Help me decide on how to upgrade from my 1.0 GHz PowerBook G4 Titanium

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by agmetal, Nov 28, 2009.

  1. macrumors member

    Feb 27, 2009
    Yes, you read that right...I'm still using a 6-year-old laptop as my main/only computer.

    My parents are offering to help me buy a new computer, and have said they'll put in as much as it would cost to get a base-model 13" MacBook, and then whatever I want beyond that, I have to cover the difference. Since I need FireWire, I need to go with at least a 13" MBP if I want a current laptop.

    Obviously, anything I get will be a significant upgrade from what I'm used to, especially since I'm still running the stock 512MB RAM in my PowerBook, so I'm not gonna be picky about small differences in speed, but I have some questions about what's best for my needs.

    As a musician, I do a bit of recording using MOTU Digital Performer 5, and occasionally Logic Express 7. I also use Reason as a softsynth, and sometimes use Finale for composition. I do some basic photo editing in Photoshop (mostly just stuff like making flyers for my band's shows), and otherwise it's pretty much just used for the internet, watching DVDs, and listening to music.

    Portability would be nice, but I've realized that, for the most part, I treat my PowerBook like a desktop most of the time...that is, I don't take it with me very often, and when I do, it's usually on longer trips so that I can do stuff online and listen to music on my own computer...although, occasionally I'll take it with me to friends' places, but not very often at all. I'm no longer in school, and even when I was, I didn't take it to class very often.

    With this in mind, I've started considering the iMacs as a serious possibility, and then keeping my PowerBook around for those times when I want something portable. I see that the online Apple Store has refurbished 24" iMacs for about $100 less than the new 21.5" models, but with seemingly-better specs in some areas...can anyone detail the differences and help me decide which would be better suited to my needs?

    UPDATE: Ordered a 21.5" base model iMac on Dec. 2
  2. macrumors 604


    Jul 4, 2008
    Silicon Valley
    If you want hardcore performance, the new iMacs are the way to go. But that level of performance is only seen in the Core i5/i7 processors, an option well beyond your budget of $1200 or so.

    I would recommend a desktop Mac because you already have a laptop, albeit an old one, for traveling and being mobile. Unless you need serious performance with you on the go, an iMac would be a nice addition.

    My suggestion is to get the new entry model 21.5" iMac or the next tier model with that ATI graphics card. It offers a serious upgrade in graphics performance over the integrated NVIDIA 9400M card.
  3. thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 27, 2009
    Considering the fact that I've been using a PowerBook G4 with these specs for the graphics for 6 years:

    Chipset Model: ATY,RV250M9
    Type: Display
    Bus: AGP
    VRAM (Total): 64 MB
    Vendor: ATI (0x1002)
    Device ID: 0x4c66
    Revision ID: 0x0001
    ROM Revision: 113-xxxxx-106
    Color LCD:
    Display Type: LCD
    Resolution: 1280 x 854
    Depth: 32-bit Color
    Built-In: Yes
    Core Image: Not Supported
    Main Display: Yes
    Mirror: Off
    Online: Yes
    Quartz Extreme: Supported

    And also considering that I don't do any gaming, or any serious photo/video editing, will the difference in graphics cards between the base model 21.5" and the 24" with these specs:

    Refurbished iMac 24-inch 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo

    24-inch glossy widescreen display
    4GB memory
    640GB hard drive
    8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    NVIDIA GeForce 9400M with 256MB memory
    Built-in iSight camera

    be something I'm likely to care about?
  4. thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 27, 2009
    Oh, also, I saw something mentioned in some other threads that I was unclear it possible to turn off the backlighting on the iMacs, like on my old PowerBook? I like to listen to music when I go to bed, and normally I just turn the backlight/brightness/whatever all the way down so that the light from the screen doesn't bother me.
  5. macrumors regular


    Mar 4, 2008
    You can turn the display off whilst your music plays if you wish

    Hot corners is a quick and easy way to do this
  6. thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 27, 2009
    I hate hot corners and don't use them at all because I tend to hit them accidentally. How else can it be done? On my PowerBook, I have the little "sun" buttons in the upper left of my keyboard, and I just use those.
  7. macrumors regular


    Mar 4, 2008
    "Shift-Control-Eject" will also turn off the display
  8. macrumors 68030


    Dec 7, 2002
    Florida, USA
    iMacs have the same backlight controls as the Macbooks, so you can definitely turn off the backlight. On my MBP, I use the keyboard shortcut ctrl + shift + eject.

    I would recommend an iMac. I own the same computer you use, although I've let my dad use it as his primary computer recently. ANY computer you upgrade to will seem infinitely faster for every task. Period. You will not be disappointed with a Mac mini, low-end Macbook, or low-end iMac.

    That being said, I would try to get the 27" iMac, if its in your budget. The screen is absolutely glorious, and the graphics card is very capable. If you can, the Core i5 or i7 would be a great upgrade to hopefully allow this iMac to last as long as your Powerbook did.
  9. macrumors 68040


    Jun 15, 2004
    Hehe, after all these years as a mac user I haven't stumbled upon that before!
    Thanks a lot!
  10. macrumors 6502

    Apr 28, 2003
    If ...

    ... your budget is constrained, or you wouldn´t want to let your parents bleed too much, I certainly would opt for the refurbished section or an used iMac from CraigsList or eBay. In the latter case, try to opt for Core 2 Duo ones, and at least a 20inch display, better 24 (especially for music related workloads).

    If the new iMacs are within budget, get as high as possible, spec a big harddrive, but do buy RAM from a third party.


    Regarding your software and audio hardware, you most seriously should check Snow Leopard (10.6) compatibility; otherwise you´ll still end up using two computers, if you can´t upgrade those for now (the old white Intel imacs can run 10.4 upwards, the silver ones 10.5 upwards, the i5/7 ones 10.6 solely).
  11. macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
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    You're absolutely right, and I'm glad that unlike most younger people and full-fledged adults, you know what you need as opposed to 'want'. Rarely do you come across such a person here. ;) This includes myself, to be perfectly honest.

    Overall, you won't notice any practical, significant differences in speed between them for what you do. It'll be a few seconds here and there, but things like Facebook and staring at the wall are far bigger productivity killers, and yet people here will argue about a few seconds saved through faster CPUs gained from the upgrade.
  12. macrumors 68030


    Nov 2, 2008
    OP, the lowest end MacBook Pro 13" will blow your G4 away. In comparison the 13" MacBook Pro is the modern 12" PowerBook G4. Your Titanium is more like the most powerful MacBook Pro today.

    I'm not talking about power, I'm talking about technology relative to the times. The 12" PowerBook G4 was an Atom Ant (can't say Mighty Mouse 8O) and that's very much what the 13" MacBook Pro is. The TiBook was almost a desktop replacement, the new 15" can be considered a desktop replacement. Although in all honesty my 13" is sufficient on its own, it's my only machine and I don't need anything else.

    Man, the TiBooks are beautiful things, lucky you :p

    Also, don't hate hot corners, just research it, sheesh. If you go into Exposé settings in System Preferences and click one of the hot corner lists, hold a modifier key like Command, or in this case I held Command+Shift, then click what you want it to do. NOW this means it will go to sleep ONLY if you're holding the Command and Shift key when you reach that corner ;)


    The only thing that does is turn the backlight off. Hold a flashlight to your screen or shine it into your Apple Logo on the back and you can see your screen is still displaying an image, which uses power. It's not significant but at least I feel like it will lengthen the screens lifespan....even if only to a negligible degree :p I turn my display off every chance I get, and since I stopped using IRC I put the computer to sleep every chance as well by simply closing the lid.

    This is not something I'd ever do with a generic laptop, Windows' sleep issues can scar some people emotionally 8O but when your computer can wake up flawlessly and get online in a total of MAYBE 3 seconds it's like flipping on a light switch.
  13. macrumors 68000


    May 22, 2009
    The base 21.5in iMac is faster and $100 more than that refurb. They have the same video card. Unless you really want a refurb, I would say the base 21.5in iMac is the better choice.
  14. thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 27, 2009
    I went to the Apple Store this afternoon to check out the current range. They didn't have a 24" iMac on display for me to check out, but for the purposes of seeing what the difference in the display is like, I was able to check out a Mac Mini through a 24" Cinema Display. Neither setup had any dealbreakers for me in terms of screen size or picture quality. Of course, I wasn't able to experiment with any system-intensive audio stuff in the store, but I have the feeling that given what I normally do now, I'll have a hard time really making something more powerful strain too much. Graphics are a relatively low priority for me, as I'm perfectly satisfied with the graphic quality of my PowerBook for my purposes!

    Thanks, I'm familiar with where the PowerBook sat in the lineup of its time (although I just found out today that this model was discontinued about 2 weeks after I got mine!). I much prefer elements of this model's design to things on some of the later models...such as the placement of the ports along the back with a cover flap, as opposed to along the sides with no protection. People complain about the hinges, but I've never had an issue...but then again, I respect my computer and don't throw it around like some of my friends!

    The reason I hate Hot Corners is that I have a tendency to inadvertently go into one when trying to click on something else in that area, when I use friends' computers that have them active. There are a lot of features in OSX that I dislike or don't use, though, and people think I'm crazy for that :p (Spotlight is the first that comes to mind...I disabled it a few months back after getting annoyed with it when it'd come up at times where I didn't want it to). I also don't really understand the use or purpose of some of the newer Leopard/Snow Leopard stuff, like Spaces and Automator.
  15. macrumors 68030


    Nov 2, 2008
    Spaces?! I couldn't live without it. I divide all my work into different Spaces. On one I'll be making a movie, on another I'll be editing pictures. Then I'll be making a spreadsheet while web browsing.

    I love sorting my windows into spaces based on what they're being used for. If I'm editing pictures I'll have all the finder windows with my pictures open in the same window as iPhoto, that way my desktop and Dock are cleaned up and Exposé only shows windows related to the app per space. kryptonite
  16. thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 27, 2009
    I'm still not entirely clear on how it works, and since I'm running Tiger, I can't experiment with it. It sounds like if I wanted internet-related programs (Firefox, AIM) open together, I could have those in one "space", and then music stuff (Reason, DP5) in another, and it would be similar to having DP open and going to the menu and selecting "Hide Others"? Am I understanding things correctly?

    Does it ease the computer's work load to separate things into "spaces" like that?
  17. macrumors 6502

    Nov 21, 2009
    How about a base line mac mini with a dell monitor. Keep the powerbook for on the road stuff or just for music.
  18. macrumors 68030


    Nov 2, 2008
    Not exactly. Spaces creates multiple virtual desktops. It's like having multiple screens but you can only see 1 at a time :p So I can put certain windows on certain desktops that way I don't have to hide or unhide, it's all organized.

    You can have up to 16 spaces, I use 4. Understand that as with most other features you can customize what keys activate the "bird's eye" view of spaces or what keys move you from one space to another. To move a window from one space to another (say from the top left to the top right) you would drag that window to the right side of the screen until your cursor hits the edge and after about 1 second it will move over to the right space. Or in "bird's eye" view you can drag an individual window or the whole Space to a new location.


    Edit No, it doesn't ease the workload at all, it only organizes all of your windows into separate boxes, so it's the same power draw as having all of the windows on the same space.
  19. macrumors 6502


    Sep 21, 2009
    Chicago, IL
    I agree!!!

    Was just thinking about that today as i was watching movies on the tv from my macbook and wanted to turn off the screen. Perfect!!! Thanks..

    Back on topic hehe

    To the OP the ole powerbook is still worth some $$$ on ebay you can get some more cash for your new purchase. I also highly recommend the refurb store, saving money and the same warranty you cant beat it.
  20. thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 27, 2009
    If I get a desktop, I'll probably keep my PowerBook to have a travel computer.
  21. macrumors 68030


    Nov 2, 2008
    Um, you know that all you have to do to use the external as your main display is:

    1: Connect your MacBook to the AC adapter
    2: Connect your display
    3: Close your MacBook
    4: Wiggle your mouse or click the trackpad WITHOUT opening the display too much and it will wake up and only use the external as the main ;)
  22. macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location
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    Spaces doesn't do anything magical. You can either set it up so that certain apps automatically open in a certain space (e.g. Firefox in Space 1, and iCal in space 2, etc), but I don't use it like that.

    Sometimes, my screen looks cramped, and in that situation, I just drag one of the windows to the right edge of the screen, and in a second, your window ends up on an empty desktop. It can actually be quite useful, but I only use it once every 1-2 weeks. Also, I only allow 2 separate desktops. I generally don't mind clutter if all the windows are related somehow.
  23. thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 27, 2009
    Ordered a base model 21.5" iMac earlier today, expecting it next week...sweeeeeet! :D
  24. macrumors 68030


    Nov 2, 2008
    Ah good goin'! I'd have an iMac if I didn't need the portability of my MacBook Pro :p However, did you know they make carrying bags for iMacs?! 8O

    If you're having trouble understanding spaces, here's a quick informative video. As well I think you will appreciate hot corners, so long as you use a modifier key with each corner setting to avoid inadvertent activation :p I use it to start my screen saver, put the display to sleep, and activate spaces when I'm too lazy to hit the Fn+F1 key.

    I recommend the first things you download are:
    iStat Menus - to monitor memory and CPU usage, as well as drive space
    Dashquit - Dashboard can be a pain and it takes up resources even when its hidden, this button will quit Dashboard so you can reclaim all of your RAM and some CPU usage

    Spaces Video
  25. macrumors 65816

    Apr 21, 2004
    ^^^ LOL cool much better solution than the brightness toggle you have to hit

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