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How fast is the original MacBook compared to the iBook that it replaced?
Please note that all systems mentioned in this Q&A have been discontinued. The original MacBook was replaced by the "Late 2006" MacBook Core 2 Duo series.
Apple advertised that the MacBook is "up to five times faster than the iBook and up to four times faster than the 12-inch PowerBook". However, this claim is based on "SPECint and SPECfp rate tests" rather than "real-world" application tests.
Using the Cinebench benchmark, the author reported that "a comparison with the iBook's ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 is embarrassing, to say the least. The scores were clearly not even in the same league." A QuickTime encoding test, likewise, was more than twice as fast on the MacBook than it was on the iBook. However, apparently limited by the speed of the drive itself, an iTunes CD ripping test provided basically identical results, with the iBook "only slower by four seconds".
The always excellent MacWorld also put the MacBook through its paces in an in-depth review. The whole piece should be read for complete perspective, but in particular regarding performance the author reported that:
The new MacBooks performed well overall, and especially in our processor-intensive native application tests, where they even outperformed the 1.5GHz 12-inch PowerBook.
The MacBooks were three times as fast in our Cinema 4D render test, nearly twice as fast in our Compressor MPEG2 encoding test, and about 1.5 times as fast in our iTunes MP3 encoding test. . .
As with all Intel-based Macs, however, applications that have not yet been updated to run natively on Intel chips must use Apple’s Rosetta dynamic translation technology, and those apps perform much more slowly than they do on older PowerPC-based Macs.
In our Photoshop CS2 tests, for example, the 1.83GHz MacBook took almost 68 percent longer to complete our suite of tests than the 12-inch PowerBook, while the 2.0GHz MacBook took 53 percent longer.
Ultimately, when running native applications written for Intel-based Macs, the original MacBook generally is substantially faster than both the iBook and PowerBook systems it replaced. The "real-world" difference is less than the four or five times faster claim, but still huge nevertheless. When running applications written for PowerPC-based Macs, on the other hand, the MacBook often is slower.