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With Apple's unibody MacBook Pro stealing the limelight it's sometimes easy to forget that the white MacBook, which first went on sale way back in 2006, is still around. It's a testament to the strength of the original design that Apple still sees it as a viable option and while the unibody machines feel very different, they still share more than a little DNA with this one. Indeed, this DNA goes both ways since the MacBook now comes with nVidia's 9400M chipset - a marked improvement over Intel's integrated graphics offering - which first appeared in the unibody range.
Fundamentally the white MacBook still exists because Apple feels it needs an entry-level system, though not one priced so cheaply that people flock to it and not the new MacBook Pro - that would be very silly! Apple's official £749 asking price is £150 less than the MacBook Pro, but with the latter severely discounted at the moment and former less so, the difference is closer to £100. This puts the MacBook at a slight disadvantage when there are so many keenly priced Windows based alternatives out there, like the Samsung Q320 and HP Pavilion dv3, that on paper offer a lot more.
This is especially true given the MacBook also lacks many of the features that make the MacBook Pro so enticing. These include the backlit keyboard, multi-touch touchpad, LED backlit display and the SD card reader, but also some of the smaller touches like the light sensor for controlling display brightness. The MacBook Pro can therefore fall back on these features, as well as its sumptuous design and usability, to argue a case for offering extra value. The MacBook has no such solace.
However, one advantage it can lay claim to is a replaceable battery, which might be of some benefit for those Apple devotees that haven't already abandoned ship in consternation. This system also comes with a reasonable basic spec. Its processor, for instance, is the Intel Core 2 Duo P7450, which shares the same 1,066MHz front-side bus and 3MB L2 cache of the MacBook Pro processor and is clocked only slightly lower at 2.13GHz.
This is actually faster than last year's unibody MacBook, which used a 2.0GHz variant. Unfortunately Apple spoils things (probably intentionally) by using slower DDR2 RAM instead of DDR3 RAM, though you do get just as much: 2GB. There's no change to the hard drive either, with a 160GB, 5,400rpm unit doing the duties.
Other standard features include Draft-N Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1, as a well as Gigabit Ethernet. You also get Apple's iLife 09 multimedia suite, as has been the case with MacBooks for a long time now, which combined with OS X makes for a thorough and great to use software suite. With this MacBook lacking many of the hardware intricacies of the MacBook Pro, its strength in software suddenly becomes a lot more important.