New Laptop

My old 12″ aluminium PowerBook G4 1.33 GHz looks like it’s come to the end of it’s life. It fails to boot past the apple logo screen, and there’s extensive video corruption on the display as well as external monitors. I’m going to try to take it apart and make sure everything looks right from the inside, but I’m realistically not expecting to be able to save it. Unfortunately the graphics chips are soldered onto the main logic (mother) board, so I can’t just replace the gfx components. I could replace the board myself, but this looks like it’s going to cost in the order of £400! Clearly it’d be far better to fork out for a whole new laptop. I guess other solutions include be to buy a standard PC laptop and try installing OSX on it as a Hackintosh. Or going even more lo-fi I could just pick up a notebook (e.g., Samsung NC 10) and run Ubuntu.

I’m currently considering the white MacBook (£618.70) as it seems quite similar to the MB466LL/A aluminium model (£799.25), meanwhile the Pros seem don’t seem to be that much better, but they do cost twice the amount (£1,163.80). The only compelling reason to get a Pro would be to play games, but that’s what my desktop PC’s for. I guess the main disadvantages I’m concerned about with the white MacBook are the slower RAM (how much of a performance hit is this?) The gfx are pretty much the same, and I don’t although I do love my aluminium PowerBook I might be willing to save £180 for the cheaper hardware. Not sure… Any thoughts on what I should do? I can’t stand not having a computer at home so I’m keen to act on this ASAP.

[EDIT: 20090215]

Ok, so the WhiteBook has DDR2-667, with a maximum transfer rate of 5333 MB/s (210 GBP: Apple Memory Module 4GB 667MHz DDR2 (PC2-5300) – 2x2GB SO-DIMMs), whereas the MacBook has DDR3-1066 with a maximum transfer rate of 8533 MB/s (196 GBP: Apple Memory Module 4GB 1066MHz DDR3 (PC3-8500) – 2x2GB SO-DIMMs). When buying a new laptop from Apple’s Higher Education store in the UK, to upgrade to 4GB instead of the default 2GB costs 90.85 GBP for the WhiteBook, or 83.95 for the MacBook. Annoyingly if I were to buy a model with the default 2GB this would be supplied as 2x1GB, which means I’d need to get replace both memory units with 2x2GB ones. 2x2GB of DDR3 costs between 70 and 130 GBP for (non-)ECC memory. Whereas 2x2GB of DDR2-667 costs 42-52 GBP. Either way I could avoid having to pay this amount for a while, at which point the cost may have decreased, and this would act as a later upgrade in case things begin to slow down.

The unibody features a multi-touch (rather than twin-touch) trackpad that’s 39% bigger than the WhiteBook’s one.

The WhiteBook has a MiniDVI like my old PowerBook, whereas the MacBook has a Mini DisplayPort, which would mean I’d need to buy a VGA adapter to use an external monitor (or projector), but this only costs 17.25 with the MacBook.

The WhiteBook has a 120GB drive instead of the MacBook’s 160GB. In addition to the standard 2 USBs, the WhiteBook has a FireWire port which is missing on the MacBook. Apparently the WhiteBook has greater WiFi range.

The LED screen of the MacBook is supposed to be brighter and crisper as well as being “instant on” (though as a glossy rather than a matte it might suffer from excess reflections.) It also supports higher external display resolutions (2560 x 1600 instead of 1920 x 1200), has a 30 minute better battery life and weighs 0.5kg less.

Apparently the WhiteBook gets hotter and dirtier, and can develop cracks over time.

End of the day: Looks like I’m spending £816.50 on the unibody model. For very similar money I could get a 20″ iMac instead, but what would be the point when I already have a nice desktop PC.

The only thing that occurs to me is that it might just be worth waiting until the release of OSX 10.6 “Snow Leopard” if I possibly can, as I wouldn’t be surprised if they upgrade the spec of the CPU at that point, and it might be coming really soon (maybe June.)

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7 thoughts on “New Laptop

  1. The white MacBooks are great, especially if you don’t want to do anything especially ‘high performance’ on them. My wife’s G4 MacBook one has lasted an amazing length of time, especially considering that we let the kids play with it now. The build quality on budget PC laptops just doesn’t compare at all.

    • Cool, thanks for your thoughts.
      Sounds like the white version is a definite consideration, but I’m also trying to decide if the £180 difference is little enough to push me over the edge to the improved ergonomics and specs of the aluminium model.
      Have to think about this one…

  2. I’m very happy with my new 13.3″ Aluminium Macbook, maxed out at 2.4G processor and 4G memory. My main worry was the screen, which is glossy rather than matte like my old TiBook. People online seem to go crazy about the lack of a matte option on the new models. But except for rare circumstances using it outdoors, it’s been no problem at all for me.

  3. Hi Brad,

    Thanks for your comments … and for making me jealous!
    There’s no way I’ll be able to afford anything more than the entry-level configuration, but I’m still really looking forward to it!

  4. At the end of the day, I think the real deciding factor will be, is it worth £180 to not look like your using a girls computer. Aluminium == Metal == Manly. White == Plastic == Girly. It’s a SERIOUS decision. 😀

  5. After exhaustive research on this site, youtube, and other sites, I decided on the Samsung NC10 in white. One essential piece of information is that the Acer Aspire One is only 2.3 lbs with the original 3-cell battery: any machine with a 6-cell is going to weigh just short of 3 lbs. The Vaio P series is the only comparable machine that’s significantly lighter, and everything I read suggested it wasn’t as nimble or capacious as any of these netbooks, and it’s nearly 4 times the price.

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