New Macbook or black refurb macbook -- help me compare the specs

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by pedroistheman, Dec 17, 2008.

  1. pedroistheman macrumors 6502

    pedroistheman

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2007
    #1
    So I'm buying a macbook for the holidays and I would like to get a second opinion...
    Basically, I am considering either getting a refurbished black Macbook (direct from apple) or the new 2.0 GHz aluminum macbook. I am willing to miss out on the new nVIDIA chip/multi-touch pad if it means getting a good deal on the slightly outdated macbook but am I really saving much? As you may be able to tell, I am not very familiar with the specs of the two products so I am posting them here to get your take. Please let me know what you think would be the best choice.
    Thanks!

    1. new aluminum macbok -- $1299

    2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    2GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x1GB
    160GB Serial ATA Drive @ 5400 rpm
    SuperDrive 8x (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    Keyboard (English) / User's Guide

    2. refurb. black macbook -- $1049
    Refurbished MacBook 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo - Black
    13.3-inch glossy widescreen display
    2GB memory
    250GB hard drive
    8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    Built-in iSight camera

    3. Refurbished MacBook 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo - Black -- $999
    13.3-inch glossy widescreen display
    1GB memory
    160GB hard drive
    8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    Built-in iSight camera

    4. Refurbished MacBook 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo - Black -- $999
    13.3-inch glossy widescreen display
    1GB memory
    160GB hard drive
    8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    Built-in iSight camera


    Thanks!!!

    PS. If you know of a better deal on a blackbook refurb, please post!
     
  2. Surely Guest

    Surely

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #2
    I would go with #2 and up the RAM to 4GB (not through Apple).

    Will it look like new, or will there be wear-and-tear on the refurbished black MacBook?
     
  3. therealdt macrumors regular

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    Oct 4, 2008
    Location:
    northeast region
    #3
    #2. I've seen the Al MB and didn't like them, that's one reason I vote fo.r #2
     
  4. Vulcan macrumors 65816

    Vulcan

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    Jul 17, 2008
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    #4
    If you aren't doing gaming/graphic design, go for the Blackbook, otherwise you'll probably want an aluminum MacBook.
     
  5. shady825 macrumors 68000

    shady825

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    Oct 8, 2008
    Location:
    Area 51
    #5
    Im gonna disagree with everyone and tell you to get the new aluminum macbook! ;)
     
  6. pedroistheman thread starter macrumors 6502

    pedroistheman

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    Sep 10, 2007
    #6
    yeah from what I hear, the refurbs have been carefully inspected and are good as new...
     
  7. pedroistheman thread starter macrumors 6502

    pedroistheman

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2007
    #7
    And does anyone know a site where I could get a blackbook for cheaper than the $1049 refurb?
     
  8. melchior macrumors 65816

    melchior

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2002
    #8
    the key difference between them apart from cosmetics is the graphics processor. the black macbook runs os x very nicely and you will be happy with word processing, internet, chat. all those regular things.

    if you are doing anything graphics intensive and this includes home video or even vaguely serious photography with iphoto or aperture i would not hesitate on the unibody macbook, you'll notice a huge difference because of the nvidia chip.

     
  9. Stephen23 macrumors member

    Stephen23

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #9
    Every computer I've purchased over the last five years or so has been from the refurbished site - two towers and three laptops, including the latest purchase of the 2.4/250gig black macbook you're looking at just last week. Without exception the computers have looked and behaved as brand new, and I had a friend who worked for Apple here in Austin tell me that they were actually better inspected than the new ones, since they had to either fix what was wrong, or confirm that there wasn't anything wrong when they came back to Apple. The only thing lacking about the refurbs is that you don't get the shiny retail box... they come well packed in plain brown cardboard.

    As to your choice, the big decision for me was between a machine with a graphics card or one with firewire... I run shows on a program called Qlab off my macbook - it will run the sound and sometimes video cues for live performances. Since I started using Qlab I've been wishing that the macbooks had a video card, so that they'd be better at handling Core video, and it was incredibly frustrating that when Apple decided to make that wish come true, they also made the computer worthless to me by eliminating the firewire. Since I use firewire to connect to the external sound card, and also to connect to an external hard drive which stores the video signals, going without firewire is impossible (no, USB 2.0 is not a good alternative - even though its technical specs are actually higher than firewire 400, USB is absolutely terrible at handling things like streaming video or sound). And yes, perhaps I should be running a Macbook Pro, but the fact is that for 99% of what I do, the Macbook is absolutely fine... it just would have been even more perfect to get one with a separate video memory AND the firewire input.

    So... my choice was to get the one with firewire, and pass on the flashy new aluminum. Quite honestly, unless you're using it for gaming, or specialized video or graphics, the video memory doesn't mean much. Even programs like Photoshop, iMovie, Final Cut and Premiere don't really care about the video memory, it's only applications that are building video on the fly, like games or 3D graphics programs like Motion, that do.

    The one other thing I will say though, is that if you're like me, and every year or two you buy a new machine and sell your old one, you might want to go ahead and spring for the Aluminum. When you're trying to sell it in a year or two, the newer design will be worth more money than the black plastic. Even though their isn't much performance difference, once Apple switches to a new look the older ones don't hold their value as well as the ones that look more current.
     
  10. iBLAKEE macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    #10
    I'm getting the BlackBook refurb for Christmas. I decided against the aluminum because I love the look of the Black. Now, Don't get me wrong, I love the aluminum too, but for the cheaper price and slightly faster processor I decided for the BlackBook.
     
  11. Stephen23 macrumors member

    Stephen23

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    Jan 8, 2007
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #11
    Also, when you're taking price into account, note that maxing out the DDR3 RAM in the Aluminum will be quite a bit more expensive than the DDR2 in the black macbook. A difference of a hundred bucks or more if you're going to bump them up to 4gigs instead of 2.
     
  12. Ryuukumori macrumors 6502

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    Jan 18, 2008
    #12
    What others have said, its between what you are going to do.

    BlackBook is great for the price, but the UniBody is best for the graphics.
     
  13. melchior macrumors 65816

    melchior

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    Nov 17, 2002
    #13
    there is also the vague promise of taking advantage of the nvidia gpu with the introduction of snow leopard. bear in mind of course that it will likely be some time until after the introduction of snow leopard that software is updated to take advantage of the APIs... and even then, maybe not the software you want to use. :eek:
     
  14. mosx macrumors 65816

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    Mar 3, 2007
    #14
    Well, I've had plastic MacBooks and aluminum.

    Don't even bother with the plastic MacBooks. For one, despite what some say, Firewire is a complete non-issue. Everything is USB based these days and in the real world USB is every bit as good as Firewire.

    Second, the build quality. The plastic MacBooks are built downright terrible. The plastic WILL crack due to use and heat. It's only a matter of time. It does not matter how well you baby it, it will crack.

    Third, the screen. The screen is substantionally better on the aluminum MacBook. Enough on its own to justify the price.

    Fourth, the GPU. The posters in this thread are greatly mistaken about the importance of the GPU. It's not just the "video memory" as one poster said. It's still an integrated GPU. However, the nvidia GPU in the aluminum MacBook is several times faster than the Intel GMA X3100. I have a PC with a GeForce 8400M GS in it and it is about 5x faster than the GMA X3100. My 9400M in my aluminum MacBook is over twice as fast as my 8400M in the PC.

    Now Apple claims that the 9400M is "5x" faster than the "previous generation" but honestly, thats in OS X and its understating it. Nvidia claims its 5x faster than the current Intel X4500HD. My own experience proves that to be true.

    The GPU in Snow Leopard will have a far more significant role too. OpenCL should let any application, if the developer chooses, take advantage of the GPU for faster processing. Things like video encoding will be sped up dramatically over the Core 2 Duos. I've played around with CUDA enabled Folding@Home on my PC and it was able to churn out completed units about 3x faster than my friends PS3. Snow Leopard will finally have good hardware acceleration for video as well, so the 9400M will not only increase video quality but reduce heat and CPU use and increase battery life.

    and finally, overall, the UI and applications like iPhoto simply run better thanks to the CPU not having to handle all of the work the GPU should be doing like it has to with the GMA 950 and X3100.

    So stay away from the plastic MacBooks because of both their shoddy build quality and the fact that the aluminum MacBook, despite the "slower" processor (faster real world thanks to the faster FSB and RAM), will be a much longer lasting machine thanks to the hardware and better build quality.
     
  15. melchior macrumors 65816

    melchior

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    Nov 17, 2002
    #15
    here here!

     
  16. MrRage macrumors member

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    Jun 14, 2008
    #16
    My vote would be for #1. Check out the newer macbooks and see what you think.

    A lot of good points have already been made in favor of it so really the last thing to take into consideration is the price. Getting the new mac is a small price to pay to make your overall investment worth more later on.

    And if you do some shopping I bet you can find it for less than what apple is selling it for at their retail store. powermax.com is a good one with free shipping most of the time I think.
     
  17. knarzie macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2008
    #17
    according to my personal experience, the new unibody macbooks are significantly faster.
     
  18. Stephen23 macrumors member

    Stephen23

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #18
    in response to mosx

    I can't argue with some of the things you say, as I haven't used one of the new unibodys for any length of time to compare speeds, but I will say that anyone who says firewire and usb are functionally the same has at least some of their facts wrong. Despite having similar specs, there is a big, big difference in how firewire (400 or 800) and USB 2.0 handle sending large amounts of information, and USB is pretty much unworkable once you reach a certain amount of throughput.

    Now the argument can be made that if you're working with that kind of data flow, you probably need a macbook pro anyway, but that's not necessarily the case for some users (musicians who have no need of a graphics card, people working with large video files that aren't creating images from scratch, etc.), and everyone needs to look at how they're using their computer and purchase based on what they need out of it. USB 2.0 is perfectly fine for many things, and its true that its a far more popular standard for that reason, but when it comes to keeping a steady flow of data moving from a disk to an application or vice-versa, it doesn't hold a candle to firewire.
     
  19. Skeletal-dæmon macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2008
    #19
    Its okay Stephen, mosx is renown for his... 'alternate' stances.

    I agree though, USB2 is nowhere near as ... no scrap that. When it comes to streaming video, USB is terrible. Absolutely terrible. I am doing a television degree at university and if I was caught trying to stream video or audio through the USB port of one of the university computers I would be laughed at.

    Yes, from a bitrate point of view 480mbps (USB) is faster than 400 (FireWire). However USB packets everything, as does a network and the internet - lumps of data are sent together with gaps to allow for responses. FireWire allows for a continuous stream of unbroken data, and so will invariably be better for streaming data.

    As for the OP

    I own a last generation BlackBook and it is an amazing computer. The screen, despite being CCFL, is still bright and responsive, the framework isn't anywhere near as flimsy as some people make out (unless they've been jumping on their computers or transporting them in cars with square wheels) and overall they perform fantastically. They're most certainly worth their money.

    The aluminium MacBook (AlBook) is also an amazing computer. I have worked with them and they run like the clappers. However, saying that, you do loose FireWire, and you don't get the charm of the BlackBook, and lets face it black is awesome. The graphics in the AlBook do add a boost to graphics and gaming capability that make my BlackBook look a tad dated, however unless you're determined to get Red Alert 3 to run on full quality settings through BootCamp, that won't really worry you.

    My honest advice would be to get the BlackBook and max out the memory to 4GB. Although buy the RAM from Crucial or something because Apple even with the recent drops still charges a perverse amount for memory.
     
  20. kinkster macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2008
    #20
    I haven't read through this whole thread, but you might want to wait till macworld in just a couple weeks to see how much of an advantage Snow Leopard would give you with one of the alum macbooks.
     
  21. tonyl macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2006
    #21
    Get a new aluminum macbook! You won't regret it. I just got mine yesterday and love it. The multi-touch trackpad alone is worth buying, not mention half pound lighter.
     

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