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SHOOTOUT:
MacBook 13" versus MacBook Pro, PowerBook and iBook
in 3D Gaming and Core Image

Updated May 30th, 2006 with corrected UT2004 and iMaginator results
Testing done by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

Apple says, that the MacBook 13" (and Mac mini) "...features a graphics processor... that's no slouch..." That "the Intel GMA950 graphics supports Tiger Core Graphics and the latest 3D Games." Our experience with the embedded Intel GMA950 graphics chip on the Intel Mac mini is that it reduces the Mac to a pathetic 3D gaming and Core Image platform. Check out the graphs below to see if our hypothesis is correct.

GRAPH LEGEND:
Intel iMac 20" -- Apple Intel iMac with 2.0GHz Core Duo, 2GB of 667MHz memory and Radeon X1600 GPU with 256MB VRAM
MacBook Pro 17" -- Apple Intel MacBook Pro 17" with 2.16GHz Core Duo, 2GB of 667MHz memory and Radeon X1600 Mobility GPU with 256MB VRAM
MacBook Pro 15" -- Apple Intel MacBook Pro 15" with 2.0GHz Core Duo, 2GB of 667MHz memory and Radeon X1600 Mobility GPU with 256MB VRAM
MacBook 13" -- Apple Intel MacBook 13" with 2.0GHz Core Duo, 2GB of 667MHz memory and Intel GMA950 integrated graphics processor that uses up to 80MB of system memory (although Doom 3 was convinced it was using 256MB)
PowerBook 15" -- Apple PowerBook 15" with 1.67GHz G4, 2GB of memory and Radeon Mobility 9700 GPU with 128MB VRAM

Shadows were turned off in Quake 4's Advanced Settings
but High Quality Special Effects were enabled.

Shadows were turned off in Doom 3's Advanced Settings..

We used the version 3.0 of SantaDuck benchmarking Toolkit to run the Inferno Flyby and Botmatch at Maximum Quality

The World of Warcraft (WoW) test has us standing in front of the IronForge Auction House at a busy time (8PM at night). The Video Settings are Windowed Mode; 1280x800; 24 bit 1X multisampling; World Appearance settings at max; Shaders all on except Full-Screen Glow Effect; Miscellaneous all on except Vertical Sync.

We used MacVelt's Test 01 which combines multiple Core Image Effects and then renders a 200 frame morphing animation.

CONCLUSION
By now you must have reached the same assessment as us: The 13" MacBook *IS* a "slouch" when it comes to 3D gaming or Tiger Core Image effects.

WHAT IS THE MACBOOK GOOD FOR?
It's good for CPU intensive tasks as you can see from our iMovie and iDVD test page. If you don't mind the small screen, the 13" MacBook is a big improvement over the iBook G4 for productivity tasks. Thankfully, it can be expanded to 2GB of main memory, just like its bigger brothers, the 15" and 17" MacBook Pro.

CASE IN POINT
I'm not fond of the plastic case design used for the MacBook 13". It smudges and scratches too easily compared to the aluminum cased MacBook Pros. The black model is even worse than the white one in showing my oily fingerprints.

But the black model does look very cool. I find the glossy screen is easier to see in the sunlight than the MacBook Pro's "dull finish" screen.

SECOND MOST SORELY MISSED FEATURE
Next to wishing it had a faster GPU, we wish the 13" MacBook had a backlit keyboard. (Sigh.)

DO MATCHED PAIRS OF MEMORY HELP?
We've done some matched versus unmatched memory tests on the Intel Mac mini (which has virtually indentical architecture to the MacBook 13"). In the case of the Intel Mac mini, Quake 3 saw a 51% gain from matched memory pairs while Doom 3 saw an 18% gain. As for Productivity Apps, matched pairs gave iMovie HD a 3% boost and Photoshop CS a 4% boost.

RELATED ARTICLES

Barefeats compares the 13" MacBook to the 15" MacBook Pro and a G5 PowerMac --- all three running typical iMovie and iDVD functions

BareFeats compares the MacBook Pro 2.16GHz to the MacBook Pro 2.0GHz.

BareFeats compares the MacBook Pro 2.0 to a PowerBook 2.0.

BareFeats compares the Intel Mac mini to the PPC Mac mini.

WHERE TO BUY A MACBOOK 13" or MACBOOK PRO

Apple Online Store -- New MacBook and MacBook Pros; New and Refurbished PowerBooks

Small Dog Electronics -- New MacBook Pros; New and Refurbished PowerBooks; They accept custom orders; Also have memory and drive upgrades.

PowerMax -- New MacBooks Pros; New and Refurbished PowerBooks

WHERE TO BUY THE DAYSTAR CPU UPGRADE FOR THE POWERBOOK

Daystar Technology -- They specialize in CPU upgrades for "orphaned" Mac systems like the iMac G4 Flat Panel and various PowerBooks.

"AlumBook" upgrades take you up to 2.0GHz upgrade.

The base price of $499 includes all parts and labor.
  PowerBook G4 15": 1.0, 1.25, 1.33 can go to 1.92 GHz
  PowerBook G4 15": 1.5 can go to 2.0 GHz
  PowerBook G4 17": 1.33 can go to 1.92 GHz
  PowerBook G4 17": 1.5 can go to to 2.0 GHz

OTHER MACBOOK and POWERBOOK PRODUCT SOURCES

FirmTek -- SATA ExpressCard and CardBus; SATA enclosures

OWC -- MacBook and PowerBook memory upgrades; hard drive upgrades

TransIntl -- MacBook and PowerBook memory and drive upgrades

Wiebetech -- SATA and FireWire drive enclosures -- some bus powered

MaxUpgrades -- MacBook and PowerBook Sleeves and Briefcases

FWDepot -- FireWire and SATA Cardbus cards; SATA ExpressCards; external FireWire and SATA drive enclosures

LaCie -- "Big Little Disk" -- dual drive notebook RAID that runs off FireWire bus power -- especially recommended for 17" MacBook Pro and PowerBooks with FireWire 800 ports.

For noise suppression, nothing beats ear covering headphones like the Bose Quiet Comfort 2. For ear "fobs," we use the Bose In-Ear Headphones when listening to our iPod -- Help support Bare Feats by ordering your Bose headphones from Sharper Image.

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© 2006 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
Email , the webmaster and mad scientist