For some reason the MacBook and MacBook Pro ship with different builds of OS X 10.5.2:

The MacBook's OS X 10.5.2 build (9C2015)

The MacBook Pro's OS X 10.5.2 build (9C2018)

While my experience with the MacBook Pro was flawless, I did encounter two crashes with the base MacBook. Neither was repeatable but one was a kernel panic:

It only happened once and I couldn't get it to happen again, but it was strange given that both systems were configured and used identically. There's always new kinks to work out and I know OS X 10.5.1 was horribly unstable for me on my Mac Pro, so this could be an isolated software issue but I felt compelled to at least report it.

I’d never owned or even extensively used a MacBook before, so when I first met its screen I was shocked. This thing was terrible, no where near as good as what was on the Air or the Pro models. The problem wasn’t brightness, color reproduction or response time, it was the display’s poor off-angle viewing.

The MacBook (left) vs. MacBook Pro (right), at the right angle the two displays are identical

Start moving away from the perfect angle and the MacBook's display stats to look really washed out

And here's what you get in airplane mode, where you can't necessarily tilt the display as far back as you'd like. This setup may seem unnatural but the MacBook's display is clearly inferior.

The MacBook screen is terrible for off-angle viewing. Case in point, I’m writing this while on a plane on the MacBook. The seat in front of me is reclined too far back for me to tilt the screen back far enough to achieve a proper viewing angle. Instead, I’m looking at the screen off-axis and it’s unbelievably washed out.

The same isn’t true on the MacBook Pro, indicating that Apple is most likely using a TN panel on the standard MacBook and an IPS on the Pro.

With Penryn, thermals have improved on both of Apple's notebooks which translates into a cooler lap experience. The plastic enclosure of the MacBook doesn’t conduct heat as well as the aluminum MacBook Pro, meaning that it also feels better on your lap. Penryn doesn't produce as much heat as Merom so while the MacBook got warm, it never got hot during extended usage on my lap.

At 2.4GHz, the MacBook can offer some very respectable performance coupled with great battery life. It gets the job done as an entry-level Mac notebook, but the display really left me with a bad taste. Give me a better display and an ExpressCard slot and I don’t need the Pro, but then again I guess that’s Apple’s plan from the get-go.

The New MacBook The New MacBook Pro
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  • alphaod - Sunday, March 2, 2008 - link

    I also have different OS build. It's weird:

    System Software Overview:

    System Version: Mac OS X 10.5.2 (9C31)
    Kernel Version: Darwin 9.2.0
    Boot Volume: Macintosh HD
    Boot Mode: Normal
    Computer Name:
    User Name:
    Time since boot: 2:35
  • TechGirl - Saturday, March 1, 2008 - link

    wow, thank you so much for writing such a wonderful, informative, clear, and intelligent piece. As I begin to consider my next mac purchase, I will be coming back to your site! As of right now, my early 2004 ibook is chugging along, and I'm hoping to be able to wait until Montevina is put into apple's notebooks.
  • TechGirl - Saturday, March 1, 2008 - link

    Edit: I meant Nehalem :P
  • JAS - Friday, February 29, 2008 - link

    Thanks for publishing this comprehensive overview about the updated MacBook Pros. The timing is good because I've been thinking about getting one.

    I visited an Apple Store tonight to buy a 2.4 gHz 15-inch MacBook Pro -- but the clerk said there was a run on this model today and they're temporarily sold out. I'll go back in a few days. (Incidentally, within two hours, this store also sold out of the eight Time Capsules they received from Apple.)
  • Fuzzy33 - Friday, February 29, 2008 - link

    The Penryn model numbers are not given on the Apple site or in your review.

    Are they T8100, T8300 and T9300 models or are they unique?
  • MacTheSpoon - Friday, February 29, 2008 - link

    Thanks for the great review, Anand, and for including the update on how things are going with the Air in there.
  • canuck44 - Friday, February 29, 2008 - link


    Just to make it clear the MBP and MBA have LED backlight displays and the MacBook has a CCFL backlit screen. This is how much better the screens look in those respective products and why they have a much improved viewing angle.

  • RNDdave - Friday, February 29, 2008 - link

    Well I'm new round these parts. I stumbled by whilst trying to decide if the MBP or the MB is the better option for me.

    As it stands I think I'm in the same place I was before stopping by in that the decision is up to me. :)

    The article/review/blog/what ever was great and kept me interested through to the end. Great stuff.

  • crimson117 - Friday, February 29, 2008 - link

    Any thoughts about gaming on the Macbook or Macbook Pro?

    Particularly World of Warcraft :)
  • TechGirl - Saturday, March 1, 2008 - link

    I've read that it is playable on the Macbook, getting up to 30 fps, while it runs like a dream on the Pro, at a consistent 60 fps. Having said this, I haven't actually played WoW on either of them; I'm currently running it on my old G4 iBook (which I do NOT recommend :P)

    Given the dedicated graphics on the pro, it is obviously the gaming machine of the two. Plus, you can run windows well on it, and then play PC games. The standard macbook can do non-demanding stuff, but you will never be able to play the latest and greatest on it.

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