Apple MacBook 13in White (MC240B/A) - Apple MacBook

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell



Our Score:


Unlike the new MacBook Pro, or the Q320 and dv3 for that matter, the white MacBook doesn't use an LED backlit display, so relies on traditional and increasingly rare CCFL backlighting. This adds weight and thickness to the machine, with the overall weight reaching a fairly hefty 2.2kg.

On the whole it's a reasonable display, but it's not without its issues. Like the MacBook Pro, there's noticeable banding in gradients, though here it's slightly more severe. Its colour production is also more neutral, which for many may be preferable to the slightly over-saturated look of the Pro. But most important of all it's not as bright as its LED backlit counterparts, which means it doesn't cope as well in bright lighting - a fact not helped by the reflective display.

One area where the white MacBook has a slight edge, however, is in its keyboard. While it may not be backlit, its keys have a firmer and more traditional action to them compared to the softer ones of the MacBook Pro. It's a key action many Apple users seem to prefer and though the MacBook Pro keyboard remains very good, it's easy to see why people miss this keyboard.

However, if you've used the multi-touch touchpad on the new MacBooks, going back to the old one will be a challenge. It's still a perfectly decent effort and we much prefer its two-finger scrolling to the scroll zones of most Windows laptops, but there's no denying that the lack of a second button is just plain irritating.

While the MacBook does have a few weaknesses where design and features are concerned, it's still a very capable performer. As noted earlier, its CPU is actually faster than the one in last year's unibody MacBook and though in X-Bench it is edged out by the latter, this is largely due to the slower DDR2 RAM. Where CPU intensive tasks are concerned, it's definitely the faster machine. It should also be quicker than the likes of the Samsung Q320 or the HP Pavilion dv3, both of which use slower 2.0GHz CPUs with only an 800MHz front-side bus and less L2 Cache. Combined with the native efficiency of Apple's operating system and you've got a very perky performer.

This extends to pretty good battery life, too. In the DVD Playback test, which is identical to that used for Windows machines, it lasted two hours and 44 minutes - longer than the Samsung Q320 and only slightly less than the HP Pavilion dv3-2055ea. Unfortunately this is the only like-for-like test we have, so for other metrics we must rely on subjective testing. Here the MacBook also performs pretty well; we got 4 hours and 28 minutes out of the machine while using the system for a combination of word processing, web browsing and video viewing. Unlike the MacBook Pro, of course, the battery capacity will degrade at a normal rate but then it's removable, so a new battery is never far away.

Overall, though, the MacBook remains an odd beast. If you absolutely must have a Mac and can't stretch to a MacBook Pro, this is still a perfectly serviceable and competent option. However, if you're really that skint, buying a refurb or second-hand aluminium version (Pro or otherwise) is worth considering given the improved experience it offers. And, if you're not that fussed, there are any number of Windows alternatives that offer more features, a more rounded package and a cheaper price.


Aside from a rather stingy hard drive, this is a decent laptop. However, it's hamstrung by its need to not be 'too cheap' and a chassis that's known to be less than sturdy. If it was retailing around the £650 to £700 mark it would be a very serious contender, but as things stand there are lots of avenues we'd investigate before opting for the MacBook.


July 10, 2009, 9:14 am

Hmm, tad harsh - though £709 was more palatable, wasn't it. Bear in mind however, that the top end 17-incher doesn't sport an SD slot (yet). I feel ambivalent about this, as I wouldn't mind one so long as it was made to be flush. It's a bit clumsy the now.


July 10, 2009, 9:16 am

*Sorry, it was £719 before, right? And just saying it now, it's still an annoying price!


July 10, 2009, 12:23 pm

insurance wrote off my dv3507 and gave me this instead.

nice - but actually the biggest downer is the box doesn't include any video adapters anymore.

Barry Ward

July 10, 2009, 12:48 pm

My wife and I both bought one of these white Macbooks, and I simply cannot recommend them at all. Firstly, I agree with the review that the audio volume is just far too low to watch/listen to media on it. I use to have to connect external speakers to mine when watching films/tv shows- that's how bad they are. Also, the white does stain after a period of use- yes, stain. Especially where you rest your wrists next to the touchpad. And there's hardly anything that works, having tried various products advised on the net. The top piece of plastic where you rest your wrist can even crack along the edge, like it did with mine. Okay, I used mine every single day, but they should be built for constant heavy use, surely.

I bought a Macbook Pro and haven't looked back. MUCH better quality design. No stains, no cracks, LOUD volume which still surprises me sometimes.

In closing- anyone after a Macbook should skip this, and save up for a Pro- plain and simple.


July 10, 2009, 2:00 pm

The Macbook does need to be cheaper. But then I suppose a lot of people buying them will qualify for student discount of somewhere up to 15%. I think they're pretty amazing machines, but damn do they look tatty after a few years when bits of plastic start cracking and falling off around the wrist areas! Anyone considering one of these should very seriously consider the 13" MBP instead.

Hamish Campbell

July 10, 2009, 2:10 pm

Second button is not really so important, I just use two finger tap on the touch pad.

I've got one from before uni body came along and you are spot on with this review. Heating up and fan when doing video, otherwise quiet. Screen angles poor and struggles with light. Plus mine has already a good dent in the corner and lines of plastic have cracked off where the lid closes and rests.

Other than that its perky as you say and has been a revolation for me and the wife moving from Windows. The cost was a fair bit to stomach but I must say for the experience and joy of using it we've been very happy.

I'd love one of the unibody ones now, only wish I could justify it to my cheap scottish inner ancestor.


July 10, 2009, 3:54 pm

Yeah, save up for the unibody. I dropped my unibody version from about 4 foot onto hard laminate flooring, not a scratch, I've a feeling if I'd done the same with the white one there would be a big long crack in the case now.


July 10, 2009, 4:06 pm

I had a white MB a couple of years ago and suffered from the cracking problem. It was repaired under Applecare but the reason really surprised me. Apparently the issue is with the lid - the small plastic ridges that hold the lid away from the base when the laptop is closed are right over a section of the wrist rest that isn't braced internally. Over time it simply smashes the wrist rest to pieces and you can't close it gently enough owing to the magnetic latch. A design fault according to the genius that sorted mine and one that hasn't been addressed several years later.

Andy Vandervell

July 10, 2009, 6:57 pm

Somebody posted on the MacBook Pro that Laskys is selling the Pro for £799.99 now. That is a stonking price:


July 10, 2009, 10:26 pm

@ Andy - In that case it's perhaps also worth noting the same spec 13" Pro is only £772.80 direct from Apple's HE store.

And I still wouldn't buy one.

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