Keeping an old PB healthy

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Smileyguy, Mar 18, 2008.

  1. Smileyguy macrumors 6502

    Nov 29, 2004
    Hi everyone,

    I have a 12' Powerbook G4, 1.33Ghz, 756mb ram, running Panther. Lately, it's suffered a few problems and I have to decide whether to hang on to it or opt for something newer.

    The CD-RW/DVd drive, battery and airport express card have all broke down. I'm also in need of more RAM. I've calculated that fixing and upgrading the machine will be considerably cheaper than buying something newer (either brand new or refurb), and I tend to want to squeeze as much life out of things as possible, so this is my preferred option. I should also mention that my main uses are for the internet, word processing, music and photo editing.

    However, fixing ad upgrading is only good value if the machine itself will last for a couple more years, (it's a 2004 model). If the hard drive is likely to crash out as soon as I upgrade everything else, I might as well get something else. With this in mind, I have a few questions that I'm hoping I might get some help with:

    1) Is there any way I can decipher the health of the hard drive and other key components to make sure they're in good shape and not about to die?
    2) Is there anything else I can do gauge the general health of the machine, or to extend its life?
    3) Is there anything I can do to improve performance? iPhoto has recently gotten very slow, for no obvious reason. I'm planning to upgrade from 768 ram to 1.25 - can I expect this to make a big difference? Is there anything else I can do? I run Onyx maintenance and cleaning regularly and make sure my hard drive always has at least 10gb of space free.

    I suppose it comes down to the fact that I really like this machine, have a very small budget, and no huge desire to get something new, but if it doesn't make economic sense to hang on to it, I won't. It's just a matter of deciding what to next - any advice or suggestions would be really appreciated.

  2. FJ218700 macrumors 68000


    Mar 8, 2007
    Blue Dot, Red State
    Max your RAM (like you said), put in a 7200 RPM drive, and do a fresh install of Leopard. for < $600, you'll have a fast machine that will last a few more years.

    that being said, I'd go for a base MacBook for the extra $400, as is it will see 10.6 whereas the PPC may not.
  3. Smileyguy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Nov 29, 2004
    I'm not too pushed about OS upgrades - I'm running Panther and don't see anything in Leopard or Tiger, except for perhaps Spotlight, and the possibility of increased speed, to entice me. Thanks for the input - anyone else have any suggestions?
  4. joeybagadonutz macrumors member

    Aug 18, 2007
    Apple may offer you a flat rate repair for around $280 to test and repair any issues. It would not cover the battery. (Check here to see if your battery was part of the recall I'm not sure how long the repair is covered against future problems. I would flat out ask about getting your HD replaced as part of the service. This is not an option if you have a drop or spill in your past.
  5. Smileyguy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Nov 29, 2004
    Thanks for that tip - it would be great if I could get a flat rate repair.
  6. joeybagadonutz macrumors member

    Aug 18, 2007
    The strange variable is the HD. If they will replace the hard drive, you could have replacements professionally completed with OEM parts for $300 (add another $100 for a battery) If not, you are looking at that much in parts before labor. What is your repair skill level? ifixit has the superdrive for $99. The wireless card is $40 (sometimes $29 in the apple refurbished section). Add another $180 for a battery and hard drive. Your total retail parts cost are $420 plus tax. Another $70 for a 1GB ram module. Now, do you really want to put $500 (+ possible labor) into an old system? Low end refurbished MB are $700s.

    Budget option #2: You are a perfect candidate for a donor system. Consider a working unit with a busted LCD (you may even get the needed ram). Test the system with an external monitor. Now we are back to the skill level question... What can you do? Who do you know?

    Budget option #3 Buy, and live with, an external media drive ($50 new, $25 used). Back up your system (you do back up, don't you?) and do a clean install for good HD health. $70 ram plus $29 wireless card and your total cost could be $125. Cool aspects about #3- you don't have to open the main case and you'll get most of your $ back selling the parts later.

    Good luck

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