Mac Musings

The May 2009 MacBook Value Equation

Dan Knight - 2009.06.11 - Tip Jar

Apple overhauled its entire notebook line this week, with the exception of the MacBook White, which was just updated in May. From the MacBook side of things, the biggest change is that the 13" Unibody MacBook has gained FireWire and an SD Card slot while adding "Pro" to its name.

The May 2009 MacBook White is the third model to bear the MacBook White designation, and at 2.13 GHz it's the fastest yet. It is the only Apple notebook with a FireWire 400 port - all of the MacBook Pro models use FireWire 800. It's also Apple's only notebook with a built-in Mini DVI port - all the other Mac notebooks use Mini DisplayPort exclusively.

In addition to a faster CPU, the May 2009 MacBook White has a faster memory bus (1066 MHz vs. 800 MHz) and a larger hard drive. As with the previous model, maximum RAM is 6 GB (all of the June 2009 MacBook Pro models support up to 8 GB of RAM).

The MacBook White is Apple's only consumer notebook. It's 13.3" glossy display has 1280 x 800 resolution, and its size makes it a good candidate to replace iBooks, both 12" and 14". At US$999 retail, it remains the least expensive Intel-based Mac notebook. Benchmarks find the 2.13 GHz MacBook White is 6.5% faster than the 2.0 GHz model - exactly what you'd expect.

We updated our MacBook price tracker this morning. Here are the best deals on new MacBook White models:

  • 2.0 GHz, $889 shipped
  • 2.13 GHz, $925 shipped, after rebate ($990 without rebate)

There are no refurbished MacBook Whites available at present. If you don't mind the hassles of waiting for a mail-in rebate, the 2.13 GHz is the better value: 6.5% more processing power, 40 GB more hard drive space, and a 4% higher price.

The Used Market

Used MacBooks are quite a bit less expensive and generally sell with a 90 day reseller warranty. Here are some current deals:

  • 2.0 GHz Core Duo, black, $599
  • 2.0 GHz Core 2, white, $695 shipped
  • 2.16 GHz Core 2, black, $765 shipped

While the new MacBooks represent a good value and do have slightly more efficient CPUs and architecture than these older models. Hard drives are easily upgraded, and unless you need more than 3 GB of RAM or Nvidia graphics, these could be all you need. And on the used market, the premium for black is minimal.

Bang for the buck, the 2.0 GHz BlackBook for $599 is a steal.

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Dan Knight has been using Macs since 1986, sold Macs for several years, supported them for many more years, and has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. If you find Dan's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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