on the MacBook and run a few PC benchmarks on it as well. Performance here was quite respectable too, so the machine makes quite a decent box - whatever operating system you run on it.
Average battery life
Battery life remains the same as that of the previous model – we got a little over three hours when playing H.264 standard-definition video straight off the hard disk, and a further hour on top of that for less demanding tasks such as running Microsoft Office or doing some light web surfing.
Mac-haters will no doubt point out that there are cheaper Windows laptops available – not to mention countless Windows netbooks – but that’s missing the point. Apple’s intention with the MacBook is to offer a laptop powerful enough to handle a spot of video-editing and other multimedia work, at a price that will appeal to consumers. On that score it succeeds. Admittedly, the redesigned 13in MacBook Pro looks mighty tempting if you’ve got the extra spare cash, but the MacBook remains an attractive entry-level Mac OS X system. ®
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"I've discovered I'm slowly becoming an Apple convert, I was brought up on IBM clones with DOS and Windows, but now I'm finding it's worth paying the premium for Apple hardware to get something that acts, looks, and feels a lot better (in my mind)."
My new 15" MacBook Pro feels very well engineered. The driver support in Windows is unfortunately patchy (and I'd love the option to switch between graphics cards in Windows too), but overall the hardware feels very nice.
Although, I don't fully understand why the Apple UK keyboard layout is different to the PC UK keyboard layout.
A reasonable update
I've bought one of these for my other half as her birthday is in a few days and she's been in the market for a new laptop. It far out-performs my mid-2008 macbook, the graphics chipset makes this laptop, for me anyway.
I've discovered I'm slowly becoming an Apple convert, I was brought up on IBM clones with DOS and Windows, but now I'm finding it's worth paying the premium for Apple hardware to get something that acts, looks, and feels a lot better (in my mind). I was slightly concerned about the whispers (read: yells) I had heard about Apple's customer support, but the one time I needed them (for a failed DVD drive in my macbook) they handled everything promptly and efficiently, even offering to replace my damaged media.
Each to their own at the end of the day, personally I don't mind paying the extra for a machine that meets my requirements and looks good while doing it :-) It's certainly better that the 17" Tosh that the other half has been lugging about.
It's a legacy model that's just being slowly phased out. If they improved it then it would cost the same as the aluminium Macbook.
If they cheapened it more it would tarnish Apple's image.
I agree with Dr Dick above.
I've always preferred cheaper wintel hardware, but finally took the plunge and got the unibody 17@ MBP a few weeks back (just after the upgrade).. speced up to 7200 HD & 3.06GHz processor.
Sure, it was expensive, but no more than other 'cool' laptops I've owned like sony picturebooks, sony UX series, etc.
It really does feel solid. The screen (matte thank you very much) is awesome. battery lasts for ages, and it just screams through video editing HD, etc. Even PC games play massively fast in vmware, negating the need to use bootcamp anymore.
Buy the 13" pro instead ...
I've just upgraded my 3 year old macbook to the 13" Macbook Pro and it only cost me £845 (EPP or Student discount pricing gives a £50 saving) and it was a no brainer compared with the "entry-level" Macbook reviewed here.
The £150 difference in price (£100 if you qualify for the discount) is really worth it for the faster CPU, faster memory and bus speed, backlit keyboard (really good for late night hacks!), SD card reader, 7 - 8 hour battery life and the superbly engineered aluminium "unibody" shell.
The Pro runs really cool and I'm very pleased with it .. best engineered machine I've ever used in 30 years.