The new MacBook benefits from a raft of new components that make it better value than its predecessor. Firstly the CPU speed has been boosted from a maximum 2GHz to 2.16GHz. It doesn't sound like much, but it makes a difference when carrying out demanding tasks. There's also 1GB of RAM instead of the paltry 512MB in the old model, so the MacBook is a much better performer all round.
Other improvements include much better storage capacity. The standard 80GB hard drive has been replaced by a 120GB model in our review unit (or 160GB in the black MacBook). This lets you stash a third more MP3s and videos, as well as those fun multimedia projects the latest Apple commercials like to tell us about.
Sadly, that's about it for newness. The latest MacBook doesn't benefit from the new Centrino Duo technology used by the latest MacBook Pros. Neither does it have an LED backlit display, which is theoretically brighter and uses less energy.
Instead, you get all the same bits as in the previous edition. There's an integrated VGA webcam, an Intel GMA 950 graphics card and a double-layer SuperDrive DVD rewriter (this is replaced with a more pedestrian Combo Drive in the cheaper model). As before, this is capable of reading dual-layer (8.5GB) discs, but is incapable of writing them. The most you can burn is the standard 4.7GB.
Gigabit Ethernet comes as standard, so you can connect to compatible networks at up to 1,000Mbps. Wi-Fi, of the 802.11a, b, g and n varieties makes an appearance, too, but there's no integrated modem or 3G datacard, so you'll need a broadband router to connect to the Internet.
As before, the MacBook ships with Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger, which includes Spotlight, Dashboard, Mail, iChat AV, Safari, Address Book, QuickTime, iCal, DVD Player and Xcode Developer Tools. You also get Front Row and iLife '06, which consists of iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie HD, iDVD, iWeb and GarageBand.
The previous MacBook offered relatively strong performance for a thin-and-light laptop, and as expected, this is slightly quicker. It completed CNET's Adobe Photoshop CS2 image processing test in 4 minutes 36 seconds, which is 69 seconds quicker than the 2GHz model. Likewise, it took 2 minutes 17 seconds to encode music in CNET.com's iTunes test -- 13 seconds quicker than the 2GHz model.
Despite being faster, the 2.16GHz MacBook offered slightly better battery life than its predecessor. It lasted 3 hours 36 minutes in the battery-drain test, versus the previous model's 3 hours 30 minutes. Forget about gaming though -- it could only manage 4 frames per second in our Doom 3 test, which is an unplayable rate.
The MacBook is now a more attractive proposition than ever. It's faster, better-equipped and therefore better value than its predecessor. It's not as light as equivalent PC-based laptops such as the Dell XPS M1330, but if you're a stickler for style and you love the OS X operating system, you'd be a fool to overlook it.