Need advice about PB 15" or 17"

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by DaveinJapan, Apr 9, 2005.

  1. DaveinJapan macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Location:
    Japan
    #1
    Hello everyone. I'm a new guy here, been reading a lot lately though and I enjoy this forum very much. I'm an American musician living in Tokyo, and I'll soon be purchasing a powerbook 1.67 with superdrive. My questions have to do with chosing a 15" or 17" model.

    Honestly, I think the 17 is too big and I'd rather get the 15 and max out the ram etc...except for TWO things that concern me. First is the optical line in/out, which is ONLY available for the 17. How useful is this? I own a mini disc player and do a lot of personal recording using it, with the optical will I be able to download my own recordings digitally etc? What other uses does it serve (compared to the 15 inch with analog)? How much better is the quality? Am I missing something as far as what I can/can't do with it? Is there any kind of adaptor I could buy to modify the 15" PB?

    The other concern has to do with the VRAM (I think that's what it is, the video capability or whatever...you can tell I don't know much about hardware!). The 15" comes with 64MB, correct? And the 17" has 128? And this is not in any way upgradable? I read that expose, used with more than a handful of windows open, runs "choppy" on only 64MB. I read also that 128 was the sweet spot, with 264 (impossible for the PB's, I imagine?) being perfect. Is there any truth to this? And, if so, does that make the 17" powerbook a far superior machine?

    Money isn't a big issue, since I'd have to spend a couple hundred bucks maxing the 15" out anyway (I need lotsa ram for soundfonts, and other music stuff, and my finale software and other music software is pretty graphics intensive) so the cost is almost the same. The only thing that bugs me about the "17 is the size (I'll be carrying it several times a week!), and also I think the 15" looks cooler. Again, how important are the above "funtional" questions, versus my wanting the computer that I LIKE and would be more comfortable carrying? Honestly, if I could max out the 12" easily I'd rather get THAT, since I want a small computer, but I don't think that's much of an option.

    Thanks in advance! :)
     
  2. JzzTrump22 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2004
    Location:
    New York
    #2
    The 15" comes in 2 models. Theres the standard combo drive model and the superdrive model. The combo drive model comes with 64vram, the super drive model comes with 128vram. Keep in mind these are the default options, you can mix and match if you want. I think the 15" will suit you just fine. You really don't need the extra 2" of screen space. Put the money toward ram.
     
  3. homerjward macrumors 68030

    homerjward

    Joined:
    May 11, 2004
    Location:
    fig tree
    #3
    err...not quite. they both come with 64mb by default, but the 1.67 can be upgraded to 128mb of vram but the 1.5ghz can't. if you get bto on the 15" 1.67 to give it the 128vram and a 100gb hard drive it has the same specs as the 17" except for optical audio only $200 less (about ¥22000 i believe.) $200 will buy a 1gb stick of ram from crucial so it might be best for you to go with the 15" and add another gig to it.
     
  4. DaveinJapan thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Location:
    Japan
    #4
    Cool. Thanks for the advice. So, is there any kind of adaptor or something that will allow an optical in/out? I'm guessing not. :(

    As for that 1GB ram stick, is that easy to install? There is an open slot, right (with the 1st slot taking up the 512MB stick?)? Will that be enough, or should I go for the 2GB?
     
  5. DaveinJapan thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Location:
    Japan
    #5
    Here's another quick question...since I live in Japan and my wife is Japanese, obviously I'll buy the machine here for the "kana" keys. Also, the guy at the Mac shop gave me some advice about installing the Japanese version of the OS (but then setting up accounts for both English and Japanese). My question is, since it's a Japanese Mac, will I have to buy all extra RAM and other hardware stuff in Japan (wondering if I can find Crucial or not...)? Or, if I find it online cheap from America, will all that stuff be compatible with my Japanese Mac?
     
  6. riwanami macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Location:
    Tokyo, Japan
    #6
    Dave,

    I'm currently a PowerBook 12" user (albeit my father's) in Tokyo. In terms of the PowerBooks, the only differences between the U.S. models and the Japanese models are their keyboards and Operating system languages. My father bought his PowerBook in the U.S. because he wanted an English keyboard. However, he upgraded his RAM to 1.25GB at Yodobashi Camera in Shinjuku. So if you buy your PowerBook in Japan and want to buy RAM for it in the U.S., you'll have no problems.

    Also, if you buy a PowerBook here in Tokyo, a Japanese version of OS X comes standard, so you don't have to install another OS. One of the awesome things about OS X is that you can also set a Japanese version of OS X to show all menus and dialog messages in English or most other languages. So probably the best thing to do is to create one user account for your wife in Japanese, and another user account for you with menus set in English.

    As for VRAM, from what you've written so far, you may benefit from the 128MB of VRAM. You will probably see the most performance from adding more RAM. Installing it isn't too difficult, but becareful on one thing. There have been several times in Apple history where the same model in the U.S. and Japan had the same amount of RAM, but in different configurations. I don't know about U.S. models, but currently, if you buy a PowerBook in most stores in Japan, there are two 256MB sticks installed. If you decide to upgrade later, you will have to throw out one of the 256MB to upgrade your RAM.

    Finally, I think you will benefit from the widescreen offered by the 15inch PowerBook. My 12inch is a great traveller, but I really can't stand doing video editing on such a small screen. If you get the 12 inch, get an external display for it, and you'll have a nice workstation. (My current setup is a U.S. version of the PowerBook 12inch with an external display, bluetooth mouse and bluetooth Japanese keyboard)
     
  7. homerjward macrumors 68030

    homerjward

    Joined:
    May 11, 2004
    Location:
    fig tree
    #7
    afaik all macs are the same; only like you said, with the kana keys as opposed to latin keys or w/e. crucial does ship internationally, charging $15 for shipping to japan.
    http://www.crucial.com/store/international_shipping.asp
    and the link to the memory, just for fun: http://www.crucial.com/store/PartSpecs.asp?imodule=CT12864X335&cat=RAM. don't go through the configurator; they charge $366 for the stick from there :eek::eek:
    as far as optical I/O there are usb and firewire adapters available
    edit: looked for some links for the usb optical I/O but couldnt find any :eek: maybe used the wrong terms
     
  8. DaveinJapan thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Location:
    Japan
    #8
    Excellent advice, all! I'm glad I signed up here (now get ready for a ton of dumb questions once I finally get the machine in my hands next month!). :D

    Here's another question...do I really need the 100GB hard drive, or is 80GB enough? I notice a lot of users here have the 80GB, and then just add a lot of ram. Does this affect the speed of the machine, or what exactly?

    Also, about RAM, since here in Japan you get 2 264MB RAM sticks (I think, I'll have to ask at the Mac store), I'd have to throw one away and install the Crucial 1GB stick? So, my total would be 1GB + 264MB? Is that enough? Or should I just buy 2 1GB sticks from Crucial and just max it out?
     
  9. DaveinJapan thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Location:
    Japan
    #9
    One more thing, are there any other good brands besides Crucial? Just wondering, in case I'm browsing around and see some RAM sticks at a discount price (DON'T want a discount brand, obviously!). Or, is Crucial the only way to go? The price (including international shipping) is nearly HALF what I would pay to have apple provide the extra RAM!! :eek:
     

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