Friday, November 17, 2006


Apple’s new 13″ MacBook is a good buy, but in specific cases

  • Friday, November 17, 2006
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  • Depending on where Google or your favorite search engine takes you when you're looking for more information on Apple's latest notebook MacBook offerings, you're likely to get a different opinion on whether it's worth a looksie. What makes the latest round of MacBook's different (I'll refrain from using the word "special" since that's a judgement that not everyone agrees with) is that they're based on Intel's Core 2 Duo technology, versus the Core Duo (no "2") technology found in the previous round of MacBook.

    Just to keep things straight, Apple also has a line of notebooks called MacBook Pros, the most distinguishing feature of which is probably better graphics performance because of the way they use a ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics chip — an implementation that also involves memory that's dedicated to graphics vs. the shared-memory approach associated with the Intel GMA 950 graphics chip found in non-Pro MacBooks. Display size is also different. Compared to the 15 and 17-inch non-reflective TFT displays found on the MacBook Pros, these "plain vanilla" MacBooks are glossy (somewhat reflective) 1280×800 13.3-inchers.

    Opinions vary widely whether the improvements in moving from the Core Duo to the Core 2 Duo are noticeable. On its Web site, Apple shows a bunch of benchmarks and sets expectations, on average, at a 25 percent performance gain. CNET's reviews group has made some changes to its methodology since it last tested the Core Duo MacBook making it harder to do an Apples to Apples comparison (ha ha) of new and old non-Pro MacBooks. But an older Core Duo (no "2") Mac Book Pro was tested under the newer methodology and, in comparing the two 2.0 Ghz systems, CNET's Dan Ackerman wrote that "the new Core 2 Duo MacBook did show a 26 percent boost over the older Core Duo MacBook Pro, well in line with Apple's claims." A sample of CNET's Core 2 Duo-based MacBook appears below:

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