Apple MacBook Update

Apple recently updated their MacBook Pro range, leaving the entry level MacBook and the niche MacBook Air looking rather left out. Now it is the white plastic MacBook's turn to be brought back to terms with its aluminum siblings. Like the 13” MacBook Pro, Apple has not incorporated an Intel Arrandale Core i3/5/7 processor in the new MacBook. This is disappointing considering the state of the competition. Instead, the updated MacBook has to make do with a speed bump of the existing Core 2 Duo from 2.26GHz to 2.4GHz.

A slightly bigger upgrade comes in the form of NVIDIA's new GeForce 320M chipset—not to be confused with the GT 320M. This may very well be NVIDIA's final chipset for Intel platforms, but at least on paper it's a sizeable upgrade from the previous generation 9400M. Instead of 16 CUDA Cores, the 320M sports 48 cores, potentially giving a large boost to performance. However, the IGP still shares memory with the rest of the system, so memory bandwidth will be far less than discrete GPU solutions.

These upgrades bring the basic specification up to the same level as the new 13” MacBook Pro. The bump in performance will come in handy now that Steam has come to Mac and Valve has made Portal free for the next few days.

The MacBook comes with 2GB DDR3 RAM, which is upgradable to 4GB for $100. Storage comes in the form of a 250GB 5400RPM HDD with 320GB and 500GB options available at an additional cost of $50 and $150 respectively. Should you need to upgrade either, it would be strongly recommended to do it yourself to save on the small fortune Apple charges, especially as you can sell the components you remove.

Perhaps the most important part of the upgrade is a larger capacity integrated battery that boosts battery life to a very impressive 10 hours, up from a still impressive seven hours of the previous MacBook. This makes it a tough match for just about anything else out there with similar performance.

Otherwise the MacBook is unchanged with two USB 2.0 ports, Mini DisplayPort, combined audio in/out port, and Gigabit Ethernet comprising the usual limited wired connectivity of Apple’s products. The wireless side is well catered for with Bluetooth 2.1+EDR and WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n. An integrated slot loading DVD writer is standard.

The plastic ‘unibody’ chassis retains the familiar multi-touch trackpad, iSight webcam, stereo speakers, and chiclet keyboard. The screen, which has often been a criticism when compared to the MacBook Pros, appears to be unchanged with a 13” LED-backlit LCD panel with a resolution of 1280x800. We’ll have to see if there have been any improvements on this side when we get our hands on one.

The Apple MacBook is available direct from Apple for $999—or $899 for those who qualify for student pricing. This compares to $1199 (or $1099 for students) for the basic 13” MacBook Pro. With no fundamental specification difference between the two machines aside from an extra 2GB of RAM (something you can easily upgrade, though the MacBook ships with 2x1GB SO-DIMMs so you'll have to remove your current RAM), it comes down to how much you value an aluminum chassis, SD card reader, Firewire port, and a backlit keyboard? If the answer is less than $200, then the updated MacBook looks very tempting.

As usual, if you are willing to go without the Mac OS X operating system, there are plenty of cheaper alternatives available in the PC market that are worth considering.

Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • B3an - Thursday, May 20, 2010 - link

    "But I don't see the Asus laptop being much of a better buy. Just a different buy."

    Why? The Asus U30Jc is CLEARLY a superior buy. Not only is it a little cheaper, but it has better specs, and atleast half of it is aluminium, not plastic. I think the warranty is also longer.

    So no contest.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, May 20, 2010 - link

    Mostly superior... the 320M chipset should give the 310M a good run for the money. I'm interested in seeing Win7 benchmarks of the new MB just for the IGP. :-)
  • fog - Friday, May 21, 2010 - link

    "But I don't see the Asus laptop being much of a better buy. Just a different buy."

    Why? The Asus U30Jc is CLEARLY a superior buy. Not only is it a little cheaper, but it has better specs, and atleast half of it is aluminium, not plastic. I think the warranty is also longer.

    So no contest.
    No it's NOT "CLEARLY" a superior buy. Just the fact that you are stating so is just funny and a bit dumb. You are more or less saying: "It haz more gigahertzz, it'z better". But how does reality look? Is it only CPU and GPU speed that matters? No, well all know it's not.

    The MacBook unquestionably has a better touchpad, it has an "unbreakable" power connector (and yeah that matters, I have a laptop right next to me with a broken connector), even though design is a subjetive oppinion, I'm sure the Macbook wins.

    All this stuff that you measure in how nice they feel or how nice they look, making your overall experience better, how do you put a value on them?
  • fog - Friday, May 21, 2010 - link

    Woops, I forgot to remove your post in mine, so it's quoted.
  • B3an - Sunday, May 23, 2010 - link

    Cant you read... You conveniently left out the longer warranty and aluminium on the Asus, i didn't just say it has faster components. It also has a larger HDD and twice as much RAM, all for less money. All of this add ups to quite a bit more performance. The only thing faster in the Macbook, the 320m, is wasted as who would buy a Mac to game on?
    So again... no contest.

    Although i doubt any of this will ever get through to you, we all know apple users dont care about value for money. As long as it has an apple logo on it, thats all that matters.
  • solipsism - Monday, May 24, 2010 - link

    "Most of the extra size on the ASUS comes from a battery "

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like your saying that the ASUS, with less usable battery time, allows for space for a dGPU by making the case ~25% thicker to accommodate a larger battery without adding to the footprint size of the battery.

    From the stats you provided, it sounds like Apple CAN'T add a dGPU unless they made the internal volume of the case larger. If this incorrect, please post images of where on the MoBo the GPU could be slid into place without affecting the battery size or removing the ODD.
  • Foggg - Thursday, May 20, 2010 - link

    Close to 10 hours: Sony Z with the 9 cell. The SSD helps.
  • jleach1 - Friday, May 21, 2010 - link

    Maybe you need to learn how to read. He simply stated that the technology was 4 years old. What he didn't state, however, was that there were less laptops shipping with that 4 year old technology than the newer technology, like you implied. He was making the point that there's nothing spectacular about the specs. And if you weren't trolling around, and feeling so hopelessly insecure (might i add....defensive?), than you would've received exactly the message he was sending.

    If you're going to use "facts", and "logic", you better make sure you're replying to something that was actually said. For the only thing that you accomplished here was to make yourself look like one of Steve Job's groupies.
  • jleach1 - Friday, May 21, 2010 - link

    One point i'd like to make about your actual "statement"...although i'm not sure if it's a statement statement, or a fashion statement....

    People don't buy a core 2 duo machine for the performance...they buy it for the price...i imagine most are under 700 dollars....however, apple has their core 2 duo machine priced @ 1200 dollars....seem logical? And if apple wanted to implement an i3 into the machine, it would've had no trouble. In cupertino, it only takes willpower to make something happen.

    However, the 15 inch is lookin pretty nice, eh? Dontcha think? Doesn't everyone think?

    They left the shi%^y core 2 duo in the 13 inch to influence people to buy the 15 inch. The refresh for the 15 inch and 17 inch was pretty dramatic....right? The refresh for the 13 inch...underwhelming compared to the other machines, right? "Wow, the only way i can take full advantage of the refresh is if i buy the 1800 dollar machine instead of the 1200 dollar machine...what a coincidence? And since it runs really hot...ill have to either have balls of steel, or buy a laptop stand...and since it has a funky displayport, ill just have to buy one of those apple adapters....and since it's unibody, ill just have to take it on in to the apple store to have the battery replaced when it's time to do so (which they've convienently made last enough cycles to live just past your warranty expiration date)....and since the screen is so glossy, ill just have to get the matte screen."

    gimme a break. Apple does everything for the money. There isn't one thing that apple doesn't know well-in-advance it's doing.
  • T2k - Thursday, May 20, 2010 - link

    The *ONLY* interesting update for me is the backlit keyboard - it's helpful in bed.
    Firewire might sound important but it only matters if it's your only/primary machine, otherwise every desktop has FW port for capturing your (H)DV footage (external drives are pretty much all USB now.)

    That being said the entire Macbook-family is WAAAAY OVERPRICED and this is something Apple will never admit but it's the reason why iPad might eat into their future MB(P) upgrades - until the buyer remorse sets in, of course, the moment when iPad won't show any Flash website unlike the dead Macbook it replaced...

    Interestingly the complete flop Macbook Air could stage a return, provided Apple will price it down significantly, around $1k - that would make it really competitive in the CULV market.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now