The MacBook has been given a refresh and it's now cheaper and faster than ever. There's a quicker 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, 1GB of RAM and a bigger hard drive to look forward to, all inside the same gorgeous chassis.
It's available in three delicious flavours: a white chassis with a 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo processor and 80GB hard drive for AU$1,599; a 2.16GHz CPU and 120GB for AU$1,899 (model reviewed); or 2.16GHz processor, 160GB hard drive and black chassis for AU$2,199. All are available from Apple's site or through other retailers.
The new MacBook is physically identical to the old model. It has the same 13.3-inch widescreen display encased in a chassis measuring 325mm wide by 227mm deep by 28mm thick and weighing 2.31kg. It's very portable, but is noticeably heavier than equivalent 13.3-inch laptops such as the 1.8kg Dell XPS M1330.
There's no disputing how good it looks. As before, the MacBook is available in either black or white. This time around Apple has sent us the white model, but we much prefer the black version. The black edition commands a hefty AU$300 premium over its white counterpart, although you do get an extra 40GB of hard disk space to play with.
It's the small touches that mark MacBooks out from the competition. The lid is secured to the base section using a magnet, as is the power cable. This means you won't tug the MacBook on to the floor if you trip over the cable. We also love the slot-loading DVD drive on the right, the tiny, circular infrared port at the front, and the way all the input-output ports are grouped on the left side.
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 The standard 80GB hard drive has been replaced by a 120GB model in our review unit (or 160GB in the black MacBook).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.