How do I get a Powerbook G4 up to speed?

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by locustwounded, Nov 21, 2009.

  1. locustwounded macrumors newbie

    Nov 21, 2009
    Just got a free Powerbook G4 15" 1.5Ghz 768MB RAM. I installed Panther 10.3.9 and have notices it's rather primitive. Specs say I can install up to 10.5.8 OS. So my questions are:

    1. What is the optimal OS for my G4 and how can I get it (whether it be by purchase or DL)?

    2.Should I upgrade the ram and/or processor?

    Thank you
  2. kate-willbury macrumors 6502a

    Feb 14, 2009
    you have a powerpc. no point in upgrading it at all.
  3. mac&cheesey macrumors 6502

    Dec 21, 2008
    Congrats on the free PowerBook.

    I have a 12" PB (1.5 GHz, 1.25 GB RAM) and am running 10.5.8 with no problems. Is it super snappy, no. Is it an effective machine for the road, yes.

    I would start by upping the RAM. As for the processor, I don't think upping that is an easy feat, but I'll default to more knowledgeable people on this forum for that answer.

    Good luck,
  4. davidlv macrumors 65816

    Apr 5, 2009
    Kyoto, Japan

    I think the only way to actually improve these old machines is to upgrade the RAM, the processer cannot be easily upgraded, if at all. Maximize the RAM, check the present RAM in the system profiler (Apple menu/About this Mac/ more info).
    Check out OWC or another vender for the right RAM and install it yourself.
    As for the system, Leopard would be best, as it still has security updates available, but Tiger will run OK too. Finding Install DVDs may be difficult, try e-bay or such.
    Good luck and may I suggest saving up for a new Powerbook? They are fantastic, IMO.
  5. locustwounded thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 21, 2009
    Thank you for such fast responses. I have been scavenging for Leopard 10.5.8. Definitely not an OS that is easy to find.
  6. ClassicII macrumors 6502


    Sep 21, 2009
    Chicago, IL
    Yes upgrade that ram and you will be happy.

    It will surf the internet just fine it may be a little choppy on youtube but should be ok.

    For the os just look on ebay you can find a cd for not too much $.

    You could also run Tiger and be just as happy.
  7. locustwounded thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 21, 2009
    Ok I will definitely up the ram. I see it's roughly 40 per 1gig.
    I'm still struggling with the operating system though.
    My parents have a Mac computer and MacBook Pro. Both have leopard install disks, but neither will install on the G4. If my research is correct, I have to purchase a retail version of leopard ($100-200).

    A G4 on Ebay runs $400 or less with Panther installed.

    So my questions are:

    1. Is there a way to install a non-retail version of leopard?
    (Perhaps with disk utility)

    2.If not, is it worth it to purchase Retail leopard?
  8. MultiFinder17 macrumors 68000


    Jan 8, 2008
    Tampa, Florida
    For your PowerBook, you will need a retail version of Leopard. All the non-retail versions are tied to newer Intel Macs, and will not install on your PowerBook.
  9. iHateMacs macrumors 6502a


    Aug 13, 2008
    Coventry, UK
    I bought a PB G4 a while back. I put 2Gb ram in it, replaced the optical drive and hard drive and installed Leopard. It's only the 1.33Ghz version but for anything short of video editing it's been a great machine.
  10. Eric S. macrumors 68040

    Eric S.

    Feb 1, 2008
    Santa Cruz Mountains, California
    I would guess you could find retail versions on eBay. Otherwise this page gives some options:

    After you install any version of 10.5, use Software Update to upgrade to 10.5.8.
  11. DivineEvil macrumors regular

    Feb 7, 2009
    Why don't you download it from (censored). For such an old laptop it's not worth it to buy yet another leopard (though your family has a few of those).
  12. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I'd avoid leopard and instead load Tiger. You'll get better performance out of 10.4 instead of 10.5. Less bloat in 10.4
  13. Eric S. macrumors 68040

    Eric S.

    Feb 1, 2008
    Santa Cruz Mountains, California
    If he maxes out the RAM, that system should run Leopard just fine. The problem with Tiger is that it's old in the tooth (pun intended), past even the "security update" stage now, and will be getting less support for the latest app versions. And it's probably just as expensive to buy now as Leopard.
  14. Gabriel GR macrumors 6502a

    Gabriel GR

    Jul 12, 2009
    Athens, Greece
    I would recommend maxing out the RAM and getting a faster HDD while at it (which in that case would probably be ATA).
  15. locustwounded thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 21, 2009
    A friend just brought over OS 10.4 install disc 1 and 2 for a powerbook G4.
    It won't load though. I have no idea why. It was originally for a 12" I think.
    Any suggestions?
  16. Eric S. macrumors 68040

    Eric S.

    Feb 1, 2008
    Santa Cruz Mountains, California
    You'd be lucky to get an install disk for a different model to work, as it will likely be missing drivers that your system needs. That's why you need a full retail version.
  17. itou macrumors regular

    Jan 16, 2008
    i have the same PB.
    17 inch. 1.33ghz. maxed the ram and installed leopard and everything runs amazing.
  18. OrangeSVTguy macrumors 601


    Sep 16, 2007
    Northeastern Ohio
    Any Retail Leopard 10.5 DVD will work. A faster WD 250-320gb HDD will also improve the performance and the 2gb upgrade will complete it. You can find DDR PC3200 for less than the price you mentioned, just look around as there are mail-in-rebates on quite a bit of them and can get it for around half the price.

    You could actually clone one of your Macbook Pros HDD to your PB but you will have to format the PBs HDD for APM(Apple Partition Map) first by using the built in Disc Utility app. Hook up your PB to your MBP via firewire and boot the PB into target disc mode by holding T. Using Disc Utility format the PB drive as HFS+ and APM. Using an app such as SuperDuper! or Carbon Copy Cloner to clone your hard drive.

    This does violate the licensing and EULA though since you only have one Leopard license for the MBP so I don't recommend it.
  19. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Wirelessly posted (Nokia 5800 Tube XpressMusic : Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 3_1_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/528.18 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile/7D11 Safari/528.16)

    I forget. Was 10.4.0 the version where they introduced Exposé? I think 10.3.0 may have introduced that, and if so, I wouldn't bother upgrading beyond what you have now. If it's 10.4 that had it, I'd get 10.4.9. Don't bother with Leopard.
  20. r.j.s Moderator emeritus


    Mar 7, 2007
    Yes, it was 10.4 that introduced Exposé.
  21. Hrududu macrumors 68020


    Jul 25, 2008
    Central US
    I've run both 10.4 and 10.5 on my 1.5GHz 12" Powerbook and Leopard feels just as fast as Tiger even with only 1.25GB of RAM installed. At 1.5GHz I don't have any problems viewing youtube videos or anything else. Its a lot faster than I think many people realize.
  22. locustwounded thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 21, 2009
    Not a bad idea.

    I think my PB will only take pc2700 ram. But correct me if I'm wrong. I like saving money.
  23. Eric S. macrumors 68040

    Eric S.

    Feb 1, 2008
    Santa Cruz Mountains, California
    I don't know why Exposé would be a deciding factor. Panther is an obsolete OS; there's no reason to stay with it unless you just don't want to spend the money to upgrade. Panther won't run things like MobileMe, Firefox 3, the latest version of iTunes or Safari, and probably many other apps. Tiger, now past even the "security update" support phase, will probably soon be in a similar position.

    Since the OP has already said he plans to increase the RAM on his system, there's no reason that system will not run Leopard absolutely fine. The expense of upgrading to Leopard won't be much different than Tiger, and Leopard will be a viable OS for a much longer time.
  24. SkyBell macrumors 604


    Sep 7, 2006
    Texas, unfortunately.
    Eh, I'd still go with Tiger. I know the OP's PowerBook is faster then my old 1.33 GHz iBook G4, but when I ran Leopard on that thing even with maxed out RAM, it just wasn't satisfactory. Tiger was much quicker and responsive, which is worth more to me then any new features Leopard had. Maybe the OP's PowerBook has the extra juice to make Leopard tolerable, but I kind of doubt it...

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