Apple MacBook Review: Part 1

Motherboard And CPU

There’s not much to say about the Intel Core 2 Duo other than the fact that the switch to Intel was the best move Apple ever made. The combination of Intel’s Haifa design team and international manufacturing prowess has helped produce some of the best CPUs in the history of computing. The Penryn core found in the Core 2 Duo is made possible with the use of 45nm manufacturing technology and the use of hafnium rather than silicon. While Dell allows entry-level laptops to ship with Pentium Dual Core CPUs or older generation Merom-based Core 2 Duo processors, Apple sticks with the Penryn architecture for their entire product line, relying on the 3MB L2 cache models for the MacBook and giving the option of 6MB L2 for the MacBook Pro.

Our entry-level MacBook features an Intel Core 2 Duo P7350 running at 2GHz.

GeForce 9400M

The motherboard is considerably more exciting as it is the first implementation of Nvidia’s GeForce 9400M G, which integrates the GeForce 9400M and MCP71 chipset into a single package. Like any modern chipset, the GeForce 9400M has a full complement of support for SATA 3 Gb/s, Gigabit Ethernet, and dual-channel DDR-3 support.

Power consumption of the GeForce 9400M line is on par with Intel’s Centrino 2 architecture at idle, an impressive feat in itself given Intel’s renowned expertise in chipset design. Under heavy load, the GeForce 9400M actually consumes less power than the Intel G45 chipset and from a pure chipset perspective, the GeForce 9400M is a solid choice over the Intel design.

The real magic happens with the graphics. While gaming enthusiasts will still want to invest in the faster GPU than what the MacBook Pro includes, the GeForce 9400M is a veritable GPU, adding considerable benefits to the system. From a pure gaming standpoint, the GPU is about half the performance of the GeForce 9600 GT. In practice, traditional GPU-intensive games such as Call of Duty 4 will run at ~30 frames per second at resolutions of 1024x768 at high quality settings. With the exception of games such as Crysis, it appears that the 9400M is capable of running most modern games at medium or high image quality settings at 30 fps or greater, making it perfectly suitable for casual gaming. For more information on the performance of Nvidia's desktop GeForce 9300 chipset, check out that review

Importantly, the GeForce 9400M has the same quality capabilities as its faster discrete counterparts. It’s just slower. That means that the GeForce 9400M is perfectly suited for the GPU accelerated capabilities of Adobe Photoshop CS4, including anti-aliased text, smooth zoom, rotation, and brush resizing. The integrated Intel X4500, in contrast, lacks all of the OpenGL features required for the full complement of GPU accelerated features in Adobe Photoshop CS4, such as rotation. In the Windows environment, GPU-accelerated H.264 encoding for the iPhone target resolution is about 50% faster than a quad-core CPU.

The GeForce 9400M also features Nvidia’s third-generation PureVideo technology. This means full HD Codec offload support for H.264, VC-1, and MPEG-2 including support for Blu-ray’s Picture-in-Picture capabilities as well as Nvidia's excellent image quality and advanced cadence detection and superb region-based deinterlacing.

When Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard is released, we anticipate seeing more Mac applications taking advantage of the computing-on-GPU capabilities.

  • 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).