Apple, Tech, and Gaming

MacBook with 'Snow Leopard' Trumps $1,000 Windows Notebooks

- 2009.08.28 - Tip Jar

Is anyone else sick and tired of the "Laptop Hunter" campaign? It's obviously a lame attempt to combat Apple's hilarious "I'm a Mac" ads. Microsoft's latest feeble attempts have college students looking for a notebook computer, promising them the computer free if they find one under a particular price point (in one example, under $1,000). It's obviously scripted, and the student seems to always "choose" a PC and point out the higher price of a Mac.

What they failed to mention, as usual - and what the Apple ads have to always point out - is the fact that Macs just work, have a better OS, are packed with features, and don't have the plague of viruses that typically affect Windows PCs. In the end, it just boils down to the old saying: "You get what you pay for."

Where is this leading?

The Snow Leopard Advantage

Today marks the release of Mac OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard", an operating system truly built for the future that will start taking full advantage of 64-bit computing today without the user needing any awareness of it. Those who own hardware that supports all of Snow Leopard's features* are in for a treat! Snow Leopard will seem like nothing new on the surface - until you start seeing certain computations running up to 50% faster!

None of this is news to those of us in the Apple community, but mark my word, Snow Leopard is going to hunt down its prey with a mighty roar when it pounces the market today. The PC market has no clue what's about to hit it!

Why Would Anyone Want a Windows PC?

After thinking about Snow Leopard, why on earth would you even want a 17" Windows PC notebook that's not nearly as capable and is certainly not as enticing? Why would you want something that is much more prone to malware and virus attacks? I wonder how much you'll be enjoying that brand new 17" display when you receive a Trojan email that your virus protection doesn't catch.

Maybe they'll get it right with Windows 7. There's a lot of uncertainty there, and that's the reality for a Windows PC.

Mac users just don't have to worry: "It just works."

Alternatives in the $1,000 Range

All broken Windows aside - If I were a student, and I happened to have my mind set on a 17" notebook, I would seriously ask myself if I needed that much screen real estate on a portable. A MacBook White combined with a nice dorm room sized 22" flat panel high-def LCD display would be just fine.

You get all the absolute necessities with a MacBook right out of the box that you can't have with a PC: ultra portability, excellent graphics and processing power for the price, along with the extreme engineering of Mac OS X and iLife '09. Buy it today, and it comes with Snow Leopard - putting you on the cutting edge, making you ready for the future of 64-bit computing free of any extra charge!

If my budget were $1,000 and I had to choose a notebook, it would be a brand new MacBook White - or perhaps a refurbished 13" MacBook Pro, both priced at just $999. You could even watch the refurbished list and wait for a $749 or $849 refurbished WhiteBook and add that nice 22" high-def monitor - and still be right at or just a hair under $1,000.

On the other hand, if you absolutely need to have a 17" portable for under $1,000 and you were a student just doing basic stuff, a gently used 17" PowerBook G4 1.67 GHz hi-res would be more than sufficient with it's gorgeous 1680 x 1050 screen. It's not blazing fast compared to the latest MacBook Pro or recent 17" Windows machines, but it's sleek, reliable, and should be enough for the average user who needs a large canvas.

If you must have Intel, an early 17" MacBook Pro can easily be found for under $1,000, and it's even faster and more capable than the fastest G4 PowerBooks, albeit a bit less sexy (the word PowerBook just does it for me).

A Long Term Solution

In any case, either machine should last just fine all the way through college. Seeing that both models are three to four years old, a fresh battery may be in order (unless you get lucky), and a fresh PRAM battery is inevitable within the next few years, but these investments are minimal.

Consider this: Five years from now, your 8-to-9-year-old MacBook Pro or PowerBook G4 should still work fine, provided that you take care with it, and it should still have a bit of usefulness and value left too. A new MacBook or MacBook Pro purchased today will have plenty of life left in five years and should still be holding value, provided it was well taken care of.

The gold standard for Macs is revealing itself: Macs are proving reliable for a decade - and possibly beyond. Ask anyone today who owns a Pismo PowerBook (manufactured in 2000).

Now do you still really want that 17" notebook PC? LEM

* Editor's note: We've updated our profiles for older Intel-based Macs to indicate which new Snow Leopard technologies - 64-bit operation, Grand Central Dispatch, and OpenCL - are supported. All current Macs support all of these technologies. dk

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Dan Bashur lives in central Ohio with his wife and children. He uses various PowerPC G3 and G4 Macs running Tiger and Leopard. Besides finding new uses for Macs and other tech, Dan enjoys writing (fantasy novel series in the works), is an avid gamer, and a member of Sony's Gamer Advisor Panel. You can read more of Dan Bashur's work on, where he contributes regular articles about the PSP, classic gaming, and ways you can use Sony gaming hardware with your Mac.

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