My Powerbook G4 obsession and what I did about it

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by brycemason, May 18, 2011.

  1. macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2011
    #1
    So, when I was in grad school I figured if I was going to write a dissertation I would at least do it on an attractive computer. I had always wanted to play around on an Apple, so that would be a good opportunity while preventing me from playing too many games while I wrote. I bought a 12" PB G4 and used it for 3 years before I sold it in 2007 when my work bought me a newer machine.

    Long story short, I regretted selling it! I trolled craigslist for a replacement, envied the few users I saw at the coffee shops who still used the venerable machine, and basically last month couldn't help myself when I spotted a perfectly clean example of the 1.5 GHz model on eBay.

    It's wonderful and I'm glad to be back among the PPC users! This forum seems like the place to be, so I just signed up to have some fun with you guys and gals.

    Here's what I've got on the PB so far, and I'm impressed it can still do so much great computing.

    12" PB G4 1.5 GHz
    1.25GB Ram
    240 GB OWC Sandforce Solid State Drive
    10.5.8 (with Xslimmer on everything)
    Fresh battery (5:30 on a fresh charge and uber-conservative text editing mode)
    Office 2004
    Photoshop CS
    STATA 11.2 (awesome statistical package I use, and they still support the PPC in the current version)
    TeX

    I plan on doing the crazy display panel mod as soon as it arrives in the mail so I can get 1400x1050---double the resolution. Dremmel ready to go!

    Yes I feel I am crazy for spending more than a new MacBook Air would cost on this old thing, but what can I say. Some people like to restore old cars and I wanted to play around with my old laptop. Never enjoyed using another computer as much as the 12" G4.

    Can't wait to discover other good software for PPC. Learned about TenFourFox tonight and will give that a shot.
     
  2. tbl
    macrumors member

    tbl

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2010
    #2
    Sounds like a venerable project!

    I always felt the PowerBook was a beautiful machine, and your improvements are making me drool. :D
     
  3. macrumors 68040

    Badrottie

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    May 8, 2011
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #3
    good for you every time i go to borders bookstore and i see alot of people with macbook on the table and I am using cheap Dell netbook...then I saw craigslist ad selling for top condition PB I got it last week I opened a PB and feel like I am using a Macbook Pro...I am glad Leopard is close to Snow Leopard. So I will learn more about OSX until I can upgrade to MacBook Pro.
     
  4. macrumors 68040

    666sheep

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  5. macrumors 6502

    JaguarGod

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    #5
    I commend you for simply doing what you like. There is nothing wrong with updating a PowerBook as far as it can go, especially when the PB can still work for and with you for many tasks.

    It is much like restoring an old car, for the price, you could probably just buy a new car, but restoring something you really love makes it that much more memorable and special. I have new Macs and old Macs, but I have put the most into my PPC Quad G5 as I just feel like it is my favorite. Some sort of attachment. My Wife and Kids all use their new Macs, but the G5 Quad totally upgraded is still a great machine.
     
  6. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2011
    #6
    Yes, the analogy to car restoration is apt.

    The OWC SSD is 2.5". I did a lot of due diligence about the drive beforehand to make sure it had a good shot at performance. By the time manufacturers got around to fixing their SSD controllers to perform better random reads and writes, SATA had become the standard. OWC makes, to my knowledge, the only PATA SSD with a good controller (Sandforce).
     
  7. macrumors 6502a

    stroked

    Joined:
    May 3, 2010
    #7
    What is the crazy display panel mod?
     
  8. thread starter macrumors member

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    May 18, 2011
    #8
    Hooray! My LCD from China came in the mail today and I spent the last few hours putting it in. Obviously it was not meant as a replacement for the Powerbook, but the panel spec is exactly the same size and LVD-20 connector. I used a Thinkpad X61 Tablet display replacement, which is a BOE Hydis 12.1 HV121P01-100 model. Had to do some soldering, take off the Wacom digitizer carefully, drill screw holes, and Dremmel off the metal frame where it didn't fit, but in the end I got it!

    Here are some pics! I now have taken this baby as far as she can go, with 1400x1050 resolution and a fat SSD. I have the world's sweetest PB 12! Hah!

    I have to say, I was worried about power consumption with the new screen because it's twice the pixels, but idling came in about 0.6 Watts less than before!!! I am now consistently below 10W in conservative text entry mode, which should give me about 5:45 battery life. The graphics die is also idling slightly lower on temperature, which I'm not sure why (about 6 degrees).

    Had fun, be well all!
     

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  9. macrumors 6502

    SuperJudge

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    The Triangle, NC
    #9
    Quoted for truth. I have to admit, I'm kinda jealous.

    How much did that panel run you if you don't mind me asking?
     
  10. macrumors 68000

    Nameci

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  11. macrumors 65816

    cocacolakid

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  12. thread starter macrumors member

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    May 18, 2011
    #12
    Here was the budget, although you'd need tools:

    Powerbook $287
    240GB SSD $577
    Hydis LCD $235
    OEM Battery $55

    Total $1154

    You could shave off a lot of money if you just got the minimum SSD, a 60GB I think for $200.
     
  13. macrumors 68000

    Nameci

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    #13
    you should be better off buying the 2011 13" MBP. But hey it is like restoring and pimping an old mustang... priceless!
     
  14. thread starter macrumors member

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    May 18, 2011
    #14
    I heard there was an aftermarket PPC 1.67 GHz upgrade but I can't find much on it.
     
  15. macrumors 68030

    Capt Underpants

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    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    #15
    That's badass.

    I'm a former 12" Powerbook owner. It was one of the finest machines Apple has ever made. Love that you upgraded the screen! The extra resolution will make it so much more usable.
     
  16. macrumors 68000

    Hrududu

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    Jul 25, 2008
    Location:
    Wichita KS
    #16
    Thats fantastic! I'd love to use that thing for a few hours just to experience that kind of speed from a 12" Powerbook, but I know it would make it hard to go back to mine.
     
  17. macrumors 65816

    cocacolakid

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    #17
    What was the maximum resolution on the PB before?

    Looked it up on Everymac, 1024x768.
     
  18. thread starter macrumors member

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  19. macrumors regular

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    #19
    ...That's a big resolution bump, especially considering the screen size. Nice work!

    It's tempting to try that with my iBook G4 sometime... though it'd be hard to justify the cost, and I'd be far too afraid I'd irreversibly screw something up. :(
     
  20. macrumors 68040

    666sheep

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    #20
    Congrats! It's really impressive mod. You've put as much life in this PB as it was possible (except overclocking CPU, but in case of PB gain it's not worth it, mostly due to heat increase).
     
  21. thread starter macrumors member

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    May 18, 2011
    #21
    Just an FYI any readers who want to do the panel mod, I tried to change the res today to something other than its native 1400x1050 and it got all screwy. Not a big deal to me because why would you ever run it in anything other than its native resolution, but just putting that out there in case it matters to you.
     
  22. macrumors 6502

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  23. macrumors regular

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    #23
    Any chance you can show a picture, exactly, of how it acts weird? Does it do it with every resolution, too?
     
  24. macrumors 68040

    California

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2004
    #24
    OP how fast does it run now with the SSD?

    Great upgrade. But I'm not sure on the original machines that you could mess around with the resolution. I have that machine right now and I'll test it.

    Did you upgrade the superdrive at all or did yours come with a combo drive?
     
  25. thread starter macrumors member

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    May 18, 2011
    #25
    By screwy, I mean I get lines in the screen going up and down, perhaps mixed with some squares. It's like the signal got botched. At 1400x1050 it's perfect. Anything lower and it's botched.

    I am not sure how to answer the question about how fast it is with the SSD. It's way faster than the rotational hdd that was in there. Xbench scores went way up on everything, twice as fast reads and writes sequential. Random writes increased 10x.

    The superdrive that's in there is fine for me. I don't really care about region-free viewing or else I might consider the Pioneer KV upgrade.
     

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