Secret MacBook Upgrade = FW400 & nVidia!

picture-25.pngApple sure pissed off a lot of Macintosh users when the addressed the key limitation of their MacBook computers- namely the shared graphics processor- when Apple introduced the unibody MacBook… and completely removed the FireWire port. This made the new MacBooks completely unable to import DV or HDV footage from almost every such camcorder and deck on the market because they all do so over one interface: FireWire.

Well, perhaps Apple has actually listened to their customers this time and provided this same powerful graphics capability in their polycarbonate $999 MacBook, which still has FireWire 400.

Personally, I hate stealth upgrades because it makes it hard to know what the heck is going on, but in this case, I can make an exception. picture-24.pngThe price didn’t change. But, suddenly, the cheapest MacBook- which was nothing but a holdover to clear out old stock of the polycarbonate model- gets the hot graphics processor which sudenly makes the MacBook a usable graphics machine… i.e. a decent Final Cut Pro performer.

Admittedly, there’s no FireWire 800 to deal with high data rate video, nor is there an expansion card slot to add that capability after the fact. But it’s a bargain price (for a Mac) and it includes connectivity with the video hardware we need to get the job done. And now it suddenly becomes, as Apple touts it, “5x better” at doing that job, pushing pixels around on screen.

We also get the new 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo processor with a faster 1,066MHz front side bus, 2GB of 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM memory standard (up from 1GB). Add to this the easy ability to upgrade the internal hard drive to a really big and fast one, and you got a decent performer. Whether it still has the “antiglare” matte screen is still unknown, but the improvements made are quite important to mobile video pros.

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