2007 13" MacBook Reviews and Information



Update May 15, 2007 - Apple updated their 13" MacBooks today with slightly faster processors, larger hard drives, 1GB of RAM in the base model, and 802.11n wireless capability. No other changes were made to the lineup. See the model chart below for the current lineup.

Apple updated the 13" MacBook in November 2006 with Intel Core 2 Duo processors. The new 13" MacBooks sport Core 2 Duo processors ranging from 1.83GHz to 2.0GHz, up to 1GB of standard RAM, 60-120GB hard drives, and 6x dual-layer SuperDrives with 2.0GHz models. Apple claims that the new models are up to 25% faster than previous editions. The MacBook replaced the long-standing 12-inch PowerBook G4 and iBook G4. The 13-inch MacBook Pro comes in three different configurations; a 1.83GHz model for $1099, a 2.0GHz model for $1299, and a Black 2.0GHz MacBook for $1499. Each MacBook uses an Intel Core 2 Duo processor which Apple claims is more than fives times faster than iBook G4s. A widescreen 13.3" 1280x800 display has 30% more viewing area than the 12" iBook and PowerBook. The MacBook includes an iSight camera, Front Row and Apple Remote, MagSafe Port, and iLife '06.


13" MacBook Model Chart:

13" 2.2GHz
Black

13.3-inch display
1280 x 800 resolution
2.2GHz Core 2 Duo
1GB RAM
160GB 5400-rpm HD
Intel GMA X3100 graphics
processor
144MB DDR2 VRAM
8x SuperDrive
Gigabit Ethernet
FireWire 400
Digital/analog audio
mini DVI video out


sku MB8063LL/B

$1499

13" 2.2GHz
White

13.3-inch display
1280 x 800 resolution
2.2GHz Core 2 Duo
1GB RAM
120GB 5400-rpm HD
Intel GMA X3100 graphics
processor
144MB DDR2 VRAM
8x SuperDrive
Gigabit Ethernet
FireWire 400
Digital/analog audio
mini DVI video out


sku MB8062LL/B

$1299

13" 2.0GHz
White

13.3-inch display
1280 x 800 resolution
2.0GHz Core 2 Duo
1GB RAM
80GB 5400-rpm HD
Intel GMA X3100 graphics
processor
144MB DDR2 VRAM
Combo drive
Gigabit Ethernet
FireWire 400
Digital/analog audio
mini DVI video out


sku MB8061LL/B

$1099



MacBook Core 2 Duo

by Charles W. Moore


The current Apple MacBook notebook computers were released on November 8, 2006 (see the May 2007 changes outlined above) - featuring Intel Core 2 Duo processors offering performance up to 25 percent faster than the previous Core Duo based MacBooks. With prices starting at $1,099, the MacBook lineup includes three models: a base white 1.83 GHz unit with a Combo drive, and two 2.0 GHz models: one in white and a black 2.0 GHz MacBook model topping the line. If you want a black Apple notebook, the MacBook is your only option.

The "revision B" MacBooks offer a significant value enhancement over the original models introduced in May, '06 - that is the two top models have. The base, $1,099 machine gets a 1.83 GHz Core 2 Duo with 2 MB of L2 cache, but the rest of its (still impressive for the price) specification pretty much remains the same as before - 512 megabytes of RAM, 60 gigabyte hard drive, Combo optical drive, and so forth.

The middle, $1,299 MacBook, on the other hand, has a 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo processor with twice the amount (4 MB) of level 2 cache as the base MacBook, a gigabyte of RAM, an 80 gigabyte hard drive, and a 6x dual-layer SuperDrive, thus putting more distance between itself and the entry-level model. Well worth the extra $200 I think. If you're smitten with the black livery of the top-end MacBook, it will still cost you another extra 200 dollars for the Darth Vader look, but you do get a 120 gigabyte hard drive as well. In my books, so to speak, the middle MacBook is definitely the value-leader.

Apple's "consumer" notebook is actually the newest hardware platform in the Macintosh lineup, and indeed the only entirely fresh design and form factor of the MacIntel Era so far.

This is partly making a virtue of necessity; the preceding dual USB iBook was conversely the oldest platform in the lineup, in production for just over five years, and overdue for replacement even had the transition to Intel CPUs not been a factor.

The iBook was a great computer, and happily, the MacBook picks up nicely where it left off, with a thoroughly modern and amazingly powerful portable computer that transcends its entry-level price and market slot in many aspects. As with the iBook/PowerBook dichotomy in Apple's PPC laptops, the MacBook isn't quite a MacBook Pro, but it comes pretty close in a lot of important respects, and in a few outshines its more expensive stablemate, thanks, one presumes to its newer design.

The MacBook offers only one display option - a 1280 x 800 glossy surface widescreen (MacBook Pros are available with either matte or glossy displays). Inside there are AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) connectivity support, built-in 10/100/1000 BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet, two USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire 400 port, combination analog and optical digital audio input and output ports, and a mini-DVI video output to connect up to a 23-inch Apple Cinema HD Display. There are no hardware expansion options (ie: like the MacBook Pro's ExpressCard 34 slot), and no internal modem. If you're on dialup, you'll have to pop another 50 bucks for Apple's USB modem dongle. The MacBook includes an a built-in iSight video camera and Apple's MagSafe Power Adapter that magnetically connects the power cord to the MacBook and safely disconnects under strain, preventing the notebook from falling off its work surface.

The MacBook comes with iLife 06 featuring iPhoto, iMovie HD, iDVD, GarageBand and iWeb, as well as the latest Mac OS X version.

A big MacBook improvement over the iBook and indeed the erstwhile 12" PowerBook is that there are two RAM expansion slots easily accessible through the battery bay on the bottom of the computer.

The MacBook Pro uses dual-channel memory as well, so also benefits from paired RAM modules, but it's not nearly as critical for the MacBook Pro. The reason? Because instead of a conventional graphics processor unit (GPU) with its own dedicated video RAM, the MacBook uses Intel's integrated GMA 950 Graphics chipset, which was introduced to the Mac platform in the Intel Mac mini in January, '06. The downside of this is that the GMA-950 expropriates 64 MB of system memory for its graphics buffer plus 16 MB more for general startup (total 80), which means 80 MB less for running programs and tasks, which is why some folks call it "vampire video." Not the most elegant solution. In many instances, you may not notice, especially if you load the MacBook up with a decent amount of RAM (at least 1 GB). however, if you want to run Apple's Final Cut Studio, you're out of luck with a MacBook (see http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=303782).

On the other hand, the MacBook incorporates one whopping big improvement that could tip the scales back in its favor for some users: easy access to the hard drive, which we haven't seen in Apple laptops since the 2000 Pismo PowerBook. Indeed, getting access to the hard drive in all iBooks could be fairly described as nightmarish, and G4 PowerBooks and MacBook Pros are only a slightly better prospect. By contrast, in the MacBook, the hard drive lives behind a door beside the RAM slots in the battery bay, making it the easiest to access and change in any Apple laptop ever. Bravo!

The operative decision between a MacBook and a MacBook Pro is whether the latter's superior graphics support, bigger display with higher resolution and matte option, ExpressCard port, larger hard drive, backlit keyboardand FireWire 800 represent good usable value for the extra capital outlay, or whether a smaller, less-costly MacBook is all you really need.

MacBook at a glance:

1.83 GHz or 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor
2 MB - 4MB L2 Cache
667MHz Frontside Bus
512MB - 1 GB memory expandable up to Up to 2GB
80GB or 120 GB Serial ATA hard drive (200 GB optional)
Combo drive (DVD-ROM/CD-RW) or 6x Double-layer SuperDrive (DVD+R DL/DVDRW/CD-RW)
Built-in AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth 2.0
Apple Remote with Front Row
Intel GMA 950 graphics processor
DVI connector, VGA adapter
Built-in Gigabit Ethernet
Analog and digital audio
Expansion via USB and FireWire
iLife 06, Mac OS X Tiger
60W MagSafe Power Adapter, AC wall plug, and power cord
Lithium-polymer battery

For more information, visit http://www.apple.com/macbook