12" AlBook, too slow?

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by pgulliver, Mar 3, 2003.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Jan 9, 2003
    I'm a potential switcher and went to my closest Apple Store over the weekend to check out the products.

    I loved the 12" design, screen, portablility, etc. However, it felt slow to me. Rather, it felt the same speed as the Pentium III desktop I use at work. And if I'm dropping $2k on a computer, I want it to feel snappy and fast.

    So here's my question, I was looking at a base model with only 256mb RAM. I understand that OS/X is pretty RAM intensive...if I boosted the RAM to the full 640mb possible, would I notice a signigificant speed boost? Would programs loud quicker, with fewer "bounces"?

    My hope would be to have the most common apps I use load (almost)instantenously...ie, Safari, iPhoto, iTunes, and Word and Excel....


    PS: What would be the usuable life of the 12" based on previous Mac update cycles? At what point would it become completely obsolete?
  2. macrumors regular

    Dec 13, 2002
    From my Experience

    I really don’t know if more RAM will help the computer open apps faster, but it will make the OS snappier. I felt a big difference in OSX when I went form 256Mb to 1+GB. My computer is very snappy and you can open all the programs you need at once and have them open no prob. RAM will further enrich your experience even tough I don’t know if it will make the apps open faster. From my experience, Safari opens in one bounce; word, excel, and power point will open relatively fast, probably two or three bounces, and I only have a 500mhz G4 with tons of RAM. :D
  3. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 9, 2003
    Another Question

    Hey, thanks for the response...another question...

    Does your 500mhx G4 have an L3 cache? Does the L3 really speed any of the operations we are talking about, or does that only come into play when doing something truly enormous, like DV editing?
  4. macrumors regular

    Jul 22, 2002
    I don't have the new 12" PowerBook, but I have the 800Mhz iBook. I have Office 2001 installed which runs in OS 9.2 (the iBook has both OSX 10.2.4 and OS 9.2.2). It took 9 seconds to open Excel.

    It takes 3 seconds to open Appleworks in OSX, ditto with iPhoto. The G4 in the PowerBook has more power than the G3 in my iBook, mostly because of the Altivec velocity engine and faster bus speed. But as far as the speed with which either one launches applications, they are about the same. My iBook has 640 MB of ram and yes, that does speed things up. My 512 MB memory module crapped out after about two months, and I could really tell the difference while I waited for the replacement.

    As far as the usable life, as long as it's working, it's usable. PowerBooks average upgrades every 6-7 months. It just depends on whether or not one of those upgrades is a must-have for you.

    In case you're new to the Mac world, most of the Mac faithful are expecting (hoping/praying) Apple to begin using the new IBM PowerPC 970 processor sometime this fall. It is a much more powerful chip than the G4. When we will see one of those in a PowerBook is anybody's guess, but I doubt it will happen this year.

  5. macrumors 6502a


    Dec 15, 2002
    The L3 cache doesnt seem to play much of a factor execpt in processor intensive things. My mom is on a 733 with no L3 and it feels pretty good. More ram would definetly help. As far as speed, the computer is a lot faster than it feels, if you ask it to do a photoshop render or something similiar it will hold its own against many PC's. Dell's 12 inch ultra mobile is just a 866 pIII, so its got good performance for the market. The useable life should be quite a while, i origonal iMacs are still useable and still have some value and they were released a LONG time ago.
  6. macrumors regular

    Dec 19, 2002
    Oxford UK

    I can't believe people are moaning about how quickly an application opens. Where talking seconds here not hours. It takes me 3 seconds to crank one out, but who really cares.
    Just get out of bed 30 seconds earlier in the morning to make up for the slower processor.

    It often amazes me at how pathetic and small people can be sometimes. If this is your only problem then get the F@ck over it.

    How many bounces ??? Get a life !!!
  7. macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2002
    RAM will definitely speed up everything. One thing about the store models is corrupted permissions. Once you have your own machine, take car of it weell, and it will run faster than the one in the store.

    As far as life span. Realistically, you can get four to five years of use before the new ones will be so nice you have to have one. Even when Apple moves to 64 bit, the OS will still un on 32 bit chips for a while. So say four years if you don't have to have the latest thing. On the other hand, I've never heard of a powerbook dying, and I still ocassional use my eight-year-old 3400.
  8. macrumors regular

    Dec 13, 2002
    Re: Another Question

    Nop, It only has 1mb of L2 Cache( runing at half the Proc. speed, I think!!) From what I've read, the lack of L3 is not a noteciable if you're not a power user. In other words, you won't feel the diffrence if your e-mailing, using word, powerpoint, or even if your not dealing with huge files in Photoshop. My 500mhz does this all no prob, and it even does 3D, renders complex After Effects projects, and edits in FC not prob, of course it takes alot more time than say, a 1Ghz PB, but it does the job. So it all depends on the criteria of what you whant and what you need.

    Hope it helps.

    But yes!! Its allways a good idea to MAX RAM.
  9. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 9, 2003
    And a screen question

    It also seemed to me in the store that the screen on the 12" was much brighter than the 15" tiBook screen. Has anyone else noticed this, or was it simply the store lighting (or a contrast setting?)?
  10. macrumors 68040


    Nov 5, 2002
    It was probably just set differently at the store. In my expereince most apple displays are simlar enough that if you adjust them to the same point you won't notice a huge change. Below is a snapshot of the birghtness control which is probly what your noticing in the difference because it is one of the few setting options availble. As you can see the user defines the birghtness level rather easily (also alters battery life severly)

    Attached Files:

  11. macrumors 6502a


    Jan 19, 2002
    The lvl3 cache actually helps quite a bit on heavier everyday stuff such as booting the machine, running complex programs...
    It really shines on the machines with DDR, since the FSB is still slow, keeps any extra delays away. It will make a difference in the snappiness of the overall machine to, exept for drive-related slowdowns. Don't underestimate that cache much, cause it just takes care of one more bottleneck in the hardware.
  12. macrumors 65816


    Nov 1, 2002
    Re: OH MY FREAKIN GOD !!!!

    To a switcher, it does matter. Those of us who have to use Windows on a regular basis don't wait for 9 seconds for Excel to open. I only wait 3 seconds for a Excel file that is 3.5MB to open, from a server in another part of my building.

    OS X does not have the instant on feeling (snap if you will) that Windows has.
  13. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 9, 2003
    switching slowness

    Thank you yzedf.

    That's my feeling as well, I didn't want to report to the obvious troll, but that guy really pissed me off.

    I matters because while I have taken the time to learn about Mac, OS X, etc, and am really impressed and want to embrace it, it is difficult for me to justify spending the sums of money required for a decent Mac, and then get performance (not design) the equals a midlevel two year old PC desktop.

    I know Apple has chip speed problems, I hope the 970 solves this.

    But you're not going to get switchers to feel good about the choice if you insult them.
  14. macrumors member

    Jan 12, 2002
    I have been very happy with the performance..the only apps that take a while ot open are office apps and the splash screen makes things worse, thats why safari exists, its instantaneous. I recommend the 12" with all my heart. One nice thing about OSX is that you only have to open the app once, and then you leave it ioen, but closer the window. For that I recommend maxing out the RAM, and then you should be fine :) Its a great box, thee engineering is amazing, I am very happy with it, and guess what, I'm also a switcher. I found that even on a P4 2.4 laptop, things were a little slower than desktops, and Microsoft programs still took a long time to open (whose idea are splash screens anyway?)...I think OSX actually overcomes that
    Good luck!
    (could you get thic kind of community advice from another computer manufacturer? I think not :)
  15. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 9, 2003
    Thanks Bubba

    Hey man, thanks for the advice.

    Did you just switch? Are you finding performance of the MS Office Apps is comperable on the 12"? When you say they take a while to open, what are we talking about?

    Also, won't that really overload the system to keep many apps open at once?
  16. macrumors member

    Jan 12, 2002
    I also think the laptops have longer lives than desktops...Even when the 970 comeso ut, I think it will be a long time before it is in a laptop
    Apples may be a little slower, but they are MUCH smaller (some pcs are smallr, yeah, with the drive on the outside) and they use less power...if you want a desktop replacement for SPSS, maybe this isn't for you...if you want a portable that you actually feel comfortable moving (because it is light enough and robust enough) that is fast enough to do anything yo need on the go, then I recommend this machine
  17. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 9, 2003

    I'm not sure what that means.

    Ok, my needs:

    I'm starting grad school in the fall (assuming they mail me a nice letter sometime this month). I'll be in for 3-4 years, and I want to purchase something now that will last me that long.

    I'm looking for a marriage of portability and power, cause I'll be lugging the thing all over to classes, libraries etc. But I also want it to remain a decent machine for a while...I have bad memories of the PC Pentium 1 laptop I bough in 1997 at the start of University, which was completely useless when I was graduating for years later.

    I will be really using, for school, only Word, Excel, and internet (whether Safari or whathave you.) I might also be doing some limited statistical work with STATA, a statistics program made for both Windows/OS X.

    Personally, I want to be able to play some games, but I'm not a gaming fanatic...probably looking more towards Sim City than some 3d shooter. I want to use iTunes to manage my music, and I photo for photography. I used to be real into printing my own pics (back in the days of the darkroom) I'm hoping the Mac would let me get a little experimental again so I'd probably be using Photoshop Elements or Photoshop 7 (btw...what's the main difference between these two programs)

    So, I guess the 12" meets my needs? And will seem fast?
  18. macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2002
    Edmonton, Alberta
    No, itsn't fast as a windows machine

    But that's the fact of tos x . My dual 867 lacked the 'snap' of my work box, running Win2000 on a 1ghz Athlon.

    And my 12' pbook is a little slower yet. You won't get the snap. Don't bother trying. It won't happen.

    However, i wonder why you're even bothering with a mac if this detail might hold you back. Get a new pc laptop with 1.5 hours of battery life, **** bluetooth support and a crappy OS instead.
  19. macrumors 68030


    Dec 7, 2002
    Florida, USA
    If you buy the 12" powerbook, you MUST max out the RAM. By the time that thing is closed to being 'obslete' you will need that 640mb!
  20. macrumors regular

    Nov 6, 2002
    Palo Alto
    Just wanted to chime in with my experience with an apple laptop . . .

    I bought a 400 mhz G3 Lombard when I started college - this is the same computer I use today and will use up until I finish this May. Thus, the Lombard will have lasted most of my college career (3 3/4 yrs.). It's definitely not the fastest machine anymore, and I have been pretty cheap with it too (i.e., haven't upgraded RAM, it's still at 64 megs and I haven't upgraded to X) but this thing definitely runs well enough and fast enough for me to not care too much.

    The only iApp I run is iTunes which runs just fine, so I guess I can't help you there, but with regards to how long the computer will last you, I think if you max the RAM it should last you through grad school just fine.
  21. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 9, 2003
    Why Mac?

    I'm interested for a variety of reasons:

    1) stable, well built, easy to use OS
    2) iApps
    3) Design (I place a premium on well built, well designed products. Apple does this and I want to support them)

    But until this weekend, my recent (since college and Since OSX) experience with Macs had been limited to what I could learn online. It was shocking and surprising to get to the Apple Store and find the speed delay on the new laptop.

    I was ready to buy a PB 12" this weekend. I didn't because of the speed issue.

    People, please don't get snarky about this speed thing. Look, I am the person you want to be buying a Mac. I'm exactly the demographic Apple is targeting...and I've been good and done my research on Mac, after writing them off during high school.

    I'm impressed with what I've found.

    However, and I know you all know this, Apple will never be able to break into type of market share it wants if this speed issue is not addressed, and fast.

    Most people who use a computer, whether they like it or not, are using Windows based computers: in schools, in libraries, in jobs, at public internet cafes, at home....

    And people, myself included, are used to the speed and snap of Windows. We may hate a lot of other Windows traits, and may be waiting, hoping, to find a way to move away from Windows. But while Apple prices remain so high, and while there is a noticiable speed delay even to someone just poping into a store and screwing around for 10 minutes...there is a serious problem. Few who are used to speed are willing to drop circa $2000 on a machine that, for whatever its pluses, is slower than what they are used to. Its just not going to happen.
  22. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 9, 2003

    To those of you who offered advice, thanks! I'm still debating, I've just put off my purchase for a week or so.

    That message above was only written to those who feel like any slight criticism of a Mac is a direct assault on them, and posted accordingly.
  23. macrumors member

    Sep 28, 2002
    Re: SPSS?

    SPSS is a statistical analysis software package. Psych majors and other people in grad school are usually [painfully] familiar with it. At least in the psych field, it is really the app of choice rather than STATA or Statview. I guess it depends on what your field uses. I run SPSS on my iBook 500mhz. A little slow, but otherwise fine. It runs great on my 667mhz tower at home.

    My sister is a college student who just got the Superdrive 12" PB and she loves it. Big improvement over her iBook in terms of speed doing things like iphoto and photoshop and all. It's, in my opinion, the perfect student machine. I am wishing I could get one but there is no more student loan money for me for this year, :-(, and besides, my iBook is still holding its own as a notebook/stats/contaact manager/otherwise portable desk... :) Poop, lol.

  24. macrumors member

    Feb 27, 2003
    Gilbert, AZ

    I'm a "switcher" 3 days in the making to this point (12" PB)...have used pc's all my life....haven't spent more than 2 hours combined on an apple....

    I did the same thing...read EVERYTHING I possibly could....sort of a "closet switcher"...knew all that was going on, machines, software, etc....I was just a bit "scared" to switch...loose my security blanket if you will...

    Well, today is day 4 and all is well....I have found that some programs do open a bit slower than the pc, BUT, and the BIG BUT is that my overall user experience is much better. I'm not worried about messing up the OS while "learning it"...you know, installing the wrong thing, deleting the wrong thing, worrying about how to <ctrl><alt><dlt> out of things....etc, etc....

    It is a whole different world...and a real tough thing to compare...but when it came down to it for me, it is the over user experience that I am so far happy with.
    The ability to search the web, read/write email, design webpages, learn *nix, listen to iTunes and even work in excel....
    It has taken a few "bounces" sometimes to open certain programs....but I have YET to have a crash of any sort while doing all the above....or while repeatedly putting it to sleep to move it around to continue somewhere else....

    just my 2 cents...
  25. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 9, 2003
    Closet Switchers

    MightyB, you know all too well the pain of the closet switcher.

    Good to hear your positive review...that makes sense, its worth a little slowness to be able to do all these other things.

    Do you feel you can multitask well? Once several apps are started, does it take much time to switch between them?

    Also, I've heard scrolling is sluggish in programs like Word. Has anyone found this to be the case? I write and research A LOT and definitely don't want to deal with sluggish scrolling either in browser or my Word.

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