Macbook, Core2, CoreDuo, 1GB, Refurb. Headache
February 27, 2007 10:08 AM   Subscribe

So, I want to buy a Macbook. A new Macbook 2GHz/1GB/SuperDrive/Core2 costs $1200 while the 1.83Ghz/1GB/SuperDrive/CoreDuo/REFURB will cost me $800. So, apart from differentiating engineering terms, and ofsetting the fact that the REFURB ALSO comes with a 1yr warranty, is the $800 not a better "bang for the buck" than a new macbook ? Are there any compelling reasons to get a new one or otherwise ? Thanks
posted by cusecase to Computers & Internet (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Core 2 Duos are faster than Core Duos. Core 2 Duos also ship with 802.11n wireless cards (i'm pretty sure). I think those two reasons, plus the fact the computer isn't a refurb, are worth the extra $400.
posted by chunking express at 10:14 AM on February 27, 2007

I would never, ever buy an Apple portable without getting the extended Applecare warranty. There were too many issues with too many generations of iBooks to consider risking it. So you might want to work that into the cost, too.
posted by bcwinters at 10:19 AM on February 27, 2007

One thing about the 802.11n is that the access points are around $150 right now. For most home users I doubt 802.11n will be important for the next couple years. If your employer is going to upgrade, then maybe it will be worth the money now. Otherwise... meh.
posted by sbutler at 10:20 AM on February 27, 2007

I've been happy with the Apple refurbs I've bought, and the warranty is identical to those for new Apple products. It's been argued that refurbs are also a better deal in the sense that they're personally vetted by Applecare technicians rather than boxed straight off the assembly line. I don't put a lot of credence in that these days, although it was definitely true in the era of CRT monitors.

Apple's refurbs are a great deal -- about the only downside is the only options are whatever Apple has in stock at the time, which is not necessarily the model you want.

chunking express is spot-on about the difference in processors, but it looks to me like you're confusing a couple of the stock items. The 2ghz Core 2 Macbook is $899, not $800 -- you're underestimating by a hundred dollars. The 1.8ghz Core 2 Duo Macbook is $949.
posted by ardgedee at 10:20 AM on February 27, 2007

You might want to examine the MacBook/MacBook Pro Reliability reliability of the machines you are considering.
posted by jet_silver at 10:34 AM on February 27, 2007

I've always been very pleased with Apple refurb stuff - never noticed a difference from brand new.
posted by pocams at 11:08 AM on February 27, 2007

Nth that apple refurb machines (iBook 12") in my case, was as good as a new machine.
posted by zpousman at 11:32 AM on February 27, 2007

Response by poster: thanks for the replies.
I realize the difference in processor speed, and some of the other specs, I guess I was trying to find out if anyone having used both laptops found the newer models "better" than the earlier core duos. And ardgedee, you are right, I meant $899 -- my point being, after tax and all, I could get a core2duo for the same price as a core duo + applecare + change. In that situation, is there an obvious "performance" advantage anyone has noticed (not just assumed because of a faster core2duo processor) which again, from reviews does not outperform its predecessor by all that much.
posted by cusecase at 11:39 AM on February 27, 2007

2nd bcwinters on the warranty. three years, $350 or so. good deal. they do break.
posted by FauxScot at 11:41 AM on February 27, 2007

Definitely read the Macintouch survey linked above. Extended warranty and crossed fingers are a requirement with recent Apple laptops...

5/5 of the people I know who bought the first MacBook iteration had to return them for repair confirming the ancient wisdom that one should never, ever take v1 of _anything_ from Jobs.
posted by zemblamatic at 11:50 AM on February 27, 2007

Core 2 also generates less heat, uses less power -> longer battery life.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:58 AM on February 27, 2007

Check out sites like and others for 'left over' previous generation Apple computers. I bought a MacBook Pro 17" 2.16 GHz with Apple Care for a little over 1900 bucks, shipped. Yeah, it's the previous generation, but it also cost me 1000 bucks less and it's brand new. You'll always always be one step behind the technology curve. The main difference between the Core Duo and Core 2 Duo, is that the Core 2 Duo is 64-bit. That will have a positive impact on future applications. But OS X is 32-bit and 64-bit compliant. Look around for deals, take the money you save, and put it in your 'next computer' savings account.
posted by bizack at 12:33 PM on February 27, 2007

I just got a refurb iMac (Core2Duo), and I couldn't be happier with it. It was in absolutely perfect condition.
posted by bshort at 12:49 PM on February 27, 2007

Only thing I'd like to add is that if you're figuring that you would get the AppleCare on the refurb unit, you should be factoring that into the cost of the new one, too.

There's no real difference in reliability between refurbished units and new ones, and I've bought my last 4 Apple computers (which puts me back to my 200MHz Performa) as refurbs.

For the record I think you should probably consider getting AppleCare on either machine, but my point is just that there's no difference from one to the other. Either you want AppleCare, or you don't; there's no more or less reason to get it on the refurbished one than there is on the new.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:49 PM on February 27, 2007

Response by poster: A lot of good replies coming in; specifically
Core 2 Duo means
-- 802.11n ready (that`ll be handy later)
-- 64bit compliant
-- Less heat, less power, longer battery life (big plus)

Still wondering if these are reasons enough to offset the $300 or so difference between new and refurb core duos. (FWIW, I think of Mac refurbs practically as new machines as far as quality, reliability and warranty goes). I am for applecare; but just mind end up getting it later (after 10 months or so).

Thanks for all your respsonses, please feel free to chime in with anything else there may be to add

PS: I hate the way product life cycles work. Why is it that macs (espescially) have a "next greatest" release schedule imminent within weeks of "this greatest" released in the market. makes it so much more harder to buy stuff (oh, release leopard yesterday or wait till december)
posted by cusecase at 2:28 PM on February 27, 2007

I don't think a C2D chip is necessary for 802.11n compliance; it's just that the older Macbooks don't have 802.11n cards. As for the advantages of C2Ds over the original Core Duos, the laptop versions aren't nearly as different as, say, the Conroe C2Ds are over the desktop Pentium Ds. Most of the initial benchmarks showed the Merom Core 2 Duos as being 15-20% faster than the equivalent clock-speed Core Duos—sizable, yes, but not breathtaking.

About battery life and heat: the Merom C2Ds have essentially the same heat profile as the old Core Duos and any gains in battery life have been minimal thus far. We're talking minutes here, not an extra half hour.

If it were me, and I didn't have a problem with buying refurbs (generally I do), I'd buy the refurb Macbook in a heartbeat. The difference in processor speed and network card aren't worth $400 to me. (If the numbers ardgedee quoted are correct, as in Refurb = $899 and New = $949, then obviously I'd choose differently.)
posted by chrominance at 3:04 PM on February 27, 2007

You're not going to see a huge difference (if any) with the Core 2 duo and the Core duo.

I have a Core Duo MBP 1.83 and a Core 2 Duo MBP 2.16. In everyday usage, they are essentially the same (speed AND battery life).

For $400 (50%) more, its not worth it to get the new machine.
posted by mphuie at 5:06 PM on February 27, 2007

I'd agree that it's not worth the extra $400 for the new machine. I'd also say that I'd pluck down some more money for either machine for grab another Gig of RAM. That's especially true if you want to run Parallels.
posted by SciGuy at 6:08 PM on February 27, 2007

Core 2 Duos are faster than Core Duos. Core 2 Duos also ship with 802.11n wireless cards (i'm pretty sure). I think those two reasons, plus the fact the computer isn't a refurb, are worth the extra $400.

The speed improvement (plus battery life etc) are minor. 400 hundred bucks is a lot of money. You're getting close to the half way price of another macbook.

No way is it worth 400 bucks unless you simply want to have something new (and that always costs).
posted by justgary at 6:36 PM on February 27, 2007

People get tied up with the latest and greatest wireless speed, but 99% of the time they are using wireless to connect to the internet. What's your net connection bandwidth? Most cable modems are getting you 1-2Mb download speed, DSL can vary from 128k to 3Mb. My point being that whether you have an 802.11b wireless card rated at 11 Mbps or an 802.11g card rated at 54Mbps - either way you vastly exceed your net connection.

I say go with the refurb and spend the difference on the applecare warranty.
posted by raoulm at 6:40 PM on February 27, 2007

The heat/battery power reduction with the Merom (Core 2 Duo) is about 20%. In chrominance's example, the processor speed of the Core 2 is 17% greater, offsetting the efficiency gain almost exactly.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:25 AM on March 1, 2007

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