Is the latest MacBook the “Mac Pro Mini” ?

macbook_both_lep.jpgAs much as Apple tries to stratify their consumer MacBook line from their “professional” MacBook Pro line (which merely carries on the design ethos from the PowerPC era), it is clear that, where G3 and G4 chips created a clear demarcation line, the move to Intel Core 2 Duo chips (like nearly the rest of the computing world) means that almost every computer is the same.

So it shouldn’t be surprising that the latest MacBook actually bested the significantly more expensive MacBook Pro. But is it the MacPro Mini many have wished for? …

In a MacBook review in Macworld, they found:

The new MacBooks also have a faster 800MHz system bus—the old frontside bus was 667MHz. They can now support up to 4GB of RAM, up from 2GB officially supported in previous systems. One interesting thing to note is that the 2.2GHz black MacBook actually achieved a higher Speedmark score than the current 2.2GHz MacBook Pro. With identical-speed Intel processors, we were not surprised to find similar results between the Macbook and MacBook Pro in our Cinema4D tests, but with what appears to be a sluggish hard drive in the MacBook Pro, the 2.2GHz MacBooks were actually faster than the MacBook Pro in almost all other non-gaming tests.benchmark.gif

Apple itself touts:

Starting at just $1099, MacBook is perfectly designed … with Intel Core 2 Duo processors, 1GB of memory, and large hard drives in all models. …including a built-in iSight camera … iLife ’08, Front Row, a glossy 13-inch widescreen display, and even dual-display support.

Given that the gargantuan MacPro starts at $2500, and the next step down is the $800 Mac Mini, can you use the MacBook as a desktop machine between the two disparate solutions from Apple?

Let’s compare the latest MacBook with the Mini.

The MacBook is available with a faster processor (2.2g v. 2.0)
MacBook has a faster frontside bus (800MHz v. 667)
Higher RAM capability (4GB v. 2)
Bigger optional hard drive (250GB v. 160)
Faster DVD Burner (8x v. 4x/2.4x)
Built in UPS (6 HR v. none)
Built-in screen (1280×800 v. none)
Built-in entry devices (keyboard & trackpad v. none)
Built in video (iSight camera v. none)
Dual Screen Support (Internal & External v. External)
Intel GMA X3100 GPU w/144MB of RAM v. GMA 950 w/64MB

MacBook has fewer USB (2 v. 4)
MacBook is heavier (5 lb v. 3)*

Methinks that Macworld hit upon something here.
Apple’s latest upgrades have given us a mid-level desktop box that is far, far cheaper, smaller, lighter, than the Mac Pro (and yes, not as powerful), but is far more capable than the “low end” desktop Mac- the Mini.

Anthony’s Mini Pro (Photoshop) (c) November 2005.

Adding up the costs for an external keyboard, mouse, screen, UPS, screen splitter, bigger external hard drive, faster external DVD burner and other accessories that would bring the Mini up to the capabilities of the MacBook, it is clear that the MacBook is a bargain.

*Hard to believe the UPS, keyboard, trackpad, and screen, etc., only weigh two pounds.

No, The MacBook is not a real Mac Pro Mini, with full size internal hard drives (two please) and a full size optical drive that we can easily replace with a new one as drive speeds increase. No it doesn’t have a PCI slot, or even a PCMCIA or ExpressCard slot that would enable users to add specific capabilities that aren’t built into the machine. But the MacBook is far closer to a Mac Mini Pro than the Mini. At this point, the MacBook is actually closer to the Mac Pro than the MacBook Pro. Heck, a closed MacBook actually fits into a production rack with a thickness of LESS than 1RU!


It’s likely that the MacBook’s integrated graphics, however improved, will still not meet the requirements of Motion or Color, two GPU demanding applications in the Pro suite. But many FCP users are already happily cutting away with the existing 64 MB integrated video in the Mini and the previous MacBook.

This new MacBook gives both the video and the bus speed a serious kick in the pants.
That’s why it beat the MacBook pro in the overall Speedmark score.

So, starting at just $1100, you can have your compact, inexpensive edit station
take it with you!



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2 thoughts on “Is the latest MacBook the “Mac Pro Mini” ?

Add yours

  1. “*Hard to believe the UPS, keyboard, trackpad, and screen, etc., only weigh two pounds.”

    It’s not two pounds, closer to three. The mini’s shell actually takes a third of the 3lb weight. It’s about 1/4″ thick aluminum all the way around. Still, it’s really nice how light notebooks are for what they get us.

  2. Hmmm. When I opened my Mac Mini to put more RAM into it, the entire enclosure was plastic. There’s a thin shield of metal in the inside, but the case? That’s cheap, light plastic.

    Removing the housing. The Mac mini’s plastic housing is attached to the motherboard in four places: the front right corner (M) and the rear right and left corners (N, O) via Phillips screws, and directly to the motherboard via the daughtercard (G) that also connects to the optical drive and hard drive.

    the [intel] Mac mini hasn’t changed much from its previous version.

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