Journal of a Geek

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Macbook Review

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I finally got my Macbook in yesterday. I think it’s time for a review.

First Impressions

My first impressions were that it was very light and compact. I had a 12″ Powerbook before that, so for it to be lighter and thinner than that was amazing.

The Screen

My first impression of the screen was that it was smaller than I expected. I had not seen one in person so I wasn’t sure what it would look like. The lack of height is definitely made up for by the extra width. The gloss film on the screen looks great. It’s not super glary like on some PC’s. It really makes all the colors pop and the screen seem brighter overall.

Parallels

The first task I went about doing on my Macbook was setting up Parallels and Visual Studio just as I did with the iMac in my earlier post. I found it to be noticeable slower, but not unbearable. It’s still 100x better than Virtual PC, and if it really gets to be a problem I can use Boot Camp. I think the main difference has to do with hard drive speed instead of processor speed difference. The Macbook uses a slower spinning hard drive than the iMac’s do.

World of Warcraft

I didn’t buy my Macbook for gaming. I know it’s video card isn’t exactly a power house, but I figured I would give it a try. With all the graphical settings set to low and resolution set to 1280×800 (the Macbook’s native resolution), I got about 25 fps in cities and 15 fps out in fields. Overall I was pleased with the Macbook’s performance.

Video Compression

To test the processor performance on the Macbook, I decided to use HandBrake as a test. Handbrake is a program that let’s you pull titles and chapters off of DVD’s and compress them into either Quicktime formats or AVI formats. On my iMac I it compresses about 20 frames per second on average. On the Macbook I got 60 frames per second! That is really a huge difference.

iMac Specs: 2.1Ghz G5, Radeon x600 XT, 1GB of RAM

Macbook Specs: 1.83Ghz Core Duo, Intel integrated video, 1GB of RAM

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Written by Ryan Farnell

August 1, 2006 at 4:29 pm

Posted in Apple

Parallels: Initial Install

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A few months ago Apple announced you would have the ability to run Windows on an Apple using an Intel processor. A day later a company called Parallels announced they were releasing a version of their product Parallels Workstation for Mac OS X. This software uses something called virtualization to create a fake computer running inside your operating system.

I’m in the process of ordering a Macbook and decided to start testing the speed of Parallels when its running Visual Studio 2005. Since this software is $50 ($80 after July 15th), I decided I should start seeing if this program is worth the investment.

I began by downloading the free trial of Parallels. The installation was as easy as most OS X applications. It uses a simple PKG installer. I then launched Parallels and created a new virtual machine. A wizard took me through the steps of creating an environment for the guest OS (the operating system being run inside the virtual machine). There were a ton of preconfiged packages that came straight from Parallels. It has configs for every version of windows (Windows 3.1 to Windows 2003 Server) and plenty of preconfigs for different versions of Linux. Once my machine was setup I simply hit the big green “Play” button. The virtual machine launched just like a normal PC.

The first OS I am testing is Windows XP. I downloaded an ISO off my student MSDN account and connected it to Parallels using the CD ROM menu at the bottom. It works exactly the same way as Virtual PC. The setup for Windows XP was identical to that of a normal PC install, but it was already much faster. Once Windows XP was done installing I used a Parallels menu to install the Parallels Tools. These tools let you do cool things such as clipboard synchronizations, allow the mouse to move in out of the OS easier, adds drivers for your virtual devices, and let you share folders between OS X and the guest OS. Windows XP doesn’t require any updates to install Visual Studio 2005, so I stopped my setup there.

The next OS I tired was Windows 2000. I installed it off a Windows 2000 install CD at work. I just used the CD ROM menu to capture the default CD/DVD. Once it was done with its once again speedy install, I used the menu option to install the Parallels Tools just like with Windows XP. I then ran Windows Update just as would normally be done on a Windows install to get the system ready for Visual Studio 2005.

One thing I forgot to mention is the specs I’m using for both virtual machines. The default hard drive size is 8GB which I left the same for both installs, and I set both machines to 512MB of RAM. Since my Macbook will only have 1GB of RAM, I want to test it under similar conditions. The iMac I’m using in the test is the 2.0GHz 20″ iMac.

Tomorrow I’m going to finish up installing Visual Studio 2005, and begin testing. I’ll make another post once that is complete.

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Written by Ryan Farnell

July 5, 2006 at 6:00 pm

Posted in Apple