12'' Powerbook Feedback?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by JLaFrance, Sep 18, 2004.

  1. JLaFrance macrumors member

    May 24, 2004
    I'm pretty sure that I'm going to get a 12'' Powerbook :cool: , but I want to get some feedback from current owners/users. To help me get a feel for what I'm getting into, please include model etc., what you use it for and anything (if anything) you would do different (anything you wish you would have included or left out etc.)

    Thank You for any feedback!!

    (My other option was either the iMac G5 or 14'' iBook and I am going to use it for all the everyday things, plus a few games and XCode/Codewarrior work {feel free to tell me I'm crazy of I am} )
  2. KevRC4130 macrumors 6502

    Jul 1, 2004
    I do all sorts of things, from Photoshop, iMovie, iTunes, MS Office, iChat, Safari, my iPod, everything. I'm still using the stock 256mb of ram too. It's great for almost anything, the only thing that it seriously lags in is iDVD. Highly recommended.

    Oh, and if you are someone who browses the web and has more than a couple AIM/iChat messages open at once, the 12" might be a little too small without another monitor.
  3. yoda13 macrumors 65816


    Sep 26, 2003
    I love mine. I use it for the standard web/mail/office stuff. I also do movies and dvds with the iLife apps. I really love it. My only complaint is that it doesn't have DVI out, but that is fixed with the mini version on the current 12" I say go for it, you'll really like it.
  4. oingoboingo macrumors 6502a


    Jul 31, 2003
    Sydney, Australia
    I have a 1.33GHz Revision C 12" PowerBook with 768MB RAM (all other components standard), and I think it's a fantastic machine.

    Performance: The 1.33GHz G4 processor (with 167MHz FSB and full 512KB L2 cache) handles most applications without a problem. Obviously it's not going to outperform a G5 or a dual G4 PowerMac, but for the stuff I run on it (Safari, Mail, MS Office, iLife '04 Photoshop, Keynote, plus a little MySQL/Perl prototyping) it goes a good job. As with any OS X system, make sure you stock it with enough RAM...512MB at a minimum, preferably more. The stock 256MB is OK if you are a light user, but if you multitask to any degree, you'll quickly hit the swap file. RAM unused by applications in OS X is automatically allocated to disk caches, so nothing is wasted.

    The 64MB GeForce FX 5200 Go GPU is good for 2D work, and handles things like Expose animations fluidly. I noticed a reasonable jump in overall video performance when I upgraded from my original 1GHz 12" PowerBook to the 1.33GHz model, but that could be just as much due to the faster CPU as the extra 32MB of VRAM. That extra VRAM will certainly come in handy if you ever decide to run a hi-res external screen alongside your internal display. Gaming on the 12" PowerBook can range from 'good' to 'downright crap', depending on which game you're playing and what settings you choose. There are threads in the forums which discuss gaming on the 12" PowerBook, so take a look around. Which kinds of games were you hoping to play?

    Portability: I'm very impressed with the portability of the 12" PowerBook. You can shove it into just about any kind of bag or case, and when opened and in operation will fit on small seatback trays, coffee shop tables, and your lap in the most cramped conditions. They keyboard, despite the small size of the chassis, is of excellent quality too. The PowerBook is deceptively heavy though...you think it's going to be lighter, and many people are surprised when they pick it up for the first time. However, at around 2.1kg it's not exactly obese and certainly doesn't cause any problems (for me at least) carrying it around.

    Durability: I haven't done anything nasty like dropping mine yet (hopefully never), and in my experience (about 10 months now) of owning 12" PowerBooks, the aluminium finish can easily be wiped clean of palm-prints and other grime. Be careful about banging it up against other hard objects though, as the aluminium finish can be scratched. There seems to be a prevailing opinion that the plastic iBooks are much more durable...I haven't owned or used an iBook, but that opinion seems to make a lot of sense. Of course, the iBook doesn't look anywhere near as sexy as the PowerBook :D <ducks>

    Battery life: Quite reasonable, although in my hands not as good as Apple claims. I get around 4 hours with AirPort turned on, and the screen brightness down at around 40% doing somethng lightweight like surfing the web, e-mailing, or editing a Word document. That can get up to around 4:30 with AirPort turned off under the same circumstances (and using the built-in ethernet). Expect that figure to drop down if you run with the brightness at higher levels, or doing something CPU/disk/optical drive intensive.

    Heat: The heat output of the Rev C PowerBook is better than the Rev B that I previously owned. The fan rarely comes on (it only seems to come on in my experience when playing games like UT2004, or encoding CD-ROMs into iTunes, although it's hard to tell over the noise of the optical drive). Certainly it never gets hot enough to be uncomfortable. I'd say Apple has pretty much worked out the heat issues with the Rev C.

    Uh yeah...so I'm pretty damned happy with my 12" PowerBook. If you can live with its obvious restrictions when compared with the 15" and 17" models (12" 1024x768 screen, no PC Card slot, no FW800 port, no gigabit ethernet, weaker 64MB nVidia GeForce FX 5200 Go graphics chip), then it's a fine piece of equipment. Highly recommended. Maybe the only thing I would have changed when I bought my system would be to upgrade the stock 4500rpm 60GB drive to the faster 5400rpm 80GB drive, although I'm not feeling too worried by this at the moment (and the hard drive can be upgraded down the track). Since Bluetooth and AirPort come as standard these days in the 12" PowerBook, there really isn't much to add except for RAM when you buy it from Apple.
  5. Mechcozmo macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    I have it. I love it. It is durable, powerful, and is really nice. I can max it out to 5:30 of battery life, which means no AirPort, screen down to only 1 bar...but it is still plenty usable. It is a bright display, so often times I do not use it at 100%, even when plugged in. Bluetooth means I can sync my Palm Tungsten T while at school, during class...

    In the words of the great Homestar Runner:

    The 15" is nice, but a little on the pricy side for me. But I know someone who has the 15" TiBook...that thing is so beat up, it is amazing that it runs. But it does, perfectly. (Some of the titanium was recently chipped off due to a harsh landing, and appartenty is started to smoke lightly untill he found it. The little piece had landed near the processor.)

    Get it. The 64MB of VRAM is plenty for me, because I've found that it is plenty to do some America's Army, Warcraft III....

    Just remember Homestar Runner!!!
  6. TDM21 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 7, 2004

    I could not have said it better myself. I love my PB. I use it to surf the Internet, write my papers for English class as well as many other various things. I don't do alot of photshop, but after adding 512mbs of ram to it, my PB out ran my pc desktop on resizing a photo that started at 3x5 and enlarged to 8x10 (I scanned it at 3200 and had it resized to 1200 for my printer).

    I can do just as much in my laptop as any pc. There are always about 3 mac alternatives to every pc program. Don't let anybody tell you that you cant do something with a mac.

    As for what version:
    Rev C 12" Pb
    1.33 gHz
    768 MB Ram (bought 512mb fromcrucial.com)
    80GB 5400RPM Harddrive
    Combo drive (DVD/cd-rw)

    If I had one, I would hook an external monitor up it so I could span the screen while in my dorm room, but I'm just a poor college student. Don't get me wrong about the screen. It has a great resolution of 1024x768. I use that on my home pc that has a 17" monitor (my mom runs it at 800x600 on her account), but I think the very nature of OS X and the apps made for it require a higher resolution. I can work great on a windows computer on 1024x768, but on a mac I feel like I run out of room. I was worried about the limits of the video card since I was a moderate gamer, but college also changed that. If I can save up enough money, I will build me a pc gaming rig.

    Another note on protability is that the 12" PB is the same size as most text books so it fits perfectly in a backpack with them.

    Oh, and my pc I compared my PB to had the following specs:
    Custom built
    Amd AthalonXP 1800+
    768Mb ram
    ATI radeon 8500LE 64mb vram
    30 gb harddrive (quantum fireball)
    Windows XP Pro (SP1 at the time. now its running SP2)
  7. brap macrumors 68000

    May 10, 2004
    It's alright... not much to write home about I guess. It's damn fast, although relative to the other machines I've had a small leap; it's small enough to fit on the tiniest of aeroplane trays. The keyboard is so-so, personally I prefer something softer.

    The screen is meh, audio input is in the wrong place. Cooling is way below par, the GPU especially, running at ~65 - 69C 90% of the time. My CPU has been known to go over the 70C threshold more than once. Don't touch the aluminium sliver between keyboard and screen - IT WILL BURN YOU!

    The Aluminium enclosure is great, just don't put it down heavily - scratches incredibly easily. Also, if you have sweaty hands make sure to wipe it down after use. Weight-wise, it's great. Very light. The sleep light looks stupid :rolleyes:

    Battery life is great. Really great, for what it is; over 4 hours routinely using stuff like ReadIris Pro and Office with iTunes.

    speaking of the GPU, it's alright. Don't expect to play Call of Duty or 1942, though, the former is just about playable with detail turned down. CPU-wise, the 1.33 G4 is a quick little thing. Not for folding, granted, but for OSX based tasks, Office, even Virtual PC it's very quick.

    All-in-all, meh. I'm over my initial down at the thing being so-so, at the end of the day, it's a tool. It fits the job very well.
  8. jrober macrumors regular


    Jan 22, 2003
    Heathfield, UK
    I too had the i/power book dilemma. In the end i chose the 12" with superdrive. It is a 1.33Mhz with std. 256M ram.

    • Very nice and portable, I use a Thinkpad and that is more of a pain to move around.
    • Screen is a bit small but is nice to use. If you are at your desk a lot then get a monitor. When I get home after this stint of travelling it will be replacing my iMac G3 600Mhz as the main computer in the house and it will be getting a shiny new 23" Cinema Display. (Ability to have a second spanned monitor was a key decider.)
    • Std. 256 ram sometimes shows its limitations immediate upgrade for me is to add 1Gb chip. (A must have)
    • Apple is cool, iBooks are cool, PowerBooks are very cool, whenever anyone sees mine they want to touch and play. (Flattering)
    • Not yet seen any issues with processor or graphics and see it lasting me for 3 years or so no problems.
    • I disagree slightly with the heat thing. When my Thinkpad is running full on it produces a blast of hot air on your left hand which is more uncomfortable than the heat from my PowerBook. Yes it is warm but not going to burn you. (FYI My first laptop was a 25Mhz PC which had a door above the processor heatsink. we noticed a welcome increase in performance when we had that door open and a fan blowing across it. and we complain when a +53x more powerful machine gets a little warm!)

    Buy one and join the club.

  9. stevehaslip macrumors 6502a


    Apr 30, 2004
    The Ocean Floor
    errr.... a bit negative in the last post, but at least he/she was honest! I think that the 12" is a great computer in terms of size and portability but its not really a speed demon compared to a G5. I think that the resolution is a little restricting but its only a 12" screen so i don't think you can ask for too much, i mean alot of windows laptops which have 14" or 15" screens only run at 1152x862? i think that res is about right, anyway my point is that the screen size is great for being out and about but if you want more pixels then maybe the 15" is for you? I have a G5 at home to do the bulk of my work on so i don't worry about the restrictions i face when ont he road, its the price you pay for portability.
  10. Passante macrumors 6502a


    Apr 16, 2004
    on the sofa
    12" Powerbook

    The rev C 12" Powerbook is great. I use it more than my 1.25 DP MDD G4.

    I can't find the link but I recall that the 80 gig 5400 rpm drive made a noticable increase in speed. I got the larger drive just for extra disk space.

    Three must have add ons:

    iSkin keyboard protector
    a Powersleeve

    (both will keep you powerbook looking like new)

    Another 512 meg stick of ram (not from apple)

  11. TDM21 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 7, 2004
    It's at Barefeats.com at this link.
  12. Capt Underpants macrumors 68030

    Capt Underpants

    Jul 23, 2003
    Austin, Texas
    Okay. I bought my Powerbook, and I do have regrets. First of all, let me say that the system has been flawless. It's perfect for portability. It's performance is really good (even though I do nothing intensive), and I get about 4 hours of battery life.

    I (like you) wanted to play games. I had $2,000 to spend, and no more. Instead of buying an iBook and a gaming PC, I decided to buy the powerbook. In hindsight, I should've gone for the PC and my gaming desires, along with the iBook. If you are even mildly into gaming, I suggest you do the same.
  13. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Dec 25, 2003
    Northern Virginia
    I have the PB 12" rev. B with 1.2gb RAM. And I run the Adobe Creative Suite (mostly PS, ID, and Acrobat), along with MS Office, and all the regular stuff. Truly a great machine. I do ad layouts for my employer. Did a four color fullpage newspaper ad back in May, and the little machine kept up.
  14. OldManJimbo macrumors 6502


    Jun 1, 2004
    California Coast
    Bonehead question

    OK -I've had my PowerBook (12") since April, have participated in these forums since then and, have no idea whether I have a Rev 1, 2 or 3 model.
    How do you know the difference? I'm sure it's something simple.

    To the point of the post - I am merely a "power" Entourage user. I do a few things with the MS Office X programs, but most of what I use are the email and calendar features. After some adjustment from the PC versions, I am quite pleased with the performance.

    Other Apple apps I use on the 12" are Garageband - I record voice overs, convert them to MP3 in iTunes and send them to a producer. He tells me the quality is MUCH better than on the PC I had, using Adobe Audition.

    I've had no regrets about switching and am looking toward the day when I can replace my daughter's DELL Inspiron 5100 with a PowerBook.
  15. cluthz macrumors 68040


    Jun 15, 2004
    I joined the 12-inch Powerbook owners two monts ago, and I'm very happy!
    Its the nicest computer i've ever owned!
    It's so portable and the battery is great!
    It's not a speed demon, but it does the work.
    Be sure to get more then the standard 256 mb ram.
    I have 768 mb and for me this is about enought.

    I'm using the PB mostly for programmnig java, surfing, and some gaming.
    I usually edits about a few hours with DVideo each year, but i haven't editing any after i got the powerbook. I've ordered a 250GB lacie and a 17" viewsonic monitor for it a few days ago. It will sure be a boost from editing on the old G4/400 (which once was a high end videoediting system).
  16. Mechcozmo macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    Rev. A is the original, 867Mhz processor
    Rev. B is the next upgrade, 1Ghz processor I belive
    Rev. C is the latest and greatest for these two seconds, with the 1.33Ghz processor
  17. stevehaslip macrumors 6502a


    Apr 30, 2004
    The Ocean Floor
    if you want to find out what mac you are using or for that matter any mac, all you have to do is go to the apple menu on the top left corner of the screen where you find "shut down" and "sleep" etc and just click the top or first item "about this mac". It will give you what version of OS X you are running and a basic system spec. ie 1Ghz PowerPC G4, 512mb ram.

    people know but for those that dont...tah dah! :D
  18. OldManJimbo macrumors 6502


    Jun 1, 2004
    California Coast
    Cool - i knew that was there, just never found the Rev 1, 2, 3 designation. Figured it had something to do with the clock speed. Are there other enhancements with each revision?
  19. BeoVir macrumors member

    Jun 3, 2004
    Detroit, MI
    Sure, different aspects get improved each time.From rev. B to rev. C the video memory was doubled, fsb increased, airport express was added standard, the hard drive was made 60gigs instead of 40, and the processor got faster, I also have heard that the screen is better to but I am not sure...

    I probably missed stuff to.

    Any way I have a rev b. and love it. I play WoW, Warcraft 3, and UT2004 with no problems @ 1024x768. and I used to play games on an Athlon xp 1800+ with a radeon 9800 video card, 1 gig of ram, and to be honest my PB 12" holds its own even with an inferior video card.
  20. glay macrumors member

    Sep 1, 2004
    I just bought a PB 12" recently! I've so happy with it! I was abit doubtful at first and after reading through these forums I dediced to make the switch. I mainly use for mine for music/email and web surfing, so the speed is more than enough! Its super cool to look at lol and yes yes its very good under the hood as well! :) You won't be disappointed with it!
  21. Diatribe macrumors 601


    Jan 8, 2004
    Back in the motherland
    Don't have a whole lot to add. Just make sure that the missing features are none that you would need later on like better graphics card for gaming, FW800 if you're constantly handling lots of huge files on an external HD or the PC-Card slot for mobile internet.
    Best example is a friend who wouldn't have been able to connect to the internet with his 'book if he hadn't had a PC-Card slot because the only available connection was through a satelite PC-Card.

    That said, I love my 12" and everything about it. Mostly the weight and the size. If they could pack in the missing features I think it'd be perfect until then it remains a compromise. But a very nice one I might add. :D
  22. cluthz macrumors 68040


    Jun 15, 2004
    One of the thing i was afraid could be a problem with the powerbook was the heat, but for me it turns out fine!
    I don't think its that hot.
    I've used thermograph X the last weeks and this is the MAX results:
    HDD bottomside 46C / 114 F
    CPU topside 62C / 143 F
    GPU on die 62C /143 F
    Battery 31C /87 F

    The max results for the cpu was when i was encoding about 15 cds from my cd collection, while i was surfing..

    The fan doesnt come often on (almost never except encoding or playing 3d games)
  23. brap macrumors 68000

    May 10, 2004
    Maybe it's just me then. My GPU maxed out at 81C while I was playing Call of Duty. You want to try something CPU intensive for a couple of hours, see how you go then.
    Anyway, glad it worked out for you.
  24. tagy macrumors regular

    Feb 3, 2003
    thanks for all the good opinions.

    I was going to get an iBook, but i have just won on ebay a 12" powerbook 1GHz, superdrive, 384MB, AirportExtreme.

    just have to wait for it to arrive now :cool:
  25. cluthz macrumors 68040


    Jun 15, 2004
    I've played ut2003 demo for 45 minutes now, and you're right, GPU top at about 80 degrees, the CPU didn't get as hot as when i'm encoding mp3s, but still it reached 60C.
    btw, i'm running on automatic and not highest CPU performance in the energysaver prefpane.

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