Bought a Apple Titanium PowerBook G4 of Ebay - Pleasantly Surprised

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by Mr. Dee, May 15, 2018.

  1. Mr. Dee macrumors 68000

    Mr. Dee

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2003
    Location:
    Jamaica
    #1
    Last month, I bought a PowerBook G4 Titanium 667 GHz - seller said 1 GHz, but it turned out to be a 667 MHz. Anyway, its not a big deal, was just hoping it was at least working.

    Got a new charger with it too, so that seemed worthy enough to part with $177 ($79 + 100+) for shipping). Import duties to Jamaica added another $60. I was so p*****! Considering this is almost a 20 year old laptop, it definitely was not worth that amount. Anyway, I had no choice, but to pay for it.

    I was really anxious; hoping its not gonna be a DOA or looked beat up compared to pictures I saw on Ebay.

    Upon arriving home, I opened up the heavy USPS packaging and suddenly I went back in time. The first noticeable difference is how heavy it is. This is a 15 inch model by the way, but for a 17 year old laptop, the previous owner kept it in pretty good condition. The battery even keeps a full charge for up to 4 hours.

    The first immediate issues I encountered and saw were the peeling of the white paint on the chassis. I was already aware this was a common issue with these models, so I concluded this was expected, but the fact it started doing this out of the box kinda made me nervous. What I saw next was dent at the side, not detrimental, but really obvious. If you ignore it, its not a bother.

    Anyway, the moment of truth came when I booted it up. It had OS X Jaguar 10.2.8 installed. Played around with it a bit. There was a Mac OS 9 folder with some old apps like Photoshop 6 and 5, Office 2001 - I probably should have saved these.

    Another pleasant surprise was the fact that the previous owner included the original restore discs for this model. I'm talking about everything this laptop would ever need to bring it back to its original factory state - Mac OS 9.2.2 and Mac OS 10.1.1. These were labeled PowerBook G4 Restore Discs, but she also included Restore Discs for PowerMac G4 and full legit OS X Jaguar reinstall discs too - these look like retail discs, because the discs are in the Jaguar fur print. Maybe this PowerBook was bought around the time Jaguar was just going to launch and the user got them as a complimentary upgrade.

    I bought this originally as a historical piece; nostalgia really. So, I was itching to reload Mac OS 9 and Mac OS 10.1.1. Restoring was tricky. I originally used the factory PowerBook G4 discs, which reinstalled Mac OS 9. This ended up wiping the disc and setup a fresh install. The next thing I did was boot from the Mac OS 10.1 disc, thinking I would be able to just partition the drive and install OS X there. Turns out when you do partition from within the OS X installer, it erases OS 9 drive too. So, I had to install OS 9 again.

    Eventually, it was setup the way I wanted - OS X on 20 GB partition, Mac OS 9 on a 8 GB partition.

    Having this device means a lot to me. I remember in 2002 when I bought Macworld and seeing the price for a machine like - $3,500. Now, its mine for about $240. I know, its pretty useless for what most users want out of a computer in 2018. Surprisingly, you can still get some things done on it. For instance, I took out some old audio discs and played those. Started watching Spiderman DVD on it. So, if you want an offline device for basic tasks, its pretty good.

    Speaking of basic, there is just something magical about OS X's and even Mac OS 9's simplicity. OS X was sparse back then, but there is an elegance to it. I will keep playing with and see what I continue to discover. What definitely don't like is the touchpad. Todays Touchpads are amazing to use. The lack of gestures and the size makes for a lacking experience.

    I also picked up a iBook, which I'm hoping to get soon. I honestly have spent too much on these old stuff.

    If you have any suggestions about taking care of it, please do share. I don't know how many years is left in it, but if I can extend as long as say Macintosh 128K, that would be great. One thing I going to minimize doing is opening and closing the lid a lot. Instead, I will keep it open most of the time and cover it when not in use.
     
  2. eyoungren macrumors Core

    eyoungren

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    #2
    These older PowerPC Macs are worth what we pay for them. Everyone has a price that they will accept for the feeling you mention.

    For me, it was being able to buy my very first 17" PowerBook G4 in December 2010. It was the only laptop Mac I had ever wanted and it was finally mine at that time for $152.

    Later on, I got the desktop Mac I'd always wanted (Quicksilver G4) and maxed out everything on that Mac. If I had done that in 2001-2002 it would have cost over $10,000 - if the parts were even available.

    So, I totally get your experience. That's one of the reasons why we are all here in this forum.

    Not useless.

    In fact, I had Tiger running on a 400mhz TiBook with Photoshop, Acrobat, QuarkXPress, Office 2008 and Suitcase Fusion.

    With TenFourFox for modern web browsing the Mac was capable. Fast? No, but you could get work done.

    A coworker of mine used it with Panther for a year to do production work at our newspaper (ad design, legals, classifieds, newspaper layout) until my boss bought a G5. It worked perfectly fine.

    Later on, I ran Leopard on it. Yep, a 400mhz TiBook running OS X 10.5.8. It ran just fine for everything I expected out of it.

    So, don't let nostalgia box you in. You can get Tiger on this Mac at least, upgrade to the max of 1GB ram, put in a faster hard drive (mSATA with an adapter perhaps) and you can get real work out of it. It doesn't just have to sit there being a time capsule.

    Congrats on your purchase!
     
  3. swamprock, May 15, 2018
    Last edited: May 15, 2018

    swamprock macrumors 6502a

    swamprock

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    #3
    The TiBook is still my favorite Apple notebook. I have two of them; a 667mhz VGA model, and a 867mhz. I had an almost cherry 400mhz at one time, in the box, but sold it when I ran into some difficulty a couple of years ago. Although I rarely use them, I love having them based on coveting one back in the early 2000s when I had my Wallstreet as my main machine.

    The 667 is a very capable machine, regardless whether you have the VGA or the DVI model. An SSD in the 667 would surprise you as to its speed. Mine had a 60gb OWC SSD (now in my 12" Powerbook) and it made the machine much more useful.

    Here's an old video of my 667mhz TiBook with the OWC SSD drive:
    http://atari.vg-network.com/public/tibook.mov
     
  4. MisterKeeks macrumors 68000

    MisterKeeks

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2012
    #4
    If I were in your position I would be asking for a partial refund. 667MHz to 1GHz is a significant difference, and IIRC there are other differences regarding GPU and maybe screen?
     
  5. Mr. Dee thread starter macrumors 68000

    Mr. Dee

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    #5
    I don't even want to think about going down that road. I have it, its here, its working. My intention is not to really use this as a work horse. I will probably use it to listen some CD's, watch some DVDs and maybe import some pictures from my point and shoot Canon.
     
  6. AphoticD, May 15, 2018
    Last edited: May 15, 2018

    AphoticD macrumors 68000

    AphoticD

    Joined:
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    Australia
    #6
    This is great! Thanks for sharing your story @Mr. Dee.

    It sounds like you’ve been bitten by the PowerPC bug! The TiBook is just the beginning by the sound of it :)

    I love the idea of being able to buy second hand Macs for (relatively) cheap when these devices were once worth many thousands.

    I have two Titanium PowerBook G4s;

    DSC_0072.jpg

    I picked up an AU$15, 400Mhz first-gen Mercury model a few months back which looks to have had a pretty hard life. I spent hours repairing it, replacing a snapped off hinge and gluing parts of the frame back together. I have it partitioned with Mac OS 9, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger and Leopard on an 80GB 4200rpm HDD.

    The beaten Mac arrived without RAM, charger or a hard drive, so the HDD was a spare from an SSD upgrade in one of Aluminum PowerBook G4s. I was able to scrape together a few spare PC133 SO-DIMMs for it, so it now has 640MB of RAM and along with it's 1MB L2 cache, the first generation Titanium runs Leopard pretty well. I copied the ATIRage128 kext from Tiger into Leopard and it enables a very basic GPU hardware acceleration on the unsupported 8MB ATI Rage Mobility 128. Don't expect much from apps which utilize OpenGL under Leopard, but Tiger will handle things fine.

    The outer frame was cracked in two places which I have glued back together, so I take special care opening and closing the lid, but the the motion and tension of the new hinge is perfect. Unfortunately, there is a missing piece of the frame at the slot loading DVD drive though, but it now feels solid enough to move around and is one of my favourite machines. When I had it stripped down I put fresh thermal paste on the CPU and replaced the silicone pads, which had begun to rot. It now runs much cooler.

    One thing I really like about this early Titanium is that it is essentially a widescreen Pismo with a G4 processor.

    I have been considering running this Mac as a home server, combined with a 2 port SeriTek/1SM2 eSATA CardBus card and external TBs of storage, but the 100bT Ethernet is probably a bit of a bottleneck for transferring multiple GBs of data.

    The PRAM battery in this Mac is dead, so I have ordered 4x VL2330 cells to rebuild it. Currently, the Mac won't boot if the PRAM battery is plugged in. The main battery is also too far gone to charge, so it's on my list for a battery rebuild (it uses the same 18650 cells as found in the PowerBook G3s, iBooks and 12" and 15" Aluminum G4s).

    ----------

    My second TiBook is the 867Mhz last generation model. It is in absolutely perfect condition, with not a scratch on it.

    DSC_0069.jpg

    The original battery still holds a charge for about 2 hours. I upgraded this one with 1GB of RAM and a 32GB mSATA SSD. The SSD combined with the G4's 1MB L3 cache makes the experience very fluid. It's a brilliant Mac, one which I don't ever plan on letting go. This model also has the SuperDrive, which I believe was typically exclusive to the 1Ghz unit.

    I was hunting around for a long time for this series (specifically the 1Ghz model) and when I spotted this one I grabbed it for only AU$80. I was pleasantly surprised by the excellent condition it was in, there is not a scuff or scratch on it. I have since stripped it down for a thermal repaste and have it running Tiger, Leopard and Mac OS 9. Tiger is seen here with @swamprock's Tiger Sierra V2 theme.

    ----------

    There's a third TiBook on it's way (should arrive by Friday). It was listed without any specs and marked as "Untested". I paid AU$23 (inc shipping). It looks like it is a DVI or Gigabit model 550/667/800, but it could easily be an 867 or 1Ghz model. It's in rough condition, but the frame appears to be intact (with not much paint loss). So, depending on what's wrong with it, I may end up parting it out to properly repair the Mercury model or add another salvaged unit to the line up.

    You can typically identify the early revisions (VGA) from the later DVI models by the lettering of "PowerBook G4" under the display. The early models are in a serif font (it might have been Apple's rendition of Garamond IIRC). The later DVI models are printed in a sans-serif font (correct me if I'm wrong on this).


    DSC_0064.jpg

    On my desk here I have a 10 pack of 337mm 327mm x 2mm CCFL tubes (a $20 eBay special out of China). These will be installed in the TiBooks to replace the aging and dull LCD backlights. I have 3 Aluminum model 15.2" displays to do as well. I think I'll leave this job for the weekend...

    -AphoticD
     
  7. swamprock macrumors 6502a

    swamprock

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2015
    Location:
    Michigan
    #7
    Only the 867mhz and 1.0ghz (A1025) models have the later font. The 667mhz DVI and 800mhz (A1001) models still have the older garamond font, but higher resolution displays. My 867 is a bit of a mutt, with a display from a dead 800mhz model.
     
  8. Mr. Dee thread starter macrumors 68000

    Mr. Dee

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2003
    Location:
    Jamaica
    #8
    Wow, you are gonna be the first point of contact if something goes bad with mine. Been playing around with mine this morning. Installed iPhoto 1.1 last night, but I need to update to Mac OS 10.1 to 10.1.2 or later to ensure it works properly. Managed find the original 3 note iTunes 1.1 release for OS X - trust me, it wasn't easy. This is turning out to be a fun project. Here are some pictures of it.

    WP_20180516_002.jpg WP_20180516_003.jpg WP_20180516_004.jpg WP_20180516_005.jpg WP_20180516_006.jpg WP_20180516_007.jpg

    It even detects my iPhone 6s mobile hotspot. Apple should take some cues from the initial release of OS X and make it kind of a Simple mode in newer releases. Its so clean. One of the discussions I remember Steve's having was how technology has a tendency to lose its history. Technology is like sediments that builds upon sediments over time. So, you never end up knowing whats at the bottom. Its a similar parallel with computers.

    Most users of a MacBook Pro today who were born in 2001, probably would never care about something like this. But, this is the start, this is sediment that overtime help to build the foundation and the drive for revisions upon revisions.

    There is a guy at a local repair shop with a 1 GHz model. I wanted to buy it, but was initially reluctant considering he was charging about $150 for it. But, I might pick it up next time I'm in Kingston. Would load it up with Jaguar and Panther.
     
  9. eyoungren, May 16, 2018
    Last edited: May 16, 2018

    eyoungren macrumors Core

    eyoungren

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    #9
    This link may help you in your search for older Apple software: http://ftp.iinet.net.au/pub/osx-updates/iTunes/

    This is a publicly available site for a univiersity in Australia. They have archived a whole bunch of stuff from way back when so although the link goes to the iTunes folder if you go up folders you can explore.


    EDIT: Sorry. It would appear that they have finally removed this content!
     
  10. macuser453787 macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    Just curious: Why mSATA as opposed to a standard form factor 2.5" SSD?

    Is there an extra benefit or advantage of some kind?
     
  11. eyoungren macrumors Core

    eyoungren

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    #11
    The extra benefit is that mSATA is available in a wider range of drive capacities at a cheaper price. It will fit inside an adapter box that is the same 2.5 size as a normal laptop drive.

    If you go with a standard SSD then you will need to either (a) get a SATA to PATA (IDE) adapter or (b) buy a PATA SSD.

    Option A means trying to fit both the SSD and the adapter in the same space intended for a normal 2.5 size drive. Option B means $$$$ and they are only available from certain vendors and at smaller capacities.
     
  12. Mr. Dee thread starter macrumors 68000

    Mr. Dee

    Joined:
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    Jamaica
    #12
    Found it at the following link:
    https://www.macintoshrepository.org/1640-itunes-1-1

    Macintosh Garden is also another good site for older apps.
     
  13. macuser453787 macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    Right, got it. Actually thought of this after posting, having remembered that when I had my DA G4, I had to use a PCI adapter card in order to use SATA drives.

    I really enjoyed upgrading that machine. It was maxed out at 1.5GB RAM, and it had an after-market 1.67GHz processor upgrade (which I OC'ed to 1.8 IIRC, it was one of those (Newer Tech?) models with the onboard clocking switches), multiple SATA drives (including an SSD boot drive), an ATX power supply (hooked up via an adapter I bought at atxg4.com), running an upgraded AGP 8x GPU.

    I don't remember the make/model of the GPU, but it needed extra power via Molex that would have over-taxed the stock PSU, hence the ATX PSU mod, and the GPU was hobbled to 4x because of the motherboard.

    Actually did some pretty extensive video editing on it using Final Cut Express 4, albeit not at 1080, and the render times were pretty long, but it worked well. And actually that was done long before the ATX/GPU mod.

    I've since given that machine to my brother, after selling off most of the mod parts and reinstalling the stock PSU and GPU. Except for the processor upgrade. I left that in there so he'd have a zippy G4 to use, if he chose to do so. :)
     
  14. eyoungren macrumors Core

    eyoungren

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    #14
    There was a time…
    https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/post-your-powerpc-setup.1399769/page-41#post-22423950

    Dual 1.8Ghz (Sonnet), NVIDIA GeForce 6800, Radeon 9200, Radeon 7000. 1.5GB, PCI SATA (1TB boot drive, 1TB secondary drive), USB 2.0 (Drive dock with 2x 1TB HDs), FW800, BT 2.0 (w/Magic Mouse).

    This is how I learned that the thermal design of the G4 case was very poor. Apple never intended it to be loaded with three video cards and an upgraded CPU. The demand for power kept frying PCI cards.

    With the G5s I have, I have an identical loadout as far as maxing things out. Just different, more high end video cards, more ram and increased hard drive sizes. But the G5 was designed for the thermal load and power draw so I don't have the issues now I had with my QS.
     
  15. macuser453787 macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    Wow, that's quite a setup! :) So that's what, one AGP and two PCI GPUs running those 6 monitors?

    I remember having concerns about thermal issues with my modded G4 as well, because of OC'ing the processor, so I decided to redo the thermal paste, and I bought an extra molex-powered PC fan and mounted it over the RAM modules such that it forced air not only over the RAM but also up underneath the heat sink of the processor. I also left the door open at the top, which was actually out of necessity due to the massive ATX cable that I couldn't thread through the inside of the case. I figured while running with the case door open wasn't theoretically optimal from a thermal design standpoint, the bottom line was that heat was going to rise and therefore come up and out of the case. With the extra fan blowing air too, it did exactly that. It ran beautifully.

    Even with all of that though, it didn't play 1080 video smoothly for some reason. But it ran 10.5.8 with no issues at all.

    The two downsides of having an open case:

    -- Noise, because there were two fans going full blast (my extra install and the one that came with the processor upgrade), but that was somewhat mitigated by the fact that the case was on the floor underneath my desk and an adjoining table.

    -- When I needed to move the computer, I had to be very careful to not let the door flop down because for normal use I had it propped against something to hold it open.
     
  16. z970mp macrumors 65816

    z970mp

    Joined:
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    #16
    I can confirm this is untrue. Most teenagers today are probably getting sick of Apple's recent buggy, badly-made desktop software just like the rest of us, including myself. The low development budget is just obvious at this point.
     
  17. eyoungren macrumors Core

    eyoungren

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    #17
    Yeah, one AGP and two PCI cards. Now, with my G5 it's three PCI-E slots (Radeon X1900 XT, 2x NVIDIA GeForce 6600).

    I modded my QS case by knocking a hole in the bottom and putting in a second 120mm fan. There was another fan where the speaker hole was and I replaced all the other stock fans with higher DFM fans.

    None of that I would have had to do if simply using the Mac with the door down. However, I was obstinate. If Apple was providing all those slots and had this design where you closed the case up then it should just work. Of course, that never happened for long. I also didn't want to leave a computer that runs 24/7 open like that. Too easy for damage to happen with the door down. My daughter was younger and my wife would have had a fit because the Mac was in the front room.

    Eventually however, I just got tired of constantly replacing cards, spending money I didn't have (although many users here were very generous to me), fiddling with things only to have it work for small amounts of time. It got very frustrating so I pursued a G5 because I knew they were designed for the types of hardware setups I wanted to use.

    The next time I have a QS though I know just how far to take it. It's one of the reasons my G3, which shares a similar case design, has no video card and a limited set of upgrades.
     
  18. macuser453787 macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    Yeah, understood. Similarly, I had a cat at the time and leaving the case fully open wasn't an option for me. Had thoughts of him walking around in there and damaging the internal components, and possibly using it as a litter box.

    Besides that, I didn't want to expose it to dust.
     
  19. eyoungren macrumors Core

    eyoungren

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    #19
    My cat would have been afraid of all the fans!

    I was more worried about something heavy falling and smashing the internals. Or maybe a liquid being spilled on a running Mac with electricity flowing through it. It's one thing on a test bench, entirely another where I had it.
     
  20. macuser453787 macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    Yep, liquids and falling stuff, same concerns here. I didn't have anything above it but still...

    Also I drink coffee, and while I'm very careful about how I handle my coffee mugs, the thought of one somehow slipping out of my hand and colliding with the sensitive, breakable components was enough that I said no way, ain't gonna do it. :)
     
  21. z970mp macrumors 65816

    z970mp

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    #22
    Evil creatures...
     
  22. AphoticD, May 16, 2018
    Last edited: May 16, 2018

    AphoticD macrumors 68000

    AphoticD

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    Australia
    #23
    Well done! I didn't know about the three-note iTunes icon design. That is so obscure, it's cool! Puma had a nice sparse look as you've pointed out. I installed 10.1.4 on my iBook G3 12" 700Mhz (384MB RAM) last weekend to have a play and try to find compatible software. I had a spare 2GB partition on this machine, which I had prepared for wrangling Mac OS 8.6 into submission and found I could get the entire Puma OS, plus the December 2001 Apple Developer Tools (minus the 500MB of developer documentation), and a handful of useful apps onto this 2GB space and still have room to spare.

    This inspired me to start a new thread for Puma;
    https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/the-puma-thread-mac-os-x-10-1.2119073/


    My latest TiBook purchase (AU$23 inc shipping) arrived today. It was in pretty bad shape; Covered in thick gaffer tape, two broken hinges and an intermittent inverter (or backlight). But it is the last revision 867Mhz model with 768MB of RAM, 32MB Mobility Radeon 9000 and a 40GB 4200rpm HDD. It runs cool, the fans are quiet and with an external display I installed Tiger and got it humming along nicely.

    Here's a before shot (from the ebay listing).
    s-l1600.jpg

    And after I cleaned it up;
    IMG_2926.jpg
    The sticky residue was the nastiest clean up I've done. It took a couple of hours to finally lift off. I was very mindful of also lifting off the paint, so I just took my time with soapy water and whitening toothpaste. The toothpaste did the bulk of the work.

    I think I'll try sourcing a replacement display assy complete as the hinges alone will likely cost about $50 inc shipping. I can salvage this display for an Aluminum 1Ghz model which I acquired from the same seller, which has a broken LCD (but working backlight and inverter).
     
  23. macuser453787, May 17, 2018
    Last edited: May 17, 2018

    macuser453787 macrumors 6502a

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    #24
    Yeah they can be, but mine was one of the sweetest and most gentle cats I've ever known. :)
    --- Post Merged, May 17, 2018 ---
    LOL not at all surprised :)

    I do also like a really good hot tea from time to time, prepared with half and half and sugar. A nice Earl Grey, Assam, English Breakfast, or Yorkshire Gold, all from the Taylors of Harrogate brand, are quite delicious.

    Oddly, I do NOT like iced tea, even though I'm born and raised in the south and even though I DO like iced coffee. :D

    (Incidentally, I don't like watermelon either, which also odd for being from the south.)
     
  24. z970mp macrumors 65816

    z970mp

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    #25
    Their mere existence is an injustice on society. They're anti-human.
     

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