Comparing Specs & Return Policies

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by SRSound, Jun 13, 2005.

  1. SRSound macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2005
    I must upgrade to a new mobile computer for recording and though I would love to switch to a new Powerbook, I'm not sure if it would be the best deal for me. For the same price, the two laptops I'm debating between would have:
    A) G4 1.5GHz 1.25GB RAM 80GB HD 5400rpm 12.1" 1024x768 64MB vRAM superdrive
    B) Pentium M 2.1GHz 2GB RAM 80GB HD 5400rmp 12.1" 1280 x 800 (widescreen) 64MB vRAM superdrive

    Is that a HUGE performance difference? Is it so great that I should suffer with windows? If i could I would wait till the new generation of powerbooks but the latest I can wait is end of July but the sooner the better! Also ultra-portablility is a must.

    Also is there any way to try out a powerbook with a specific program (Pro Tools LE) without committing to buying it, or with some sort of full-refund return policy? I would LOVE the powerbook but it HAS to be able to perform well enough!

    Thanks for your continuing help!
  2. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    If you search out the large music stores, with digital audio departments, you may be able to rent a ProTools rig. Be prepared to pay several hundreds in rental. You're not going to be able to get it on trial for free, there just isn't enough margin on computer hardware to make it worth anyone's while to do that.

    Are you committted to ProTools?
    If so, is the MBox enough for you or would you go with a Digi002R?
    With the new M-Powered version of ProTools you can now choose the M-Audio Firewire interfaces which are a lot smaller than the 002R
    How many tracks do you need to be able to record simulataneously?
    Have you thought about external drive storage?
    What's the budget?
    12" screen for Protools :eek: ?

    The 15" Powerbook is so much better, with the larger screen, Firewire 800, and a PCMCIA slot for audio cards or additional Firewire interfaces.

  3. nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    I would definitely go for the PowerBook.

    Is the G4 slower than the P.M? Probably--but that doesn't make it "slow," just "not as fast." People edit video productions on PowerBooks. I do 3D animation and run my whole graphics business on mine, and mine is just 1.25 Ghz.

    Is the productivity, security, and privacy of Mac OS X worth the CPU difference? No question. What matters about a computer is what it DOES for you--not Mhz numbers. Unless, of course, you are building a render farm out of laptops :)

    Coincidentally, someone here just posted a review (different size screen) that you might find helpful--it's by a long time Windows users getting a PowerBook:

    Having used both Windows and OS X, there is no way that Windows is an acceptable alternative. Once you are used to Exposé and Spotlight, you'll hardly tolerate anything less. Go with Tiger, whatever the CPU, and give yourself a treat :)

    Also, the extra res of that Pentium machine would concern me: that many pixels in that small a space "sounds nice" but can really be hard on the eyes during long use. That's subjective, and some people do find those tiny menus usable. Your call--but an external display makes the issue moot when you're at home anyway.

    As for RAM, both machines have plenty. 512 isn't ideal for your purposes, so I agree, get more.

    Now, WHEN to buy?

    There MIGHT be new PowerBook G4s this year, or there might be none until the Intel Pentium M (Yonah?) PowerBooks next year. If you wait for next year, they could come as soon as January (and I hope they do) but they could come as late as June or July 2006.

    But I see very little chance of new PowerBooks by July of this year. Maybe... but unlikely. The ones out now are still fairly new. And there will be NO G5 PowerBooks, that's now pretty certain. G5s are too hot.

    So if you need something by July, I suggest getting one NOW--it's the best laptop on the planet for most people, I'm convinced. And if you need more speed, start saving for some insanely fast Intel PowerMac in 2007 or 2008 :) Don't worry about buying a PowerPC now: they'll be supported for years. The next Mac OS (Leopard) will run on them, and so will future apps--at full speed--thanks to "universal binaries." In fact, early adopters of Intel PowerBooks might have LESS software choice than a G4 has now, depending on how fast developers port their apps to Intel.

    Try-before-you-buy is a good idea, but I doubt you'll be allowed to return a working PB. If you can get to an Apple Store, ask them if they can put Pro Tools on a display PB to try. You never know. Failing that, see if you can try some other audio apps (they might have Soundtrack already installed). Then see reviews to make sure Pro Tools isn't much slower than whatever you tested. Or ask for reports about Pro Tools on a 1.5 G4, both here and at the forums (two big Mac forums).

    Also, compare the 15" and the 12" screens at the store. The 15" screen is much better/brighter. I got the 15" and I like it, but I actually wish I had the 12" for portability! It's SO tiny and sleek. Oh, well. (I'd use an external display while at home, so the built-in screen wouldn't matter. If you don't have an external screen, the 15" PB is worth it probably.)

    Lastly, look for discounts: Apple student/teacher pricing is great, and Amazon has nice rebates on Macs. Other resellers like etc. bundle free stuff (sometimes RAM) in order to compete with each other. Even Apple has specials and sales sometimes. And you can always get a free color printer (sometimes printer/scanner) with any Mac--see

    Good luck! Let us know how you fare.
  4. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Apr 3, 2004
    Adelaide, Australia
    The 12 inch PowerBook will run it fine but I strongly recommend the 15 inch one. :)
  5. SRSound thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2005
    Thanks so much for your help! I know the 12" isnt ideal for editing or mixing work by any means, which is why I will dock it to the 20" cinema display when i'm in the studio. I already have the rest of the pro tools rig (based on the 002R) but my current laptop is NOT cutting it!

    What worries me is that if my P4 3.0Ghz w/7200rpm HD begins to overheat and shut down while running a fair sized track & plug in count, how will a G4 1.5GHz 5400RPM HD handle it??? The one difference is I only have 512MB in this machine, and plan on 1.256GB in the PB.
  6. nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    12" PB on the road, plus Cinema Display at home base, is the ultimate setup in my book. Next year I'm going that route myself.

    Don't worry about your PB overheating and shutting down... unless you wrap it in blankets, that's pretty much unheard of! PB's are designed to handle the full capacity of their CPU. I run my PB at 100% CPU 24/7, for Folding@Home, sitting flat on a desk with no special ventilation and no A/C. It feels very hot on the bottom, but never enough to trigger the warning message, much less enough to make it go to sleep. In fact, although I've heard that PB's have those safety measures built in, I've never heard of them actually happening!
  7. SRSound thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2005
    Is there anyway to compare my P4 3.0 w/ HT & 1GB dual channel RAM to the potential performance of the G4 1.5GHz & 1.256GB RAM? This is just too big of a purchase to gamble on, you know?
  8. Ugg macrumors 68000


    Apr 7, 2003

    Yep, it will get hot but it isn't going to shutdown unless you're using in a sauna. Like the others have said, max out the ram, the difference is amazing.
  9. nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    No, unless you can find a review that benchmarks that particular app on these particular systemd. Speed measurements--including GHz--are often pretty meanginless unless you're looking at a SPECIFIC task and making sure all the specs are accounted for. The designs of the two chips--and which software is or is not well-optimized for which chips--and the other supporting components--are all just very different.

    The G4 will out run the 3 GHz Pentium for certain tasks, but as a rule, I'm sure the Pentium is significantly faster.

    Now, the G4 can shine with Velocity Engine (AltiVec) tasks, which includes some audio processing, but that really depends on how well it's programmed.

    If speed is a top priority, an iMac G5 is hard to beat for the price. If you need portability, then get the fastest PowerBook you can afford and enjoy the productivity of hassle-free OS X.

    If, however, you want both... then do what I'm doing and find a way to hold off for an Intel PowerBook. I don't WANT to wait, and I'm really hoping they come in January. I may be disappointed and have to wait longer. But my current PowerBook does fine for me, so I can wait it out. You may not have that luxury.

    If you want a "tide me over" laptop because you NEED a laptop now, you might consider the bottom iBook. Find out if it can do what you need (maybe not all that you want) from other Pro Tools owners, and then you'll have the cash left to upgrade in late 2006 or whenever. You could even sell it. I bought an eMac just to "tide me over" once, and I found it met my needs for a lot longer than I planned!

    Good luck!
  10. sbb155 macrumors 6502

    Jan 15, 2005
    g4 vs pentium M?
    If windows doesn't bother you, pentium M is a good choice
    Macs are better for video/audio editing
    For internet/MS office, the PC maybe very much faster
    I think if you need a "creative use" the mac is better
    remember: g4 is obsolete, but used because no alternatives. On the other hand, P-M is cutting edge

    I own a 15"PB and a Win XP Pentium M widescreen.
  11. nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    If what makes a computer obsolete is what can DO for you, now and into the future, then the PBG4 is in no way obsolete. If what makes a computer obsolete is how long ago the processor family was born, then I don't know about the Pentiums :D And if obsolete refers only to speed... that PowerBook can outrun some PCs.

    Choose the Pentium M if raw speed is your top priority--Apple doesn't offer that in a laptop right now (though they offer many OTHER nice features in their laptops). Your specific needs with Pro Tools will have to decide that--and I agree that you want to be sure ahead of time! Sometimes you want a Mac but simply can't have one. (I know I run Lightwave, 3D games, Photoshop, Soundtrack, GarageBand etc. on a 1.25 Ghz G4 PowerBook and have no complaints. It's a pretty old PB, too.)

    Your best bet may be to ask about Pro Tools LE on a high-traffic audio forum. Somebody's bound to have that PowerBook.

    But for me, much as I like speed, I place a higher value on productivity, security, and an OS that just gets out of the way and helps me work. Thus, for many people, Windows vs. OS X is not an equal choice. (I also like where OS X is headed into the future, and have little confidence in the quality and innovation coming from Microsoft.)

    Obviously you'll get a different answer in a forum where most people haven't tried OS X :D

    (PS, re Word/Office, the Mac version generally gets reviewed as being better than the Windows version.)
  12. nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    Interestingly enough, a user review on this page says that a 3 Ghz Pentium 4 with HT can't handle Pro Tools well, but that a 1.67 Ghz PowerBook (a bit faster than you are talking about) CAN handle it:,39001747,39085020p,00.htm

    Sounds like you'll have to dig deeper than specs and get some real-world info, but maybe that PB is pretty decent for Pro Tools.
  13. SRSound thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2005
    Thanks so much again, to everyone. This forum has been such a help to me in my current "struggle" to upgrade.

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