The 2.16GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook, no 12.1" MacBook Pro

  • May 18th, 2007

Anyone who has followed my hardware track record, articles, and Tweets will surely know that when last Tuesday came and went without an update announcement along the lines of ‘The 12" PowerBook grown up, meet the 12.1" MacBook Pro’, I was sorely disappointed. In fact, not too long ago, I even went so far as to sell my 15" MacBook Pro in hopes of replacing the notebook with a 12" widescreen variant. To this day, I still consider the 12" PowerBook G4 one of the best computers manufactured by Apple. Despite that fact that current Intel-powered machines are valuable beyond belief – essentially serving as two computers in one (OS X or Windows) – the professional-grade equivalent to the classic PowerBook is still missing.

Rather than considering the idea of moving the Mac Pro setup to work, it was time to re-evaluate the hardware options. The IBM X-Series ThinkPad was suffering from an unexplainable [randomly] blinking screen, the Vaio VGN-TXN15P was gifted to my grandfather, and the 12" PowerBook just didn’t have the grunt I wanted to run multiple processor hungry applications at once. With WWDC around the corner, I opted to return to my roots and elected to re-introduce myself to the MacBook family.

Prior track record with the original MacBook Rev. A release

If you have followed 5thirtyone.com regularly since its inception, you are probably familiar with a number of issues that I experienced with the original MacBook Rev. A notebooks. For newer readers / visitors, these issues included the much discussed discoloration, my failed attempts to prevent discoloration, Apple’s censorship of a thread I created concerning the ordeal, a Genius Bar appointment to replace the shell, a damaged trackpad after repair followed by the reappearance of the discoloration, and finally an upgrade to a 15" MacBook Pro.

With so many problems experienced during ownership of the original Rev. A release, why go back? Because no matter the manufacturer, no matter the product, there will always be lemons in the batch. Thanks to a series of updates to the MacBook line and my problem-free ownership of a Mac Pro, my faith has been restored – that and I am a hopeful believer in the idea Apple will reincarnate the classic 12" notebook.

Decisions, meet the 2.16GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook

Black MacBook, On

I continually told myself that I could never cave into the aesthetics of a black MacBook. Although Apple may have fixed the discoloration, I was still hesitant. The hesitation alone was enough to convince me to go black this time around. The recent [lame] MacBook hardware updates that rolled through couldn’t have had come at a better time. The new decision was not so much a "should I go white, or should I go black?", it was now a question of "should I go old, or should I go new?" The Apple Refurb store offers the older Core 2 Duo’s at decent prices (when they’re in stock), and Amazon stocks a few marked down as well.

I chose to go new and added the black 2.16GHz MacBook Core 2 Duo (W8718JL5YA4) to the hardware family. There were a few immediate Pro’s & Con’s, notably the fact that this particular MacBook offered approximately the same performance as my previous 15" MacBook Pro – all the more reason why Apple needs updates to redefine the difference between the MacBook and MacBook Pro line.

Initial thoughts – 2.16GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook

Pro’s – Learning to love the MacBook again

  • Matte black finish – black through and through. No scratch-the-skin-and-find-the-white here. The matte black has really grown on me; where’s the matte white finish version? Thankfully I won’t need to see the dirty discoloration on this one.
  • Fantastic HDD capacity – 160GB hardrive; still the usual 5400 rpm though.
  • Booyah! 3.0GB RAM upgrade kit via Other World Computing. Check the benchmark tests for performance issues. Personally, I opted to go with the basic 2.0GB kit – the option exists though.
  • Size! OK, so this isn’t the 12.1" that I was waiting for, but it is the next best thing. Thinking back to the times when I would carry the 15", the 13.3" MacBook feels much more compact.

Con’s – No reason(s) to hate it, but there are some things that bug me.

  • Oily fingers leave fingerprints all over the casing like chocolate chips on mischievous little 3-yr. olds face.
  • I feel like I took Darth Vader’s personal computer.
  • The white Apple logo is too ‘bright’ now, I think I’ll crack the case and slip some dark velum paper behind the logo – or take a black Sharpie to the backside. Yay! Now I match my 8GB iPod & EVDO schtick.
  • I’ve lost that hip feeling.

Honestly, I highly doubt the .16GHz will make much of a difference for anyone. If you’re bent on picking-up a MacBook, now is the time. Just point your browser to the previously mentioned Apple Returb Store or Amazon for some rockin’ deals on the slightly older Core 2 Duo models.