4.0 star rating

Apple MacBook Review

Pros: Glossy 13.3-inch widescreen display; Includes remote and iSight camera; Good battery life; Excellent software bundle
Cons: No memory card reader or PC Card slot
The Verdict: An excellent bang-for-your buck machine that's easy to carry, the latest MacBook offers more power and battery life in the same sexy design.



When the sleek and sexy MacBook launched last year, many hailed it as the perfect balance of productivity and artful design. But can one of the top notebooks of 2006 get any better? The answer is a resounding yes. While the new MacBook isn't a complete overhaul of the previous version, Apple's upgrade features a faster processor, better 802.11n Wi-Fi performance, and longer battery life. It may not have enough additions to entice current MacBook owners to upgrade, but those on the hunt for an excellent all-purpose laptop should snatch up this model.
Sporting the same glossy white finish and one-inch-thick design as its predecessor, the 5.1-pound MacBook revamp also retains Apple's attractive, minimalist aesthetic. Popping the lid reveals a gorgeous 13.3-inch (1280 x 800-pixel resolution) widescreen LCD that displayed robust color when we loaded Finding Nemo into the slot-loading drive. The LCD kicked back some reflections but nothing too detrimental to the viewing experience. The built-in speakers offer adequate sound but lack volume and a strong bottom end (view photo gallery).
The excellent keyboard in the first iteration of the MacBook returns with the same low-to-the-base key design and fine responsiveness that we enjoyed a year ago, as does the MagSafe power adapter that detaches if pulled accidentally, preventing your notebook from tumbling to the ground. We were disappointed to see that the MacBook still lacks expandability in the form of memory card, PC Card, and ExpressCard slots.
The updated MacBook comes in three versions, all of which are powered by OS X Tiger, have 1GB of RAM, integrated Intel graphics (discrete graphics are reserved for the MacBook Pro line), and built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR. You also get two USB ports, mini-DVI, and FireWire. The only differences are that the entry-level model ($1,099) has a 2-GHz processor, 80GB of storage, and a Combo Drive (DVD-ROM/CD-RW); the mid-tier option ($1,299) has a 2.16-GHz processor, a 120GB hard drive, and a SuperDrive (DVD+R DL/DVD+RW/DVD-RW/CD-RW); and the high-end MacBook Black ($1,499) sports a 2.16-GHz processor, a 160GB hard drive, and an 8X SuperDrive.
We tested the mid-tier configuration using traditional PC benchmarks by loading Windows XP Pro onto the system using Boot Camp. The updated components made a solid showing on our PCMark05 test; the score of 3,245 indicates that the MacBook can smoothly handle any productivity task you throw its way, a capability that was borne out in our day-to-day experience. We also saw excellent wireless throughput: 19.5 Mbps at 15 feet from our access point, dipping slightly to 18.3 Mbps at 50 feet.
On our DVD rundown test, the MacBook lasted a very good 3 hours and 43 minutes, which is 24 more minutes than the MacBook Black we tested last year. And this system has a more capable Core 2 Duo CPU. As expected, the integrated graphics produced a meager 1,605 on 3DMark03, so high-end gaming is out of the question.
The MacBook once again comes preloaded with iLife '06, one of the most creative and entertaining suites around. The award-winning multimedia package includes iPhoto, iMovie HD, iDVD, iWeb, iTunes, iChat, and GarageBand. Other excellent preinstalled applications include Front Row, which comes with a six-button remote and is the MacBook's answer to Windows Media Center, and Photo Booth, which uses the integrated VGA iSight camera to take fun photos using the Comic Book, Light Tunnel, and face-altering Fish Eye settings, among others. The MacBook also comes with 90 days of phone support and a one-year limited warranty. Both can be expanded to three years with the optional $249 AppleCare Protection Plan.
While it doesn't feature Intel's Next Generation Centrino processors or card expansion (those features are reserved for the new MacBook Pros), this refresh of the consumer MacBook line offers a beautiful design, an excellent price, and enough power for work and play.
Suggested Stories:
Article Continued Below

Mac OS X Tiger vs. Windows Vista
In the battle of personal computing dominance, these champs go ten rounds to determine which OS takes the spoils.
Apple MacBook Black
A powerful dual-core portable that's big on performance and style.
Apple MacBook Pro
The dual-core MacBook Pro is fast, fun, and sleek. It can even run Windows.

Tags: Apple MacBook, Apple

Technical Specifications
Apple MacBook

Operating SystemOS X 10.4 Tiger
The amount of memory our reviewed configuration comes with.
Learn More
The maximum amount of memory this notebook supports.
Learn More
RAM Upgradable to
Amount of data your storage drive can hold.
Learn More
Hard Drive Size
The rotation speed of a mechanical hard drive.
Learn More
Hard Drive Speed
Your notebook’s storage drive (hard drive or solid state drive) holds your operating system, your programs, and your data.
Learn More
Hard Drive Type
SATA Hard Drive
An optical drive allows you to play or record to DVDs, CDs, or Blu-ray discs.
Learn More
Optical Drive
The speed of the optical drive.
Learn More
Optical Drive Speed
Graphics chips are responsible for processing all images sent to your computer’s display.
Learn More
Graphics Card
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950
The amount of memory available for graphics processing.
Learn More
Video Memory
Wi-Fi connects you to a router or hotspot for wireless Internet access.
Learn More
Ports allow you to connect to external devices such as monitors, printers, MP3 players, and hard drivse.
Learn More
Ports (excluding USB)
Ethernet; Firewire; Headphone; Microphone; mini-DVI
USB ports allow you to connect many external devices, from MP3 players to external hard drives.
Learn More
USB Ports
Warranty/SupportOne-year parts and labor/90 days toll-free
Size12.8 x 8.9 x 1.1 inches
Weight5.1 pounds
All Product Types Accessories eReaders Laptops Networking Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS AVADirect Averatec BeagleBone BenQ CTL Corp. CyberPowerPC Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Eurocom Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Google Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo Maingear MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Razer Sager Samsung Sony Sony PlayStation Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv Vizio VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating Editor's Choice 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 21 4 5 6 7 8 9
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1136 x 768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1792 x 768 1900x1080 1920x1080 1920x1200 2560 x 1440 2560 x 1600 2560 x 1700 2880 x 1620 2880 x 1880 3200 x 1800 3840 x 2160 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options