Fri, 24 Oct 2008 MacBook 2.0GHz review
Apple's latest laptop sports an overhauled 'unibody' design and new component features
- Manufacturer: Apple
- Pros: Sleek new design; greatly improved graphics power; Multi-Touch glass trackpad; bright LED display.
- Cons: Entry price higher than before; no FireWire port; battery life shorter than previous MacBook model; no video adapters or Apple Remote in the box.
- Min specs: Height: 2.41cm, width 32.5cm, depth 22.7cm; weight 2.04kg; 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor with 3MB of L2 cache; NVIDIA GeForce 9400m; 2GB DDR3 SDRAM; 13.3in LED backlit glossy display; MagSafe power port; Gigabit ethernet; two USB 2.0 ports; Mini Display Port; Audio line in; Audio line out; Kensington lock slot; built in iSight camera; Airport Extreme Wi-Fi wireless networking (802.11n specification); multi-touch trackpad
- Price: £949 (2.0GHz)
- Star rating:
Gaming on the new MacBook
Coupled with the power of the 9400M GPU, the result is much better graphics performance than even before on the MacBook. For example, in a Quake 4 test (running at 1,024 by 768 pixels), both new MacBook models managed about 39 frames per second, versus 6.1 frames per second on the previous 2.4GHz MacBook. And with the graphics-intensive Call of Duty 4, the new MacBooks pumped out a little more than 35 frames per second—the older high-end MacBook managed only 10. These numbers back up Apple’s assertions that game performance is up as much five times over previous systems. As a colleague pointed out, game performance on the two generations of MacBook is the difference between actually playing a game and watching a slideshow. Higher screen resolution tests were impressive as well—for complete game testing, see our benchmark.
Also, the inclusion of a GPU means better performance with GPU-accelerated applications (such as Adobe’s Photoshop CS4), and the ability to take advantage of the OpenCL technology built into the next version of OS X, named Snow Leopard.
The other benefit to the new graphics subsystem is its improved ability to connect to external displays. Coupled with the new Mini DisplayPort (used on new MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air models), the MacBook can now drive a 30-inch external display at 2,560 by 1,600 pixels (the previous model could only handle 1,920 by 1,200 pixels, meaning no bigger than 24 inches) for mirroring your MacBook’s built-in display or extending its desktop. And it works with Apple’s new 24-inch LED Cinema Display as well.
Apple doesn’t include any cables in the box for connecting to displays, however. Apple sells adapters to convert Mini DisplayPort to VGA or DVI for £20 each, or to dual-link DVI for £69 (although Apple lists its availability at four to five weeks away)—necessary for connecting the MacBook to a 30-inch display (you won’t find an Apple Remote included either).
Next: Ports and the lack of FireWire on the MacBook