Apple MacBook Review: Part 1

Hardware Conclusion

The MacBook offers an excellent design for the money.  The unibody construction is second to none, and Apple has done its homework with component selection, choosing best-of-breed technologies such as the Nvidia GeForce 9400M. While the lack of FireWire is disappointing for those who already own external HDDs with IEEE-1394 connections, or own low-latency FireWire external audio boxes for multitrack audio recording, we would rather have seen eSATA as the option for high-speed external storage. Nonetheless, the MacBook offers a robust notebook in Apple's entry-level product category.

It’s worth comparing the MacBook against the Dell Inspiron 13 and Dell XPS M1330.

Dell Inspiron 13

  • Core 2 Duo 2.1GHz with 3MB L2 cache (+$179)
  • 13.3” LCD with 2MP camera (+$29)
  • GeForce 8400M GS 128MB (+100)
  • 2 GB RAM (+$0 free promo)
  • 802.11n (+$25)
  • Bluetooth (+$20)
  • 56W-Hr battery (+$30)


The Dell is 0.1 GHz faster, has FireWire and ExpressCard 54, and is $275 cheaper than the MacBook. The MacBook adds the LED backlit screen, the aluminum unibody chassis, a faster GPU (44.8 GFLOPS vs. 54 GFLOPS), the multitouch trackpad, a thinner 0.95” thickness versus 1.5”, a weight savings of 0.4 lbs, support for DVI and DisplayPort, Gigabit Ethernet, digital S/PDIF audio in/out, and of course, the Mac OS X operating system.

Dell XPS M1330

  • Core 2 Duo 2.1GHz with 3MB L2 cache
  • LED backlit display (+$125)
  • 4 GB RAM
  • GeForce 8400M GS (+$100)
  • Bluetooth (+$20)

$1,244 system (after $400 instant savings).

The Dell is 0.1 GHz faster, has FireWire and ExpressCard 54, an 8-in-1 card reader, is 3.97 lbs and is $55 cheaper than the MacBook. The MacBook adds the unibody chassis, the faster GPU, the multitouch trackpad, a thinner 0.95” thickness versus 1.33”, Gigabit Ethernet, and of course, the Mac OS X operating system.

Ed.: Keep your eyes peeled for Part 2 of Alan's MacBook review, which sees Tom's Hardware test and compare the first Hacked Mac on a Mac against the OEM software installation.

  • mrubermonkey
    My spider sense is telling me that Tom's is desperate to bring in more readers with the release of this article, which is bound to conger up the same epic comment wars regarding Mac vs. PC of Mac articles past.
  • mrubermonkey
  • curnel_D
    Yawn. Basically, you were just explaining a normal notebook that costs more than it should. It's slightly thinner by the standards in it's class but is 0.38" really a big deal? (No.) The famed apple screens can be outperformed and sometimes for cheaper if you shop around, upgradability is shaky at it's very best, and it is generally more expensive than everything in it's class.
    Then of course, you list the Mac OS X as an improvement over the PC's. That's where almost every single person will find error in your article. It is nothing more than a watered down version of more powerful unix/linux OS's. Anyone who has work to do, wont use this. Yawn.
  • ravenware
    I had three options, all of which would require considerable amounts of time. One was to reformat the HDD and start with a fresh install of Windows Vista. It’d be tried and true, but it was still going to take a lot of time to redo the whole thing. I could switch entirely to Linux. I had already switched from IRIX to Linux several years ago, so I was already comfortable managing and troubleshooting Linux systems. Unfortunately, I still needed a system capable of running the Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office. Open source alternatives to Adobe Creative Suite didn’t have the same quality or capabilities that I needed, while OpenOffice lacked the same multi-core computation capabilities that Excel offers for some of my more complex spreadsheets. The third option was to try switching to a Mac.

    When Core i7 desktop processors were available in greater quantities, I’d rebuild my Windows PC then.

    I was too careful, too savvy, and too poor to switch to a Mac.

    This seems rather illogical. Reformatting the drive wouldn't cost anything but time and if your too poor then why spend 1300+ on a new computer? You would also still spend time and possibly more money on installing your apps.
    You also spent time and money on upgrade options.

    Who is "We"? We is used often in the article, I thought this article was one mans account/review on switching over to a mac.

    I would like to know more about what you actually do for a living and what you really use your computers for too.

    I and the majority of the Toms hardware readers are diehard windows users too and I can not afford to pick up a $1300 laptop to see if I like it or not. So I am very interested to see how this unfolds.
  • ravenware
    Oh yeah, why would the need to reformat your computer lead to building a new core i7 machine?
  • one-shot
    ..The scent of Mac-ness and the sense of power that comes with it. Maybe spending twice as much isn't such a bad idea after all.............
  • marraco

    I found lots of spam "comming" from my computer. Even when I had run Linux -Live CD only- for a month.

    Headers are easy to fake, so, are a common spam trick, to hide real spam origin.

    By the way, there are some easy fix you could had used:

    1- Use virtual machines to access Internet.
    2- Use utilities as Norton Ghost for fast "formatting". In minutes your computer restore a partition image ready to use with all your software installed.

    I don't want to hurt your feelings, but it looks like you spent an enormous effort to justify pay for an overpriced Mac OS (overpriced because the obsolete hardware you had buy does not wort a penny, so you are paying for the OS only).
  • Pei-chen
    Reads like crap only Anand himself would have written. You went Mac because someone better (a hacker, virus writer, whoever) defeated you? That's like saying you went gay because someone get the girl you're after.

    BTW, where are the reviews of web based Java game we were promised? You got a Mac so you're not reviewing SC2 that's for sure.
  • chaosgs
    Why would anyone "switch" to a mac, when pc will do everything you need for half the price. Everything you mentioned in this article, all pc's (vista pc's) in the world can do at half the price.

    As for security, i don't need security on my computer, i NEVER get any viruses, and if i did Norton or avg would take care of all that.

    Mac aint got shit on pc.
  • arkadi
    It more like an opinion (commercial stile) not a review. It a good article with all the specs and the pictures, but it far from being objective. And the suggestions that was made here...If you writing a review, you can't emphasize the superiority of your product on expanse of other (Microsoft in this case).