Most Longevity per Dollar

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by exhibitionist, Aug 16, 2004.

  1. exhibitionist macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
    #1
    I'm in the market for a Powerbook. I've made my mind up on a Powerbook since the iBook's screen resolution is disgusting and I need DVI-out.

    I qualify for an educational discount (and possibly Student ADC). Now, buying used wouldn't be best since with Student ADC, I can get a new 15" 1.5GHz for ~$2,000. A 12" would be acceptable, but I'm not keen on 1024x768. A 15" would be best, but it is a fair deal pricier. I am looking to use this notebook for at least 3 years. I'd like to play games from time to time (namely Warcraft 3, Age of Empires II, Civilization III, KOTOR and the upcoming Doom 3). The 1.33GHz 15" would do me fine, but the option for 128MB of video RAM isn't there. I don't want to see Mac OS 10.5 [FELINE NAME] requiring 128MB of VRAM. Is it worth getting the 1.5GHz for the 128MB VRAM option? How much better does the 9700 mobility do compared to the 9600 mobility? ...to the 5200FXGo? ...to the cards in the previous Powerbook revisions? How do they compare to their desktop counter parts? I remember the difference between the 9600 and the 9700 was rather large in the desktop. Is the same true for the mobility? I checked all the hardware sites I can remember, and none of them compare mobile GPU's. This notebook will be used for iPhoto, Office, Photoshop and gaming. Don't suggest a PC notebook, they're all trash.

    Secondly, do you have to be mastering in computer science to be eligble for the Student ADC program? If they call up and my school tells them I'm mastering Psychology, will they decline my membership? How long does verification take?

    Thanks.
     
  2. invaLPsion macrumors 65816

    invaLPsion

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2004
    Location:
    The Northlands
    #2
    Any powerbook out right now should last you three years in terms of OS and applications, gaming, however, is another story. After my brief stint with a 17 inch powerbook I came to the conclusion that they are definitely not gaming machines. The 1.5GHz G4, while fast for normal apps, will not achieve over 30FPS in games like AAO. KOTOR, and ESPECIALLY DOOM 3. If you would like to game on a powerbook I would recommend waiting for the next revision of powerbook G4. It is rumored to use a G4 "extended" processor with a faster system bus and other new features with speeds up to 2GHz. It will also contain the mighty Radeon Mobility 9800.

    A powerbook is an excellent choice, but they don't have the muscle for gaming... yet. :D
     
  3. beefcake macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2003
    Location:
    Baltimore
    #3
    Get the fastest one you can afford. All computers get old and slow, even macs. Although you'll hear a lot of people say that macs age slower, they still age and in 3 years you'll be glad you spent a little more on the 1.5.
     
  4. quidire macrumors 6502

    quidire

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2004
    Location:
    Washington DC (in Kalorama Triangle)
    #4
    Student Status

    Apple does not care what your field of study is... Basket Weaving or Biochemical Engineering, if you are enrolled at an accredited university, you are eligible...
     
  5. Sven071 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2004
    Location:
    Maryland
    #5
    I got my 15in pb fully loaded, 128 vram, and a gig of ram...... and its pretty fast........im sure it will last me all 4 years without a hitch
     
  6. vraxtus macrumors 65816

    vraxtus

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2004
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    #6
    Good luck with that.

    Remember nothing on your comp is upgradeable. Most important, at least in the thread starter's case, the video card. 128 VRAM means nothing if the chipset is either 1) not that fast or 2) non-upgradeable.

    Furthermore you'll be replacing that battery in about 2 years.
     
  7. vraxtus macrumors 65816

    vraxtus

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2004
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    #7
    1) Macs are not gaming machines.
    2) Powerbooks are DEFINITELY not gaming machines.
    3) If you want to game, get a desktop.
    4) Rad9700M is a significantly stronger GPU than the 9600 though the 9600 is based on 9800 architecture.
    5) CPU bottlenecks will basically make the full potential of the 9700M not worthwhile.
    6) wtf is the "Student ADC program"? I just go through the Edu channel and get a student discount.
    7) Also to put things in perspective,

    Top end PB 15" - $2300 or so with student discount
    1.5 Ghz G4
    167 mhz bus
    PC3200 (I believe)
    5400 RPM HD ATA (BTO)
    9700M @ 4X AGP

    Refurb Dual 1.8 - $1999
    Dual 1.8 Ghz G5
    900 Mhz bus/proc
    PC3200
    7200 RPM HD SATA
    5200FX @ 8X AGP (upgradable to 9800SE or 9800XT or 9600XT)

    With a decent monitor you could get a much better setup than a mobile *wannabe* station.

    Just my 2¢ after having had many laptops and been DELUSIONAL about playing games on them.
     
  8. exhibitionist thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
    #8
    Sure, a DP G5 1.8GHz fits the power requirements rather well, but I really don't like being tied to this chair whenever I want to do some work. I want to take it to the library, the park, around campus...
    Maybe I should wait for the next revision, but then again, there aren't even weekly rumors yet. :p
    Argh argh argh.
     
  9. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #9
    I think you'll be hard pressed to find a laptop that runs Doom 3 well unless you get one of those P4 monster desktop replacements that weigh 9 lbs. People always try to play the new(er) games on PC laptops, and its never great.

    And Macs, no matter which type you get, will never really be good at gaming because of the DirectX factor..... The PowerMac will be better, however.

    If you want to game on a laptop anyway, get a PC laptop. I know you said specifically not to suggest one, but there ARE good PC laptops out there. They use WinXP of course, which isn't what I prefer to use, but yeah, get a IBM T-series ThinkPad with a smoking Pentium-M chip or something. They're good. Not sure about Doom 3, but it should run better than on a PB.

    If you're getting a Powerbook, go for the 15" Powerbook with the 64MB video card and 5400rpm HDD. The extra RAM on the video card provides less performance enhancement than you think. :)
     
  10. Nermal Moderator

    Nermal

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2002
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #10
    The ADC Student Developer programme costs US$99 to join, then gives you 15 % off (may vary by country) when purchasing a 'pro' Mac (10 % for a consumer Mac). This is a much bigger discount than the standard educational one.
     
  11. exhibitionist thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
    #11
    A T-Series with a 1.8GHz P-M with a 64MB 9600 Mobility Radeon is ~$2,400 (couldn't choose a lower clock and get an acceptable GPU). Is the G4 really that much of a bottleneck? I really don't want to go back to Windows. ;\

    And the DirectX factor doesn't matter since games that use DirectX are not even ported. I just want a Mac that can play OpenGL games well.
     
  12. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #12
    Well I mean games are iffy on the Mac in general. A PC Desktop will be better than the equivalent PowerMac, and the comparison gets worse between PC laptops and Powerbooks.

    The G4 processor isn't that much of a bottleneck for most things you do, but with games, PCs generally perform better. . But again, its always going to be iffy on a laptop, even on a 1.8 Pentium-M. The LCD on laptops isn't really great for gaming anyway.

    I say if you can hold off for a new PowerBook, then do that. Normally I would say "Never hold off a purchase for something better in the future", but Apple will probably bring out a new PB soon with one of the newer Freescale G4s, maybe 1.7GHz G4 or so. That'll definitely close the gap. If you're that keen on gaming while holding onto the sweet Mac OS, that may be the best way to go. InvaLPsion suggested the same thing. ;)

    Otherwise, the IBM Thinkpad great. It doesn't look very good, but its generally considered a tank. Consider it. WinXP is bad, but it isn't THAT bad. ;)
     
  13. vraxtus macrumors 65816

    vraxtus

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2004
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    #13

    Except games that use DirectX are often ported... Halo being a very strong example. Add to that, ATI has much weaker support for OpenGL than nVidia.
     
  14. invaLPsion macrumors 65816

    invaLPsion

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2004
    Location:
    The Northlands
    #14
    The 1.5GHz G4 processor, while a botleneck for gaming, most definitely rips through every other application available. Garageband, iMovie, FCP, iTunes, you name it, they will all run very well.


    BLASPHEMY!!!! :D :p :D
     
  15. mikeyredk macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2003
    #15
    you could get a 2 ghz g4 emac right now :cool: :D

    link for the mod

    oh it starts at $899 for the edu superdrive model
     
  16. Mantat macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2003
    Location:
    Montréal (Canada)
    #16
    How much time are you planning to spend on gaming? If its just once in a while, it seem foolish to spend so much cash just for the possibility to play when in fact you will never have time for it...

    Also, having a mac will allow you to play some much better game that arent availlable on the PC, these are: Final Cut Express, Motion, Garage Band, etc... These are great way to spend you time and to do so in a productive way!

    I have spent countless hours playing games when I was on the PC and it never gave me anything back, only a few second rush that was too quickly gone. Now I spend my spare time doing digital photography, java and film. A much better deal IMHO!
     
  17. Demon Hunter macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2004
    #17
    Uhhh, yes, it is.

    I don't know how many of these people actually game or have even used a Powerbook for gaming, but I find them totally adequate for OpenGL games. I'm buying a 15" with the extra video memory (it was going to be ADC Student, but now I have employee status :cool: ) and I'm confident it will last me. My friend gets great framerates in Unreal 2004, Call of Duty, Warcraft III: FT... the extra memory and speed will only increase the longevity of your purchase. A lot of games still only utilize 64 MB, and the extra memory will not affect Quartz Extreme performance in Panther. It could have a big impact in Tiger though.

    As for video cards, the 9700 Mobility is comparable to a desktop model Radeon 9600 XT. This is about 30% faster than the 9600M according to ATi. As for the 5200 FX, I have no idea, but ATi is the current leader in mobility graphics... and I'd rather have a chipset from them in my laptop. The 9700M GPU has one of the fastest clock speeds available in a notebook... the 9800M will have 4 extra pipelines.

    Also: OpenGL driver comparisons between nVidia and ATi on Mac OS X are fairly irrelevant. Apple writes the drivers that utilize the chipset's hardware. Mac ATi drivers have nothing to do with Catalyst... ATi will occassionally release an ATi Displays update, but that's it.

    ADC verified me in about a week, it was very simple. I faxed and they approved, no questions asked about my Major.

    Good luck with your decision.
     

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