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Apple MacBook 2007 Model review: Apple MacBook 2007 Model

Apple MacBook 2007 Model

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Dan Ackerman
ackermandan-square
Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times

4 min read

Editors' Note: This review primarily covers the recent updates to the Apple MacBook line. For a detailed look at the design and features, read our earlier review of the Apple MacBook (Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz).

8.2

Apple MacBook 2007 Model

The Good

Upgraded CPU for the same price; same great design; built-in Webcam and remote control; adds 802.11n support.

The Bad

Cutting-edge features are absent, including Intel's new Santa Rosa platform and LED-backlit displays.

The Bottom Line

Apple's rightfully popular 13-inch MacBook gets a decent incremental upgrade, but we're still looking forward to the next version.

While the 2006 debut of Apple's MacBook line was flat-out revolutionary--introducing Intel's Core 2 Duo CPUs and a 13.3-inch wide-screen display along with Apple's iSight camera, Front Row remote, and MagSafe power adapter--the May 2007 upgrade is more evolutionary. The overall design remains unchanged, as Apple bumped up the top processor speed to 2.16GHz and the default memory to 1GB for all three configurations while also adding larger hard drives. Eagerly awaited upgrades, such as Intel's new Centrino Duo platform, LED-backlit displays, or solid-state hard drives are still MIA, but more power for the same price is always welcome.

Other than the new CPUs and a default 1GB of RAM even in the cheapest configuration, the refreshed MacBook is essentially identical to the version we looked at late last year. We refer you to our review of the Apple MacBook (Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz), for a detailed description of this laptop's generally excellent design. One subtle difference is that new MacBooks have 802.11n Wi-Fi support turned on by default, instead of requiring a $1.99 software patch download to enable this faster wireless connection.

While the just-updated MacBook Pro line now offers LED-backlit displays in the 15-inch model, both the 17-inch MacBook Pro and the non-Pro MacBook don't yet offer this technology. Apple doesn't claim any difference in image quality or screen brightness, but the LED displays should help with battery life, and they are said to warm up quicker, taking a few seconds less to reach full brightness.

Bumping the CPU in our MacBook from 2.0GHz to 2.16GHz seems to be a fairly minor improvement, especially in light of the faster T7000-series laptop processors Intel recently released for its upgraded Centrino Duo platform. You'll find some of those newer CPUs in the latest 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros.

Nevertheless, the new CPUs offered a not-unexpected boost in performance, improving the system's scores on CNET Labs' Photoshop CS2 and iTunes encoding tests over the older model. It should be noted that our review unit of the new 2.16GHz MacBook had 2GB of RAM, double the amount in the 2.0GHz MacBook we tested last fall. In real-world terms, you're more likely to see a difference in performance by doubling the RAM than you would by simply dialing up the clock speed a couple ticks. We've spent an extended amount of time with the older 2.0GHz MacBook and never found it wanting for speed or processing power.

Battery life was almost identical between the two MacBook models; we eked out an extra 6 minutes over the previous version, for an excellent 3 hours and 36 minutes. Our DVD battery drain test is especially grueling, so you can expect longer life from casual Web surfing and typical office use.

We're still not fans of Apple's nearly obligatory extended warranty upsell. The default warranty for the MacBook is one year of coverage for parts and labor, but toll-free telephone support is limited to a mere 90 days--well short of what you'd typically find on the PC side--unless you purchase the $249 AppleCare Protection Plan, which extends phone support and repair coverage to three years.

Adobe Photoshop CS2 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Apple MacBook Core 2 Duo 13.3 inch - 2.16GHz
276 

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Apple MacBook Core 2 Duo 13.3 inch - 2.16GHz
137 

DVD battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Apple MacBook Core 2 Duo 13.3 inch - 2.16GHz
216 

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations:

Apple MacBook (Core 2 Duo 2.16GHz)
OS X 10.4.8; Core 2 Duo 2.16GHz; 2,048GB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 64MB Intel GMA 950; 160GB Fujitsu 5,400rpm

Gateway E-265M
Windows Vista Business Edition; 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD2300; 100GB Seagate 7,200rpm

Apple MacBook (Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz)
OS X 10.4.8; Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz; 1,024GB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 64MB Intel GMA 950; 120GB Toshiba MK1234GSX 5,400rpm

Fujitsu LifeBook S2210
Windows Vista Business Edition; 1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 x2 TL-52; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 638MHz; 128MB ATI Radeon Xpress 1150; 100GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

8.2

Apple MacBook 2007 Model

Score Breakdown

Design 10Features 9Performance 8Battery 7Support 4
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