Laptop Recommendation


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 9, 2005
Ok, here's my situation.

I've been using windows for years. I do tech support so I can't entirely drop windows, I have to keep up or I'm no good at my job, and then I can't afford to buy nice shiny things. The thing is, when the day is over and I come home, I want things to be different, I want things to be fun. And most of all I want things to just work. Currently at home I have an AMD64 system with a gig of ddr that is my main system. I've also got an old dell 500mhz handmedown running mepis linux. My wife has a inspiron 600m laptop that she doesn't like to share. I've been wanting to try out a Mac for a while now, pretty much as long as OS X has been out.

Things I want to be able to do with a Mac:
GarageBand. Nothing too serious here but I've always wanted to create music.
iPhoto. Kids are going to be in the future possibly a few years or so and I'm going to want a simple way to organize, catalog and share pics with the family.
Write. Again, nothing serious but I've always wanted to write.
And of course massive amounts of web surfing and possibly listening to music.

Really, I think the main thing is I don't want to be "tied" to my desk so I'm not going to be the type to connect my laptop to an external monitor.

That being said and cost being a factor I'm at a bit of a dilema as to what system I want to buy. My currently fairly long list includes the 12 and 14 inch iBooks and the 12 inch PB. Not being familiar with Apple products at all I'm also considering older refurbished or used laptops, but I'm not sure if an older model iBook would be sufficient for my needs since I'm quite a power user normally.

I like the size of my wife's 600M (14.1 screen) but I wouldn't mind something smaller for portability's sake. I'll likely be carrying this between home and work several days out of the week. I'm just afraid a 12 inch screen is going to be too small, especially if I really get to doing much with iPhoto or Photoshop Elements.

Also, if I did go with a new iBook, I'd like to wait for 10.4. Is Apple likely to update the iBook line anytime soon?

One other thing that's not exactly directly related to this, but is it possible to use a firewire hard drive on both windows and OS X machines? I just bought a 300GB maxtor onetouch II and it would be ashame if I couldn't connect it to whatever laptop I eventually get.

Any other things I should be considering?


macrumors Core
Jan 6, 2004
the resolution is the same on the two ibooks, so you dont gain any extra space by getting the 14"

id say either the 12" or 15" powerbook

the 15" is more portable than you think, and gives you plenty of screen space

ive been useing a 12" powerbook as my only machine for a year and a half now, and trust me you can deal witht he screen size if you want to, but if you still think its too small i would go for the 15" pb then


macrumors 6502a
Oct 19, 2004
I don't know if you have already, but a search of this forum will turn up a lot of similar questions to yours, some with good answers. If you are having trouble with the search, just browse the thread titles on the last few pages.

As you describe yourself as a "power user" and want to play with GarageBand, you might want to consider the PowerBooks over the iBooks. The iBooks offer a lower price and better battery life, but the PowerBooks are more computer, for more money. Their extra speed and features, even in the 12", could prove useful to you. I'm not saying the iBooks can't do things, but the PBs' faster HDDs, CPUs, FSBs, and GPUs will do them better.

Yes, the 12" is the most portable PB (and the least full-featured), but like any PB it can be used fully closed with attached keyboard and monitor when you are at home, or have its screen spanned alongside an external monitor, if you so choose.

Demon Hunter

macrumors 68020
Mar 30, 2004
wharp said:
Also, if I did go with a new iBook, I'd like to wait for 10.4. Is Apple likely to update the iBook line anytime soon?
It sounds like you have a lot of great reasons to invest in a Mac. :)

Since you already have an AMD system, you should have no trouble connecting a 12" iBook to an external monitor. The iBook will be able to use your new HD as well without any hiccups (or driver installs)!

If you see yourself connecting the iBook for tasks like photo editing and such, the 12" is the way to go. It's an affordable, new machine... very rugged if you ever let the kids use it, and just enough power to get you by.

If you're looking for a little more "umph" I would suggest the higher-end Mac mini... it's even more affordable and you get a faster machine.

However, if you decide to wait the iBooks are due for an update, and will probably see one after Tiger is released. :)


macrumors 6502
Oct 21, 2004
Olde Englande
Macs can read from and write to FAT32-formatted hard disks, so your external will connect without problem, but I think if you want to use it to make a bootable clone of your Mac's HD you may need to partition the disk and format your Mac-only partition as HFS+. Of course, with 300 GB to play with you should have the space to do that :)

Remember that iBooks do not have analog line in, so if you want to use GarageBand with a guitar or other instrument you would need a USB adaptor like the Griffin iMic (about $50 or so). PowerBooks do have anaolg in though.

I'd say the 12" PB would suit you well, with the 15" possibly if you think you need the extra screen space. But as you have that monitor already, 12" plus spanned external monitor is a nice setup mate.


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 9, 2005
For monetary reasons, the 15 inch PB is not an option. If I had the money, that's probably what I'd get.

I seriously doubt I'll ever connect the laptop to an external monitor, for one there's no room on my desk, and for another I'm already using a 2 port KVM switch with my 2 current machines.

I had already looked at some of the past threads and found some good information.

Once of my concerns is about processing power. I don't know how powerful the processors are in these things and how they perform so that makes me a little wary of getting an older machine. How well would an older laptop in the 800mhz range perform? Would I notice a lot of sluggishness?

I would consider the mini except for my desire not to be tied to a desk. And the 300GB is a lot of space until you start backing up all your DVDs on it (stuff I've converted from VHS to DVD and it's all mine legally).

Is the resolution on the 12inch iBook the same as the 12 inch power book? 1024 by 768 isn't too bad on a 14.1, but I'm wondering if my eyes will crack under the strain of 1024 by 768 on a 12 inch. My eyes aren't the best these days and I'm still young. I'd really like to test drive a 12 inch before buying but there are no apple stores nearby and nobody I know has one. Anybody want to mail me theres for a test drive? ;)


macrumors regular
Feb 12, 2005
Astoria, NY
if money really is an issue then I recommend getting an iBook and boosting the RAM up to a gig or so... You'll pretty much get similar performance to the 1.5Ghz PB...
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