20" iMac G5 or 17" Powerbook?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by andrewfee, Jan 31, 2005.

  1. andrewfee macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2004
    Long story short: I currently have a 20" iMac G5, practically maxed out. (only thing that isn't is ram; got 2x512mb dual-channel) I have now had my third hardware fault surface, and from what I've been told, after three faults you are entitled to a replacement system, or you can pay more to get "upgraded" to a different one. (A friends' 12" iBook just died on him completely, and he's paying £200 to get upgraded to a 12" powerbook instead)

    The iMac G5 is my first Mac, and I've loved using it, but I had initially planned on buying a Powerbook before the iMac G5 was announced.

    I'm comparing the two systems, and both have good and bad sides:

    • 1.80GHz G5 600MHz FSB
      1.67GHz G4 167MHz FSB
    • 1024mb PC3200 400MHz (dual-channel)
      1024mb PC2700 333MHz
    • 20” Widescreen TFT 1680x1050
      17” Widescreen TFT 1440x900
    • 64mb nVidia GeForce FX 5200 AGP 8X
      Mini VGA Out (mirroring only; without hack)

      128mb ATi Radeon 9700 mobility AGP 4X
      Dual-Link DVI, S-Video (dual-displays)
    Hard Drive:
    • 250gb S-ATA 7,200rpm
      100gb ATA100 5,400rpm
    Optical Drive:
    • 4x Slot-Loading SuperDrive
      8x Slot-Loading SuperDrive
    • 2x Firewire 400, 3x USB2.0
      1x Firewire 400, 1x Firewire 800, 2x USB2.0, 1x PC Card/CardBus
    • 10/100BASE-T Ethernet, 56k v.92 Modem
      10/100/1000BASE-T Ethernet, 56k v.92 Modem
    • Airport Extreme, Bluetooth
      Airport Extreme, Bluetooth 2.0+EDR
    • Headphone/Optical Output w/12 watt digital amp, Line-In
      Headphone/Optical Output, Line-In/Optical Input
    • Bluetooth Keyboard/Mouse
      Backlit Keyboard, Trackpad
    • iMac
      • + No cost
        - More limited expansion
    • Powerbook
      • + Portable
        + Noise level
        + More expandable (firewire 800, dual display etc)
        -£300 extra
    I'm having a hard time deciding which to go for. Although I've heard that G4s are faster than G5s at the same clockspeed, and while they're similar, I get the feeling that FSB will be killing whatever advantage they have.

    I do a fair bit of Photoshop work, and find my iMac a bit slow for it at times; will this be significantly slower on the Powerbook? I also find even things like using Firefox for browsing, or some videos (wmv mainly) can be sluggish at times.

    The system will primarily be used as a desktop (hence the 17" powerbook) but it would be nice to have the option of taking it with me somewhere. Although to be fair, I can't actually think of a situation where I'd use it elsewhere right now, other than perhaps around the house, and I'm happy in my room.

    Noise level is something that irritates me with the iMac; I always run it at highest cpu (it seems some apps don't tell it to speed up when needed) so I'm sure that contributes, but I find it a bit sluggish otherwise. I would presume the powerbook is much quieter as it's a G4, and a laptop.

    Going down to 17" after using 20" might be hard; it certainly won't have that "wow" factor that the iMac has. However, unlike the iMac, it has proper dual-screen support, so in 3/4 months time I will be considering adding a 20" apple cinema display. (I would be considering it for the iMac too)

    How do the screens compare in quality? I love how bright and vibrant the screen on this iMac is; is the Powerbook the same, only a smaller size?

    The better graphics card, and lower resolution on the Powerbook are a good plus too; I've often found that when I have a lot of windows open (or 2/3 of the iLife apps) exposé animations drop frames quite a lot on the iMac, and it really bugs me.

    Does anyone with experience of both (perhaps the older 1.5GHz Powerbook) have anything they can add? I like the idea of being able to just unplug my system and take it with me if I need to, although a 17" might be a bit big to use on-the-go. (but I couldn't deal with a 15" unless I had a main display for when I'm home, and I can't afford that right now) I don't like that there's going to be a lot more visible wires with it though; you can't see any with my iMac.

    So what do you think? I'm leaning towards the Powerbook right now, but it's probably influenced by the fact that it's a new product.
  2. carpet macrumors member

    Jan 13, 2005
    So your debating on whether or not to get a new 20inch imac or a new 17inch pb?
  3. andrewfee thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2004
    I'm debating on whether I should get my current iMac fixed/replaced, or whether I should pay an extra £300 and get the Powerbook.
  4. vtprinz macrumors 6502

    Nov 30, 2004
    What happened to the "short" :p

    You sure you wrote that right :confused:
  5. NCTRNL macrumors regular

    Aug 17, 2004
    Kansas City
  6. auxplage macrumors 6502

    Nov 11, 2004
    Virginia Beach
    Hard decision; I would not want to make it. If was in your situation, I would go for the 17-inch Powerbook for the faster SuperDrive and the superior graphics card (which never hurts). Tell me: what else is better sitting in your "lazyboy" surfing the web (I wish I had a nice PowerBook right now for that)? :)
  7. greenleaf macrumors member

    Dec 25, 2004
    Are you sure something isnt wrong with the iMac's noise level???i have one and its on the highest setting and i hardly ever notice the noise.
    Also I would personally go with the iMac unless you really need to take your computer with you...The iMac is faster so if you need the power then go with it but also if its not a must and you want the portability go with the Powerbook
  8. andrewfee thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2004
    That is true, but isn't the 17" too big for that? I was under the impression that the 17" wasn't much use when it's actually on your lap, and is more of a mobile desktop system.

    I'm convinced that it's a problem with the iMac, but am told it's "normal" (how they can get an idea for it over the phone is beyond me, but that's what they keep insisting)

    It certainly sounds louder than my previous PC. (it actually isn't, but it's the pitch of the fans that's annoying)
  9. edesignuk Moderator emeritus


    Mar 25, 2002
    London, England
    I'd get the iMac replaced. It doesn't sound like you need the portability of the PB at all. You can use the screen hack for the iMac to get dual screen support and add another 20" screen (as I have done) which works well. The iMac with it's fully supported DDR, SATA drive, and faster CPU *should* be quite a bit faster than the PB.

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