Base MacBook upgraded but still $999

January 21, 2009

While the rest of the MacBook line was upgraded over the last couple of months, the base model was left as-is. That has now changed, with enhancements being made, but with the $999 price remaining the same.

The online Apple store has posted upgraded specs for the entry-level MacBook, which had been until now left out of the upgrade cycle that enhanced the other MacBooks and MacBook Pros. The Pro line got slimmer and more powerful, while the high end Macbook got a new metal skin, bringing it closer to the Pro models in appearance and gaining a little performance at the same time.

The basic polycarbonate-clad MacBook has finally come through the Apple upgrade mill. Although this basic MacBook still has a plastic shell, it’s innards have been much improved, according to a Macworld story. The internal changes should greatly enhance the performance of the lowest-end MacBook while adding nothing to the price.

The price of the polycarbonate model remains at $999, as compared to the new metal MacBook, now priced at $1299. The black polycarbonate model disappeared with the introduction of the metal model, leaving only the white plastic MacBook. Now, according to the Apple online store, the entry-level $999 MacBook uses the faster Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics. This, of course,  should mean  that the entry-level motherboard has been upgraded to bring it into line with the rest of the MacBook line, now all clad in aluminum. Remember that the aluminum MacBooks with those same Nvidia graphics performed significantly better in tests conducted in the Macworld labs.

Some differences remain between the two MacBooks. The drive in the entry-level machine has a 120GB capacity, while the aluminum-clad MacBook carries a 160GB drive. The memory configuration is different: the more expensive model comes with 2GB of 1066MHz memory, compared to the 667MHz used by the polycarbonate MacBook. Both models still have an 8x SuperDrive.

Although it is not exactly a bargain-basement MacBook, it is much improved and still carries a price tag under $1000. When compared head-to-head, the MacBook line has never seemed outrageously priced, if a non-Apple model with comparable specs can even be found. Given the design and the quality for which the MacBook is known, an Apple laptop for under $1000 might well be considered a bargain.

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