PB 15 or Pb 12, portability, size, ram?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by whw5, Mar 8, 2004.

  1. whw5 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2004
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    Atlanta
    #1
    I am going to be getting a new mac soon and I know it will be a powerbook. The 17in is out of my price range but I can get the 15in if I wait for a couple more weeks, or I can get the 12in now. Does the 15in combo drive offer enough more screenspace and ram options to make it worth-while to get instead of the 12in? I think eventually I would like to have it at 1gb of ram. Also, can the 15in combo have a backlit keyboard, and is it still easily portable?
     
  2. oingoboingo macrumors 6502a

    oingoboingo

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2003
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #2
    It's entirely up to you as to whether the 15" or the 12" offers enough screen space. I regularly use both a Rev B. 12" G4 PowerBook (1024x768) and a 1.6GHz G5 hooked up to a 19" CRT (1600x1200), and find that I can arrange my desktop to be optimal on both machines. You should really get to an Apple Store or dealer if possible and take a look at the screen sizes in person to get a feel for them both.

    As for the RAM, the 12" PB can accommodate up to 1.25GB (up from 640MB on the original 12" PB) versus 2GB for the 15", but the single 1GB SO-DIMM modules are still very expensive. Again, it all depends on what you will be using your PowerBook for. I currently have 768MB RAM in my 12" PB and have never run into any problems, but then most of my usage is restricted to tasks like web, e-mail, office, code development and a little messing around with GarageBand and some light PhotoShopping. What types of uses do you foresee for your PowerBook?

    If you look at the Apple website, you will see that the backlit keyboard is available as an option on the 15" combo drive for an extra US $69.

    The 15" should still be quite portable compared to the 12"...it is only about 400-500 grams heavier, and is actually thinner than the 12" IIRC. Again, it all depends on where you will be taking your PB as to whether the 15" will be portable enough compared to the 12". I take my 12" everywhere in my backpack, and use it all over the house, on the couch, outside on the balcony etc etc and it's great for that. But then again a friend of mine does that with his 17" PB too...although I think it looks ridiculous and I would never want to have something as big as the 17" PB propped up on my lap while lying on the couch...but that's just my opinion.

    If you can get to an Apple Store to play with both the 12" and 15" models, that would be the best thing you could do. Also, if you can define what your projected uses (to give an idea as to potential RAM/CPU/video/expansion needs you might have), then that might help people out a little when trying to recommend a system. In addition to the larger screen size, the 15" PB has some very pronounced advantages over the 12", especially with its GPU (ATI Radeon 9600 in the 15" versus the lacklustre nVidia GeForce FX 5200 in the 12"), expandability (FW800, GB ethernet, and a PCMCIA slot), and of course CPU speed (1.25GHz G4 versus 1GHz G4). The G4 CPU isn't exactly a speed demon, so you need as many MHz as you can get your hands on these days with a G4 system IMHO.

    Hope some of this helps.
     
  3. whw5 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Feb 27, 2004
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #3
    I expect to be playing games such a Halo and Unreal '04 so I think that I need a better graphics card. I am also going to be using imovie and I expect heavy use with garage band. I am waiting for them to update the powerbooks so by the time they do I will have enough money. I also expect that I will only be taking it around the house/ to my friends houses to show it off. Thanks for all the good advice.
     
  4. ToddW macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2004
    #4
    You know I have the same problem. I keep thinking that I should get the 12" because it is cheaper. Then I think I should get the 15" w/superdrive because it would be a beast out of the box and the RAM can expand to 2GB.

    What is the lead time on one that is BTO? Also, how does the 1Ghz 15" compare to the 1.25Ghz 15"?
     
  5. QCassidy352 macrumors G3

    QCassidy352

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2003
    Location:
    Bay Area
    #5
    I have the 12" and love it, but it's not going to cut it for you, not with those games.
     
  6. JasonL macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2004
    Location:
    Ware, MA
    #6
    I just got my 1.25 GHz 15" PB last week. It was at my house 5 days from when I ordered it; and it was a BTO machine. I had it delivered with 512MB all on one stick (vs. the base 2x256 config) and added another 512MB stick (sourced from crucial for $110.99 IIRC).

    I am more than happy with its performance and have no problems with portability (I'm a grad student and use it for school). Btw, I highly recommend Tom Bihn bags, I have the Empire Builder. The 1.25 GHz PB comes with a few things over the 1 GHz 15" PB including SD (although you can save some $$ by downgrading to the Combo Drive, backlit keyboard (pretty cool, but I'm not sure how necessary it is), and GE. You can look at them side by side on the Apple Store site.

    Good luck.

    Jay
     
  7. Peter Rosen Guest

    #7
    I have the 15in. You will love the bigger screen, but..


    I have the superdrive and it comes backlit. I think you will appreciate more screen realestate. I must say that these newer powerbooks have two drawbacks over the older models (IMHO). The screen doesn't open as wide as the older version (almost 180º compared to the present 140º). The older 15in ( I had a 667 until Apple replaced it as it died one too many times and rather than repair again, they replaced) had all its connections in the back of the machine. The newer ones have NO connections in back and with stuff plugged into the sides (power, USB, Eithernet and Firewire) I find I can no longer sit with the machine on my lap without potential damage to the connections. The laptop only becomes a laptop if not connected to my LAN or without the WACOM usb tablet connected. That sucks! But I can live with it as the speed and Superdrive outweigh the inconvenience of unwieldy cables.

    =Peter->
     
  8. oingoboingo macrumors 6502a

    oingoboingo

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    Jul 31, 2003
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #8
    If you're going to use it for gaming, definitely wait a few more weeks and get the 15" PB. UT2004 is barely playable on my 12" PB, and I don't imagine Halo would be either. The nVidia GeForce FX 5200 chip in the 12" is a very low end part, whereas the Radeon 9600 in the 15" is still quite a reasonable GPU, even in the desktop market. I think you will still find the 15" is very portable. For me, the decision to go 12" over 15" was based around two things: I wanted an ultra-portable system because I wanted to use it at university, at my part-time job, and at home (and carry it everywhere in between on buses and trains), and also I couldn't afford the 15" PB :)

    But if you have the means and ultraportability isn't a requirement, get the 15".
     
  9. whw5 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2004
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #9
    My parents have a 20 inch imac so I would only need the combo drive. Thats good. Brings the price down a lot.
     
  10. adamjay macrumors 6502a

    adamjay

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2004
    Location:
    Indianapolis
    #10
    i have a 12" AlBook and a 15" TiBook and i have to say that the 12" totally wins in portability. Very easy to open up beyond a 90 degree angle on an airplane.. but not good for games, or Ram capacity.

    get what you can afford.
     
  11. ToddW macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2004
    #11
    Well I keep going back and forth between four models:

    14" ibook
    12" PB 1Ghz G4 w/superdrive
    15" PB 1Ghz G4 w/ or w/o superdrive
    15" PB 1.25Ghz G4 w/superdrive

    The ibook is almost eliminated, I keep think of what I really want my mac to do.

    I really want to edit movies and such and also want something that is expandable. I have editing capability on my PC, I could just buy a dvd-rw for that one, oh what to do. I am about 2-4 weeks away from purchase.

    It looks like I will want the power book, however one question is the performance between the 1Ghz G4 and the 1.25Ghz G4. Any resources I could look at that I can see the performance between the two?
     
  12. oingoboingo macrumors 6502a

    oingoboingo

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2003
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #12
    If expandability is important to you, remember that the 15" PowerBooks all have a PC Card slot (PCMCIA), FireWire 800 in addition to FireWire 400, and Gigabit ethernet. The 12" PowerBook lacks a PC Card slot, FW800 and gigabit ethernet. This limits its long-term upgradability and lifespan IMHO. This is in addition to the 15" having a maximum RAM capacity of 2GB, versus 1.25GB for the 12".

    As far as the speed difference between the 1GHz 15" and the 1.25GHz 15", check out www.barefeats.com. They do all kinds of speed tests and comparisons. Also if you can track down a copy, the December 2003 issue of MacWorld (the Australian edition, at least) had a bunch of benchmarks comparing 12", 15" and 17" PowerBooks to each other. Briefly summarised, those results are:

    SpeedMark 3.2 Overall Score (700MHz G4 eMac = 100, higher is better):
    12" PB G4/1GHz: 142
    15" PB G4/1GHz: 138
    15" PB G4/1.25GHz: 159
    17" PB G4/1.33GHz: 161

    Photoshop 7.0.1 Suite (time elapsed, lower is better):
    12" PB G4/1GHz: 0:56s
    15" PB G4/1GHz: 0:52s
    15" PB G4/1.25GHz: 0:43s
    17" PB G4/1.33GHz: 0:42s

    iMovie 2.1.2 Render (time elapsed, lower is better):
    12" PB G4/1GHz: 0:53s
    15" PB G4/1GHz: 0:52s
    15" PB G4/1.25GHz: 0:43s
    17" PB G4/1.33GHz: 0:41s

    iTunes MP3 encode (time elapsed, lower is better):
    12" PB G4/1GHz: 0:45s
    15" PB G4/1GHz: 0:43s
    15" PB G4/1.25GHz: 0:35s
    17" PB G4/1.33GHz: 0:33s

    Quake III frame rate (higher is better):
    12" PB G4/1GHz: 64
    15" PB G4/1GHz: 73
    15" PB G4/1.25GHz: 86
    17" PB G4/1.33GHz: 89

    Cinema 4D XL 7.303 3D Render (time elapsed, lower is better):
    12" PB G4/1GHz: 7:00m
    15" PB G4/1GHz: 6:54m
    15" PB G4/1.25GHz: 5:33m
    17" PB G4/1.33GHz: 5:12m

    MPEG-2 encode (time elapsed, lower is better):
    12" PB G4/1GHz: 14:45m
    15" PB G4/1GHz: 13:59m
    15" PB G4/1.25GHz: 12:30m
    17" PB G4/1.33GHz: 12:14m

    Hope this helps.
     
  13. ToddW macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2004
    #13

    well that was exactly what i was looking for. It looks like it would definately be to my advantage to purchase a 15" PB w/superdrive 1.25 ghz G4

    thanks for the info
     
  14. nuclearwinter macrumors regular

    nuclearwinter

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2003
    Location:
    Milky Way
    #14
    I totally agree

    i have a exactly that system it is absolutely marvelous. Portability has never been a problem. Widescreen is perfect and makes peoples' jaws drop when they see how thin it is. not to mention speed. i couldn't be happier... unless it was a 15" AL PB G5.
    :D
     
  15. whw5 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Feb 27, 2004
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #15
    I think that I am going to get the 1.25Ghz processor with a combo drive and just down grade some other stuff to make it cheaper. Is the PC slot on the PB for putting in memory cards from digital cameras and stuff?
     
  16. oingoboingo macrumors 6502a

    oingoboingo

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2003
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #16
    The PC Card (or PCMCIA) slot is a general purpose expansion slot standard for notebook computers. Think of it as a kind of compact PCI slot for notebooks. There are all types of expansion cards designed to fit the slot, ranging through network cards, Bluetooth cards, modems, SCSI adapters, FireWire adapters, USB adapters, microdrives, and flash card readers (and I'm sure there's lots more than that). Not all PC Card devices will function in the PowerBook though as they will require Mac OS X specific drivers (and not all manufacturers supply them) even if they are physically compatible with the PowerBook's PC Card slot.

    It is possible to buy a PC Card adapter which will allow you to read flash memory cards from digital cameras. A friend of mine bought a Sony Memory Stick adapter for his 17" PB, which is a PC Card with a little slot in the exposed edge of it which allows you to insert a Memory Stick and use it like a removable drive. You cannot just stick a flash RAM card into the PC Card slot without some type of adapter (just like you can't stick a Compact Flash or SD card into a PCI slot in a desktop computer and have it work).

    If you were looking for an easy way to read memory cards, you might also consider buying one of those cheap little USB flash memory adapter dongle type things. They're about the size of a matchbox or a little bigger, and usually have slots to accommodate all the popular flash memory formats (SD, MMC, SmartMedia, Memory Stick, and Compact Flash). They connect to the Mac via a short USB cable, and don't require an external power supply. I have one from IWill, which only cost me about $50 Australian, and that was over a year ago. Probably a lot cheaper than a PC Card-based solution, and you can use it with your desktop system too.
     
  17. oingoboingo macrumors 6502a

    oingoboingo

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    Jul 31, 2003
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #17
    Here's an example of a flash memory to PC Card adapter that I was describing in my previous post. This one lets you read 4 different types of flash memory cards, and it's only US $33.95:

    http://eshop.macsales.com/Catalog_Item.cfm?ID=5762&Item=MACPCM04
     
  18. whw5 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Feb 27, 2004
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    Atlanta
    #18
    so I just plug it into the PC slot on the side?
     
  19. oingoboingo macrumors 6502a

    oingoboingo

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    Jul 31, 2003
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #19
    Exactly. It just slides in, and PC Cards are usually hot-pluggable (ie: you can add or remove them without needing to reboot the machine).
     
  20. tdhurst macrumors 68040

    tdhurst

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2003
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #20
    Yeah, but...

    Is it really more convenient to have a PMCIA flash reader? Why don't you just use a usb cable that came with the camera...?
     
  21. camobag macrumors regular

    camobag

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2003
    #21
    Money Well Spent!

    I would just like you guys to know, for those who are deciding between the 12 v. 15, first, that I have had them both, and second, that I love the 15 more. This may be assummed, considering the price difference, but the 15 graphics card and seemingly endless screen space (compared to the 12) is so schweet! As well as the higher ability to upgrade ram in the 15 is really nice. The portability in the 12 is nice (I had a 12 iBook too), but, atleast for me, the 15's setup is so much more worth it. I know that plenty of people are happy with the 12, but I'm just not one of them!
     
  22. Peter Rosen Guest

    #22
    i liked the hinge in my 667 MHZ better

    I loved the way the 667 powerbooks hinge would open almost to 180 degrees. I think the Al 15 in 1.25 Ghz is a fantastic machine EXCEPT for the limited hinge angle. It really limits how I use the machine, what angles I can sit, lay and play at, etc. for that matter, the ports on the sides also limits me in similar fashion.... does anyone else have a problem with the hinge limitation? :confused:
     
  23. busasa macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2004
    #23
    just to clarify the "massive" speed differential that may apear between the 15" 1Ghz and 1.25Ghz. Remember 1ghz only comes with 256 ram STOCK, and 1.25ghz comes with 512 ram (2x256 and if u want to make that 1x512 that means another 100 or so). That makes a lot of diff in the benchmark since osx is a memory intensive os.
     

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