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.