Laptop bleg update

by Chris Bertram on May 16, 2006

Thanks to all for their “advice”: . I’ve just ordered a “MacBook”: (white, 13 inch, 2.0GHz Intel Core Duo, with 1 gig of memory and an 80 gig hard drive).



des von bladet 05.16.06 at 9:08 am

Man, with something like that you can run Latex _and_ Emacs!


Brett 05.16.06 at 9:21 am

But why would you want to? Run Emacs, I mean.



Raw Data 05.16.06 at 9:22 am

Oh no!
You got that one?!


Brad DeLong 05.16.06 at 9:25 am

You will need 2 GB of memory…


nick s 05.16.06 at 9:42 am

Yep, Apple has done more its usual trick of underspeccing with memory by including matched pairs of 256Mb DDR2 in the default build. 1Gb will probably be okay for what you want to do with it, but you may feel a bit squeezed by that in time, especially if you take advantage of something like Parallels. And you should never really buy RAM as part of the build: go to Crucial and get it instead.

The MacBook is very lovely, though. The form-factor is perfect for me, though the kind of spec I’d like would cost closer to $2000 than the advertised base price. (Combo drive only on the 1.83Gz? Cheapskates.)


todd. 05.16.06 at 9:51 am

Is there any reason to pay for the Mac RAM? Judging by comparable RAM on NewEgg, it’s obscenely over-priced.


schwa 05.16.06 at 10:12 am

OK, we Appleheads should have warned you about this in the other thread, and didn’t, because it’s reflex to us. So in the hope it’s not too late:

Don’t be first in line for new Apple hardware products.

The very first ones off the line sometimes have weird glitches that haven’t shown up in QA. The first MBPs, for example, had an uneven screen brightness issue that was fixed fairly quickly and a CPU whine issue that may or may not have been (I lost track). Almost without exception, Apple will fix or replace problem units if you object strenuously enough, but it will cost you in time and aggravation.

If you can afford to wait another week, wait another week. Let Ars Technica and Macworld get their review models, let the hardcore Appleheads who spend half their disposable income on Macs* get the very first units off the conveyer, and let the little oopsies be discovered and percolate forth onto the web.

Of course, you may get lucky. But don’t take the chance if you don’t need to.

*. I am realistic about my fellow Apple users.


schwa 05.16.06 at 10:13 am

And no, there’s no reason to pay Apple prices for RAM if you know what you’re about. RAM sticks are Apple’s razor blades; the markup they make is sick.


jet 05.16.06 at 11:13 am

What are you running that makes 1 gig ram not enough?


nick s 05.16.06 at 11:15 am

Apple will fix or replace problem units if you object strenuously enough, but it will cost you in time and aggravation.

Chris is a lucky beneficiary of the UK’s Sale of Goods Act, which means that Apple is legally obliged to deal with any dodginess by providing a replacement. (Even if they don’t care to admit it sometimes.) Those of us living in the US make do with AppleCare.


nick s 05.16.06 at 11:21 am

What are you running that makes 1 gig ram not enough?

OS X, the wags will say. Less facetiously, and especially given that the MacBook uses at least 80Mb of shared RAM for its video, at least 1Gb is necessary to avoid huffing and puffing. That’s why I despair at Apple’s meanness, because it truly affects the out-of-the-box experience.


soubzriquet 05.16.06 at 11:26 am

The macbook really should benefit from the shaking out of the macbook pro, as they are really quite similar. Less worry about being at the front of the line for this one.

Looks like a great machine for about $1000, probably the best value out there for that sort of money. I’ll reiterate the avoidance of apple memory prices though! I may pick up one of these myself, but not sure if I can live with the 2gb memory constraint…


soubzriquet 05.16.06 at 11:27 am

re 2: until someone comes up with a better editor, we’re stuck with it — that’s why ;)


catherine liu 05.16.06 at 11:38 am

I was ready to pony up cash or at least credit for the MacBook this summer until I read this in Salon about how you might want to stock up on burn treatments (the author suggests iAloe) before you use the newest MacBook Pro laptops.

p. 107 of the user’s manual supposedly warns users that this baby is HOT!

Any insight into this would be much appreciated.


Bill Gardner 05.16.06 at 11:47 am

I went for 2 gb in the MacBook Pro and haven’t been sorry. It does get warm, but not to a degree that bothers me.

And thank goodness, no white shiny plastic…


Jon H 05.16.06 at 1:17 pm

“OS X, the wags will say. Less facetiously, and especially given that the MacBook uses at least 80Mb of shared RAM for its video”

Every window (which includes every icon in your Dock – each one is a window) in OS X is double-buffered, meaning the OS keeps a copy in RAM. So you’re using a lot more than 80 Mb for graphics, no matter what kind of video card you have.

This is why OS X windows appear instantly when an obscuring window is removed, while on Windows the revealed window’s program has to become active and redraw the newly exposed regions, which can take a while if the machine is busy.


Jon H 05.16.06 at 1:26 pm

“Any insight into this would be much appreciated.”

My MacBookPro does get plenty hot. I recently purchased a Targus chillpad (USB-powered laptop pad with two quiet fans that draw air across the bottom of the laptop) and that keeps the laptop’s exterior comfortable.

There’s another version called the ChillHub which includes a USB hub.


David Eads 05.16.06 at 4:58 pm

Here’s what I’d like to know, just out of curiosity: Why Apple is so skimpy on RAM, even on higher end Macs? I suppose it’s just to make a buck, and perhaps is warranted for something like a Mac Mini. But why does a computer that costs $3,300 come with 512mb ram in a 2x256mb configuration?


BusterD 05.16.06 at 5:35 pm

As someone who works in Macintosh retail, I’m pleased to add little new other than to compliment and recommend the commenters above.

1. “Don’t be first in line for new Apple hardware products.”
I sell these things, and for professional users, I subscribe to this general recommendation. That said, I must report that the processor changeover has been as uneventful major change as I’ve ever seen. We’re still waiting for some pro apps to fully support (and Adobe products are going to require a pay-for upgrade for fullest speed), but most of us are having solid performance experiences with the new Intels. Native iLife apps, major browsers and MS Office run well. Windows runs sluggish but pretty well on the 15″ units (but I’d wait for a newer Boot Camp build before trying it on the new 13″).

2. “And you should never really buy RAM as part of the build: go to Crucial and get it instead.”
I’d prefer to buy ram preinstalled by my local Apple retailer (never an Apple Store or the online Apple Store) or from a third-party vendor, because I like lifetime warranties on ram parts AND labor, but I agree wholeheartedly not to pay Apple a dime for extra ram. Overpriced.

3. “My MacBookPro does get plenty hot.”
Yep. Very hot. But I’ve been hearing strong comments from Mac portable users since the first Wall Street 292’s came out. All that waste processor heat has to go somewhere (a G5 Tower has NINE fans and a heatsink larger than the entire Mac Mini); either Apple builds in some kind of cooling (which tasks the battery/power bus), or you maximize passive wicking (which Apple has done quite well). Really need to buy a stand of some kind, passive or otherwise. Rain Design makes a very comfy iLap stand which also works well on sufaces (c. $60US)

Please do let readers know how you like it. If it’s not as nifty as it looks, we’ll want to know.


lago 05.16.06 at 6:06 pm

While total RAM is important given shared video memory, the “matched pair” RAM is important for reasons specific to the intel integrated graphics (which are also in the Mac Mini). If you get 1x1GB RAM, rather than, say, 2x512MB, you waste half of the dual channel memory controller. This mostly makes a difference for graphics-intensive applications.


Stephen M (Ethesis) 05.16.06 at 6:22 pm

Glad you found something you like. The new ~$1k mac is a nice book for 13″ — if you are ok with the screen size.


EWI 05.16.06 at 8:50 pm

Windows runs sluggish but pretty well

…but still faster than on that Dell, I’ll wager!


Matt McIrvin 05.16.06 at 10:09 pm

My old G4 tower gets along fine running Tiger with half a gig of RAM, aside from the occasional burst of swapping when bringing up Dashboard widgets. 1GB would be more than enough.

Granted, it has a video card with dedicated VRAM, which makes some difference, and unlike Brad Delong I don’t regularly produce video.


John 05.17.06 at 1:14 am

Man, you’re going to live to regret *that* choice.

No, wait… What’s the opposite of regret? Savour? Relish? Celebrate?


Annie 05.17.06 at 2:25 am

Will 2GB of memory would suffice. The Mac book is nice enough to provide u with relevant data.Glad u find it!


reuben 05.17.06 at 6:04 am

You’ve saved my bacon with this bleg. On Monday, I recieved a new iBook, which I ordered under emergency conditions – PC died at a time of peak work commmitments – and without being sensible enough to find out if anything new was coming out. If I hadn’t seen these two posts today, I wouldn’t know the macbook existed. As it is, Mac is going to let me return my ibook, and i’ve just purchased the macbook instead. 30£ more, and much higher spec. Result!

Could the folks here recommend virus software for the mac?



Matt 05.17.06 at 6:44 am

What’s a ‘virus’?


reuben 05.17.06 at 8:30 am


Does that mean it’s safe to skip purchasing virus software?



Jon H 05.17.06 at 9:14 am


For the time being, skip the virus software.


reuben 05.17.06 at 9:22 am

Jon – That is such a liberating sentence to read. Now excuse me while I go kick my crappy old PC for making my last few years such a pain.

Any suggestions on blogging software that works well with Mac? Typepad seems to be missing a few buttons.


nick s 05.17.06 at 2:49 pm

Reuben: if anything, Mac virus software causes more problems than it solves. Leave it alone.

Blogging software: Ecto? The Performancing extension for Firefox?


reuben 05.18.06 at 4:00 am


Comments on this entry are closed.