Breathing life to a G4 PowerBook

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by powerdave, May 5, 2008.

  1. powerdave macrumors regular

    Apr 24, 2004
    Hi all,
    hopefully not a topic that's beaten to death at this stage, although I gather most of the Macrumors population has already moved on to newer tech :(

    My 1.33Ghz G4 Powerbook has turned 4 years old and I'm really seeing a lot of that spinning beachball these days. Really I'm just using it to browse the net these days, but with lots of tabs open and flash laden websites, it really struggles to keep up. :D I'd love to replace it with a new machine but I think (/hope) this still has some life in it, so I was hoping you could tell me what my options are-

    RAM: I've got 1Gb (two 500Mb sticks). Pity, as maxing it out to 2Gb means I have to throw both of those away. Anyway, I guess this is the first thing I should do, will I see much of an increase in performance?

    HD: Upgrading to a 7200rpm hard disk with a presumably larger cache? Any speed increase here? Long shot? I guess not so effective cause I don't spend my day messing with large files.

    OS: Yep, I run 10.3 still. This is annoying me recently as I've realised you need to have at least 10.4 to use new iPods, iPhones etc. Nice one, Apple. Anyway, is upgrading to Leopard a major step backward in terms of performance here, or should it affect me much?

    Anything else? I guess RAM is the most straight forward option- I guess the question is how much of a difference it will make, or am I just burning money? RAM is not too bad these days.. 2Gb will cost me around €150.

    I don't really want to go all out and spend hundreds on what could after all next week turn out to be a nice looking, but very much cold and dead, four year old laptop.

    Suggestions on a postcard please :)


  2. 11800506 macrumors 65816


    Oct 31, 2007
    Washington D.C. Area
    2 GB of Ram costing 150€? In the US, 2GB of Ram costs around $40, so I'm sure you can find it for cheaper than 150€. Then again, Europe's prices could be different, but I wouldn't think they would be that much different. Also, you could upgrade to Tiger which wouldn't have too much of a performance penalty and would be pretty cheap now that Leopard is out. Adding 2GB should help a lot, but if it is still running slowly, you might want to back up your data on an external hard drive and do a fresh install.

    EDIT: I looked up the prices for 2gb of Ram for your 1.33 ghz Powerbook and I see that they are more than $40, but still less than 150€, more like around $110
  3. powerdave thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 24, 2004
    Yeah, you might be right about the price. I just took a quick look on Crucial's German site and it was 57 euro for one stick, plus tax and shipping.. so 145-ish for the two shipped together, I didn't compare with any other sites though.

    A fresh install is a good idea too, I'd be willing to do that. I was about to order a 2,5" external drive (was going to get a WD Passport 320Gb...) but I found a few posts which argued that the Powerbook G4 doesn't provide enough power through the USB ports to power it, so I'd have to get a Y cable, and for me that takes the convenience out of it, since I've only got the two ports on this thing. Some people say it does work on Powerbooks, but only the newer ones... so I don't know, I'll check that out before I order. And yeah, I've seen cheaper ext. drives out there, but I was trying to get something that was portable and doesn't look completely like recycled plastic.
  4. Eric Lewis macrumors 68020

    Eric Lewis

    Feb 4, 2007
    CANADA? eh?
    maybe a fresh install of the OS?

    my fresh 10.5.2 and 1.5gb of ram..well leopard runs smooth and fine

    i have the same model
  5. crees! macrumors 68000


    Jun 14, 2003
    Definitely get more RAM. When I upped mine from 512Mb to 1.5Gb I noticed the difference immediately. As for Leopard, I love it. Only thing that bugs me is the Dock can be a little sluggish at times and Spotlight not always keeps up with my typing. Beachball, yea - here and there, usually with Safari and that's if I have 10+ tabs open.
  6. steeler macrumors regular

    Jan 30, 2008
    If you upgrade to 2GB RAM, you'll notice a big difference. I did with my PB G4. If you only have a 4200 rpm hard drive right now, you may notice a difference with a new 5400 or 7200 rpm drive, but nowhere near the bang you'll get for your buck on the RAM.
  7. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Get more Ram, unless you have the 12" in which the max ram is lower.

    Clean install of 10.4 will improve speed if you can get a copy. As to 10.5 performance, I am not sure whether you want 10.5 or not.

    Most WD 2.5" drives requires abnormal amount of power and does not work on one usb port on most PowerBooks. Many other 2.5" work fine. I use firewire powered drive.

    Internal HD will improve speed, especially if you only have a 4200rpm 60gb drive, but it's quite a bit of hassle in the 12" PB, and still challenging in other versions of PowerBooks.
  8. zuskie macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2008
    A slight change in topic...

    I have a 14" iBook G4. The battery lasts all of 20mins. Suggestions where to get a replacement?
  9. Dagless macrumors Core


    Jan 18, 2005
    Fighting to stay in the EU
    I'm planning on maxing out my PowerBooks ram, maybe a new HDD as well. Got this baby 4 years too! Needed a small laptop for university and jumped into the world of Apple with it.
  10. acearchie macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
    Im another one for the RAM upgrade! It definately benefitted my 12" powerbook from 512mb to 1.25gb...

    It was like a new machine!
  11. notjustjay macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    The previous responders have summed it up well. I recently upgraded my 12" PB with a new hard drive (no choice; the old one died!) and maxed the RAM to 1.25 gigs. Running a fresh Tiger install, it was great. I installed Leopard, which seems to run a bit slower, but so far for everyday tasks it runs well.

    The bottleneck actually appears to be the video card. In today's age of graphic intensive applications and high resolution screens, I find the poor little card can't keep up. The screensavers are a good example. They run fine on one monitor at a time, but try to put the screen saver on in a dual-monitor setup, and it chokes.

    This PB celebrates its 5th birthday this year, but I'm starting to wonder if I should sell it and move on to a 15" MBP.
  12. dbwie macrumors 6502

    Jun 11, 2007
    Albuquerque, NM, USA
    my older G4

    I have an old G4 TiBook, the 550Mhz. It seemed a big sluggish with Tiger. I got a nice boost in performance when upgrading to a 7200 rpm hard drive and maxing out the RAM. Got both the RAM and hard drive from OWC. I upgraded the hard drive from the stock drive first, and that gave the best performance boost. Maxing my RAM (from 512 up to 1 GB on my machine) gave an additional, but perceptably smaller, boost after the hard drive upgrade.

    Also, the new hard drive is much quieter than the stock drive that came in my TiBook.
  13. bektravels macrumors regular

    Sep 14, 2007
    Howdy! Out of interest, how big is the hard drive you put in? I'm keen to upsize my HD in my 12" 1.33 but I'm finding it hard to figure out what/if there's a max size you can go to.

    250gb would be ideal:) Will max it out to 1.25gb ram too...

  14. thesheep macrumors regular


    Mar 27, 2006
    There is absolutely no reason why this machine must feel sluggish when doing 'normal' stuff like surfing the web.

    Personally I recommend the single best thing you can do is get a copy of Tiger (probably you can find one really, really cheap) or Leopard and do a clean install of that (not an upgrade). I think that will sort everything out.

    Getting more RAM is an option if you have a bit more cash or want to do more intensive tasks. But for web browsing, 1GB should be plenty.
  15. nsbio macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2006
    I was on the same boat - upgraded my 15'' 1.5GhZ PB from 10.3 straight to 10.5 (clean install, not upgrade). The system is running as fast as 10.3 or faster. I would not hesitate to do it unless you are totally dependent on some Classic app.
  16. thomasp macrumors 6502a

    Sep 18, 2004
    If you can, get hold of Tiger - that seems to transform G4's - runs perfectly fine on my 3yr old 1.5GHz PowerBook (2GB) RAM, and gave a Dual 867MHz G4 with 1Gb RAM a totally new lease of life.

    And it works "ok" on a 500MHz G3 iBook with only 384Mb RAM :D Few beachballs, but that's only really when browsing the web.
  17. shahr04360 macrumors regular

    Jun 4, 2007
    Willkommen David,

    Go ebay, point to spare-part you are looking for. It's so worth and fun upgrading your powerbook by DIY from reputable seller. The price much affordable compared with to the brand-new part. Start by toping-up your ram. Then, takes time to upgrade the others. If you not sure, let Apple certified do install them for you.

    Viel Glück!

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