Is it worth to buy a cheap iBook or PowerBook?

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by InstructionSet!, Jun 4, 2014.

  1. InstructionSet!, Jun 4, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2014

    InstructionSet! macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2014
    #1
    Hello. This is my first post here!

    I am thinking of buying a cheap small (12") Apple laptop to use for school purposes.

    The reason why I want one:
    -I cannot currently afford a new MacBook, and even a used one will be quite difficult
    -I've never liked tablets and other big touchscreen stuff
    -I have a very powerful Windows PC which is great at things like gaming, and I don't want to have a powerful laptop like a MacBook Pro since I would only do things like gaming on the desktop PC (and also only at home)
    -I'd like a Mac because I've always liked both Microsoft and Apple :apple: (without any rivalry hate), and I am a proud long iPod owner (as well as a former Mac user)
    -The iBooks and PowerBooks are cheap to buy, and affordable for me

    I know what you lot will say, but keep in mind I will only be using the laptop for light stuff, like word processing. I won't be doing lots of internet browsing on that but if I would then again, light stuff like e-mail, and definitely not stuff like Youtube.

    I think it's totally worth it but I'd like to ask, which exactly shall I purchase? I am aware that the G3 is very outdated, but remember I am only going to do light stuff on it, so I'd like to ask is a G3 suitable for the job? Would you rather recommend a G4 even if I have to pay more?

    Also, I am concerned about reliability. I have heard from many sites that iBooks has reliability problems. If you know about them, could you please tell me which models are prone to fail? Are iBooks less reliable than PowerBooks? What about G3s compared to G4s?

    And please don't tell me to spend more for a MacBook, because I CANNOT. And I'd prefer a Mac to a PC (I haven't owned a Mac since my Mac Mini died in 2010).
     
  2. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #2
    The 1+Ghz 12" PowerBooks are fairly reliable. They are a good fit for what you need and will serve you well.
     
  3. gooser macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2013
    #3
    absolutely do it. even the latest (top of the line) powerbooks and ibooks are inexpensive. and you're right, the dual usb g3 ibooks had a reliability problem. try to find one with a decent battery.


    EDIT: constantly carrying around expensive laptops has never made any sense to me.
     
  4. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #4
    Keep in mind that most of the "unreliable" models that may be prone to failure have long since died. You can generally assume that anything you find on eBay or elsewhere has long since passed the point where model specific issues would have caused failure.

    For instance, a lot of iMac G3s had flyback problems and the iMac G5 was noted for problems with bad capacitors. I have both an iMac G3 and an iMac G5 and both work just fine. If those problems were going to happen, they would have happened already.

    That said, the iBook is the lesser model. It's possible to get by on an iBook G3 if you really want to stay cheap. You won't get past using Tiger though, but if you really intend to just use it lightly then it's doable. The iBook G3s are noted for the smell coming off the keyboard. I myself have noticed it when I had a few, but other than the occasional transitory thing it wasn't something I had to walk away from.

    The iBook G4s and the PowerBooks are of course more powerful. The PowerBook is my own preference, but again if all you need this for is really light stuff you could get by with a G3.

    Price then is your biggest concern. I paid $40 for the last model of iBook G4 for my daughter. Honestly, I wouldn't pay a penny over $20 for an iBook G3 and that's stretching it. I'd really only value them at around $10 by this point.

    A decent PowerBook however, can run you anywhere from $25 to $60 or so, depending on what you want or can find.

    ----------

    You probably wouldn't know what to do with my laptop bag then. Two 17" PowerBook G4s I carry around daily, LOL! :D
     
  5. jruschme macrumors 6502

    jruschme

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    #5
    Tell me you, at least, use a wheeled bag!
     
  6. cjmillsnun macrumors 68020

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    Aug 28, 2009
    #6
    A 12" PowerBook G4 will suit your needs fine.

    The only thing to be aware of is that the hard drives are PATA (IDE) rather than SATA. This makes finding a replacement harder, should it fail.
     
  7. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #7
    Nah! It's actually, not even really a laptop bag. I found it at the Goodwill years ago. Used to be some sort of tech worker's bag, like for a phone company or something. Lots of pockets and such and the one in the rear has dividers (three slots). I put my two PBs facing oppsite directions in the front and rear slot (which leaves a cushion in the middle) and both are protected by some heavy duty bubble wrap I put in there a long time ago. Everything else goes in all the individual pockets in the front.

    I've had the bag for years and was really glad when I found it would take both my laptops. It has a shoulder strap, but the clip is plastic so I carry it by the heavy duty carry handles instead when I have both laptops in there. It's a great bag, but I just see that plastic clip snapping and my bag tumbling to the ground. Not the way I want my PowerBooks to go out! :D
     
  8. Intelligent macrumors 6502a

    Intelligent

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    Aug 7, 2013
    #8
    Its your choice, although you shouldn't hate Mac/Apple because you know these computers are 8+ years old. They are cool but very old and does not represent the state and technology of the modern mac computers.
     
  9. happyfrappy macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2007
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    Location eh?
    #9
    I'd suggest sticking with an iBook G4 as a minimal requirement, you'll have more than enough "speed/memory" to handle iWork 09/iLife 09 and with an aftermarket 3rd party battery ~4.5 hour battery life is common. iBook G3s topped out at 3.5 hours under real-world conditions, G4s reduced power mode boosts the idle power savings(ex: word processor tasks)

    12" PowerBook G4 have smelly keyboards too as Apple used the same doublesided tape with outgassing issues, you can always leave a softener sheet between the keyboard+screen in a bag overnight and it'll go away completely.

    ...iBook G3 GPU failure still can happen if a person stresses the machine with a program(Lightwave 3D/Amapi3D)/game which pegs the GPU via OpenGL raises the risk of BGA mount failure but a shim usually prevents the expansion/contraction from loosening the GPU.
     
  10. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #10
    I didn't know that. My wife has the 1Ghz 12" PB and in the time I used it (to fix it and set it up for her) I've never noticed. Nor has she ever said anything about it to me. So, either someone did what you suggest before we bought it, or perhaps there was a later revision?

    I also did not know this. However, how likely is that now? You'd probably have to get a G3 with enough ram and running Tiger to even open that app right?
     
  11. harrymatic macrumors 6502

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    United Kingdom
    #11
    I can very faintly smell it on my 12" PBG4 (867 MHz model), although it's nowhere near as intense as the smell I had on my iBook before replacing the keyboard.
     
  12. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #12
    LOL, OK! Either it's gone on my wife's PB, or she doesn't notice it or think much of it. If it bothered her or I could smell it I'd know about it.

    I'm not saying anyone's wrong. I'm just saying it's either not present with her 12" or we have become inured to it.
     
  13. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #13
    I've never come across a iBook smelling 12" Powerbook keyboard. Even after shipping out about 150 of them. Only the smokers' keyboards smelled.
     
  14. jrsx macrumors 65816

    jrsx

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    #14
    Neither have I.
     
  15. FigmentNewtonII macrumors member

    FigmentNewtonII

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    Chicago, Illinois, United States
    #15
    I currently just finished up my freshman year at University. During the second semester I had my iBook G4 (14" 1.33GHz 10.5.8) in my dorm (I'm also responding on it as well). The iBook got a majority of my homework workload. To say the least my iBook handled everything I needed for school. I would download PDFs from professors, send emails for assignments and questions, write up papers, and I was still able to get the drivers for my dorms printer for wireless printing. I saved my Macbook Pro for personal purposes, heavier tasks like YouTube (even though I have a work around on the iBook), and if a website I needed for homework needed the latest version of flash.

    I don't really worry about my iBook failing. It's always worked and has been doing so for years (it was once my grandparents before they got a MBA). As Eyoungren said all the models that have failed have been weeded out. Now the iBook G4s from 2005 (12" 1.33Ghz and 14" 1.42Ghz) have been known to have problems with the wireless card on the logic board. Though they can still function quite perfectly. If you have the ability to plug into Ethernet you'll want to do that. Regardless if your wireless card is working.
     
  16. gavinstubbs09 macrumors 65816

    gavinstubbs09

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    NorCal boonies ~~~by Reno sorta
    #16
    If I was looking for a main laptop, 15" PowerBook G4 all the way. Good size screen, backlit keyboard, more ports, full out DVI, looks like the early MBPs, and it feels like a true laptop rather than something small on your lap (one of the reasons I never liked the 12" iBook or PB, would much prefer a 14" or 15"). Along with that the PB can take 2GB of ram vs the 1.5 in iBooks/1.25 in 12" PBs.

    Now I recently bought a 12" iBook G4, and if I had to use it as a main laptop I wouldn't be having a great time, as a kicker/beater laptop, it works great!
     
  17. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    Elkton, Maryland
    #17
    I perfectly understand wanting an affordable Mac! I recommend you stick with a G4 laptop with at least a clock speed of 867 MHz. I just picked up a 1.5 GHz PowerBook G4, AirPort and all, for $23.50 + shipping from shopgoodwill.com. Check there!

    You are going to want to run Leopard or Tiger. Though the G3s max out at Tiger, they still seem slower than G4s. You can read my iBook G3 challenge here.

    Remember, these are older machines and be prepared for hard drive replacement down the road. Also, try to get a machine with maxed out RAM or max it out yourself.It isn't hard, very affordable, and a huge performance booster. I would skip the SSD craze here and get a good reliable 5400 or 7200 RPM hard drive.
     
  18. happyfrappy, Jun 4, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2014

    happyfrappy macrumors 6502

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    #18
    I'm the original owner of mine so it never came in contact with smoking, from what I read those who ran their 12" iBook/PowerBook G3/G4 for heavy CPU/GPU usage it made the glue more prone to outgas and the smell varied. Back in my student days my 12" PB(2004) was heavily used for Photoshop/Illustrator CS2 and Graphic Converter duty, it was pushed 12 hrs per day. Whenever the odor creeps back, a softener sheet usually does the job.

    Considering you can play Simcity 3000, Yoots Tower, The Sims 1.0 and a few action/adventure/strategy games(American McGee's Alice, The Secret of Monkey Island, Sid Meiers Alpha Centauri, etc) you can easily get the failure prone Radeon Mobility 7000/7500 quite toasty. (old Rage Pro/Rage 128 rarely suffered GPU failures)
    Lightwave 3D/Amapi3D/Carrara/Cinema 4D only needs 128-256mb RAM and 8-32mb VRAM depending upon the version being used(OS 9 most 3D animation programs can run on an early iBook G3-B&W G3). There were "free" older versions of Amapi3D for OS 9/X/WinXP, I remember I experimented with version 3 on an iMac 333mhz(160mb RAM) with decent results and version 5 was the last "free" offering before Eovia was bought out.
     
  19. tom vilsack macrumors 68000

    tom vilsack

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    #19
    Try to look for a 12" Powerbook 1.33 or 1.5 GHz.

    why?

    -both have the better 64mb gpu,fairly reliable,12" model to carry around school.
     
  20. Bug-Creator macrumors 6502

    Bug-Creator

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    Germany
    #20
    I somehow doubt 32 or 64MB VRAM will make much difference on a 124x768 screen.

    If the laptop is to be actually used on the road I would put stronger emphasis on having the "scrolling" 2fingers USB trackpad.
    Those can be found in:
    - last 2 generations of the 15 and 17" PB (5.6 to 5.9) all 1.67GHz (+ an oddball 1.5GHz BTO)
    - last generation 12" PB (6.8) 1.5GHz
    - last generation 14" iBook (6.7) 1.42GHz
    - last generation 12" iBook (6.7) 1.33GHz

    Prices on these (in descent condition) can vary from 50Euro to 250Euro around here.
     
  21. 556fmjoe macrumors 65816

    556fmjoe

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    Apr 19, 2014
    #21
    My 12" PB has served that same role. It was fine for everything except Google Docs. A group of us had to work collaboratively on a Google Doc, which refreshes your browser constantly whenever someone is typing in it. My PowerBook couldn't refresh the page quickly enough to keep up. For everything else, it worked great.
     
  22. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #22
    On my personal 12" Powerbook with 64MB of VRAM, the usage of it hovers around 60% when idle at the desktop. It goes up to about 90-100% when scrolling a website with pictures on it. It's even more useful when using an external screen in extended mode. All 12" Powerbooks can have two finger scrolling. Those that don't natively support it can use iScroll2 to have it. Works so well, it was included in the company image for those machines.
     
  23. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #23
    What do you mean by the "company image for those machines"? Sorry if I am missing something. Out of curiosity Intell, is your job being a technician for Macs?
     
  24. InstructionSet!, Jun 5, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2014

    InstructionSet! thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2014
    #24
    Thank you all for replying. Sounds like it totally is worth it. I don't need more answers regarding this.

    One thing I haven't got much from is whether G3s are still worth when it's a lot cheaper than its G4 equivalents. More opinions are welcomed!

    One thing I'm concerned about is the odd keyboard smell of the iBook G3, which kind of makes me want to avoid it. Much of the reliability problems were mainly on the iBook G3. Can I conclude from this that the iBook G3 Snow is the least reliable of the lot?

    EDIT:
    I've just found this site from 2006 showing a reliability survey of iBooks and PowerBooks from 1999 to 2005. It's very interesting. Link: http://www.macintouch.com/reliability/laptops.html . This shows that the iBook G3 Snow is by far least reliable, with a crazy failure rate of 74% (but improved in the last revision, i.e. 2003). Also a few 15" PowerBook G4s (both Aluminium and Titanium) were not realiable enough. PowerBook G3 was mixed. Meanwhile, 12"/17" PowerBook G4s and the iBook G4s all fared well, as did the original Clamshell iBook G3.
     
  25. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #25
    While a fully upgraded Clamshell is perfectly usable, you are going to be quickly disappointed by the lowly 800x600 display. The other iBook G3s and G4s all have 1024x768 displays which are much more usable! I would recommend getting an iBook G4. Depending on what you can afford, check out shop goodwill or eBay.
     

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