MacBook hands-on

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by wyrmintheapple, May 24, 2006.

  1. wyrmintheapple macrumors regular

    May 8, 2006
    Southampton, UK
    TNT Delivered the machine this morning.

    Its a black model, stock except for a modem, which I needed for my business. (2Ghz, 512DDR2, 80Gb)

    I do intend to max out the RAM, but business is slow, but also in dire need of a laptop that boots both Mac OS X and Windows.

    The Physical

    First impressions were OMFG!! THAT IS SOOO SHWEEEEET!!!!!! OMG!!!!!

    It does remind me alot of the old pismo style laptops, which isn't a bad thing.

    The rectangular shape does make it look more like a laptop than the 12", which had almost toy like dimensions. The extra space on the desktop is much appreciated, and it certainly 'feels' larger than an extra inch.

    The black plastic is plastic, not paint. It does absorb the grease from fingers rapidly, and is difficult to clean. eventually I'm sure it'll even out as hands and fingers eventually touch all over, but initially, the white one is easy to keep clean. The plastic is pretty tough though..... You can try to scratch it, I did, but it's quite resilient.

    The keyboard is odd initially, but you soon get used to it. It feels a bit more substantial than the old iBook models.

    The screen is great. While I was cautious about glossy screens, as they do indeed have glare, I found that a non glossy LCD simply isn't bright enough to be even seen in the sun. The sun cancels out the backlight and the screen just goes dark. These glossy screens boost brightness enough so that they are usable outside. I'd take glare over a screen I cant even see any day.

    The magnets are ingenious. The magnetic catch is strong, and much more robust than the iBook 'catch'. And Magsafe..... well, its cool, and I'm surprised nobody thought of it before.

    The side panel with the ports on will be familiar to iBook users, and from a practical point of view it feels very natural to go iBook to MacBook.

    Heat wise, Its barely hotter than my iBook 500 under general use. It does get warm... very warm. I dont think I'd ever describe it as hot though, and this is using it on a rug and on a bed. The fans do not kick in often, and when they do, Its for good reason. My G5 fans have a mind of their own, and never seemed to actually react to different workloads as advertised..... The MacBook is fast to spin them up when needed, and equally fast to spin them down when not. 5-10 seconds after I quit a game, all is quiet again.

    The Performance

    Starting the unit up, I set it up and began configuring the unit. Snag here was that there is no way to see my MAC address for adding the airport card to my network before the registration finished.

    The unit seemed nippy and responsive, not really much faster than my G5. Network performance was terrible, barely faster than a 56k. Disabling the "Turbo" function on my router fixed that. If you have any network equipment with proprietary, non-standard speed boosting options..... turn them off.

    In general use, Its fast, Its nippy..... Its my G5 on my lap.

    I installed a few Mac games. I was expecting poor performance with the GMA950, and was surprised at just how well It coped. There is a huge difference between Uni-binaries and PPC code.

    Warcraft 3 runs x86 native on Windows and is flawless, but Mac OS X struggles. Lets hope Blizzard patch up WC3. As its a slightly older title I had high hopes for this one running good.

    Enemy Territory, Wolfenstein and Q3A were barely playable on the GMA 950, even with the Q3a uni-bin patch. I was expecting these older titles to run OK too.

    World of Warcraft was reasonable considering, achieving 15-20 fps at native resolution, and about 30fps with the settings turned down. More than enough to keep it playable, if not very pretty. This is even with 512Mb.

    The big oddity was...... UT2004. I was given a wide range of resolution options, I found 800x500 fills the screen and looks alright considering. With the graphics turned down, gameplay was smooth, and looked reasonable, much better than any of the older q3a titles. About 30-50fps could be had depanding on the level, and the core duo handles the AI for many many bots with no slowdown. More RAM may help in future.

    Windows installed just fine, as expected. I installed several games to test performance. WoW was similar in performance to OSX, WC3 was much better, and looked and ran great....

    I was able to get Need for Speed: most wanted to run smoothly too, despite it being a newer title. The title screens and menus never ran smoothly, but with the settings down, the game was smooth, good enough for a game on the train anyway.
  2. runninmac macrumors 65816


    Jan 20, 2005
    Rockford MI
    Thanks for the review! I was just about to go pick one up at my Apple Store but called and they said they were out :mad: :( . Any pics? I would just love some:D
  3. wyrmintheapple thread starter macrumors regular

    May 8, 2006
    Southampton, UK
    Sure, I'll snap some tomorrow when the missus goes out. Anything in particular you interested to see? I'll try to record some footage of different games If I can, give a better idea of how smooth (and bad looking) it can be.
  4. macsrockmysocks macrumors regular

    Feb 21, 2006
    How do you find the screen size? I went to look at them today at CompUSA and they were considerably small to me. Well, that could be because I have a 20" Intel iMac, but I don't know. I think I may just go with the refurbished MBP on Apple's website. What do you guys think I should do?:confused:
  5. iHeartTheApple macrumors 6502


    Feb 13, 2006
    Boston, MA
    First: That was an amazing review! Thanks a ton for it. The discussion of different games and their performances was particularly interesting. I would love to see some pics and *really* love to see some video of the games and how they play (especially WoW :p ). I think I may be picking one up soon, but I will most likely go with the white rather than the black. Anyway, thanks again and I look forward to seeing the pics/vids tomorrow! :)
  6. MACDRIVE macrumors 68000


    Feb 17, 2006
    Clovis, California
    From what I can tell, the people that like the new MacBooks the most, are previous 12" iBook users. They are already used to a small screen, and for them, the MacBooks seem a lot bigger. As for yourself, being used to a 20" screen, you're going to at least need a 15" notebook, if not a 17". ;)
  7. shadowmoses macrumors 68000


    Mar 6, 2005
    Great review, I know what you mean about the build quality it is superb and definatly better than the iBook G4's which were well built but not a patch on these...

    Great to see the performance is upto par can't wait to get mine,

  8. MRU Suspended


    Aug 23, 2005
    Yeah I'd agree with that.
  9. Josias macrumors 68000


    Mar 10, 2006
    Is it true that the trackpad on the black is all smudged up with fingerprints after one day? MacWorld states that in this article.:eek:
  10. wyrmintheapple thread starter macrumors regular

    May 8, 2006
    Southampton, UK
    I briefly covered this a bit already. The case is very easy to smudge, and grease from fingerprints does stay on the case. Its near impossible to clean off, and does change the colour of the case.

    HOWEVER, in the case of the track pad, It only makes the black more... er, black. I've had this unit 2 days now, and I've touched over the whole trackpad with my fingers, and the colour is evened out, so you cant notice the finger prints.

    Prints on the main body of the case appear to dissapear as sweat and grease from your skin evaporates, it just stays on the trackpad for some reason.

    I have a movie made, i'm uploading it now. It's a couple of minutes long, its 20Mb. It shows a couple of games starting and running in both Mac OS X and windows, gives you a fair idea of what the intel graphics can do.

    Scratch that, I cant get it to upload in a way so you can download it. I will try again when I get back from town.
  11. lasuther macrumors 6502a

    Feb 13, 2004
    Grand Haven, Michigan
    I’ll add my brief review to this thread. I bought the base model with 1G Ram to replace my 12”iBook.

    Black vs White – After spending time with the black model, I love the new color. I really like how the iSight camera blends into the black MacBook. If I could have afforded it, I would have gotten it. Otherwise, the white model is just like the iBook.

    Size – I find the MacBook to be big and heavy coming from the 12” iBook. To me the MacBook is more like the 15” MacBook Pro in size than the old 12” iBook. Hopefully we will see a nice small laptop similar to the 12" iBook in the future from Apple.

    Keyboard – This keyboard is significantly better than the old laptop keyboards, very solid and sturdy.

    Screen – Love the bright glossy screen. I think it’s an improvement.

    Games – I just play WoW, and it runs it great. Much better frame rates than my iBook. Hitting 15 to 25 FPS while I run around in crowded areas.

    Heat - It's hot, realy hot. But the fans don't kick on much.
  12. wyrmintheapple thread starter macrumors regular

    May 8, 2006
    Southampton, UK
    Some additional notes i forgot to mention before....

    Good point about the isight, it is near invisible on the black model. Its better too, Its ability to handle artificial light and darker conditions is massivley improved over the firewire retail isight.

    The weight and size are definatley a matter of personal opinion. I found the Macbook no more cumbersome than the ibook, less so even. It certainly does feel more "notebook-ey", like the 15", I think this is due to the shape. When holding it like you would an A4 folder or something, the Macbook's shorter length means it feels much more balanced than the 15" and larger units.

    Heat is also subject to personal opinion. I have used this one on my lap, bed and desk, non stop for about 2 days now, playing UT2004, WoW and Need for Speed. I would never have described it as very hot. It IS very warm, but not really much different that my previous iBook, and I've certainly seen Windows laptops which are bigger (with more cooling) which run hotter.

    The video is now done.

    Its quite small, I squished it to 9Mb in the end. Sorry bout the bad camera work, its tough to film with just an isight. It takes a while to load, but at least it does now. Requires QT7 (Which I assume you all have)

    I dont know how much bandwidth I have, so if its useful, and you can mirror it, please help.

    Games shown, in order are Marble Blast (non uni-bin version) WoW, UT2004, and the Windows versions of NFS:U and NFS:MW.
  13. drdimmer macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2006
    Thank-you very much for the video, useful to quite a few people I think who want to know what games can be played. I think I'm more keen on getting the macbook now :D and would the difference between a 1.83 Ghz dual core and 2 Ghz dual core be obvious in games?
  14. DSL Steve macrumors member

    Nov 12, 2005
  15. Abulia macrumors 68000


    Jun 22, 2004
    Kushiel's Scion
    Probably not -- minor improvement at best -- but since you can't upgrade the CPU, I'd bite the bullet and get the 2.0 Ghz (+ SuperDrive).
  16. Abulia macrumors 68000


    Jun 22, 2004
    Kushiel's Scion
    Not all units have this. In fact, aside from the original blog post, no one else has even mentioned that theirs is covered. One person != widespread problem.
  17. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    man, i'm bummed that wc3 doesn't play well! That game is about 4 years old now. I know that it's a GMA950 and Rosetta, but still. Even my ibook G3 900 mhz ran that game pretty well. :( I hope blizz patches it some day because it's the only game i play regularly, but I kinda doubt it because it's so old.
  18. iHeartTheApple macrumors 6502


    Feb 13, 2006
    Boston, MA
    That was an absolutely great video, my friend! :D Those games play wonderfully! And all that performance on only 512MB of system RAM? Awesome, simply awesome. I think this has sealed the deal on my MB purchase. Thanks a bunch! :)
  19. Flowbee macrumors 68030


    Dec 27, 2002
    Alameda, CA
    Rosetta was the key word in that paragraph.
  20. retrospek macrumors 6502a


    Sep 28, 2004
    The MAC address is printed on the box :D

  21. Rickay726 macrumors 6502


    Dec 29, 2005
    New Jersey
    i played around wiht a macbook in my local apple store that just opened. i completly love it and i dont no why so many people are complainig about the glossy screens. THERE NOT BAD AT ALL. i am in love with the product.

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