Linuxgruven > Hardware > 13" MacBook Review > Update 2: The 30 day report

Update 2: The 30 day report

2007.10

I've been using the MacBook for about a month straight now.  It has completely taken over as my full-time machine and I've sold the PowerBook to a family friend.  Transferring the AppleCare for the PowerBook was quite straightforward:  I called Apple, told them what I was doing, put the buyer on the phone, he gave them his contact info, end of story.

After using the MacBook for a while now, I have a few observations:

  • It's smoking-fast in Mac OSX and Linux
  • It makes a fantastic, well-supported Linux box
  • The Intel GMA950 video is fantastic, except for 3D games
  • You need to be picky about replacing the hard drive
  • I love the screen but miss the size of the 12" PowerBook
  • Confirmed:  The speakers suck
I know, no big surprises there.  Well, except that the MacBook works so well in Linux.  I read several pages on an Ubuntu Wiki warning about possible problems and am happy to report that, with Feisty, I have noticed nary a one.  It sleeps, it wakes, the screen brightness controls work, the WiFi works, DRI works.  Outstanding!  Moreover, even though it's only 200MHz faster than the ThinkPad T60 I use, I find it to much more responsive in Linux.  I don't know why.  I can't imagine that the extra 512MB of RAM makes that much difference.  Anyway, I'm very happy.

As noted above, the GMA950 video is great for most things.  3D screensavers, Google Earth and even FreeSpace 2 work well.  Quake 4 and Doom 3 do not.  Oh well, it is integrated video.  I still think that the GMA950 is my favourite video option for Linux at the moment.  It even worked well with Compiz when I was playing with Ubuntu Gutsy.

The hard drive:  It shipped with a 60GB Seagate, I replaced this with a 120GB Toshiba.  The performance was abysmal!  I replaced this with a 120GB Seagate, all is well again.  Odd.  I've since ordered a 250GB SATA Western Digital drive as a replacement.  I wanted the biggest capacity for the best price, WD won.  I hope the disk performance is good...

The screen is indeed a joy to use.  The resolution bump from 1024x768 to 1280x800 is fantastic.  This is just about the perfect size for a laptop.  However, the extra bulk and .5 lbs over the PowerBook make me reach for the MacBook less often.  This is no big deal, though, as when I want something small and light, I just reach for the little Nokia 770 I purchased.  800x480, 0.5lbs, full browser in the palm of your hands.  I have to say, the little Internet Tablet has made a super-small laptop less of a priority for me.

I still think that the 12" PowerBook was the best computer I've owned, but it was time for me to move on.  For me, the speed, Linux compatibility and ability to run VMWare were reason enough to move from the 12" G4.  It is still a spectacular machine.  I miss the size, build quality and speakers.  I also have little doubt that the PowerBook will outlast the new MacBook.