Help a Mac newbie pick out first Powerbook?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by darcyh, Sep 1, 2004.

  1. darcyh macrumors newbie

    Sep 1, 2004
    The far west

    I've been a PC user all my life and due to a number of things (my iPod, that my workplace plans to switch entirely to Macs, that our business is very Mac related) it's time for me to get a Powerbook.

    The beefy programs I will be using are Photoshop, Illustrator, and some design software. I will also be using it for iTunes, my iPod, burning cds, etc. I likely won't be making any home movies and editing them or that sort of thing.

    I am pretty firmly set on a 15" Powerbook. I have decided that I just can't wait for the G5 Powerbook (since it's not likely to debut until early-mid next year. right?) and I have downloaded Adam Engst's ebook on buying Macs, which is very helpful.

    But I'm hoping to get some more personal feedback on how much RAM to get, to get a combo drive or superdrive, etc. Or, good places to buy a Powerbook.

    I'll also be hooking this Powerbook up to my old big clunky Dell moniter when I'm at work. I plan to buy an external keyboard and mouse, and hopefully a mouse with a right click button. And of course, will have to buy all new Adobe software.

    Anyway, any advice offered is much appreciated! Thanks!
  2. cluthz macrumors 68040


    Jun 15, 2004
    If you are using photoshop for more than editing some family photos i would go for atlest a 1 gb ram, osx is memory hungry and if you are editing photos and indesign files in 100+ mb sizes you'll need all memory you can get.

    If you don't need to burn dvds on the road i would go for the combo drive, and then bought a external duallayer burner and a nice multibutton mouse and still have some money left for blank dvds


    12-inch Powerbook 1.33/768/60GB
    1st Gen 10GB iPod
  3. Bobcat37 macrumors member


    Jul 27, 2004
    12" is good for super portability. 15" is good middle ground. 17" is not very good for portability. It sounds like for you, 15" is a good choice (I personally am going to be getting a 12" PB soon, but that is because I need more portability and the screen space just isn't a big issue.)

    IMO, even though it sounds like you don't need the SuperDrive, I would get the 15" SuperDrive model for a few reasons. First off, it has a slightly faster processor, secondly it comes with 512MB RAM standard which is probably the minimum you will need for doing what you do, also the SuperDrive model comes with the option to upgrade your video memory, which might be a good idea for you.

    The only upgrade I would definitely make to the 15" SuperDrive PowerBook is upping the Hard Drive to the 5400 RPM model, because if use a lot of graphic design programs, that is basically a must. The one optional upgrade you might want to make is upping the Video RAM to 128MB. I'm not much of an expert on that, so I'm not sure how big of a difference that would make for you.

    Also, heck, if you want to save money, you could always downgrade the PB to just include a Combo Drive for $250 less, if you are SURE you won't need to burn DVDs.

    Final thoughts:

    Option 1: If you get the 15" SuperDrive Powerbook, upgrade the video card, upgrade the hard drive, and downgrade to the Combo Drive, it will cost $2449

    Option 2: If you get the 15" ComboDrive Powerbook, upgrade the RAM and upgrade the hard drive, it will cost $2224.

    Difference = $225

    For $225, I would DEFINITELY go with Option 1, as Option 1 would definitely be a better system and last you a bit longer.

    One other thing I might mention, it seems like many people around here suggest getting the extended warrany for the PowerBooks, especially if you are going to move them around much. Either way that would be an additional $349 to the cost (ouch).
  4. Darbydoggy macrumors newbie

    Aug 29, 2004
    I ordered mine with 1 stick or ram (512k) and added 1gig myself with ram from OWC. At 1.5 gig it doesn't choke on anything yet. I noticed when I first got it, using activity monitor, that OS 10 seems to tie up about 200 - 300 K of ram with not much going on. On the net or using setup utilities I now usually have 1.2 gig of ram available at any time. I haven't used any intensive programs yet - we'll see how it does then (I expect it to be very adequate.
  5. manosira macrumors member


    Jun 22, 2004
    SOMA - S.F. - Cali
    I also got my PB a few weeks ago, with the same specs as Darwby. 15" 1.5 memory, 128 VRam, so far I have had no problems with any adobe applications, games, or any other programs I use.
  6. Maclomaniac macrumors member

    Sep 1, 2004
    I would probably get the higher end video card if you're going to be working with photoshop a lot. I got this on my 15" powerbook, but didn't upgrade to the 5400 rpm hard drive. I use illustrator, indesign, and photoshop at my job on this computer all the time and I haven't noticed the write speed being particularly slow, but then again, I haven't had the luxury of comparison. Still, I wouldn't say it's an absolute must. I would spend the extra money on as much RAM as possible. I love mine with 1 GB... though 2 GB would always be better! :)
  7. vraxtus macrumors 65816


    Aug 4, 2004
    San Francisco, CA


    Higher end video cards don't do anything for Photoshop or Illustrator... these are 3D accelerated cards... 2D is already handled. If anything, go for a 7200 or at minimum 5400 RPM drive. That should significantly boost load and boot times...
  8. Champale macrumors member

    Jul 23, 2004
    Chicago, USA

    I have this: 15" 1.5GHz Powerbook G4, 1GB DDR, 60GB HD, Superdrive.

    It's upgraded to 5400. Personally, I feel the speed difference. Of course it could be my imagination :)

    If you're not going to burn DVDs, then the Combo is fine.

    I do Photoshop, Quark, and Final Cut Express with this machine and have had no problems.

    Also, the 15" was a good compromise between the other sizes for my needs.

    Lastly if you're going to make this your main computer, maybe you get something with room to grow. Ram is easy to add. But as you use your mac and get used to the possibilities, you may kick yourself for not having gotten a superdrive.

    Either way you can't really go wrong. Macs are great machines and absolutely perfect for the world of graphics!
  9. darcyh thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 1, 2004
    The far west
    Thanks for all your advice! It really helped us decide which model. We are going for the Superdrive w/512 of RAM at 5400 and see how that works, but we will probably add more RAM later.
  10. darcyh thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 1, 2004
    The far west
    P.S. At the last minute we decided to up the RAM to 1gb! Yay!

    I'm glad we decided to order the Powerbook today. My PC's hard disk decided to fry itself this morning, no joke.
  11. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Sounds like a good setup for Darcyh. :)

    What you need: the 5400rpm harddrive, the 64MB video card (unless the price difference really isn't a big deal), 1.5GB or RAM, and the combo drive + an external DVD burner (faster, cheaper, and double layer options are available). :)
  12. EJBasile macrumors 65816


    Apr 20, 2004
    Go to your nearest apple store and check them out. You will have love at first sight with one.
  13. Lau Guest

    I'm going to be using the same software as you, but because I cycle to university I bought the 12" PowerBook (with combo drive, 80GB 5200 rpm). Oh, and an iPod. Bit o' luxury there. I'll probably upgrade the RAM at Christmas, as this is all I can afford at the moment.

    I'll let you know how I find it, it's due to ship next week. Am so psyched about it, cause I've worked me ar$e off all summer to afford it, and now it's all paying off, my first Mac!
  14. wPod macrumors 68000


    Aug 19, 2003
    Denver, CO
    sounds like you made a good decision!
  15. DJY macrumors 6502a


    Dec 20, 2003
    Canberra AUST
    Congrats mate! you won't regret it!

    I think you picked well to get the Superdrive.

    I hadn't planned on burning DVDs - but have found in the last couple of months - even when trying to get alot of data moved around - having the option of burning a disc with 4 GB instead of a couple of discs at 650MB (CDs) very handy!!

    I got 1GB RAM though - and glad I did! (although I have only played a bit on a mate's PB that has 512RAM) but as you said you can always chuck some in later!

    Enjoy your new toy!
  16. darcyh thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 1, 2004
    The far west
    Thanks again for all the advice. I got my Powerbook yesterday and I love it. The screen is so beautiful....I never realized how much better things look on a Mac.

    One more question: Can anyone recommend any Web sites or FAQ's about simple tricks in OSX? For example, I can't figure out where to permenantly change the folder icons to lists.

    This is mainly my work computer but the joy of having it is I can take it home this weekend and get to know it.....yay! :p
  17. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Dec 25, 2003
    Northern Virginia
    My PB 12" rev. B is running with the stock 256 and 1gb from OWC. I use PS CS, InD CS, Mail, Safari, iCal, Mail, Acrobat, Filemaker, Word and Excel. Never have a problem. In fact the program Do I Need More Memory seems to indicate that I won't see much more in performance by going up in RAM.
  18. DJY macrumors 6502a


    Dec 20, 2003
    Canberra AUST
    I use macosxhints alot and think it is pretty good! Lots of forums, lots of people that have great tricks, and if you can't find what you are looking for -post it in there and people often provide answers really quickly!

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