Apple MacBook review

Apple's low-end MacBook is not the newest design, but still offers great usability and comfort

Apple MacBook
Apple's lowest-priced MacBook still uses the white plastic design, though it's bigger brothers have switched to aluminium

TechRadar Verdict

Impressive quality and usability, but sadly let down by a poor specification


  • +

    Slick OS

  • +

    Great build quality

  • +

    comfortable keyboard


  • -

    Low specced

  • -

    Screen not as good as expected

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Apple's MacBook range received a major redesign at the end of last year, with an all-aluminium chassis brought in. Those on a tighter budget can still buy the previous-generation MacBook (£695 inc. VAT), however, which now also features similar internal components as its more expensive sibling.

The 13.3-inch screen offers mixed quality. It's a sharp panel and there's more than enough space to work with a couple of windows open simultaneously. It's let down by poor colour reproduction, however, with images appearing slightly washed out. We also found it to be very reflective when used out and about.

Updated graphics

Graphics have been updated from the Intel chipset found in older MacBooks, and you'll now find an Nvidia GeForce 9400M GPU. It's still an integrated solution, but performance is on par with entry-level dedicated GPUs, and you'll find enough power to edit photographs and videos with ease. You'll even be able to play older games. Also, the battery life of 253 minutes offers excellent mobility.

The keyboard features an isolated design, with each of the keys protruding through individual holes in the chassis. It's comfortable, with well spaced and responsive keys. The half-sized Enter key can be a problem, however, and the narrow size makes it too easy to hit the adjoining keys when typing at speed.

Build quality is excellent; the smart white plastics are robust, despite the thin chassis. However, with only a small vent on the rear of the machine it gets warm to the touch even after short periods of use.

Apple macbook side

PRETTY STURDY: Apple's MacBook build quality is very good, with construction from solid plastics and a slot-loading DVD drive making this a robust little laptop

The 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 2048MB of memory may put this machine behind its rivals on paper, but the Apple OS is less resource-intensive than Windows Vista, and we found it ran smoothly and quickly at all times.

Fans of Windows will be able to install the Microsoft OS on this machine as well, via Apple's Boot Camp software. The 120GB hard drive is limited at this price and those with large media collections may need to invest in an upgrade or an external hard drive.

Connectivity is also limited. Two USB ports restrict the amount of peripherals you can connect simultaneously, although Bluetooth is included for wireless connections. Those wanting to hook up an external display will have to buy an adapter to fit the mini display port.

Overall, the MacBook pleases and frustrates in equal measure. The smooth and fast OS is a joy to use and build quality and usability are far better than on most of its rivals. The screen isn't as good as we were hoping for, however, and the specification also lets this machine down.

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