Looking at the performance differences between the MacBook and the low-end 15-inch MacBook Pro ( Macworld rated 4.5 out of 5 mice ), a $1799 model with 4GB of RAM, both integrated and discreet graphics, and a 2.4GHz Intel Core i5 processor, we see a much bigger gap--24 percent overall, according to Speedmark 6 results. The Core i5 MacBook Pro, with its Hyper-Threading and Turbo Boost technologies, was 32 percent faster than the MacBook in the Cinebench CPU test, 45 percent faster in MathematicaMark and 34 percent faster in our Aperture test. The 15-inch MacBook Pro's discreet graphics was able to display nearly twice the number of frames per second as the new MacBook with only integrated graphics.
With the new graphics and some minor changes to the battery, the new MacBook can last longer between charging cycles. In our tests, where we loop a movie from the hard drive at full screen, full brightness with AirPort connected to our local network and the volume on (but low), the MacBook was able to run for nearly 5 hours, or 58 minutes longer than the MacBook it replaces. It lasted 35 minutes longer than the 13-inch MacBook Pro and 22 minutes longer than the 15-inch MacBook Pro.
Note that our battery tests (and therefore, the results) differ significantly from those cited in Apple's marketing materials.
Apple offers a very limited number of optional upgrades for the MacBook. Upping the RAM to 4GB from 2GB will cost $100, and swapping the 250GB, 5400-rpm hard drive for a 320GB drive of the same speed will cost $50; a 500GB drive adds $150 to the price. Faster hard drives, SSDs, or an anti-glare screen are not offered through the Apple Store.
Macworld buying advice
With its faster processor, improved graphics and longer battery life, the MacBook makes an attractive option for budget conscious laptop shoppers. Performance-wise, the MacBook isn't different from the 13-inch 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro--the extra $200 for the MacBook Pro buys more RAM, a FireWire 800 port, an SD card slot, an aluminum case.
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