My Switch to Mac: Part 1, Hardware

Posted by Minnaar Pieters 20 Nov 2008
(Photos from AppleInsider)Macbook Box

About a week ago I got myself a new Macbook 13inch. Yes, it is absolutely one of the most beautiful computers ever made. Every single millimeter is well thought out and built to perfection. It feels rock solid, and is actually a perfect size for a laptop. I got the following configuration:

Intel Core 2 Duo P7350 2.0GHz (which is a low voltage part btw)
2 Gig DDR3 1067 MHz RAM
160Gig 5400 rpm SATA drive (would like to upgrade it to 7200 rpm however)
13 inch screen
Nvidia 9400M integrated graphics card (which impressed me hugely)

It comes in a box not much bigger than the notebook itself which very much resembles the iPhone's packaging style. The notebook is held in plastic tray with all the manuals and software in a neat package underneath. The laptop is smaller than you expect, especially if you come from a 15.4 inch screen. The macbook has some heft to it - not that it is heavy, but it feels very solid in your hand. I would recommend a sleeve for it, because it flops around most laptop bags because it is really thin.

Macbook Side Profile
After coming from a Thinkpad (which is not bad at all) the macbook is just built to another standard. The hardware is stunning, there are small little quirks that you just come across and ask - "why doesnt everyone do this?!?!".

Case in point - the power adapter - has two little hooks that flip out neatly giving you a place to wrap the cord around. Simple and so effective. The lid clips closed magnetically. Simple. The back of the machine is not awash with useless stickers. Simple again. The machine sleeps and wakes instantly in MacOSX. Why cant Vista be this simple?

The keyboard and trackpad takes a lot to get used to. The keys are completely flat, but they are firm to press and there is no sponginess like in some cheap notebooks. Must have something to do with metal grid in which they are placed. The trackpad has no buttons (or it is actually one big button). Its a "look at the monkey" feature - I dont see why its better. After a few minutes a switched it to tap to click in the system preferences. Like a normalMacbook Opened trackpad.

The screen is stunning. Very bright, instantly on due to the LED backlighting. OK, the resolution is not great, (1280 x 800) but for a 13 inch screen I doubt I want more. Bigger problem is the way to connect a external screen. The new displayport plug is silly, and I find it stupid that I should buy a whole adapter to connect it to another screen. I honestly dont see the problem with DVI, why go and change it?

Battery life is great, in MacOSX I get about 4 hours+, but in Vista (fresh SP1 install in Bootcamp) it is a completely different story - got about 2hours 15 minutes. Goodness, didnt know a OS can make such a difference?

One big problem is that the machine runs on DDR3 1067 MHz RAM, which is expensive to upgrade at this stage. I know its fast, but it is ridiculously expensive compared to DDR2. The machine only comes with 2Gig RAM, which I would like to increase so that VMWare Fusion would work a little smoother. (Must be pointed out though that the RAM gets a 5.7 rating in Windows Experience Index, which is quick).

Graphics from the integrated Nvidia card is really impressive. Granted, I am not the greatest gamer - I use my Xbox for that - but the machine played games quite well, provided you dont set the detail to the highest settings. Spore played awesomely.

I have always been a Vista fan (I actually believe its a wonderful OS, and yes, Windows 7 is going to run on the same kernel, haters/sheep...), but Mac OSX is actually OK so far. My next post I will talk about how that is going.

Talking about Vista, here is Windows Experience Index for the Macbook 2.0GHz Late 2008 version:

Processor: 5.0
Memory: 5.7
Graphics: 5.6
Gaming Graphics: 5.4
Primary Hard Drive: 5.9

Talk about impressive for a laptop. Overall I am very happy with it, albeit its little trackpad quirks. It truly a pleasure to work on. About that - I still have to learn to use Mac OSX effectively.

(Photos from AppleInsider)
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I am a R&D Analyst in Stellenbosch South Africa who has a immense passion for all things tech related. I embrace technology, open source and web standards, and I participate and contribute to the social web.