Buying a used Mac

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by Brother Michael, Jul 3, 2004.

  1. Brother Michael macrumors 6502a

    Brother Michael

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2004
    #1
    Hey everyone,
    I am on a budget here for a Mac and am currently considering purchasing a used Mac. I have no problem with spending a little here and there on upgrades (as I like doing those things anyways).

    The biggest question I had though was this:
    Can a 2+ year old Powerbook that is running a G4 at 400-500 Mhz run most current Apple Programs?

    Specifically:
    Final Cut Express
    Soundtrack

    This computer is a temporary fix. I am a sophmore right now in College, I just need one that will work. I don't need anything super fancy. I will wait until my senior year and purchase a brand new one. Right now though, like I said I just need one that can run some basic editing tools for Video.

    As I said I don't mind getting my hands a little dirty and cracking open a case, course I know if I get a Powerbook that is 2 years old it will no longer have Apple Care...oh well.

    Thank you very much,
    Mike
     
  2. AngeredTree macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2004
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #2
    A powerbook at 400 Mhz will probably have trouble running Soundtrack. A 500 Mhz G4 should be able to run it ok, but I have no reference for how fast it will be. Final Cut Express will run on both models, but once again, no solid numbers on the speed, although I am sure it will be somewhat slow.

    I dont think there are any processor upgrades for the Titanium G4's out there, but maxing out the RAM and buying a bigger hard drive are probably a must if you want to run soundtrack.
     
  3. Brother Michael thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Brother Michael

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2004
    #3
    Thank you. I have been looking at some 667Mhz as well.

    I had planned on upgrading any HDD I had immediately and buying more RAM (computers always love it when you give them RAM).

    Will the 8 meg Vid Cards found in 400 and 500 models be enough?

    What about the 667 with 16 VRAM?

    Like I said this is not a permanent fix, I just need money for other things in college (like a MiniDV camera) and we have labs with PowerMac G4's, this is just so that I can work on them outside of the labs in my own dorm and generally show off my hard work outside of the lab.

    Honestly, the only reason why I would not buy an iBook over this type of Powerbook, is that I figured these older Powerbooks are still Powerbooks and thus would still be the tool that I would want to do Video Editing. If this is the wrong thinking someone please tell me, because I do not wish to purchase something that is this old when I could get something a little newer for the same price.

    Thank you for the reply.

    Mike
     
  4. blackfox macrumors 65816

    blackfox

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2003
    Location:
    PDX
    #4
    Hey, if you are looking at a portable that old...I would seriously consider buying a Pismo. Although not as svelt as the old TiBooks, they are quite attractive and have a host of upgrade capabilities, among other pluses. A quick run-down:
    1. Processor Upgrades...you can currently get a G3 900 (from Powerlogix), or a G4 550 (forget who)...chances of further upgrades are slim, because of lack of further development on the G3, and pin-incompatability with later G4s. Still, nice speed boost...the G3 is overall faster, but the G4 makes a substantial difference in many cases, with Altivec-enhanced Programs, and some programs won't run on a G3 (like DVD Studio Pro)...tough call. Also, check out the specs of these proc upgrades as even though they may be the same speed as a TiBook, they do have different designs w/regard to cache, bus-speed, L2/L3 etc.

    2. Dual-Battery Capability...I love this, if you have no need for your optical drive at any time, you can add an extra battery in it's place. At Other World Computing, there are extended-life batteries that could push your total battery life to around 6-8 hrs. Pretty sweet. Also, I am a fan of tray-based optical drives over slot-loading, but that is a personal preference.

    3. Durability...Had my Pismo since 2000, has had a hard-life (used a lot on the road and at installations), looks good. No issues w/ peeling paint, screen-flex/damage, body-flex, fragilityissues.

    4. Pismo also has one more FW port, and PC card-slot (TiBook might have PC card-slot also, can't remember). Also, from MCE, you can add a Superdrive to your Pismo (for a hefty price).

    I run FCE on my Pismo, with enough ram (I have mine maxed at 1G) and a fast HD (I have a 7200rpm Toshiba), it runs pretty well, but obviously not on par with current machines, especially desktops. Slow, but not annoyingly so, unless you are used to something faster...have no experience w/ Soundtrack, so couldn't say.

    One major caveat w/ the Pismo though, VRAM...Pismo (and rev a. Tibooks [400-500]) have a very weak 8MB ATI Rage card. Not replaceable. Only a big deal if you are doing things that require a decent graphics card. Quartz Extreme doesn't really work. Not a big deal to me, might be to you. FYI...

    As Pismos are old machines, I hesitate to recommend buying them to anyone, but they are still capable machines. You might, however look at rev b TiBooks (550-667) which have improved Graphics (16MB) and the speed that any processor upgrade for a Pismo cannot exceed. You might also look at older (snow) iBooks...

    good luck, if you have anymore questions about the Pismo, feel free to PM me...
    links:
    http://www.mcetech.com/
    http://eshop.macsales.com/Catalog_Page.cfm?Parent=10&Title=PowerBook Accessories&Template=

    *EDIT* In reference to your iBook/PB question about "professionalism" in doing editing, it is really only marketing hype. Specs are what count...processor speed, bus speed, HD speed etc. The rest is aesthetics imo. The only concerns with the iBook you may consider are:
    1. Monitor-spanning vs "mirroring...this can be solved with a simple hack, found @ osxhints among other places...no issue.
    2. Screen size. 12" too small for many people, but at home, if you have a second monitor, no big deal (CRTs are great and cheap). If you plan to be mobile, the real-estate (in size and resolution) might make a difference.
    3. RAM...older iBooks have 128MB soldered in, so for the most part you are limited to 640MB vs 1GB for PB. There are 1G RAM sticks available, but they are expensive and may not be compatible...
     
  5. applemacdude macrumors 68040

    applemacdude

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2001
    Location:
    Over The Rainbow
  6. blackfox macrumors 65816

    blackfox

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2003
    Location:
    PDX
    #6
    Well, it would appear that he is in a dorm...pretty tight space-wise.

    Also, with a laptop you can go to the local coffeehouse and look all "cool" doing fancy video work on you spiffy PB. The chicks dig it... :D
     
  7. AngeredTree macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2004
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #7
    The 667 would probably be fine. I would go with that instead of a Pismo for sure. Also, I believe that 667 has 16 megs of VRAM with a Mobility Radeon. Definitly a plus.

    Soundtrack might still be a little slow, but Final Cut Express will be ok as long as you arent doing anything major.

    I dont think Final Cut Express will run on a Pismo due to the low VRAM, but I could be wrong. If it did run, it would probably be pretty slow as well, especially compared to the 667 TiBook.
     
  8. AngeredTree macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2004
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #8
    Also, any of the iBook G4s are superior to TiBooks sub-867 Mhz/1 Ghz. The original iBook G4 had 32 megs of VRAM in a Radeon 9200, which is the same thing they use now I believe. They also clocked at 800 Mhz minimum. RAM, however, is a problem, as they could only go up to 640 megs. However, I still think this is better than the TiBooks below 867 by virtue of a faster Video Card (Radeon 9200 vs 7500) and overall being considerably more recent.

    If you can get an iBook G4 for less than the 667, I would go with that. Otherwise, go for the 667, it will definitly tide you over for a while.
     
  9. blackfox macrumors 65816

    blackfox

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2003
    Location:
    PDX
    #9
    here are the hardware requirements for FCE (no mention of VRAM):
    Just to clear things up...

    Overall, I recommend AngeredTree's recommendations...it really comes down to the cost/performance you are willing to deal with...(along with feature set and aesthetics).

    Mentioned the Pismo only as a possibility...oh, in regards to the RAM in G4 iBooks, if you can afford it, a 1G ram stick will work with them (I am pretty sure)...something to do with newer RAM type used, as opposed to the old RAM in Pismos and early rev. TiBooks. FYI...
     
  10. Brother Michael thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Brother Michael

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2004
    #10
    Honestly as shallow as it is, that was one of my concerns. However, what you say makes a lot of sense. And iBooks are cheaper (which for me right now is a big plus).

    I think that is entirely possible seeing as how they (iBooks) are about 1000 now then add in my discount for being a student...the TiPowerBooks I have to go online at eBay to get.

    That was my concern with my original plan...buying a new 12" PBook. I have a standard 17" Monitor that I can bring in my dorm. In fact one of the biggest reasons (sides the look) of buying an older Powerbook was because of the 15" screen however, I think I can part with that.

    Mike

    *EDIT* In fact with my student discount the iBook with the Combo drive is 999.00 It is at least going up for consideration. To add to this, the only thing the Powerbook really has over the iBook is that it has a 15" monitor. I could live without that.
     

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