Why Apple notebooks outclass Wintel notebooks even without the speed bump

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by wilburpan, Nov 5, 2002.

  1. wilburpan macrumors regular

    Jul 23, 2002
    Having read a number of the iBook/Powerbook rumor threads, I think that it is a fair statement that there is a sentiment that Apple notebooks are underpowered/overpriced compared to their Windows counterparts. However, there is one factor that is consistently overlooked: weight and size. iBooks are 4.9-5.9 lbs in weight, while Powerbooks are 5.4 lbs. In the Windows world, it seems that the only notebooks available that are in this weight class come with mobile Pentium III processors.

    That's right -- mobile Pentium III -- not even P4 chips.

    The only exceptions that I've found so far is the Dell Latitude C640 series, which are 5.4 lbs and the Fujitsu LifeBook E Series, which are 5.7 lbs. Both of these machines have mobile P4 processors. But if they are equipped similarly to a Powerbook, their price is up in the $2500-3000 range.

    The PIII processors that are being used in these computers are typically 750-800 MHz chips, One of the Toshiba Portege computers is equipped with a 933 MHz PIII, and one of the Fujitsu notebooks has a 1.2 GHz PIII.

    The clock speed gap issues aside, I don't think many people would have a problem believing that the current pre-rumored-speed-bump 600-700 MHz G3 processors in iBooks can match a 750-933 MHz mobile PIII chip without much problem. Even though cross chip comparisons are inherently problematic, I would be interested in seeing benchmarks comparing G4 chips to mobile P4 processors. I would suspect that the gap is not that great. There is at least one such comparison that puts the processing power of a 800 MHz G4 within shouting distance of a 1.8GHz full blown P4.

    My conclusion is that if you want to compare 5 lb. Apple laptops to desktop replacement class notebooks weighing 8lbs. and up, then yes, Apple notebooks may not look so good. However, if you restrict the notebook comparisons to laptops of similar size and weight, Apple machines should be able to hold their own.

    And that's not even including the new machines rumored to be out tomorrow. :)
  2. ibookin' macrumors 65816


    Jul 7, 2002
    Los Angeles, CA
    I think everyone on these forums has already realized that Mac laptops are better than PC laptops. However, I think your reasons are very good.
  3. backspinner macrumors 6502a

    Apr 29, 2002
    Add the battery time to this comparison and Apple wins every time. Yesterday I was working as a consultant in a big company and everyone's laptop died when my powerbook had still 2 hours remaining...
  4. jettredmont macrumors 68030

    Jul 25, 2002
    Re: Why Apple notebooks outclass Wintel notebooks even without the speed bump

    Yes, but the problem is: there is a strong and quite healthy market for 8lb notebooks. Many if not most WinTel notebook users are in that realm. They specifically do not want to sacrifice speed for weight. For them, this is a monkeywrench in the whole "switch" machinery, keeping them from even considering an Apple lineup to replace their Wintel hardware.

    If a company were to switch to the Mac, they would have to switch their desktops (easy enough) and their lightweight mobiles (easy enough) and their heavyweight mobiles. Apple has nothing, not a single product or workaround, for the heavyweight mobile replacement.

    As for iBooks and PowerBooks beating WinTel ultra-portables in price: you really haven't looked at pricing very well!

    Here's a Sony VAIO R505 (Superslim Pro), starting at $1699:




    Weight? 4.3 lbs (6.75lbs if you add the docking station)
    Processor: 1.2GHz P3
    Screen: 12.1", 1024x768
    RAM: 256 MB
    10/100 Network
    802.11b Wireless optional (+$89 from Sony, +$75 from retail)
    HD: 30GB
    iLink (FireWire minus power to devices)
    DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive in base model

    This blows away the base (667MHz model) PowerMac in price, and the only features missing are integrated 802.11b, the power provided to firewire, and gigabit networking.

    Apple does NOT compete on features/money. Apple competes in:

    1) design
    2) usability

    Apple holds its own in:

    1) Overall power (depending on usage)
    2) Battery life
  5. Kid Red macrumors 65816

    Dec 14, 2001
    Re: Re: Why Apple notebooks outclass Wintel notebooks even without the speed bump

    You forgot

    Apple owns in:
    1) OS
    2) Quality
    3) iApps

    So, wow, still looks like Apple outclasses the classless PCs.
  6. Macpoops macrumors 6502

    Jan 15, 2002
    Up until the latest revisions of the Powermacs the powerbooks have been right next to them. So in a Way apple is making laptops but they are for all intensive purposes desktop replacements, 5lb desktop replacements. It seems to me the PowerPC chips don't see the drop offs that x86 hardware does when it goes mobile.

    Also with regards to the VIAO. The g4 was designed to compete and beat the p3. Which at 667 even with the choking effect of the slow memory the g4 goes do.
  7. jettredmont macrumors 68030

    Jul 25, 2002
    Well, two problems. First, note that my perspective is not a "typical user" perspective, in that I need much more power under my fingertips than one would require for the typical office apps suite. I program, and recompiles are measure3d in minutes, not seconds.

    That having been said, my P3 800MHz laptop computer both compiles my code and runs my programs faster than my 733MHz G4 PowerPC (not PowerBook; actual desktop). Compile times are extraordinarily awful on the Mac, at about 30 minutes compared to about 5 minutes for a full recompile on the PC (thankfully I get by without having to do full recompiles very often ... and in case anyone is wondering this is with the latest Mac GCC (3.1) and the greatly improved precompiled headers improvements fully in place), but run times (CPU-intensive app) are basically 1:1 with MHz rating (ie, while a 500MHz PC is slower than a 733MHz Mac and an 800MHz PC is faster, if you interpolate down to a 733MHz PC my tests all run at almost exactly the same speed as the 733MHz Mac).

    Now, the 800MHz laptop is a "desktop replacement", in that it has a large screen, every known feature plus the kitchen sink (known meaning known and available a few years ago), and a hefty HD and memory. But, like most laptops, it has a slow HD (4200RPM) and compromised data paths which generally slow things down (my 800MHz desktop at home flies comparatively!)

    I've also used 1.2GHz laptops, which are noticably faster and more responsive than my 800MHz standby. I've also seen significantly faster P4-based notebooks, but that's not really under discussion here.

    To boil it down:

    A 733MHz G4 DESKTOP is slower than an 800 MHz P3 LAPTOP which itself is significantly slower than the Sony VAIO described above.

    I find it incredibly hard to believe that the 667MHz G4 LAPTOP will be faster than both the 733MHz G4 DESKTOP and my 800MHz P3 LAPTOP to be in range to even compete, raw performance wise, with the 1.2GHz VAIO LAPTOP.

    Which is why I said: Apple competes in (bad choice of words; I meant dominates the competition, not just "meets" the competition) design and usability (OS X, iApps, etc). Apple gets close enough to not be completely dismissed in: available power and battery life (which I didn't go into great detail with; the above VAIO has a 9hr battery option, although that costs $100 more).

    In other words: don't buy a PowerBook under the impression that you're kicking your train ride neighbor's butt in peni- I mean raw processing power. Buy it because it gives you OS X and a terrific design.
  8. iShater macrumors 604


    Aug 13, 2002
    i agree with jettredmont

    Apple makes great laptops, they do compete on size, weight, battery life and cool design. They also rock on the other Mac fronts.

    However, Apple is missing 3 groups of users:

    1) Ultra portables - Look at the 3lbs range of PC laptops available that use docking stations for extra drives, the ibook comes close, but not close enough.

    2) Midrange laptops - something between the iBook and the TiPB, this one is a gray area, because if you have a good product matrix, do you really wanna screw with it?

    3) Desktop replacements - MacWorld did a piece a while back looking at how TiPBs could replace the desktop machines. Well, now that we have all Duals, that no longer applies for the PowerMacs. And the amount of power available in the laptops is also behind PC offerings for the price (similar situation to the PowerMacs).

    might 2.5 cents. :rolleyes:
  9. zarathustra macrumors 6502a


    Jul 16, 2002
    Philadelphia, PA
    Re: Re: Why Apple notebooks outclass Wintel notebooks even without the speed bump

    You forgot the 15.2 inch display with a DVI out port.
  10. madamimadam macrumors 65816


    Jan 3, 2002
    Re: Re: Why Apple notebooks outclass Wintel notebooks even without the speed bump

    Ummm... and a 15" monitor!
  11. kungfu macrumors regular

    Jan 21, 2002
    umm... I own an 800 mhz pIII laptop with win xp and it is DEFINITELY a great deal slower than g4 733 desktop, in fact, it is even slower than my sister's 667 powerbook g4, so I'm not sure what you're talking about. A 733 g4 will beat a pIII 800 any day.

  12. Computer_Phreak macrumors 6502

    Jul 15, 2002
    hmm... im going to have to say that the sony really kills the tibook, but of course the only thing is that the tibook has the optical drive built in, and the sony needs the base station (which is a good idea) which adds weight and thickness. The only thing that makes the TiBook compare to windows peecees is OS X.
  13. scem0 macrumors 604


    Jul 16, 2002
    back in NYC!
    That would be kinda funny if the laptops that come out and were 7 pounds. You would be like 'DOH!'. ;D
  14. jettredmont macrumors 68030

    Jul 25, 2002
    Interesting. Shows how useful such anectdotal evidence is ... What kinds of programs do you run on your laptops?

    Like I said, my measure of performance is based on fairly narrow but 100% reproducable measurements: how long does it take me to recompile my entire active project, and how long does it take me to get through a "full" test suite against that project. Those two timings do not vary by more than about 3% from one run to the next. I can tell you 100% surity that the 733MHz G4 performs slower than my 800MHz P3 on that test.

    To me, I spend 90% of my time doing one of those two things (or coding in Project Builder/Visual Studio) so those numbers mean a lot; to you they probably mean next to nothing. I'm not measuring the AltiVec engine at all as far as I know, nor any of the Intel SIMD instruction sets. Just pure, balls-to-the-wall number crunching. I have a fairly large (~5-10MB) working set of memory on most of my tests, too, a fact that also favors the PC, come to think of it.

    Subjectively, I spend a lot more time waiting for Project Builder (on OS X) to do stuff (have a 'folder' with ~100 source files expanding in the tree window? Grab something to read while you wait! Click "Find" ... wait! Hit "Build" ... time to start working on a different machine for a while!) than I do waiting for Visual Studio to do similar tasks. But then, Project Builder is a fairly young product compared to Visual Studio, and a bit more ambitious in some respects.

    As for a guy just trying to write a memo in Word? I have no doubt that the PPC would be just about as fast as my laptop, maybe even faster, who knows. But then, the perceivable difference wouldn't be significant even with a much slower (say, 300 MHz PII) PC or G3. If you don't need speed then it really doesn't matter how fast your processor can go.

    It all depends on what you want to do. I'd really like to hear what you find faster on your 667 G4 than on your 800MHz P3, though!
  15. madamimadam macrumors 65816


    Jan 3, 2002
    I would also suggest that a guy writting a memo in word would be FAR more hindered by the OS he is running and the coding in his version of word than the processor in the machine.
  16. ddtlm macrumors 65816

    Aug 20, 2001
    Why do certain Mac users try so hard to "prove" that Apples are better/faster/cooler/holier than PCs even if the face tremendous evidence to the contrary? :mad: Is there ego at stake here? Is Apple a church?
  17. Inhale420 macrumors regular

    May 4, 2002
    lol, i don't deny what you said, but you said it funny
  18. jettredmont macrumors 68030

    Jul 25, 2002
    Exactly. Which is, of course, where OS X and the design principles (hardware and software) at Apple really shine.

    IMHO, the "next big thing" in personal computing is not bigger/faster. 90% of consumers already have more than enough power for the things they need to do. The next big thing is making these machines easy and natural to use. Which is, of course, why I am rooting for Apple; they have a tremendous advantage over their Wintel PC counterparts.

    Granted, there are still CPU-suckers out there (voice recognition, etc) that might some day be applicable to the average consumer, but right now Apple has a huge head start on what the rest of the PC world will soon come to realize is the goal of the immediate future.
  19. jefhatfield Retired


    Jul 9, 2000
    the wintel world is coming out with a new mobile P4 chip that is super low wattage and will make the wintel world superior in battery time over macs

    right now, all PC mag reviews i read like the mac notebooks because of their great battery times

    the wintels still have the mobile ati video cards with 64 MB

    i love my ibook but still i lust after some wintel notebooks i see from time to time
  20. DavPeanut macrumors 6502

    Jun 5, 2002
    News flash:

    1 Ghz powerbook with airport and superdrive and 512 MB RAM at $2999
    take that wintel
  21. wilburpan thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 23, 2002
    Interesting points that have been brought up. Just a few thoughts:

    1. Any single user's experience is by definition anecdotal. So jettredmont's experience that Wintel machines are better for programming/compiling is certainly a valid point of view. However, if we accept this, then we also must accept kungfu's experience that a 800 mhz PIII laptop with WinXP is slower than a 667 MHz Powerbook G4 is equally valid.

    2. The old and new(!) crop of Powerbooks can arguably be called desktop replacements. I know plenty of people who use Powerbooks as their main/only computer. However, I still think that the only reasonable comparison of a Powerbook would be to a Wintel laptop that is of the same weight class. Admittedly, there are 2+GHz 8lb. Wintel notebooks out there, but no matter how fast they are, they will forever be at least 2.5 lbs heavier than a Tibook, and that's an advantage that the Tibook has that an 8 lb. notebook will never overcome. I have an older 8 lb. Wintel laptop, and I heavily dislike travelling with it for the simple reason of weight.

    I am sure that Apple could put out a fast 8 lb. notebook if they decided to create such a thing, but I wouldn't get one, again because of the weight factor.

    3. I am aware of the price/specs of the Sony VAIO R505 Superslim Pro, but because it contains a mobile PIII chip, I think that a fair comparison should be made with the iBook, not a Tibook. Especially with the new speed bump, I think that the iBooks compare very favorably with the VAIO R505 in terms of specs and price.

    4. There is a market for 8 lb. desktop replacement notebooks. I was in that market 2 years ago, and that's what I bought. If I was able to do it all over again, I would have placed low weight higher on my priority list back then, and now that I'm in the market for a new laptop, the 8 lb. no-sacrifice-speed-for-weight computer is not an option for me, whether it be an Apple, Wintel, or Linux machine.

    5. No, I don't think that Apple is a church. I do think that my analysis is reasonable, and that the idea that Apple is far behind of Wintel machines in terms of speed/power is both overly simplistic and that the "gap" is not as wide as one might think.

    In summary, to paraphrase jettredmont's summary above:

    Apple notebooks are superior to Wintel machines in:

    1. design of OS
    2. usability
    3. form factor

    Apple is competitive in:

    1. power/speed, especially if size/weight is held constant
    2. value, if "equivalent" processing speed (G3 = mobile PIII, G4 = mobile P4) is held constant

    and therefore Apple is also competitive in
    3. features/money.
  22. jefhatfield Retired


    Jul 9, 2000

    :D :D :D
  23. wilburpan thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 23, 2002
  24. lmalave macrumors 68000


    Nov 8, 2002
    Chinatown NYC
    Re: Re: Why Apple notebooks outclass Wintel notebooks even without the speed bump

    I just bought an iBook (my first Apple) and certainly had the option to buy something like a Sony Vaio SuperSlim or Dell Latitude SuperSlim. However these models only have external optical drives, and I wanted a small laptop with built-in DVD so I could use it as a portable player. I really believe that at $1300, the iBook was the best value laptop I could buy. I mean, you're comparing a Vaio superslim with 12.1" screen to a PowerBook with a 15.2" screen, where you should be comparing it to the iBook instead. I could not even configure a Dell "Thin and Light" Inspiron for less than $1500 with specs comparable to the iBook (except for CPU), and Dell is supposedly the industry's value leader!! I think you'll find that both the iBooks and the PowerBooks compare quite well in value to WinTel laptops in the *same* general product category.

    By the way, my 600 MHz Pentium III Dell was plenty fast for me - the reason I got rid of it is because it's an 8 lb. hunk of junk that overheats (the fan noise drives me nuts), and that I'm literally holding together with tape because it has developed cracks all over the case after only 2 years. My 800 MHz G3 iBook is faaaaast for browsing or using any software I am interested in. There's no reason the average consumer needs a 2.0 GHz Pentium 4 computer. That, to me, is about as useful as a car that has a top speed of 300 MPH. What's the point, besides empty bragging rights? To continue the analogy, I'd rather have a smaller, more affordable, more comfortable, more fuel efficient car for everyday use, thank you.
  25. jettredmont macrumors 68030

    Jul 25, 2002
    Re: Re: Re: Why Apple notebooks outclass Wintel notebooks even without the speed bump

    From Dell, try the Latitude 400, $1499 (price just dropped) (you can go to an 866 MHz P3 with 10GB HD for $1299, but the online customizer won't allow it ... they might be out of stock on it ...)


    1.0 GHz P3
    12" screen
    24/10/24 CD-RW
    128 MB RAM
    20 GB HD

    Or, better yet, an Inspiron 4150, $1437, compared to the $1499 iBook:

    1.7GHz P4-M (better than 800MHz G3)
    14.1" XGA (1024x768) screen (same)
    Radeon 7500 with 32MB VRAM (same)
    24/10/24 CD-RW+DVD combo drive (same but faster CD-R and CD-RW rated speeds [iBook is 16x8x24], or save $99 and get the CD-RW only drive)
    30 GB HD (same)
    256MB DDR RAM (same quantity, but faster)
    Wireless Ready (internal antennae; mini-PCI internal card is $89 - same)
    5.6lb/1.4" thin (iBook is 5.9 lb, 1.35" thin)

    Looks pretty close to me, except the price tag to a small degree. And the processor power (remembering that the G3 chip can't fall back on the AltiVec sometime speed bump ... and that the P4 has one heck of a nice vector processing unit itself).

    Or compare the same computer with the PowerBook low-end ($2299), and you find the Dell lacking only in screen form factor (widescreen ... if you care about such) and the specific video chip (the Dell doesn't have a Radeon 9000 yet), and of course gigabit networking, for $1487 (added higher-res (SXGA+) screen and 40GB HD to above config). A $612 difference, not to be taken lightly! The only justifications from a feature POV would be if you highly value Gigabit networking, the Radeon 9000's extra "oomph" in Quake, or the widescreen screen form factor for some reason.

    So, yes, it's hard to find 12" PC laptops, primarily because PC laptop buyers tend to believe bigger==better and sneer at ultra-portables. But in the "larger" PCs, you find parity in price/features (if not PCs being much cheaper), and much heftier processors going along with it.

    Again, the Mac is bought not because of features, but because of design (the two Dulls listed above are butt-ugly) and usability (Win XP Home just doesn't cut it!)

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