For starters, a fair share of the new MacBook’s circuitry comes from Nvidia instead of Intel. Most notably the 9400M integrated graphics, which is a big step up from the Intel X3100 found in the white MacBook. Apple claims it has five times the performance over the Intel IGP, but in the real world the difference is actually even more significant – the 9400M lets you to play some recent games whereas the old and tired Intel X3100 certainly does not.
As far as the new design goes, this is arguably the best looking laptop since the Osborne 1. The no-doubt well paid broilers at Apple’s design department have done an awesome job with the new “unibody” construction, allegedly made from a single piece of aluminum.
To get completely in line with an otherwise minimalistic design, they also decided to let go of the trackpad button altogether, opting for one built into the glass trackpad itself. Thanks to the multi-touch functionality, this works very well – actually there’s no need to use the built-in button at all. The new four-finger gestures to bring down Expose and Spaces are also well implemented.
Unfortunately, they didn’t bother to drill a lot of holes in that single piece of aluminum. There’s not a single FireWire port to be found, which is bound to feel like a betrayal to many diehard Mac users with a room full of FireWire accessories. On top of that it only has a measly two USB ports and Apple’s proprietary Mini DisplayPort, so forget about using your external monitor unless you fork over an additional $29 for a standard VGA or DVI adapter, or $99 (!) for the dual-link DVI adapter.
The new MacBook is available in two varieties (so far): one 2.0GHz version (our review sample) and a more expensive 2.4GHz model with a larger hard drive and backlit keyboard. Both models come with the same Nvidia chipset, a LED-backlit screen, and 2 gigs of top-of-the-line 1066MHz DDR3 RAM. It’s worth mentioning that the hard drives that ship with the new MacBooks are very well isolated and silent. When the laptop is idle or doing light tasks like web browsing, it’s almost inaudible.
Performance and Games
Thanks to the DDR3 memory, a 1066MHz front side bus, and the Nvidia chipset, the new MacBooks are faster than older models at the same CPU clock speed. Our 2.0GHz MacBook generated an Xbench score of 166.40. It is also perfectly capable of playing some games – WoW delivered fully playable framerates (50-60 fps) at high settings, which is to be expected from an aging game, but even Call of Duty 4 was playable with the settings tuned down a little. Apple promised five hours of battery life, which we found to be a little too optimistic, but the 4.5 hours we managed to squeeze out of it is still very good.
Overall, the aluminum MacBook is an excellent laptop. Although it’s somewhat more expensive than we had hoped, you get a solid and great-looking laptop, and some features that you’ll never find in a similar PC.
Apple MacBook Technical Specifications
- Processor 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Mobile
- Memory 2GB DDR3
- Harddrive 160GB
- OS Mac OS X v10.5 Leopard
- Weight 5.0 lbs
- Screen 13.3
- Screen resolution 1280 x 800
- Graphic Card Nvidia 9400M
- Battery Life 4,5 hours