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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > New White MacBook versus low end Aluminum

New White MacBook versus low end Aluminum
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davecom
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Jan 26, 2009, 07:36 PM
 
So the advantages of the aluminum I spy are:
- slightly lighter and better battery
- better screen
- better touch pad
- faster RAM
- cooler enclosure

I'm buying one this week... so. Am I missing anything? Do ya'll think the RAM is faster enough that it's worth the extra money?
     
CharlesS
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Jan 26, 2009, 07:40 PM
 
The white one has FireWire and is hundreds of dollars cheaper.

Win: white MacBook.

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davecom  (op)
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Jan 26, 2009, 07:43 PM
 
Yeah I know about the firewire thing but it's really not that important to me since I don't have any devices that use Firewire anymore.
     
fisherKing
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Jan 26, 2009, 07:54 PM
 
i went with the new 'book; i prefer smaller, lighter. the alubook feels good to type on, the trackpad is great.
despite my misgivings of the screen, it's still brighter and sharper than the white book.

win: aluminum macbook.

now, let the rantings and ravings continue...
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Big Mac
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Jan 26, 2009, 08:16 PM
 
Originally Posted by charless View Post
the white one has firewire and is hundreds of dollars cheaper.

Win: White macbook.
qft

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davecom  (op)
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Jan 26, 2009, 08:19 PM
 
What does 'qft' stand for?
     
fisherKing
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Jan 26, 2009, 11:19 PM
 
Originally Posted by davecom View Post
What does 'qft' stand for?
u could just google it... (it's a secret otherwise...)

for me, the tradeoffs between the white macbook and the alubooks just make the newer books a better investment (UNLESS you need firewire).

i've never been happier with a mac notebook, and have owned 5 before the current one...
the new design is great (i also love the backlit keyboard..)
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And that is what you all are: inverted Nothings...with potential" (Sun Ra)
     
cbrfanatic
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Jan 27, 2009, 01:57 AM
 
If you are too lazy to google it, qft = quite fu**ing true

Now,
My mother purchase the uni mackbook recently, I set it up for her and I find it pretty nice, it's like a miniture version of my uni macbook pro.
I also purchased the highest white MacBook for my fiancé and she loves it, especially since she can use my old FW hdd for time machine, try to do that on the new one
Plus it the same power for hundreds of $ less and if CPU power is that big of a deal for you then why purchase a MacBook to begin with?

Win: white MacBook
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CharlesS
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Jan 27, 2009, 03:18 AM
 
Originally Posted by cbrfanatic View Post
If you are too lazy to google it, qft = quite fu**ing true
I always read it as "quoted for truth."

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Simon
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Jan 27, 2009, 04:01 AM
 
The unibody MB has:
• LED-backlit screen
• larger glass trackpad with gestures
• faster DDR3 RAM
• more disk
• half a pound less weight
• half an hour more battery life
• much sexier case

The white MB has:
• FW400

Personally I can live w/o FW and I think the above mentioned features are worth $300. You have to ask yourself the same question. Then you'll know what to get.
     
cbrfanatic
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Jan 27, 2009, 04:13 AM
 
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
I always read it as "quoted for truth."
that too
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davecom  (op)
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Jan 27, 2009, 04:38 AM
 
Well the one that means the most to me/the tipping point maybe the faster RAM, and I'm wondering what the real world performance differences are between the DDR 3 RAM and the DDR 2 RAM. Anyone know of any benchmarks of the new White?
     
cbrfanatic
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Jan 27, 2009, 04:59 AM
 
Originally Posted by davecom View Post
Well the one that means the most to me/the tipping point maybe the faster RAM, and I'm wondering what the real world performance differences are between the DDR 3 RAM and the DDR 2 RAM. Anyone know of any benchmarks of the new White?
I dont have any real numbers to show you, but i do have access to both the TOL (top of the line) white prior to the recent updates, and the TOL aluminum MB out now. Side by side i could HARDLY tell a difference while using many apps, i still could not see the difference enough for me to shell out more $, but my mother makes a crap ton of money and always wanted a backlit keyboard but didnt want to go pro. I will do a CS4 benchmark test this weekend and spit out some cool graphs with Numbers in iwork 09
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CharlesS
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Jan 27, 2009, 05:30 AM
 
Remember that faster RAM == more expensive RAM. It's a lot cheaper to max out the RAM on the white MacBook than on the aluminum one.

Another plus for the white MacBook is AirPort range - the plastic doesn't dampen your WiFi signal like aluminum does.

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cbrfanatic
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Jan 27, 2009, 05:35 AM
 
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
Another plus for the white MacBook is AirPort range - the plastic doesn't dampen your WiFi signal like aluminum does.
Forgot to mention that as well. I had a white macbook while at technical training in texas, i would go to the library and sit outside about 30-40 yards away and i got great signal, not full bars, but more then i needed.

Win: White Macbook again.

I wish they found a way to use the top casing as one HUGE antenna or something, that would be awesome.
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Simon
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Jan 27, 2009, 05:45 AM
 
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
Remember that faster RAM == more expensive RAM. It's a lot cheaper to max out the RAM on the white MacBook than on the aluminum one.
That's right.
4 GB Crucial DDR2 is $40 (plus shipping)
4 GB Crucial DDR3 is $95 (shipped)

Right now, that is. Obviously DDR3 will become cheaper as it becomes more prevalent. And eventually DDR2 will be more expensive as it phases out. Just like DDR2 was once more expensive than DDR. Now it's a whole lot cheaper.
( Last edited by Simon; Jan 27, 2009 at 05:52 AM. )
     
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Jan 27, 2009, 05:50 AM
 
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
Remember that faster RAM == more expensive RAM. It's a lot cheaper to max out the RAM on the white MacBook than on the aluminum one.

Another plus for the white MacBook is AirPort range - the plastic doesn't dampen your WiFi signal like aluminum does.
Funny you mention that.

Under OS X, Airport has iffy range.

Under XP, wireless has better range.

This is in a 2.4ghz 15" MBP from Aug 08 (or 07, I forget when I bought it).
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Urkel
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Jan 27, 2009, 02:04 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
The unibody MB has:
• LED-backlit screen
• larger glass trackpad with gestures
• faster DDR3 RAM
• more disk
• half a pound less weight
• half an hour more battery life
• much sexier case

The white MB has:
• FW400
Also on white MB:
  • Mini-DVI (cheaper dongles than DisplayPort)
  • Standard Trackpad (Some prefer it. I definitely did)
  • Less reflective glossy (not glass) screen. (Didn't they improve the LED along w/nVidia update?)
  • DDR2 (Benchmarks schmenchmarks, if you're buying an MB the only thing you'll notice is it's MUCH cheaper)

Originally Posted by Simon View Post
Personally I can live w/o FW and I think the above mentioned features are worth $300. You have to ask yourself the same question. Then you'll know what to get.
I know I'm generalizing here but if given a choice between the sleek new Unibody MB vs the same tired old White shell we've been looking at for the last few years, then most of us could easily justify the $300 price difference and would get the latest model. But where I see the appeal of the new Whitebook is to switchers.

Most potential PC notebook buyers are in the $800 range so telling them to jump to a $1299 notebook is quite a leap. But $200 more for a feature packed White Macbook is a no-brainer. At $1000 it's affordable and you can easily upgrade it to 4GB RAM and a 500GB HDD for under $160 if necessary.
     
Simon
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Jan 27, 2009, 02:34 PM
 
Originally Posted by Urkel View Post
[*]Less reflective glossy (not glass) screen. (Didn't they improve the LED along w/nVidia update?)
Nope. It's still the same old CCFL-backlit screen previous MBs had. If you want LED backlighting you have to go unibody.

http://www.apple.com/macbook/white/specs.html
     
Voch
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Jan 27, 2009, 02:58 PM
 
Having upgraded from a Rev. A MacBook to the new unibody model I can say that I'm very impressed with the LED-backlit display. It's very bright (even a few notches down from the maximum setting) and somehow sharper than my old MacBook (I've attributed that to the glass and the backlight, I guess). It's quite a bit shinier and still has the narrow vertical viewing angle as my old MacBook but neither has been a problem for me at all.

I've only hooked the new MacBook up to my 19" external Dell display once just to make sure the DVI adapter I purchased worked. The MacBook's screen is much brighter than my (fairly old) external display...my home office desk faces out the window towards the sun in the morning and the brighter screen has been a definite plus.

I spent $1399 for a refurbished one so I'm getting what I paid for. But the $999 MacBook would have been a serious consideration if it was available when I made my purchase.

Voch
     
davecom  (op)
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Jan 27, 2009, 07:32 PM
 
So I made my order today and...



I went with the White MacBook. I decided that no, the extra features were not worth $300 to me. I'd rather use that $300 to upgrade to the latest low end a year from now... Thanks for the comments ya'll!
     
Xarthan
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Jan 28, 2009, 05:01 AM
 
do the white one still get hotter than the uni on your lap?
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JTh
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Jan 28, 2009, 12:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by cbrfanatic View Post
I also purchased the highest white MacBook for my fiancé and she loves it, especially since she can use my old FW hdd for time machine, try to do that on the new one
Yup, especially if you ever want to/have to replace your machine and try to restore the backup, unless you always have access to a machine with FW.

(just poking fun, let's not get into another debate)

I personally would have gone with the Unibody, my opinion is the nice things about it will eventually overcome the higher price. It's hard to not agree, though, that the white MB is a great machine. I have a two-year old one, and it's been hands-down my favorite machine. But those Unibodys are really, really appealing!
     
fisherKing
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Jan 28, 2009, 12:33 PM
 
i dunno...i compared both, went with the alubook. slimmer, sleeker, lighter. faster. better screen. backlit keys.
less heat. better trackpad...

still, whatever works!
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UltimaLaw
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Jan 29, 2009, 05:12 PM
 
for me it was an easy choice.... alu-book....I mean otherwise just get an older, refurb macbook for even cheaper....if your going to upgrade at least get the new style!
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CharlesS
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Jan 30, 2009, 12:26 AM
 
An older, refurb MacBook will have the Intel GMA 950.

The current white MacBook has the NVidia 9400M, which was the main draw of the unibody MacBooks over the older ones. With both FireWire and a non-Intel GPU, the white MacBook is the best of both worlds, IMO.

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Big Mac
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Jan 30, 2009, 12:32 AM
 
I'm surprised by this update, actually. Usually Apple lets an older case design sell as it is for a while until the newer design is cheap enough to take its place. Not this time, though. Interesting. Maybe Apple's realizing that some additional flexibility and consumer choice is a good thing.

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CharlesS
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Jan 30, 2009, 12:36 AM
 
To me, it means unibody MacBook == Cube 2.0.

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Simon
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Jan 30, 2009, 04:16 AM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
I'm surprised by this update, actually. Usually Apple lets an older case design sell as it is for a while until the newer design is cheap enough to take its place. Not this time, though. Interesting.
Quite obviously the new case is still too expensive for Apple to make sufficient margins on a $999 unibody. And with the current economy going back to the $1099 entry-level price point is out of the question.

Unibody is here to stay. But it might take another while till we see plastic go for good.
     
Simon
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Jan 30, 2009, 04:17 AM
 
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
To me, it means unibody MacBook == Cube 2.0.
Nonsense.

What it means is that
• with the current state of economy Apple knows they need a MB way below $1299
• Apple needs to get rid of GMA in all new Macs before SL arrives

The latter means new Mac minis will definitely arrive before SL. Unless of course the mini is indeed EOL'ed.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Jan 30, 2009, 05:21 AM
 
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
To me, it means unibody MacBook == Cube 2.0.
Nope.

It's pulling a *lot* of customers, and they're actually walking out of stores with the machine they came in for.

(I don't have the numbers handy, but my impression is that it's FAR outselling the white MacBook.)
     
Spheric Harlot
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Jan 30, 2009, 05:26 AM
 
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
An older, refurb MacBook will have the Intel GMA 950.

The current white MacBook has the NVidia 9400M, which was the main draw of the unibody MacBooks over the older ones. With both FireWire and a non-Intel GPU, the white MacBook is the best of both worlds, IMO a decent compromise.
Fixed that for you - the "best" feature of the new MacBooks is arguably the unibody case, and DDR3 is certainly nothing to sneeze at.
     
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Jan 30, 2009, 06:14 AM
 
Originally Posted by Rumor View Post
Funny you mention that.

Under OS X, Airport has iffy range.

Under XP, wireless has better range.
How are you determining that? By real world use, or by the menubar/taskbar 'signal' meters? If it is the latter, be aware that OS X doesn't show you signal strength, it shows you signal quality. XP shows you strength.
     
iREZ
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Jan 30, 2009, 12:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
Fixed that for you - the "best" feature of the new MacBooks is arguably the unibody case, and DDR3 is certainly nothing to sneeze at.
Really? You REALLY think that the unibody case is a bigger deal than the upgraded GPU on the Macbook? I believe had the new unibody had the same old GPU (X3100) and the white book got an updated Nvidia GPU that most people would choose the latter rather the former. Tell me the benefits of having a unibody construction against not having one, because I could surely show you the benefits of having a better GPU than the X3100.
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fisherKing
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Jan 30, 2009, 01:01 PM
 
i don't get the white macbook love thing. i mean, the new macbook IS smaller, thinner, lighter. faster. brighter, sharper screen. backlit keys (if you go for the 2.4g model); the new trackpad is great. UNLESS you must have firewire (and don't want the pro)...this is a great mac.

when the white/black macbooks first came out, i went to buy one, but got a last-gen 12" powerbook instead; found the mb's too bulky...

anyway, the unibody mb is my personal fave mac notebook so far (and i've owned 6...)...
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Urkel
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Jan 30, 2009, 01:40 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
Fixed that for you - the "best" feature of the new MacBooks is arguably the unibody case, and DDR3 is certainly nothing to sneeze at.
I don't know about that. Durability was never an issue with last gens Macbooks, and I highly doubt that a potential Macbook buyer that is looking (or even capable of recognizing) the benefits of DDR3 over DDR2.

So the big difference between old and new Macbooks comes down to GPU. Let's face it, the Intel GPU sucked and the Nvidia 9400M brings the Macbook to another level because, for even advanced consumers, there aren't many apps that this can't handle.

So if you're talking about the "best" feature then I think an improved GPU absolutely pummels everything else. And with the $999 Macbook having similar specs then that is a great buy for any computer.
( Last edited by Urkel; Jan 30, 2009 at 05:07 PM. )
     
CharlesS
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Jan 30, 2009, 11:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
Fixed that for you - the "best" feature of the new MacBooks is arguably the unibody case, and DDR3 is certainly nothing to sneeze at.
I find having FireWire or not to be a more noticeable change than DDR3 vs. DDR2. Most customers who don't know what FireWire is will find "cheap" to be the most noticeable difference, trumping FireWire and especially DDR3.

Where's that leave the unibody MacBook? Oh, it has a pretty case. *ahem* Cube *ahem*

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Jan 31, 2009, 04:16 AM
 
Oh common Charles, give it a rest. You know that's nonsense. The unibody MBs are here to stay. Every Apple portable has gone UB by now. The Cube was a new and additional line that failed. There is no similarity to the UB MBs. If anything the UB MBs resemble the original iMac. And just like we got over not having SCSI, eventually no MB buyer will ask for FW.

Also, when you say the UBs have nothing to offer but a pretty case you are deliberately disregarding their lower weight and better battery life. Two crucial issues on a notebook.
     
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Jan 31, 2009, 04:32 AM
 
Personally, if I were having to choose between the unibody and white MacBook today, I'd go with the unibody. Main reason is the screen. I've owned a pro line laptop now for quite a few years, and the lower quality screen in the white MacBook is very noticeable to me. Went into an Apple store yesterday to play with iLife 09, and the white MacBook was all they had it loaded on, so I had a lot of recent screentime to evaluate the quality.

Firewire, I see the use, but personally moved to network attached storage a while back. Internal drives are large enough now that I also don't see the need to supplement the laptop drive with an external Firewire one either when on the road.

And as far as the casing, the unibody laptops are amazingly solid feeling.

As for what replaces my gen 1 MacBook Pro, thats still up in the air. Or maybe it will be an Air. Who knows...

To each his own though. I was rather surprised the new white Macbooks even came out.
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Spheric Harlot
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Jan 31, 2009, 06:33 AM
 
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
I find having FireWire or not to be a more noticeable change than DDR3 vs. DDR2. Most customers who don't know what FireWire is will find "cheap" to be the most noticeable difference, trumping FireWire and especially DDR3.

Where's that leave the unibody MacBook? Oh, it has a pretty case. *ahem* Cube *ahem*
What the hell, dude?

You're usually a lot more level-headed and clear than that.

The unibody MacBooks are by far the sexiest laptops Apple has ever made, and they're outselling the plastic model by a wide margin.

And regarding Firewire: apart from you, me, and about sixty other media geeks, nobody gives a flying **** about Firewire, but everybody wants a smaller and lighter, yet sturdier laptop.
     
CharlesS
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Jan 31, 2009, 11:54 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
What the hell, dude?

You're usually a lot more level-headed and clear than that.
Just can't go without making it personal, can you?

The unibody MacBooks are by far the sexiest laptops Apple has ever made, and they're outselling the plastic model by a wide margin.
Have you got any data on that? The fact that Apple seems to have felt the need to upgrade the old one to almost match the unibody's specs would seem to suggest it's not doing too shabbily against the unibody.

And regarding Firewire: apart from you, me, and about sixty other media geeks, nobody gives a flying **** about Firewire, but everybody wants a smaller and lighter, yet sturdier laptop.
Not long ago I got told by a person who's not a geek by any stretch of the imagination that he is going to stick with his Vaio because the MacBook can't connect to his camcorder. Just sayin'...

You are of course correct that there are many users who don't know about FireWire, but I'd say there are even less that know about DDR3. What users do care about is "can I play games on it" (i.e. Intel vs. NVidia GPU), but the unibody just lost that advantage over the white one, so the only advantage of the unibody that means anything to the average user is... a pretty case. Just like the Cube, another less capable computer sold at a higher price which came in a beautiful case.
( Last edited by CharlesS; Feb 1, 2009 at 12:07 AM. )

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Feb 2, 2009, 12:10 PM
 
I find it somewhat surprising that some people are actually trying to make the more expensive DDR3 an advantage in this context. The only real importance of DDR3 here is that it costs more.

Remember, DDR3 has higher latency than DDR2. Remember also that DDR3 HAS to be higher clocked, because at the same clockspeed it's actually slower than DDR2. And let's not forget, while the entry level AluMacBook has a faster FSB, it actually has a slower CPU than the whiteBook, and now both have the same GPU. One also should note that outside of GPU tests, the previous whiteBook was pretty much on par for overall speed as the base model AluMacBook, and beat that machine on some tests. Now that the GPU is identical, that main differentiating factor of GPU speed is now gone.

What people CAN argue is that the AluMacBook looks nice and feels very sturdy. However, it gives up Firewire, for those of us who care, and costs significantly more. You can buy whatever you want with your money, but stop trying to push DDR3 as a justification.
( Last edited by Eug; Feb 2, 2009 at 12:18 PM. )
     
Simon
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Feb 2, 2009, 12:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
And let's not forget, while the entry level AluMacBook has a faster FSB, it actually has a slower CPU than the whiteBook, and now both have the same GPU.
Umm, no. Both white and Al MB now have the same CPU clock and the same FSB.

The previous white MB had 100 MHz more CPU clock along with its much slower GPU and slower FSB. Now both are equal in terms of CPU, FSB, and GPU.
     
Eug
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Feb 2, 2009, 01:05 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
Umm, no. Both white and Al MB now have the same CPU clock and the same FSB.

The previous white MB had 100 MHz more CPU clock along with its much slower GPU and slower FSB. Now both are equal in terms of CPU, FSB, and GPU.
I stand corrected. So that makes them pretty much equal, cuz the DDR3 as mentioned really is of little performance benefit, and makes for a much more expensive machine. (You can get 4 GB of Kingston DDR2 SODIMMs for $29.98 on sale locally here in Canada, which works out to less than US$25. Even not on sale, you can get 4 GB for US$42 locally.)

The only real noticeable advantage of the entry level AluMacBook now is the case and the lighter weight... and that is significant, but that is tempered by the loss of Firewire.

It'd be nice if the entry level AluMacBook got the backlit keyboard. Then I think the price premium might be more justified.
     
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Feb 2, 2009, 01:42 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
The only real noticeable advantage of the entry level AluMacBook now is the case and the lighter weight... and that is significant, but that is tempered by the loss of Firewire.
And the instant-on LED display.

It also has an ambient light sensor that adjusts the brightness of the display (even on the model without backlit keyboard), and the fact that it will eat 6GB RAM (and possibly 8 after a firmware update) is a crucial advantage to audio/video profe...oh wait.
     
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Feb 2, 2009, 01:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
I always read it as "quoted for truth."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QFT
     
amazing
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Feb 2, 2009, 01:58 PM
 
Apple totally needed a low-end laptop for the edu market. Without the polycarb MB, they'd have nothing for that market slot or, at least, nothing that wasn't way more expensive than the competition (which shall remain nameless.)

If you look at the comparison specs, the main differences between the MB and unibody MB are appearance and weight and the screen. Firewire is huge for me, but not for others--though I suspect the edu market uses firewire target disk mode and connection to firewire peripherals like cameras quite a bit (and edu doesn't have the budget to upgrade all their cameras to USB.)

Weight is only an 8 oz difference. Dimensions are about the same--0.13" difference is mainly it.

MB: 1.08 x 12.78 x 8.92 inches
Unibody MB: 0.95 x 12.78 x 8.94 inches

After a few days with either screen, you'll get used to it and it won't matter any more.

So, that means that the main difference is "appearance."

If money is no object, paying $300 more for appearance is totally OK, just like it was for choosing the black MB. Vanity is age-old and all-powerful.
     
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Feb 2, 2009, 02:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
the fact that it will eat 6GB RAM (and possibly 8 after a firmware update) is a crucial advantage to audio/video profe...oh wait.


Originally Posted by amazing View Post
Weight is only an 8 oz difference.
The AluMacBook does feel lighter, even though it's only a 10% difference.

If money is no object, paying $300 more for appearance is totally OK, just like it was for choosing the black MB. Vanity is age-old and all-powerful.
Well, the thing with the BlacBook was that it was not different at all, except for the colour. At least the AluMacBook has some design and feature differences.
     
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Feb 2, 2009, 02:45 PM
 
Originally Posted by amazing View Post
So, that means that the main difference is "appearance."

If money is no object, paying $300 more for appearance is totally OK, just like it was for choosing the black MB. Vanity is age-old and all-powerful.
Actually, there is a *tremendous* difference in build quality - whether real or perceived.
     
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Feb 2, 2009, 05:01 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
The only real noticeable advantage of the entry level AluMacBook now is the case and the lighter weight...
... and the improved battery life and the instant-on LED backlit display and the bigger HDD and support for 30" displays and the larger glass trackpad with gestures and ...

As has already been established on page one, if you don't need FW and you're not on an especially tight budget the extra $300 buys you plenty of goodies. Apple's not stupid. And Al MB buyers aren't either.
     
 
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