I’m in the mar­ket for a new lap­top and I pur­pose­fully waited for the new Mac­Books to be released. I priced out a Dell XPS M1330 and once the fea­tures are matched up as close as I can make them, there’s a $60 price dif­fer­ence in favor of the Dell. $1599 vs $1533. The Mac­Book comes out ahead in GPU, FSB, and oper­at­ing sys­tem (OS X > Vista because of Unix) and the Dell comes out ahead in terms of con­nec­tors (HDMI, Firewire, card reader, Express­Card slot, etc.). I tried to con­fig­ure a com­pa­ra­ble Ubuntu machine, but the proces­sor speed is fixed at 2.0 GHz and eas­ily went over com­pared to the $1299 Mac­Book. The only com­peti­tor now is a late model 15″ Mac­Book Pro which for refurb starts at $1349—a very tasty price indeed. The MBP matches the advan­tages of the m1330 and has a bet­ter GPU, screen size, and res­o­lu­tion than the new Mac­Book. How much bet­ter is the GPU? Let’s see.

Based on the num­bers pro­vided by the keynote, the 9400M is 82% as good as the 8600M GT at best and 55% as good at worst. Look­ing at the num­bers on the Apple web­site, com­par­ing the new Mac­Book Pro to the new Mac­Book, the 9600M GT is 1.5 to 2.3 times bet­ter than the 9400M. I also looked at the bench­marks at Notebookcheck.com which say that the 9600M GT is 25% bet­ter than the 8600M GT and the 8400M is only 44% as good as the 8600M GT. So with all these rel­a­tive num­bers, the rank­ing is approximately:

9600M GT 100%
8600M GT 80%
9400M 67% 44%
8400M GS 35%

If you’re not con­vinced, here’s the san­ity check… 67/80 ~= 82%. 44/80 = 55%. 100/67 ~= 1.5. 100/44 ~= 2.3. (100−80)÷80 = 25%.

So is hav­ing 1lb less weight and faster FSB and mem­ory at the cost of hav­ing a GPU that’s 55% to 82% as good, smaller screen/resolution, and less con­nec­tions worth an extra $250? I don’t plan to travel much, but when I do I like to travel light. I don’t plan to game, and I’m more likely to do more com­pu­ta­tion­ally inten­sive tasks than graphic inten­sive tasks. I also don’t own that many periph­er­als. While home, the lap­top will be hooked up to an exter­nal mon­i­tor. The new Mac­Book fits my needs bet­ter, but the late model Mac­Book Pro seems to be the bet­ter value. I’ve got the money sit­ting in the bank. Deci­sions, decisions.

UPDATE (04 Jan 2009): Two and a half weeks ago, I was hired by a com­pany as a con­trac­tor and they are pre­dom­i­nantly Macs. The fan on my old Com­paq seemed to be dying since the lap­top over­heats and freezes, so it had to be replaced. So I set­tled on pur­chas­ing a 15″ early-2008 Mac­Book Pro. My pri­mary rea­son was light­ing in the office was not con­ducive to a glossy screen and I got more bang for the buck with the MPB since there was very lit­tle per­for­mance advan­tages between the old and newer mod­els. Then of course I hear it’s not easy to drag & drop and use graphic edi­tors with the new track­pad. Plus I didn’t have to go through the added has­sle and expense of pur­chas­ing an adapter for hook­ing up to my mon­i­tor. For resale value, I opted to get the 2.5 GHz with 512MB video ram for $1499 since the hard drive and mem­ory can be upgraded later. In any case, it’s still cheaper than the 13″ 2.4 GHz Mac­book. How­ever, hav­ing trav­eled with this lap­top to LA and back, I have to say, a 13″ ver­sion would have been more com­fort­able to use on the plane. Here’s hop­ing Apple, brings back matte screens and low­ers the price on the 13″ models.

5 Responses to “9600M GT versus 8600M GT versus 9400M

  1. Johnny said on October 15th, 2008 at 12:02 pm:

    Dude I am in the exact same spot as you are.

    I LOVE the look and mostly size of the revamped Mac­book and my deci­sion was already 99% made. HOWEVER when I saw the price of the prev. gen­er­a­tion of mac­book pro 15 is about only $100 more or so that the new mac­book — threw me into a totally new territory.

    ARGH so torn between the 2 choices right now.

  2. Norman said on October 16th, 2008 at 5:05 am:

    I had to take the same decis­sion, i didnt want to spend too much money just for being a fan­boy, so i ordered the mac­book. But then i deleted the order and am now order­ing the pro, the 250 dol­lar price dif­fer­ence for a much big­ger screen is one reason.

    The 2nd is that snow leop­ard will allow OS X to let many tasks be con­trolled by the GPU instead of the CPU.
    So hav­ing a good graph­ics card NOW, will be a big dif­fer­ence in a half to one year when the snow leop­ard leaps ahead.

    I hope that kinda helps you.

    Nor­man, Germany

  3. Geoff said on November 6th, 2008 at 8:05 am:

    Thanks for this infor­ma­tion, just like you three I’m try­ing to make the same deci­sion. It’s good to know that Snow Leop­ard will ben­e­fit from a bet­ter GPU. For me every­thing about the early-2008 Pro is bet­ter than the new MB except the track­pad and memory/FSB speed. I’m lean­ing toward the pro since I won’t be con­nect­ing to a mon­i­tor at home.

    Where are you find­ing the early-2008 Pro for $1350? I can only find $1450 after rebate.

  4. Brian said on November 6th, 2008 at 8:20 am:

    As of today, refur­bished Mac­Book Pros start at $1299 and go up from there depend­ing on con­fig­u­ra­tion, avail­able from the Apple online store.

  5. MacBook hippie said on February 20th, 2009 at 9:04 pm:

    Hmmm. I like the post, but it’s a bit sub­jec­tive to be hon­est. Not that my opin­ion mat­ters :) Keep posting!