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The Leopard Debate

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by drewdle, Jun 18, 2010.

  1. macrumors regular

    I've noticed that, whenever older Macs are discussed, the topic of OS version comes up, and this inevitably leads to several users chiming in on downgrading to a previous version of OS X for better performance. I've even seen Panther recommended recently as the OS for a daily-use backup laptop, although most commonly it's a recommendation of Tiger over Leopard, and there never seems to be any consolidation of the matter.

    So my question is: why recommend a version of OS X that is having it's support phased out when the hardware in question is capable of more? To me, this is like suggesting that someone run Windows 98 on a 2002 era desktop because it might run faster than XP. While is may or may not run faster, the user is put at risk from a security perspective, and the user will have a harder and harder time finding hardware and software that accommodates their older OS. Leopard has some very advantageous security and safety features (randomization of memory addresses for system functions is one that comes to mind, the other is Time Machine, which on a system that could have a 4-6 year old hard drive in it, is a life saver). If it's not possible to run Leopard on your system (slower G4 or G3 systems for instance) then I can completely understand, but if the system can support it, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

    Then again, even if it doesn't directly support it, it can work out well in the end. My iMac isn't technically supported under Leopard; I had to jury-rig the install process to get it on here. However, it has proven to be no slower than Tiger for the equivalent tasks. Not only that, but there are some software updates that have recently surfaced that I would not have been able to take advantage of had it not been for Leopard. Safari 5 is a good example. HTML5 support screams compared to Safari 4, which is the last version I'd be able to enjoy on a Tiger install. I now can enjoy internet video on an eight year old computer!

    My experience is just one experience, but if my system is relatively snappy, I have trouble following how a PowerBook with a processor almost 1Ghz ahead of my paltry 700Mhz, could be a lame duck under Leopard if given sufficient quantities of memory. Also, I suppose snappy is in the eye of the beholder. If you're looking for MacBook-equivalent speed, you won't find it on these machines no matter what you install on them. I just don't see how the extra speed can outweigh the cons of an older installation, if not Tiger, then certainly Panther and below.

    Thoughts welcome. I just noticed this comes up a lot, and it's fun to talk it out. :):apple:
  2. macrumors 68040


    no its not choosing win98 over xp its more choosing windows xp over vista :D

    no serious leopard is alright as a choice if you got enough ghz and ram (more then 1 ghz and as a minimum of 1gb ram , better more )
    but as i found out with the geekbench results tiger scores more points , so is more efficient when it comes to ram usage and cpu usage
    but for html5 i have iMac g3 700 withs osx tiger 10.4 and runs safari 4.1 and it has html5 support , i can play youtube videos with html5 on it , not perfect , some frame lag , but way more pleasant to watch then with flashplayer
    so you dont have to upgrade to leopard and use safari5 in order to watch html5 videos

    another thing for example the eye candy like spaces in leopard is quiet nice , but i prefer a program called "desktop manager " which runs on both osx tiger and leopard and you can have as many desktops side by side as your memory allows and switch by just moving the mouse
    its just to show you can have everything in tiger what you get in leopard , so there is no need to pay for leopard if you already have tiger , and most programs still have osx tiger as minimum requirement, and if a program is a couple month older already i choose it over a new one which in general has bugs to solve , as i like my programs to work , i just have more important things to do then trying to work around bugs ... and i am a bit nostalgic too
  3. macrumors 68020


    I have a 10 year old mac (although heavily upgraded) and I prefer Leopard.

    It's only a tad slower but far more advanced. As far as I'm concerned the benefits you get from added security, better stability and better features far out weighs any slight loss in performance. Although the performance loss is really just at the GUI level. I notice in benchmarks that the CPU, RAM and HD actually score about 3-5% better under Leopard.

    With xbench 1.3 my Mac gets 63 on Tiger and 57 on Leopard. Very close.
  4. macrumors regular

    As noted above, anything with a G3 is better served by Tiger, certainly. I have almost the same computer as you MacHamster, except with the G4 processor, and I saw a marked imrpovement in HTML5 performance under Safari 5, although I haven't used 4.1 to be frank, so I'm unsure if that same performance boost can be had on Tiger.

    Something else to note as we continue, is that I noticed OS X needs some "grind time" before it can really be analyzed from a speed perspective. On either Tiger but especially Leopard, the first few startups (especially after the huge 10.5.8 update) are absolutely heinously slow, but given a few restarts, things seem to improve tremendously. My startup time is pegged around 40 seconds presently with Leopard, which is only twice what my MacBook requires (20-25 seconds, albeit with Snow Leopard), and that's down from 1:05 before I put 1Gb of memory in there.

    zen.state, did you pull that Xbench number off your Sawtooth? That dual processor daughter card must really make those things rip, I only managed 21.05 under Xbench 1.3. Oh well, still works fine regardless. :)
  5. macrumors 68000


    I really didn't see much difference in RAM usage between Tiger and Leopard. Both need a lot compared to Panther and earlier. I've also found that slower systems with higher end graphics cards do fine under Leopard. My G4 Cube is only 500MHz, but with 1.5GB of RAM and a Radeon 7500 installed I really don't have any problems with Leopard at all. That said, I do think Tiger feels more responsive on G4 machines. boot time is faster, and UI things like resizing windows etc. seem to be more fluid. I don't see any problems with running Tiger at all if thats something people want to do. I still have it on my TiBooks for the moment. Personally, I would recommend Leopard to anyone who can run it simply because its more recent and still seeing lots of updates from Apple. My days of suggesting Panther to anyone are over though.
  6. macrumors 68020


    Yes, ran on my Sawtooth. It's actually a single 7448. :) These chips scream. The only dual that will beat out a single 7448 is a dual of the same chip. So just imagine how fast a dual would be.

    As I have mentioned in the past.. it is a shame that Apple had already abandoned the G4 when the 7448 came out. Only the G4 tower and powerbook G4 owners can enjoy the 7448 through upgrades.
  7. macrumors 68040


    For me it really depends on "who needs what".
    I prefer Tiger on my PPC macs. I don't need TM, YT playback, Spaces. Software that I am using most frequently runs better under 10.4 (on my hardware at least).
    Besides, i prefer Tiger "look" - more "ascetic" than Leo, I even got Dock background disabled (with ClearDock).
    Security: i don't care... Who will attempt to hack my old computers, and what for? ;)
    BTW, i got Leo (not Snow) on my MP, and I'm finding it more "buggy" than Tiger. Some things are certainly better, but some are unacceptable (as my Console system.log records ;)).
  8. macrumors member

    I was caught up in this hype as well. But I've just upgraded my PowerBook G4 12" from Tiger to Leopard this morning and I already notice an extreme difference, way faster. The main reason I did it was the fact iPhone 4 requires 10.5.8 to sync. So I upgraded my wifes MacBook white to Snow Leopard from Tiger as well. The only Mac I'm hesitant about upgrading is my MacBook Pro because of the apps I'm running. I have Logic 8, Pro Tools 7, Adobe CS3... not too sure what will work and what won't in Snow Leopard. But if it wasn't for those I'd be all about having the latest OS each machine is capable of running.
  9. macrumors 6502


    I agree, with safari 5.0 out now 10.4 has taken another hit. I run leopard on everything MDD and up. Anything under that does run a bit slower with leopard. Actually that is near 867 the minimum anyway.

    The sad thing is 10.5 will start losing compatibility in the future, its only a matter of time. I was all for the switch to intel but it also put the nail in the coffin for PPC.
  10. macrumors 68020


    Here are some real world experience facts about Leopard and Tiger. Others can verify this also.

    1. Leopard is slightly faster on Intel and slightly slower on PowerPC vs. Tiger.

    2. Leopard can sometimes seem faster on PowerPC at first but once it really starts settling in on the drive it slows a bit. A fast boot drive can remedy this problem though. ie. I boot from a WD Caviar Black with a 64MB buffer. Will move to SSD in the next year.

    3. It really does depend on need as to which one you run. Some older Mac apps from the 10.2+ days don't play well on Leo although most do. For myself, the apps I prefer and the OS my hardware prefers it's Leo all the way.

    4. The only way to really tell the one your older PowerPC hardware, your apps and yourself will prefer is to try both on the same Mac. I have done this and chose Leopard.

    5. On PowerPC it does seem a bit slower than Tiger BUT I would say 80% of that is only the GUI being more needy for GPU and CPU. So it really only seems slower. A Core Image capable video card with 256MB VRAM remedied this problem for me. I often only have 40MB or so of free VRAM because Leo laps it up and that along with the Core image support lets your CPU really work for you. Under Leo without a Core Image GPU your system uses software (CPU) to deal with areas it needs core image support. With Tiger it's just disabled if you don't have a capable GPU. This clearly indicates that Leopard more or less needs Core Image. Tiger on the other hand simply benefits from it rather than relies on it. So if you do not and will not have a CI GPU then maybe Leo is not for you.

    That is my real world experience using both PowerPC and Intel hardware with both Tiger and Leopard.
  11. macrumors regular

    Just wanted to provide an update.

    I decided to take a real, hard look at Tiger again. To do this, I cloned my Leopard install, put it away, and installed Tiger. I played with it for a couple of days, and noticed that it IS snappier than Leopard, especially where the UI is involved. It also seems to be accessing the hard drive far less. Switching between tasks is quicker, and program launches are marginally faster. HTML5 and YouTube are slower than Leopard, probably due to differences between Safari 5 and 4.1.

    The big question is, though, how much am I willing to give up for better performance? As it turns out, quite a bit. With Tiger, this machine is nipping at the heels of the MacBook for daily tasks, where with Leopard it was notably slower. I'll do manual backups of my stuff for this kind of improvement.

    The real kicker in the end, however, is that when I attempted to put Leopard back on from the clone I made, something didn't transfer right. First the system wouldn't pass a disk check in Disk Utility, and then when I rebooted, it wouldn't boot past the grey Apple. As I would have had to rebuild the Leopard install from scratch again, and that takes a far longer time than Tiger, I've decided for now to live with Tiger and see how that goes.

    I guess they both have their strengths. :eek:
  12. macrumors 68040


    as most older Mac's after 2005 came with tiger and/or most have upgraded to tiger its also a money question (if you are honest and dont download a illegal copy) leopard cost quiet a bit in the uk about £80 for a single license and about £140 for the family , so for most of us its a question of " am i willing to pay that much to upgrade to leopard ,while tiger still performs well and for some its even not done with buying leopard there is also in some cases the ram upgrade , tiger is happy with 512mb ram but leopard comes to a crawl with only 512mb so you need to pay for that bit more ram too
  13. macrumors 68000

    I actually quite like having Leopard on my PowerPC Macs, and it has to be said it performs admirably (even running on a G4/700 with 128MB RAM... slowly, but it ran), and on my G4/450 with 1GB, it runs just fine, and lets me use the latest iTunes on my now positively ancient jukebox system :D (And, since I have all the UI stuff turned off, it runs okay on the 16MB original graphics card).
  14. macrumors regular

    I'm lucky in this respect that I bought a retail copy of Leopard back in 2007 when I had my original MacBook. My Tiger copy came to me by donation. So no piracy here.

    Chrismacguy: I can't believe you ran Leopard on 128Mb of memory. Slowly must be the understatement of the decade. It ran "sedately" on 512Mb for me on an identical system to yours. My previous long term engagement with Tiger was in 2006 on a MacMini with 512Mb of memory, and I recall that it was pretty pokey most of the time. This iMac feels far more responsive than I remember that system being.
  15. macrumors 68020


    For a G4 700MHz Tiger is for sure the right choice. I'm sure you understand that you're basing your Leo experience on a Mac that is 167MHz slower than the minimum required and has no Core Image support in the GPU. If you give Leo over 1.0GHz, 2GB RAM, SATA drives and a Core Image capable GPU like I have you would have a much different opinion. Core Image and 2GB+ RAM is a must on Leo for a smooth experience.

    For me Leopard is better. I have an old Mac full of 3rd party hardware (only the board and psu are orig.) and it prefers Leopard. Tiger runs great also but not all things work such as hard drive sleep, display sleep and a few other issues.

    As I said in my post above it's really a combination of choices. It's a simple question of what OS is best for your hardware and apps based on real world experience. You tried both and made a choice. That is the right approach.
  16. macrumors regular

    CoreImage must make a world of difference. UI elements in Tiger are by far the most noticeable speed increase on this machine (so just generally snappier response). I realize I was trying to run Leopard where it was originally not intended to run, and because of that, I can't fault the computer or Leopard itself for suffering in the performance department. I'm actually surprised it did as well as it did. I'm finding that the few things Leo offered I can duplicate in Tiger on this machine. SilverKeeper, for instance, makes a great Time Machine substitute, especially when you consider the backups made are bootable copies.

    If and when I get a MDD tower, I'll probably put Leopard on that.
  17. macrumors 68020


    I have a possible and cheap performance fix for you. You could shoehorn an eMac 1.42GHz board with the Radeon 9600 GPU into your imac. Twice the CPU speed and Core Image support. Also can hold 2GB RAM!

    I doubt the board would fit though.. but then again I have never seen how big an emac mobo is.
  18. macrumors regular

    Now there's a thought. Somehow I doubt it would fit. I've never been inside the eMac, but the logic board clearance in the iMac is extremely tight, unless you were to pull the internal drive cage and just use external drives. Also, it would have be small enough square to fit inside the circular dome, and the only board I know would work in that respect is a Mini.

    I also realized recently that for any conversion of the G4 base, cooling will be an issue, as the original boards have thermal transfer points to the upper case, which acts as a huge heat sink. You would need to somehow link up the new board with these points to get effective cooling, as airflow alone is pretty poor.
  19. macrumors 68040


    eMac lobo won't fit for sure.
    Only way to have CI in Lamp, is to get 1.25 one w. GF 5200... then give it 1.92 7447 w 512k cache, 2GB RAM and SSD. Only requirement is a bunch of $ :D
  20. macrumors 68020


    My Sawtooth only has AGP 2x but has a Core Image GPU. In the few xbench scores of MDD I have looked at with AGP 4x and non-core image GPU's my Mac had at least double the GUI score. Even though the MDD AGP slot has double the floodgate. It's all about GPU and VRAM amount.

    Any Core Image capable GPU with 128MB+ VRAM will keep the GUI pretty happy. 256MB+ is even better. Leo often uses 200MB+ of my 256MB.

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