A 1.25GHz G4 PowerBook plays World of Warcraft far better than a 2.0GHz Intel Core Duo Macbook, even with 2GB of RAM, even with the video settings set lower on the MacBook. Civ IV, on the other hand, runs fine, something that’s not true on the G4. There’s got to be a bug in the video drivers, because that just doesn’t make sense, even with shared video memory.
[and why did I buy a MacBook instead of a MacBook Pro? Partially because I already have gaming hardware at home (and, at least for now, a work-owned MacBook Pro with 2GB of RAM), partially because I wanted the slightly smaller form factor and increased battery life, partially because Sony launched the α100 with a 135mm f/1.8 Zeiss lens…]
[by the way, I replaced the stock drive with a 160GB Seagate from OWC. I never even booted off of the supplied 60GB drive; I just moved it into an external enclosure and copied everything over with SuperDuper!]
[Update: I expected the problem to be related to the variety of shapes and textures used for player-character armor and weapons, so that having more people around made the performance worse. Nope, it’s geometry. I can run through a crowd in Undercity at 15 f/s, but I can’t stare at a single complex building (such as Light’s Hope Chapel, with no players in sight) without the frame rate dropping to 4-5 f/s. The crowds of people around the bridge in Ironforge aren’t what slows the MacBook down to 2 f/s; it’s the buildings themselves. The game is perfectly playable away from architecture.]
[Update: Damn. I mean, damn. I just finished putting the latest Boot Camp beta on the MacBook, and tested WoW under Windows. The frame rate was 3-5 times higher, across the board. Exact same hardware, exact same game settings, ridiculously fast. So I turned the settings up, restarting every time to see when it would choke, and found myself riding past the bank in Ironforge at 10 f/s with every setting at maximum, on Saturday night at 9pm. I realize that a reliable OS can’t let random drivers get as chummy with the hardware as Windows does, but damn. “Dear Apple. Fix this. Love, J”.]