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

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.

Discuss - 48 Comments

  1. Victor A. says:

    I would love to see a 12-inch intel based macbook pro. I love the screen real estate on the 17-inch but the thing is a beast! I would need to spend an extra hour at the gym to be able to carry that thing around. hahaha… I’ve been thinking about getting a 13-inch black macbook, but I’d miss little things that my old 15-inch powerbook had like the illuminated keyboard with ambient light sensor and that light on the latch button that would glow when it was closed/sleeping. Who wouldn’t mind thinking they were under alien invasion while in a dark room? :)

    Even though this is off the subject of 12-inch powerbook worship… I was wondering why apple didn’t make the 17-inch macbook pro as stong as it’s predecessor (i.e. 17-inch powerbook g4)? I mean in speed tests the macbook pro wins in just about everything. Especially now that a lot of software is become intel native (e.g. Adobe CS3). This was more behind the balls of the 17-inch powerbook being able to handle two 30-inch HD Cinema Screens. Even though I don’t have have two 30-inch screens laying around… the thought of having a 17 + two 30’s shining on me would be like the gates of heaven opening up and letting me in. :D

  2. Chris says:

    Sorry I haven’t got the chance to respond. I recently got to play with my friend’s VAIO SZ series and boy is that thing sexy! I would trade that sucker for my MacBook without a second thought. It weighs almost nothing with that sweet thin carbon fiber Xbrite screen. Oh boy, it even has the banging graphics card switch where you could use the on board graphics card when doing less graphic intense work then switch to the geForce when in the need to cap some head shots in CS. The heat is maybe 2/3’s of the MacBook’s as well. With the Finder constantly crashing on me still I’m really considering my next laptop to be another Sony after having a taste of the three different choices (Alienware, Apple, Sony). I also consulted with my friend who owns a MacBook Pro and when she saw my Finder crash randomly she told me she experienced the same problem! I hate to say it but I believe after using Windows for the majority my life compared to the Apple with less than a year experience, I’d have to say Windows is more stable! What a shocker!

    Also as a side note: The content you write here is worthy of discussion on a forum such as Invision Board or vBulletin. I noticed you are running bbPress but I don’t believe that board has the capabilities of sustaining such a great article with feedback of this caliber. Please consider running Invision or vBulletin. I’d love to help start this up for you if you wish. I have had prior experience of running both forums before.

  3. Derek says:

    [quote comment="49429"]Also as a side note: The content you write here is worthy of discussion on a forum such as Invision Board or vBulletin. I noticed you are running bbPress but I don’t believe that board has the capabilities of sustaining such a great article with feedback of this caliber. Please consider running Invision or vBulletin. I’d love to help start this up for you if you wish. I have had prior experience of running both forums before.[/quote]

    I appreciate the offer and will keep it in mind if I ever consider using one of the mainstream forum board software distributions. The only reason I installed bbPress was because I planned on focusing on public themes for bbPress users. A niche that I have yet to see supported yet.

    I would knock Vaio’s, but there is no denying that Sony knows how to manufacture some attractive compact notebooks.

  4. Chris says:

    [quote comment="49430"]I appreciate the offer and will keep it in mind if I ever consider using one of the mainstream forum board software distributions. The only reason I installed bbPress was because I planned on focusing on public themes for bbPress users. A niche that I have yet to see supported yet.

    I would knock Vaio’s, but there is no denying that Sony knows how to manufacture some attractive compact notebooks.[/quote]
    I see. I just thought it’d be a better way to offer support by making some issues public. If cost is an issue I’d understand unless you can obtain it by other means, if you know what I mean. bbPress is really limited in all aspects of supporting discussions and to create such bad ass skins for such a product would be waste of talent in my eyes. I’d love to see that talent applied to skins for those mainstream forum board software. There would even be those who would pay for such work as opposed to the free WordPress templates you provide. (I’m not suggesting you start charging for these. Yet I might not even have to worry for I can’t imagine people buying themes for WordPress. It’s like buying book covers for your books when you can get them for free.)

    And yes. Sony knows how to rock their VAIOs.

  5. Damir says:

    Bah, I was also kinda waiting for a 12″ MB Pro… I’m a .net/XP guy and have never used Mac before… I must say that I don’t want to carry around anything havier than (max) 1.6kg. (I was probably the first one who bought a Tosh R100 here in Sweden and I’m still using it). But with Visual Studio and SQL Server and Photoshop up and running it felt very slow for a year or so, and I couldn’t find anything good/sexy enough to replace it. So I use a desktop in my office and carry my Tosh around..
    Then I heard a roumor about 12″ MB Pro and was pretty sure that I’ll have one of those.It’s just all that waining…
    But few days ago, the waitning was over. Enter Vaio TZ series. I want, no, I’ll have one of those. And I’ll go with the SSD model. Just let me buy one today please.
    If you haven’t seen them, check out the review at TrustedReviews. Damn, I can’t wait…

  6. Jack says:

    I also previously owned a 12″ AlBook and found that size to be perfect. When I was looking to go Intel, the MacBook just didn’t cut it for me – integrated video was the biggest killer (that and at the time they were still 32-bit, CoreDuo’s…hardly future-proof).

    The newer C2D MB’s look promising, though. Hope it’s been working out well for you.

  7. dana says:

    hey guys i ordered a white macbook with 2.16ghz – 1gb ram about 1 week ago and i was wondering if i would get discoloring problems? its a 2007 model so i don’t know if there’d been any compliants after Apple’s claim that its fixed?

    please help me! it will be my first time with mac so i’m new to it and i don’t wanna deal with anything other than figuring out how mac works differently to pc…thanx!

  8. [...] Well, let’s assume that I do decide to get one (with unknown funding…). It would then be a matter of which model. I definitely would need a laptop, and it would have to be powerful enough to run your standard Adobe stuff, but its not like I want Goliath of a machine with 3 gigs of memory and an 800 gig hard drive; well, actually I do want that, but it is not what I need. So with that in mind, I have been eyeballing those pretty black Macbooks. Derek recently wrote a short review about the one he got, and he sounds pretty pleased. [...]