G4 iBook external display compatability?

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by mbryant52, Aug 10, 2006.

  1. mbryant52 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    Location:
    Bellingham, Washington
    #1
    Edit: Sorry, I misspelled compatibility in the title!

    Alright, here's the deal: I'm currently rocking the 1.33ghz G4 iBook. It's a great machine - all I really do is word processing, internet browsing, and some recreational music listening/cd burning with iTunes. It suits my purposes just fine, and I love how portable it is. It fits in the smallest bag and I can whip it out anytime anywhere without making a scene (I am, of course, referring to the computer). So I like the size, but at the same time, I find myself longing for a larger screen while I'm working at home. I would also like it to be just a touch faster. But I don't really want to sacrifice portability.

    I know nothing about hardware and compatability, really. I use an Apple because it's easy and reliable. I was thinking about upgrading to a 15" Macbook Pro, which is a sweet machine, but I'm not sure that's really what I need, and it wouldn't be as portable. I was also thinking about buying a 20" iMac for my home office but don't really need two machines, just would like a bit more out of one.

    So I was thinking about possibly using an external display. I have in mind a twenty-inch. But I'm not sure how well this would work. I have a few questions, if someone would be so kind as to offer me some assistance.

    1) For the speed issue, I was thinking of sticking an extra 512mb of ram in the machine. Would this speed things up a bit (loading programs, mainly)?

    2) I don't even know if graphics cards have anything to do with external displays, but is my computer even capable of running such a setup smoothly and efficiently? Would the ram help with this? Or would a different machine be better qualified? What about the possibility of upgrading my video card? If so, is it even worth it, or just go for the Macbook Pro?

    3) I know the iBook is equipped for mirroring, which is just fine, I'm not really interested in using multiple displays. What I'm wondering is if there is someway to have the external display hooked up, use a bluetooth mouse and keyboard, and have the iBook closed with the display off? Is there some sort of application that will allow me to do this? Use the machine without the monitor?

    4) Twenty-inch Apple Cinema Displays are available refurbished from Apple for $599.99. Is this a good deal? I've seen other twenty-inch LCDs for a few hundred dollars less. Is there any advantage (aside from aesthetics, which I am not discounting) to using the ACD instead of a competitor's display? Should all displays be compatible?

    5) What is the best buy out there on ram, Bluetooth mouse, and keyboard?

    Thanks a lot! If there is anything I neglected to ask that I should know, let me know!

    Thanks again.
     
  2. Yoursh macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 28, 2006
    Location:
    MN
    #2
    I've been using the same model ibook for the last year, though I just ordered a new Macbook which is in route as I type this. I agree in that the ibook is a great little machine. I'll try and run down a few of your questions with my limited knowledge base. Someone else will most likely correct me if I'm wrong on something.

    1) RAM is always a good thing. I was planning on upgrading mine also before I decided to get a macbook. Best way to tell if you need it is to run Activity monitor or the iStat widget and watch your ram usage. I found either I barely touched it or maxed out regularly. Depends on what you run. It will generally make it run faster and from what I've read it's a good idea to have at least 1 Gig if your running Tiger.

    2) You can't upgrade the graphics card and it does run the external display. The ibook has it's own dedicated video ram(as appose to the macbook witch shares the system ram), so upgrading the system ram shouldn't have any affect on video output.

    3) I know that the Powerbooks/Macbook Pro's are capable of this but I'm not sure about the ibook. Never tried it myself.

    4) The ACD and other wide screen displays require a DVI input for their resolutions. The ibook only has a mini-VGA connector. It is not compatible with the ACD but would work with a monitor with VGA connector. This is one of the reasons i'm upgrading to a Macbook. I've used my ibook with a 19" CRT in 1200x800. I don't know the max resolution out of the ibook(you should be able to find it on the Apple website) but it should work fine with any 4/3 monitor. If you want a higher resolution w/ DVI you would need to upgrade to a Macbook/Macbook Pro since they have DVI/mini-DVI out.

    5) The usual suspects like Crucial or OWC are good for ram that is ibook compatible. Avoid Apple since they tend to overcharge on ram. KB and mouse are up to your personal preferance but places like newegg are a good bet.
     
  3. iBookG4user macrumors 604

    iBookG4user

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2006
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #3
    I use a 14" iBook G4 1.33GHz. I've connected my iBook to an external display (17" CRT) and I didn't experience any slowdowns. I regularly use all of my 768MB of RAM that I have in my iBook, I would really like to have the RAM maxed out to 1.25GB but I'm saving for a MBP. You should be able to use a bluetooth mouse and keyboard with your iBook. You can set the brightness all the way down but it won't shut off the display. I'm not sure if you can shut the iBook and just use the external display and bluetooth mouse and keyboard but I would assume not. I've used OCZ RAM in my iBook for 7 months and had no problems with it whatsoever, and I like Logitech for keyboards and mice.
     
  4. Chundles macrumors G4

    Chundles

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2005
    #4
    The iBook doesn't officially support running an external display in anything other than mirrored-mode (where the external display is exactly the same as what you see on the iBook's screen, both will run at 1024x768).

    There is a hack, look for Screen Spanning Doctor, that allows you to use external displays on the iBook in the same fashion as on the PowerBook/MacBook Pro/MacBook - in extended desktop mode. Remember though, you are splitting the video RAM between to the two monitors so running something huge off the iBook isn't going to be all that fun when there's only 16MB of VRAM to buffer the screen. I wouldn't run anything larger than a 17" LCD off the iBook though some people have used up to a 24" Dell FPW (exposé and all that stuff become very jittery though).

    You are also limited to displays with a VGA input unless you want to spring the hundereds of dollars for a VGA -> DVI converter which will convert the analogue VGA signal back into a DVI signal. Note that this adapter is bulky and expensive - anything you find that is small and cheap is the wrong adapter - there is a lot of work that needs to be done to do the conversion.

    I run a crappy old 15" CRT off my iBook at 1024x768 giving me twice the real estate of the built-in screen. It works well, some things don't like being played whilst I have both screens running (H.264 videos playing full screen on the CRT whilst I'm doing anything else on the built-in don't work particularly well, although you can hit F7 to revert to mirroring mode and the video will be fine) but Exposé, Dashboard etc. are fast and work just as they should.

    You are also given the option, with Screen Spanning Doctor, to run the iBook in closed-lid mode, with the iBook running all available VRAM to the external display and not using the internal display - THIS SHOULD NOT BE ENABLED! - sorry, but I can't stress it enough. The iBook dissipates a lot of its heat through the surface of the keyboard/palm rest, closing the lid on this will damage the built-in display and eventually the internal components. It's a bad, bad idea.
     
  5. topicolo macrumors 68000

    topicolo

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2002
    Location:
    Ottawa, ON
    #5
    I can positively confirm that my iBook G3 900Mhz, which runs an older generation radeon mobility 7500 can run a 21.3" LCD at 1600x1200 with no slowdown except in expose. Your iBook G4's Radeon 9550 should be able to support resolutions of 2048 x 1536 including widescreen and some non-standard resolutions if you install screen spanning doctor.
     
  6. Chundles macrumors G4

    Chundles

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2005
    #6

    Whale Oil Beef Hooked...

    Now I want a 20" LCD. :D
     
  7. mbryant52 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    Location:
    Bellingham, Washington
    #7
    Closed lid was the option I was looking for, but that clearly sounds like a bad idea. What are my options with the notebook open? Can I put the on-board screen to sleep and dedicate the video processing power to the larger screen? Is there a way to do this?

    And with mirroring, is the desktop mirrored, or is it split between the two monitors? I would think that it would be the former, but I thought I should ask.

    And what about a 12" powerbook? Or a macbook? And closed-lid option?

    Thanks.

     
  8. Chundles macrumors G4

    Chundles

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2005
    #8
    You can't put the built-in display to sleep and dedicate the full VRAM to the external. There is no way to do this.

    Mirroring means that the external display will show exactly what is on the built-in display. It will also display at 1024x768 regardless of it's native resolution. The functionality is there to enable those giving a presentation with the iBook plugged into a projector to be sure that whatever he/she is doing to the built-in display is exactly what is happening on the projector screen.

    Extended desktop gives you two separate desktops with their own preferences and options.

    The design of the 12" PowerBook (barring the first one - it had a VGA out, all since have had DVI) means that most of the heat is blown by fans out of vents on the side. It fully supports Extended Desktop, Mirrored and Closed-Lid modes and due to it's DVI Out and 64MB VRAM you can plug in a screen up to 1920x1200 (23" ACD or Dell 240x FPW).

    The MacBook has the same functionality of the 12" PowerBook - mirrored, extended and closed-lid all fully supported on external displays up to 1920x1200 on the DVI connection. If you use the DVI -> VGA connector, the maximum resolution you can use is 1600x1200.
     
  9. mbryant52 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    Location:
    Bellingham, Washington
    #9
    Well ****. That sir, was extremely helpful. Thank you very much. I think I might need to make that Macbook upgrade.

    Now, how about buying a display? Benefits of the Apple versus less expensive competitors? And what is a good price for something about 20"?

    Thanks.

    Oh and does anyone have any idea what I could sell my iBook for? It's in good shape.

     
  10. Chundles macrumors G4

    Chundles

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2005
    #10
    Apple Cinema Display = top-notch panel, good looks and FireWire + USB 2.0 hubs. You can get the same for less with a Dell display and they also have more inputs (VGA, composite) although they don't have a FireWire hub.

    You'll have to research 20" prices, they're totally different here.

    The largest displays you can use on the MacBook are the 23" Apple Cinema Display HD or the Dell 2407FPW - there are probably others but those two are the ones I hear about the most.
     
  11. mbryant52 thread starter macrumors member

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    Mar 29, 2006
    Location:
    Bellingham, Washington
    #11
    Now how does the performance compare while using an external display between a Macbook and a Powerbook? Isn't there some sort of difference in the video chip? Would the Powerbook be smoother?

     
  12. Chundles macrumors G4

    Chundles

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2005
    #12
    I don't think so - there's really no point buying a PowerBook now anyway, especially a 12" one. They were just suped-up 12" iBooks, the last 12" iBook supported more system RAM and had a faster (but smaller) video card.

    The integrated graphics in the MacBook are not there to make it a gaming powerhouse but it runs an external display very well from what I've heard on here. Just make sure you have 1GB+ of system RAM.
     
  13. mbryant52 thread starter macrumors member

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    Mar 29, 2006
    Location:
    Bellingham, Washington
    #13
    Damn it these decisions are never easy. I can still buy a refurbished 12" Powerbook for $1100 and still have the same nice, small size and not worry about any of the heat, sound, and aesthetic issues of the Macbook. But at the same time, the hardware is already dated. I would just stick with my iBook if I could run something a little more flexible while I'm at home. What would your personal advice be?

    Thanks so much for your help.

     
  14. mbryant52 thread starter macrumors member

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    #14
    Although I must admit that black is so sweet. Any chipping issues with the matte finish?

     
  15. mbryant52 thread starter macrumors member

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    Bellingham, Washington
  16. mbryant52 thread starter macrumors member

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    #16
    Also does a higher resolution just stretch everything so that it is bigger, or does it keep everything the same size and allow for more desktop space? I was under the impression that the latter is the truth, but I thought I would ask.

    Thanks!
     
  17. dead phish head macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2006
    #17
    I have been running my iBook on an external 23" 16:9 LCD monitor/tv via Screen Spanning Doctor for quite some time and have yet to have an problems. And to answer your last question everything is stretched out or at least on my monitor/resoultion.
     
  18. mbryant52 thread starter macrumors member

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    Mar 29, 2006
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    Bellingham, Washington
    #18
    Do you run in lid-closed mode? Is there a thread on the dangers of lid-closed on the iBook?

     
  19. dead phish head macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2006
    #19
    No I do not run my iBook in closed-lid mode... I actually use it as a second monitor and usually keep iTunes running on my iBook display for easy access. I would not recommend running in closed-lid mode, I have not personally ever attempted it but I have read many threads on how people have caused irreversible damage to their computer.
     
  20. Laser47 macrumors 6502a

    Laser47

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2004
    Location:
    Maryland
    #20
    A couple months ago i used to use the screen spanning hack with my ibook, it worked fine. Ive also used my ibook in clamshell mode with a 1280x1024 monitor, and contrary to what has been said earlier in this thread, it has worked perfectly fine for me. I even monitored the temperatures and they stayed relatively the same. Contrary to popular belief most of the heat from the G4 is carried away via a heatsink to the back of the computer where there are heat fins, the heat emanating from the keyboard is just due to the fact that the cpu is located underneath it, and no heat from the cpu goes to the palmrests at all. If you want further proof, you can look at a picture of an ibook heatsink you can clearly see the air is ment to be drawn through the vent next to the harddrive up through the large heatsink fins and then through the back fins.
    [​IMG] If apple had designed heat to go the keyboard they would have atleast made the top of the heatsink flat as to interface with the metal emi sheild (which is very thin i.e not so good for conducting heat).
    If you are worried about the lcd you can always get a magnet and put it near the reed switch, to make your ibook think its closed.
     

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