Apple MacBook (2009) review

An excellent machine with great build quality and unmatchable software

TODO alt text

Our Verdict

The MacBook is still one of the best laptops you can buy at this price point

For

  • Good screen
  • Decent power
  • Networking options
  • Software

Against

  • Screen could be sharper
  • Small HDD

Although Apple's products comprise a relatively small portion of the laptop market, the Californian company is world-renowned for its stylish, powerful and usable machines.

The MacBook represents the entry-level model in Apple's current laptop range, but boasts both excellent build quality and a comprehensive and usable software suite.

The pre-installed iLife 09 software suite contains a raft of world-class Apple developed tools, that make the MacBook one of the easiest laptops to get up and running.

You'll find programs such as the iTunes music player, along with great photo, music and video editing suites.

The brand new Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard operating system is in place and makes a fantastic alternative to Microsoft Windows.

It's extremely intuitive and easy to get used to, but for those keen to keep ties with the Microsoft world, it's also possible to install Windows on the MacBook using Apple's Boot Camp tool.

The 13.3-inch screen isn't the sharpest here, but provides good colours courtesy of Apple's built-in colour calibration software and is fine for reading word documents or watching DVDs. A shiny Super-TFT screen coating is in place, but doesn't prove too much of a distraction.

The sturdy chassis is among the firmest, although the glossy plastics scratch easily and are hard to keep gleaming white.

The isolation-keyboard provides an excellent typing action. The touchpad is large and comfortable, but doesn't support the multi-gesture capabilities of more expensive Macs.

Apple macbook build

Good multi-tasker

The Mac OS X software isn't compatible with many of the benchmarking tests we run, so further performance trials were carried out.

One of the most powerful Intel Core 2 Duo processor provided great everyday performance and the laptop came out top in these additional tests.

The Nvidia GeForce 9400M GPU performed well when we multi-tasked resource intensive programs such as film and music editing software, although it isn't nearly as powerful as the Toshiba Satellite Satellite U500-10Z.

The 160GB hard drive provides below average storage at this price, but connectivity is first class with both 802.11a/n and Gigabit Ethernet providing the fastest wireless and landed networking available.

The provision of two USB ports is poor, although the Mini-DVI port does give you flexible options when connecting to external monitors, although you'll have to purchase the adapter separately – prices start at £15.

The MacBook is a fantastic machine. Excellent build quality and software make it a compelling choice, although the limited storage is unfortunate.

Follow TechRadar Reviews on Twitter: http://twitter.com/techradarreview