First take: Apple's new MacBook offers sleek style, solid performance

It's still encased in white plastic, but it gets new 'unibody' look

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Internally, the MacBook has much in common with the low-end MacBook Pro. Both feature a 64-bit 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 3MB of on-chip shared L2 cache running at the same speed as the processor, 2GB of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM, and a 1066MHz frontside bus. (You can double the RAM to 4GB for $100.)

Video is provided by the Nvidia 9400M graphics processor, which borrows 256MB from main memory for video RAM but still supports OpenCL and Grand Central Dispatch. Those two technologies in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard allow the GPU to be used in concert with the main processor

For users planning video chats, the MacBook has the now-common iSight camera built into the bezel above the display. And, as in the previous model, the MacBook's ports are all located on the left side, with the optical drive on the right.

In addition to the Magsafe power adapter (which looks more like the Air's magnetic plug than those that come with Pro models), the MacBook offers gigabit Ethernet, a Mini DisplayPort, two USB 2.0 ports, a single port for audio in/out, and a slot for a hardware lock. Apple has now consolidated the audio in and out ports, and the MacBook will work with an iPhone headset that has a built-in microphone.

With this version, however, Apple dropped the FireWire port. For most people, USB 2.0 is fine for connecting external drives and digital cameras. But if you have a FireWire 800 peripheral that you absolutely have to use, you might have to step up to the MacBook Pro.

The stock hard drive holds 250GB of data and spins at 5,400 rpm. It represents a nice bump from the 160GB drive on the previous model, but if you need even more room for your files, you can upgrade to a 320GB model (for $50 more) or a 500GB drive (for an extra $150). Too bad none of those is a 7,200-rpm drive or a solid-state drive. Either would offer a speed boost, but likely conflicts with Apple's effort to keep prices down.

Rounding out the feature list are 802.11n-based Wi-Fi networking, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR and the now-standard, slot-loading SuperDrive that reads and writes to both CDs and DVDs.

new unibody MacBook
The new MacBook is built using Apple's "unibody" process.

Taken all together, the well-equipped MacBook represents largely incremental updates to the architecture of the previous model.

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