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13" MacBook Core 2 Duo
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Posted November 21st, 2006, Rob-ART Morgan, mad scientist

In recent article I said it would be nice if Apple would put a "supercharger" in the 13" MacBook (or Mac mini) --- like BMW did with the JCW Tuning Kit for a MINI Cooper S that turns it into a "rocket powered go kart" -- for those of us who like little things that go wickedly fast. Soon after, the Core 2 Duo version of the MacBook was announced.

So inquiring minds want to know if it provides enough "punch" over the Core Duo version to deem the MacBook as an "S" model. Or is that integrated GPU going to ruin all the fun?

CPU intensive apps definitely get a boost from the Core 2 Duo update of the 13" MacBook.

The Intel GMA950 integrated GPU is a party pooper.

Whether you are doing serious apps with Core Image effects or playing your favorite 3D accelerated game, the 13" MacBook C2D is going to spoil your day. Even the PowerBook G4 plays games faster than the 13" Macbook C2D.

By now you've noticed that we compared the MacBook Core 2 Duo to the Core Duo version running at the same clock speed. We included two MacBook Pro Core Duos and a PowerBook since those are logical alternatives to the 13" MacBook.

Games are not just something people do for fun. We include them in our testing because they rigorously test the advanced graphics features like shading, reflectivity, dynamic shadowing, transparency, distortion -- features used by the Mac OS's Dashboard, Finder windows, and Video FX in iMovie HD. If OpenGL and Core Image features can't be rendered quickly and accurately, it detracts from the whole Mac experience.

The 13" MacBook handles CPU intensive tasks with ease, but it chokes when it comes to accelerated OpenGL 3D or Core Image intensive tasks. If you are using it for light computing using iLife apps, Safari, Mail, or (cough) MS Office, it will probably be more than adequate. The size and weight makes it easy for traveling or for a student to toss in a backpack on the way to class.

But if you are a power mad user like me, the 13" MacBook's slow integrated graphics chip is a show stopper. And Apple has spoiled me. I can't deal with a laptop keyboard that's not backlit. The MacBook Pro (CD or C2D) is a better investment -- even if you can only afford a used one (still under warranty) or refurbished one.

CD = Core Duo; C2D = Core 2 Duo


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