What's inside future low-cost Apple MacBooks?

With new lower-cost Apple MacBooks reportedly on the way, it's time to engage in a favorite diversion: what, pray tell, is inside.

With new lower-cost Apple MacBooks reportedly on the way soon, it's time to engage in a favorite diversion: what, pray tell, is inside?

Apple

The low-cost MacBooks may appear sooner than expected and would be "the most affordable notebook offerings in the Mac maker's history," according to an AppleInsider report.

The idea that the new models would be unprecedentedly low-cost is intriguing in itself considering the recent appearance of low-cost "ultrathin" laptops from Hewlett-Packard and Asus, among others, that typically range between $600 and $900.

And what powers these laptops? Low-cost Intel ultra-low-voltage "ULV" processors like the SU4100 or SU7300. And what's so important about these processors? They are at the heart of a new wave of laptops that boast extra-long battery life, some claiming up to 10 hours. Will Apple opt for battery life over performance? The current 13-inch white polycarbonate MacBook uses relatively high-performance Intel processors and claims about five hours of battery life.

Another thought: will this be Apple's un-Netbook? With no immediate plans for a Netbook (though a media pad is expected next year), this may be an opportunity for Apple to go at least half way toward addressing the low-end laptop segment.

Along these lines, will Advanced Micro Devices processors be forever ostracized from the MacBook lineup? In a hotel near the Intel Developer Forum that ended on Thursday, AMD was showing off an MSI dual-core ultrathin laptop with ATI graphics that starts at about $500. Not bad for a Netbook-like price. (Yeah, I know, highly unlikely.)

The truth is MacBooks are trending toward low-cost already. Even the once stratospherically priced MacBook Air can be had for less than $1,500 and the 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,199. So, a MacBook that comes in lower than $999 (the starting price of the current MacBook) wouldn't be a big surprise. It would be a surprise if Apple went as low as $800. Now that's a cheap MacBook.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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