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Apple updates white 13-inch MacBook to NVIDIA architecture

Apple this week quietly upgraded its previous-generation white 13-inch MacBooks to NVIDIA's 9400M architecture, a move aimed at boosting sales of its most affordable notebook during a period of reduced consumer spending.

The $999 entry level model now includes the same 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 1,066MHz front-side bus employed by the mid-range aluminum unibody MacBook, and also adopts the same NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics processor with 256MB of DDR2 SDRAM shared memory.

As part of the upgrade, the white MacBook also saw a doubling of its default memory configuration to 2GBs, though the system still employs 667MHz DDR2 memory rather than the faster 1,066MHz DDR3 breed of its aluminum cousins.

Outside of an upgrade to Bluebooth 2.1 from 2.0, the remainder of the notebook's specifications remain largely unchanged, including its 120GB 5400-rpm Serial ATA hard disk drive, non-backlit keyboard, and 8X SuperDrive.

Of some significance is that Wednesday upgrade delivers a 13-inch MacBook that offers the benefits of NVIDIA's new 9400M platform in addition to FireWire (400). Apple specifically withheld FireWire from its new unibody MacBooks introduced this past October, a move that was met with considerable criticism from owners of FireWire-only digital video cameras and eventually drew an email response from chief executive Steve Jobs.

The revised white MacBook also retains its legacy Mini-DVI port rather than jumping up to the company's emerging Mini DisplayPort standard (proposal), meaning its secondary display support remains limited to a full native resolution of up to 1920 by 1200 pixels, or the equivalent of the 20-inch Apple Cinema Display.

Apple offers a build-to-order option to upgrade the system with a 160GB Serial ATA Drive @ 5400 rpm for $50 more, a 250GB Serial ATA Drive @ 5400 rpm for $150 more, and a 320GB Serial ATA Drive @ 5400 rpm for $250 more.

The Mac maker's move to further embrace its legacy polycarbonate MacBook suggests demand for the notebook remained relatively strong during the recent holiday shopping season despite speculation that the system was destined to be phased out.

A better than expected mix of the sub-$1000 notebook may also explain why the average selling price (ASP) of Macs during the month of December remained relatively flat instead of rising 12 percent as some analyst on Wall Street had been expecting.

The upgraded 13-inch MacBook is expected to ship in 4 to 6 business days.

MacMall is currently offering AppleInsider readers an additional 3% off its entire inventory of 13-inch MacBooks with coupon code APPINSDRMWB17065, which recently brought the cost of the now previous model to $910.83. The retailer has yet to update its website with the NVIDIA-based model, but is expected to do so shortly. Meanwhile, ClubMac is offering AI readers 3% off its inventory of MacBook Pros with coupon code APPINSDRCWB02822. Details of both promotions are available here.