What *concrete* benefits does the new 13in MacBook offer over the white $999 model?
November 3, 2008 12:56 PM   Subscribe

What concrete benefits does the new 13in MacBook offer over the white $999 model?
posted by j0hnpaul to Computers & Internet (36 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
isn't it supposed to be crazy faster and with a much better screen?
posted by matteo at 12:59 PM on November 3, 2008


Here's a link to the comparison page on Apple.com. Scroll down, it lists all the hardware specs for both.
posted by OccamsRazor at 1:01 PM on November 3, 2008


I should say, scroll down and click "Compare". It doesn't automatically show up in the link I gave.
posted by OccamsRazor at 1:03 PM on November 3, 2008


The case, which is a truly innovative piece of engineering- the entire bottom part is one piece of aluminum, with no seams to come apart. I love my white Macbook, but the coverplate has cracked around the wristrest on two machines for me (twice on one of them) after not much time. I imagine the aluminum will be much more easy to clean and stay shiny longer than white plastic.
posted by mkultra at 1:05 PM on November 3, 2008


Yeah. Much faster. I will go out on a limb and predict the speed difference will be even starker when OS X 10.6 is released, as it will supposedly be smarter about offloading tasks to the GPU (which the old Macbook lacks entirely).

Easier to replace the hard drive.

This is subjective, but I think the keyboard has a better feel thanks to the more rigid chassis.

I believe it can drive a 30" screen, though you need to deal with the whole displayport issue.

The screen might be a step backwards with the glossy finish, though again, that's subjective.
posted by adamrice at 1:08 PM on November 3, 2008


Speed. The new graphics chip has a big impact on some things, a smaller impact on others.

Macworld's review has benchmarks.

Interestingly, some things are a bit faster, but gaming speed is incredibly faster. The Quake 4 score goes from an unplyable 7.6 frames per second at high res on the white, to about 39 frames per second on the aluminum.

The screen is brighter, yet with lower power consumption.

Also, I consider the new trackpad to be a tangible benefit. Gesturing support should make tasks more convenient and faster.

And, the 2.4 Ghz model has a backlit keyboard, unavailable on the white one.

(Disclosure: I have a perfectly functioning white MacBook, which I am very happy with. But I am giving it to my daughter and getting a new aluminum 2.0.)
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 1:13 PM on November 3, 2008


(Do note that the white model has firewire, which the aluminum 13 inch models lack.)
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 1:14 PM on November 3, 2008


The now old white & black macbooks are plastic. The plastic edge around the front cracks and falls off, sometimes creating sharp edges. The optical drive slot gets smushed down very easily which then prevents you from putting a cd/dvd in the drive. The repair for that is a new bottom case and costs about $150 at most apple repair shops. The machines are very flimsy and I don't believe they will last very long if you carry it around with you frequently. If it just sits on your desk 90% of the time then they're fine machines.

The new macbooks are aluminum and feel nice & sturdy. I expect them to last a very long time and would recommend you buy a new one if you really do carry it with you most of the time. Only time will tell how sturdy they really are as well as if they will suffer from any any widespread issues. I have very high hopes for the new aluminum macbooks.
posted by J-Garr at 1:16 PM on November 3, 2008


From what I hear, the new macbooks will be incredibly expensive to repair due to the one piece aluminum case. Any else hear of this?
posted by scarello at 1:29 PM on November 3, 2008


To me the biggest advantage is that the aluminum body. if you travel or use your laptop much the aluminum is going to be something you don't have to think about where as the plastic will be something you have to think about protecting.
posted by humanawho at 1:43 PM on November 3, 2008


The Intel integrated graphics on the old MB was in, a word, crappy. Not a big deal for web surfing but forget about playing any modern games. The NVIDIA integrated graphics is bleeding edge and reasonably decent.

The new billeted manufacturing process makes this machine feel as solid as a brick ~ house when you pick it up.

The CPU & memory speed increase is moderate but the option to add 2GB for $150 is not a bad deal (2 x 2GB costs at least $150 from newegg right now). Taking the store upgrade is costing you how much 2 sticks of 1GB RAM is worth to you (which you would have if you did the upgrade yourself), less the hassle of having to install the memory yourself.

The keyboard is allegedly much better. People tend to like the Macbook Air keyboard, and I really don't like the old MB keyboard so I think this is valid.

This may not be "concrete" but whenever I whip my white Macbook out in public I feel like a girl.

LED backlight display should give better performance over its life.

All in all the new MB is nearly the perfect machine. Only quibble is the lack of firewire I guess.
posted by troy at 1:56 PM on November 3, 2008


I have a iBook G4. It has not done anything near resembling "cracking around the front and falling off". I just bought the black MacBook over the new MacBook for the following reasons:

1) firewire. I already own an external FW drive and just bought a new WD MyBook. Yes, the MyBook is quad, but transferring hundreds of photos or sound files over USB 2.0 is not something I ever want to have to do. I think Apple will rethink this later and didn't want to make the choice now.

2) I actually don't like the new form factor of the case. It felt too flimsy to me, believe it or not.

3) I REALLY don't like the new screen. while the old black MacBook is also glossy screen, it's not as glossy, and
4) doesn't have that border around the edge that is going to get all smudged up the first time I use it, and is going ot require constant vigilance to make it so.

5) aesthetically looking at the black MacBook is easier on my eyes than looking at the screen on the new one.

6) I didn't like the concept of the new touchpad.

7) I don't like buying first rev of anything Apple puts out.

8) I don't game, unless you count the occasional game of Bejeweled. The 2.4ghz Black MacBook was more than fast enough for my purposes. Unless you are a gamer, editing movies or photographs (in which case you would probably be buying the MB Pro anyway), I doubt the increased speed is really going to be appartent to you.

Don't let anyone convince you that the old MacBooks are falling apart. I did literally dozens of hours of research on this and not in one place did I ever read epic tales of MacBooks falling apart. I have travelled with my iBook constantly and the biggest problem I had was the little rubber feet getting lost. I was constantly begging them from the Genius Bars. I am not hard on electronics and am just now handing off a Ti Powerbook to my 70 year old mom for her email/downloading photos use. It's in fine shape, just too slow for what I need. I also have a 2nd gen iPod that is still my main iPod. Maybe if I threw my shit around and didn't take care of it I would have hunks of plastic falling off my electronics, but call me a Luddite, I like taking care of my stuff.

Apple would not be selling the low-end MB if it was constantly shedding pieces of plastic all over America.
posted by micawber at 1:57 PM on November 3, 2008


Easier to replace the hard drive.

actually it's very easy replacing the HD and memory of the white MBs.
posted by troy at 1:59 PM on November 3, 2008


Don't let anyone convince you that the old MacBooks are falling apart. I did literally dozens of hours of research on this and not in one place did I ever read epic tales of MacBooks falling apart.

I've owned two Macbooks (gave one to my sister after a year) and they got beat up and chipped with daily use. As did my PBG4 with 4 years of daily use.

And having picked up a new MB in the store I've gotta say they're MUCH more solid feeling than the old MB.
posted by troy at 2:02 PM on November 3, 2008


I've seen the plastic on a white MacBook break & flake off. I had it replaced under warrenty, but they new one did the same. I'm not sure about buying the first rev. I'd wait a couple months if possible.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:04 PM on November 3, 2008


Yeah, despite my "perfectly functioning white MacBook" comment above, it did indeed develop cracks at the edge of the keyboard bed after about a year. There are now 4 or 5 places where a thin strip of plastic has peeled entirely off. One spot is on the screen bezel area, and the others are along the edges around the keyboard. None of them are on the outer case itself. It seems like the plastic on the edge is very thin and the weight of resting your hands on it causes stress. No, it's not in any way "falling apart" and it doesn't seem to affect the integrity or functionality. But it's unsightly and unfortunate. Does it cause me to issue a "stay away" warning? No, but be aware that it could happen.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 2:07 PM on November 3, 2008


I am a girl and bought the white macbook. I don't game but I do other things such as design. The only things I have upgraded have been the RAM and may go with a faster hard drive but otherwise I could not justify the expenditure to the new macbooks. Also, I have a lot of stuff off of firewire drives and have done large USB 2.0 transfers and wish to avoid that like the plague.

Overall, I am happy with my white macbook. It is my favorite machine to drag to boring meetings and get other things done while other folks drone on.
posted by jadepearl at 2:07 PM on November 3, 2008


What concrete benefits does the new 13in MacBook offer over the white $999 model?

White:
2.1GHz processor
DDR2 RAM
CCFL-backlit display.
Intel GMA X3100 graphics
Firewire
4.5 hour claimed battery life
Plastic body
2.3kg
"Old"
$1,000

New:
2GHz or 2.4GHz processor
DDR3 RAM
LED-backlit display.
NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics
No firewire
5 hour claimed battery life
Aluminium/glass body
2.0kg
"New"
$1,300 or $1,500.
posted by Mike1024 at 2:18 PM on November 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


The new aluminum MacBook feels like a more solidly built computer. Not that the white MacBook feels cheap, but the new one is much more solid. In addition, the keyboard is much, much better, with more feedback. While playing around with one briefly in a store, I didn't notice the buttonless trackpad at all-- that is to say, the overall trackpad feel is just about the same as on the old MacBook and Pro.
posted by andrewraff at 2:19 PM on November 3, 2008


I own a first-gen core duo white Macbook, a 1 year old Macbook Pro and just handled the new Macbook and Macbook Pro a bunch while waiting for repairs on my MBP.

The Macbook is a huge step up in build quality, and as has been stated it's much closer to the Macbook Pro in terms of power and features. Definitely a baby Macbook Pro. The old Macbook is a nice machine, but the new one is waaaay more luxurious feeling. My white Macbook did suffer from some cracking of the plastic around the keyboard and discoloration and scratches...the new one won't.

FWIW, the new Macbook Pro didn't strike me as a huge improvement over the previous Macbook Pro. Sure, it's a little sleeker, but it doesn't feel radically more solid or speedy. OTOH, I don't do much that really needs the improved graphics...were I a gamer, I'm sure I'd be upgrading right now.
posted by paanta at 2:50 PM on November 3, 2008


Don't let anyone convince you that the old MacBooks are falling apart. I did literally dozens of hours of research on this and not in one place did I ever read epic tales of MacBooks falling apart.

Why on earth not if it is the truth! I can send you pictures of the hairline cracks all round the sides of my 1 and a half year old macbook. I've already had the keyboard/trackpad bit replaced last week (free of charge even though it's out of warranty which suggests to me that it is an acknowledged problem)

The battery casing is also warped. All this from very light duty use in my living room (It's just a portable device for round the house really). My friends laptop has similar problems.

The new macbook looks much sturdier. I'll be upgrading to it as soon as I can.
posted by twistedonion at 3:15 PM on November 3, 2008


Don't let anyone convince you that the old MacBooks are falling apart. I did literally dozens of hours of research on this and not in one place did I ever read epic tales of MacBooks falling apart. I have travelled with my iBook constantly and the biggest problem I had was the little rubber feet getting lost. I was constantly begging them from the Genius Bars. I am not hard on electronics and am just now handing off a Ti Powerbook to my 70 year old mom for her email/downloading photos use. It's in fine shape, just too slow for what I need. I also have a 2nd gen iPod that is still my main iPod. Maybe if I threw my shit around and didn't take care of it I would have hunks of plastic falling off my electronics, but call me a Luddite, I like taking care of my stuff.

Apple would not be selling the low-end MB if it was constantly shedding pieces of plastic all over America.
posted by micawber


Micawber has no idea what he/she is talking about. If you want proof Micawber please email me and I'll send you pictures of both my girlfriends macbook and mine, both falling apart, both with cracks, both with pieces missing. Neither every dropped. Or you could go here.

Honestly, ask me is useless if advice is as ignorant and wrong as yours. Please rethink giving advice without any truth to it.

Back to the topic, i would only buy an old macbook if you can't afford the new one or can't take the glossy screen, which I like. While time will tell, they SHOULD last much better than the plastic macbooks, which, while I love mine, certainly have not held up (which I think is one reason apple went a new route).
posted by justgary at 3:54 PM on November 3, 2008


This feedback has been great-- thanks!

A few thoughts:

1. I'm currently using the white Macbook, which I upgraded from an white iBook. The specs on the $999 Macbook are slightly better than my current model, but I think I know what to expect.

2. The talk of an upgraded case speaks to my condition. Sometimes when I pick up the white Macbook with one hand, I can feel it slightly bending, and that worries me a bit. I try to avoid doing that.

3. I've also replaced the hard drive in this thing, and it was no minor operation. The rubber strips that pad the side of the HD came unglued and crumpled into the machine, and I could no longer slide it in from the battery opening-- I had to take out all the screws and completely dismantle the case. I'm actually shocked that I was able to put it back together. But it works.

4. I also have cracks and peeled-off portions of the keyboard cover, and this accelerated after I dismantled the case.

Overall, though, the MacBook has performed very well for me.

Not having firewire is a bit troubling though, and I'm not sure if I'm ready to give it up. Since my HD failure, I've been backing up fanatically on an external drive and with Dropbox & Jungledisk. Using the Firewire drive is already somewhat long.

I'm also concerned about the glass display and trackpad. I travel a lot with my computer, often on bike for short distances. While aluminum would be a great upgrade over plastic, how does glass compare to the white MacBook's display?

Thanks again!
posted by j0hnpaul at 4:00 PM on November 3, 2008


I don't know where I read this at (and Google is failing me) but supposedly, the USB 2.0 on the Unibody MacBooks is faster than the USB 2.0 on the white MacBooks.

Like I said, I can't find the article that said this, but hopefully this will jog somebody's memory and they can.
posted by 47triple2 at 5:26 PM on November 3, 2008


I just helped my brother move his files from his ibook G4 to a new aluminum macbook.

My impressions of the new laptop:

It feels sturdy, and I was more impressed than I thought I'd be. It also feels small and very portable, I haven't held / carried a mac book air, but I was thinking, "this is wouldn't be so bad to lug around". I also liked the plastic the keys were made of.

You can't even tell there's no button on the track pad if you're accustomed to mac trackpads, my thumb just pressed down where it normally would, and if I wasn't told it was glass I don't know if I would think it was made of glass. I didn't try any multi touch gestures.

The screen is like a mirror when turned off, but it's fine when it's on. I worked on it for an hour or so w/ a window to my right and didn't think "the gloss of this screen sucks". The backlght is very bright and I think that helps.

Not having firewire should only be a problem if you have an firewire only camcorder. My brother's external drive enclosure was (like most I've seen) was both fw & usb, though we needed to use both usb ports to power the drive off the computer. (w/out the external drive's ac adaptor)

For the backups are you using something that's backups incrementally? That's what I do w/ Carbon Copy Cloner. I think Time Machine is also incremental, but I don't use that. You can boot from cloned usb drives (a fact I learned in an askme post)
posted by JulianDay at 7:55 PM on November 3, 2008


I don't know how they seem to be getting away with saying it's a one piece bottom. I've seen one in the store and it's still two pieces, just like the old macbook pros.

The difference is that the top and sides are one piece and the bottom is additional. In the old macbook pros, the bottom and sides were one piece and the top was additional.
posted by specialfriend at 9:09 PM on November 3, 2008


Not having firewire should only be a problem if you have an firewire only camcorder. My brother's external drive enclosure was (like most I've seen) was both fw & usb...

...unless you're doing any video editing beyond the really basic, in which case your footage should be in an external drive and you need the speed of firewire to work with it.
posted by Beardman at 9:14 PM on November 3, 2008


Your external backup drive is probably USB as well, which is roughly the same speed as Firewire (400). If it's a Firewire only drive, you can easily remove the physical drive from the enclosure and put into a new USB enclosure ($20-50) - you won't even have to reformat the drive or anything.
posted by kenliu at 9:50 PM on November 3, 2008


Forgot to mention that the new trackpad is fantastic. It feels huge compared to the old one, and you can even use it the same way (I just click with my thumb in the same spot where the button used to be).
posted by kenliu at 9:53 PM on November 3, 2008


Hmm... interesting. Not to leech on this question, but does anyone know if apple's improved the cooling in this model? If so, that would be a big deal -- mac laptops traditionally get way hot, and I imagine it might be easier with a thinner aluminum case to handle cooling.
posted by paultopia at 10:19 PM on November 3, 2008


> If it's a Firewire only drive, you can easily remove the physical drive from the enclosure and put into a new USB enclosure ($20-50) - you won't even have to reformat the drive or anything.

I do have a firewire only drive. I called my local Mac store, and they said the new case would be up to $40, and they would charge up to $80-$90 for parts & labor. Are there instructions available online to conduct this operation myself?

Thanks again!

> mac laptops traditionally get way hot, and I imagine it might be easier with a thinner aluminum case to handle cooling.

I don't know about the new MacBook, but my white MacBook stays cool much better than the old iBook.
posted by j0hnpaul at 9:08 AM on November 4, 2008


Beardman: ...unless you're doing any video editing beyond the really basic, in which case your footage should be in an external drive and you need the speed of firewire to work with it.

Apple's argument in this case is that you should buy a Macbook Pro.
posted by mkultra at 9:42 AM on November 4, 2008


>I do have a firewire only drive. I called my local Mac store, and they said the new case would be >up to $40, and they would charge up to $80-$90 for parts & labor. Are there instructions >available online to conduct this operation myself?

DO NOT pay them to do this. Installing a drive in an empty enclosure is usually a simple matter of two plugs and four screws. Any decent enclosure should come with an installation manual, but it's basically a no brainer.

You can get an empty enclosure like this one, crack open your old enclosure, pull out the old drive, and drop it in. The only catch is that some hard drives are SATA and others are IDE, and you have to figure out which is which.

Alternatively, you might want to just get a brand new external drive if your current one is a few years old. New external drives are super cheap. External drives are notoriously unreliable due to heat and handling issues, and it's not a bad idea to replace them every few years if you can.
posted by kenliu at 9:09 AM on November 5, 2008


mkultra: Apple's argument in this case is that you should buy a Macbook Pro.

I know, and it's killing me. I'm in the position of

(1) needing a very portable laptop right now (pref: new MacBook)
(2) badly wanting to be able to edit on it (pre: new MacBook Pro)
(3) not wanting to jump the gun on buying the Pro if Apple gives in to the protests and puts out a MacBook with firewire shortly.

...Not to hijack johnpaul's question, but what are the chances of the scenario in (3)?
posted by Beardman at 5:56 PM on November 5, 2008


...er, that is, an aluminum MacBook with firewire.
posted by Beardman at 5:57 PM on November 5, 2008


but what are the chances of the scenario in (3)?

"shortly" would be 4Q09 IMO.
posted by troy at 7:34 PM on November 5, 2008


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