New PB's and Tiger query

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by Vanilla, Feb 22, 2005.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2002
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #1
    Hi
    I'm looking at getting a new 15" PowerBook to replace my existing 17" but I'm a little nervous on one key point.

    My local dealer is very understanding with regards to dead pixels and faults in general, which is why I went with him when I took the plunge and bought my first PowerBook. However, this largesse is restricted to stock configurations only, which means that if I decided to go with him I would lose the opportunity to go for the 128VRam and 100GB HD option.

    The extra HD I can live without as I am intending on getting an iMac anyway, but I'm concerned about missing out on the 128Vram with regards to the forthcoming Tiger release.

    I've read two main conflicting viewpoints, one saying that the amount of Video Ram is critical and therefore you should really go for 128 for Tiger and one saying that its not the VRam per se its the graphic card itself that determines the performance of Tiger and so 64 vram will be fine.

    I know its dificult in the absence of specs but can anyone shed a little light on this subject? In short, if I buy a stock 15" current specced PowerBook am I buying something that will handle Tiger fine or should I really bite the bullet, pray I get a "good'un" and order a BTO?

    Vanilla
     
  2. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2004
    #2
    let's just say that tiger will work on a nvidia 5200 FX... that's a pretty crappy card.. make note that tiger will rock fine on all machines.. but the eye candy will be affected by the video card.. tiger will run fine on 64mb.. 128 would be better but 64 is perfectly fine... you realize that all that eye candy will lower your battery life when unplugged anyway right? these video cards eat battery like mad.. i really wish i could setup profiles for "eye candy" based on whether the machine is plugged in or not. either way though, 64 will be fine.. unless you plan to do final cut pro and massive video editing type stuff where core image and core video will be used.. 64 will work just great
     
  3. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2004
    #3
    When deciding if VRAM is important, there are a few key factors:

    1. Are you a gamer?
    2. Will you be running two monitors frequently?
    3. Will you be using professional video apps?

    If none of the above, don't worry. Be pixel perfect. :)
     
  4. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2004
    #4
    If you are interested, I am selling my 15" PB (mint). It's the gen before last, 1.5 GHz 128 VRAM with zero dead pixels... PM if you like!
     
  5. macrumors 68040

    Koodauw

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2003
    Location:
    Madison
    #5
    Can someone please explain what some of this "eyecandy" is? It may help determine wether the features neccesitate going with the better video card.
     
  6. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2004
    #6
    you have panther? expose is eye candy.. the zooming and shuffling of windows is anyway... the actual function is useful... but the inbetween of making things look pretty is eye candy...

    tiger has some new effects, such as a water ripple when dashboard is summoned.

    also... to take full use of tiger... that is.. to get core image and core video to render using the video card you need one that supports pixel shaders... that is the supported list on their website ... somewhere on there anyway.. if you don't have one of those supported cards you will be defaulted back to using CPU for rendering. which will obviously be slower
     
  7. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2002
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #7
    Okay, so it seems that the Radeon mobility 9700 does have pixel shader support

    Okay, so panic over. Thanks for all the advice guys.
    Vanilla
     
  8. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2002
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #8
    So just to update: The store I buy my gear from (MR Systems in Islington, great people, great service) had a delivery of stock today, which contained one 15" 1.67 with SuperDrive. So after a moments thought, which took all of 5 nanoseconds I whipped out my CC and took ownership of it, spending the time back home on the tube to figure out how to break the news to my wife.....I've also reached an amicable agreement with them with regards my original 17" pbook which I'll be selling to them next week so good news all round; well thats the spin to the missus.

    So quick first impressions:
    1. It does seem 'snappier' in general compared to the 17"

    2. The backlit effect is SIGNIFICANTLY brighter than my old pbook, its very impressive, actually being genuinely useful now, rather than simply an effect to show-off to PC guys

    3. The two-fingered scroll effect is very nice and for me works well.

    4. The screen is pixel perfect (praise the lord) and wonderfully bright.

    One other thing I must mention is the setup process. Simply having to connect my old powerbook with the new one via a firewire cable and going off to make a cup of tea while the new pbook copied everything over was just brilliantly easy. Very impressive.

    It's a great machine, a nice mix of portability and desktop replacement strength. The next phase is to wait for the scars to heal from the 'chat' I had with the wife, wait for the next version of the iMac and buy a 20" to become the main computer for our house.

    In the meantime, I'm having a lot of fun playing with my new friend!
    cheers
    Vanilla
     
  9. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2002
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #9
    Aah well, that didn't last long....
    I was playing some Radiohead through iTunes when I began to realise that the sound was very much biased towards the left-hand speaker. I went into preferences and played with the balance and found out the following:

    When balance was set fully to the left, all sound came out of the left speaker only.

    When balance was set fully to the right, sound came out of both speakers.

    So there you go. Unfortunately my shop is closed on the weekend so I have to wait until Monday to have a chat with them.

    Shame, it was going so well....
    Vanilla
     
  10. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2002
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #10
    Well this appears to be a common problem, with some regarding it as a "feature", I need to do some more research on this!
     
  11. macrumors member

    BigDogg

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2005
    Location:
    TN
    #11
    Heres to hoping you get all the kinks worked out on your new pb.I know that feeling when you get something new like that and there ends up being a problem.At least it is nothing major and is probably a minor fix.Wish I had me a brand spankin' new PB! I may have to come off the back pocket here pretty soon, I will probably wait for the next release though before I make a purchase.
     
  12. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2004
    #12
    I'm sorry to hear that... hopefully not another famous 15" flaw. The other being the sticky keyboard... does it stick at all when you type?
     
  13. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2002
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #13
    No, the keyboard is fine. The trackpad also seems good (to me anyway), its quiet, the HD operates in silence and the backlight works as expected, these being the main issues I had read about.

    The issue with the speakers appears to be a design flaw and is more irritating than disturbing. I'm going to cross-check with my dealer on Monday to confirm whether what I'm saying is true or not, but the story goes as follows:

    The new 15" has three speakers: A left, centre and Right.
    The "centre" speakers is actually positioned nearer to the left speaker.
    The net effect is that when you shift the sound balance fully to the left, you hear all sound coming out the left speaker, but when you shift it fully to the right, you still hear sound coming out of the left speaker, which is in fact leakage from the centre speaker. When you play music with the balance centred there is a definite left bias accordingly.
    Its possible that there could be a software fix that disabled that controlled the centre speaker better I guess, but this explanation is what I have read.

    The important point is that it DOES not effect headphones, or external speakers, all of which work perfectly.

    On Monday I'm going to ask my dealer just to check out a couple of new 15" Pbooks to see if they all exhibit the same effect, which would prove whether this is an unfortunate flaw on my pbook or a design issue.

    A large part of this is clearly that its new and so I am sensitive to any perceived flaw at the moment. However in my defence, when I shifted the sound balance to the right it was patently clear that sound was coming out from both speakers, we're not talking about needing to be an audiophile or anything!

    Still, headphones are fine and all other known issues with the pb that I have read about on the Apple support site appear to have missed this particular book - and I have a perfect screen, touch wood - so I'm still on balance a happy bunny, just hope I can find a solution for this particular issue.

    Cheers
    Vanilla
     
  14. macrumors 68030

    Platform

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2004
    #14
    I'am not no 1 nor 3 but will proberly use 2 monitor's if I could would that slow down the OS or other thing a lot :confused:
     
  15. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2002
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #15
    So as an update, I went to the Regent Street store this afternoon and checked 4 15" powerbooks all of which had the same symptoms I am experiencing, which in a perverse way made me feel better.
    I then managed to (very luckily) collar a Genius bar guy and he confirmed what I had heard, namely that there is a third speaker which is positioned just under the Apple key on the left hand side. Its there to boost bass and mid range and is always on and he felt that this is what I am hearing. Bottom line he said there is nothing that can be done at present, though I guess there may be a software fix at some point to better control the speaker, who knows. As an aside he also said that he knew of one customer that changed his new purchase three times for the same reason to no avail, but that the vast majority of people simply do not notice it.

    So there you go. As everything else is fine with my machine, I'll probably simply wear headphones from now on.
    cheers
    Vanilla
     
  16. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2004
    #16
    No you'll be fine... but with 128 VRAM you'll have smoother desktop graphics like Expose and CoreImage, though (mostly eyecandy).
     
  17. macrumors member

    hechacker1

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2005
    Location:
    UCSD, LA Jolla, CA, USA
    #17
    is apple that bad at programming when it comes to memory usage? I am planning to get the 12" powerbook after tiger comes out to see how it does with the new effects.

    i ask because what kind of "eye candy" could tiger possible have to use up 64MB of VRAM. I can play Counter Strike with 2xAA and 8xAF on an older 8500le with 64MB of ram @ 1280x1024 without any problems. About 60fps on my windows machine.

    i have been reading these forums lately and it seems that MacOS uses a lot of RAM too. Everybody seems to suggest 1GB or max it out. I find that strange because windows with 512MB is perfectly fine for pretty much anything except games and video editing. and linux only uses more than 512MB when I am compiling a huge package while doing heavy java programming.
     
  18. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2004
    #18
    os x works fine on 512mb... however you need to read more of those threads since this will be the .. er... lost count... times i've said this.

    OS X uses all available memory better than windows. it's got a very aggressive caching engine that loves ram. the more the better. my powerbook swaps, but i barely even notice it does, if at all. it's an amazing thing. my windows XP machine chokes like mad at has 512mb and simply having firefox open for more than a day starts slowing it down due to swapping. i'd say it's backwards.. windows needs a lot more ram than OS X does.
     
  19. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2005
    Location:
    Germany / Austria - Mozart, no Kangaroos!
    #19
    As Logik pointed out, MacOS uses RAM in a pretty aggressive way, a lot better than WinDOZe.

    Concerning graphics, MacOS got some pretty nice feature: Quartz extreme. This means that rendering of windows is "sourced out" to the graphics card, what is a great thing. MacOS 10.4 Tiger is expected to make use of this feature in excessive manner.

    The point is: it´s quick, but needs sufficient amount of graphics memory

    This time for real: it´s not a bug, it´s a feature :cool:
     
  20. macrumors member

    hechacker1

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2005
    Location:
    UCSD, LA Jolla, CA, USA
    #20
    i understand the whole memory caching thing, i do have gentoo linux installed with a tweaked kernel to take advantage of my 1GB of ram. The only thing is, even with 1GB i never actually see it use the 1GB. Right now for example I am compiling firefox in the background and have X and Opera going and I am using 384MB of ram in use. Then the rest is cache. But what use does cache provide if it isn't being used?

    I have to say that my properly formated windows partition is much more efficent with 512MB of memory than either MacOS or Linux is (with full GUI and other necessary apps).

    When my windows xp boots, I am using 90MB total with kernel/system caching enabled.

    With linux I am looking at 120MB because X is horribly bloated. X has less effects than windows, yet takes more memory.

    That is my point with MacOS. It seems like the only way to achieve top performance with it is to have at least a 1GB. Even for everyday stuff like having multiple windows open with simple programs. I am not talking about video editing or gaming.

    I know that MacOS is pretty and all, but I see no reason for 1GB. How much ram does MacOS take intially on startup?
     
  21. macrumors 68030

    Platform

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2004
    #21
    Ok thanks

    But I tought that the eyecandy was to do with the chip of the graphics card/ how advanced the chip is or is it VRAM too :confused:
     
  22. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2004
    #22
    again, i don't know what you're talking about here. uneducated guesses suck.

    i ran my powerbook on 256mb of ram. it was perfectly fine. it swapped a bit when i was using multiple apps, but it worked fine regardless and wasn't super slow. it did fine, in the beginning i barely noticed a single bit of difference when i added a 512mb stick in until i started opening multiple applications. so the have to have 512 or 1gig is a sham. however i didn't expect it to do a ton of things at once either.

    next, X is a bit bloated, but it does it's job and it does it pretty well. the new X.org guys are making some pretty good steps in the right direction so keep an eye on that project.

    no machine will EVER use all your ram. the idea is that you have 1 gigabyte. and it'll use 900 or so and you'll never see it go beyond that. Why? because it leaves that extra space open for when an application might need it suddenly or you open another application. it's there so that it doesn't have to swap IMMEDIATELY just to open another app or to push a button. it's that simple man, you will never see it used completely because it leaves that extra space.

    go ahead and think windows works great but i get more swapping on my <u>properly</u> formatted (what the hell is properly formatted anyway? i mean, you have 2 options, quick format, for format.. :rolleyes: ) windows machine than i do in OS X (hell, OS X runs for 39 days on my powerbook (going to sleep constantly due to classes and such)... i can barely get windows to run smoothly for more than a week or two.. hell even after 1 day of heavy use i get more swapping than i can stand. sure it's only got 512mb but i'm thinking you're trying to just argue for the sake of saying you miss your windows machine... OS X isn't for everyone... if you don't like it, sell your mac...
     
  23. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2004
    #23
    it's both. big effects require lots of memory.

    someone else can explain this one but i'll state right now. Tiger will run FINE on a ATI Radeon 9700 mobility with 64mb ram. it will run FINE. so stop worrying. it might not run as optimially as it could but it will run fine and you might get some skipping and studdering here and there, and are guaranteed slowdowns on mutliple monitor setups when using expose or whatever.. it still functions fine, it just isn't as smooth in the animation department due to lack of memory. good luck getting perfect animation out of any apple laptop at the moment, they simply don't give the best bang for their buck in this department... an ibook would fare far worse than your powerbook. the 9200 isn't even a supported coreimage card.
     
  24. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    #24
    64 is more then fine for Tiger. Tiger can run on 32 and look crappy, but 64 it'll look just as it's supposed to.
     
  25. macrumors member

    hechacker1

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2005
    Location:
    UCSD, LA Jolla, CA, USA
    #25
    when your windows struggles everyday with swapping, or crashes every week, that is what I meant by not having a properly formated windows. I guess I should have said tweaked/configured.

    My windows XP partition can run for weeks with super heavy server usage (acting as a 4MB per second upload to bittorrent on multiple files).

    I'll leave it on when I go out for a week and when I get back everything is still running as I left it.

    So what I am learning is that I'll need a 1GB 15" powerbook with 128VRAM in order to get "what apple intended" or else i'll get "stutter and pausing" while just using the OS? That is not very good, hence my original question if MacOS programmers do a bad job with memory optimization.

    I know what caching is. And I understand that it is a space for programs to use up ram when they need it. But that is nothing new, every OS can allow applications to acquire more RAM when they need it.

    How much RAM does MacOS take up on a fresh start? (somebody with 1GB is probably best to answer this because they shouldn't be limited by their memory).

    Thanx
     

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