Maxing out my Powerbook G4

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by pogomonkeytutu, Mar 31, 2009.

  1. pogomonkeytutu macrumors newbie

    Mar 30, 2009
    The poor bugger was struggling under the strain of my iTunes catalogue so I spent the weekend moving it all across to an external HD, freeing up 40GB of my hard drive (much better than the poor 4GB that I had free before)

    I have a Powerbook G4 Aluminium 12" (1.5 GHz). 512 MB Memory and am still running Mac OS X 10.4.11 until I can get a copy to upgrade.

    Can anyone suggest what other upgrading I can do? Obviously I would love a new laptop but I spent enough on this once back in 2005 that I'd like to keep it alive a few years more.

    Is there much of a difference when replacing the memory to 1GB?

    My Applecare ran out last year and the guys at the shop cheekily replaced my speakers, subwoofer and screen for me so I could get the most out of the package (even though there wasn't much wrong with them) but I AM finding that, just with a lot of users, my PB heats up a lot (very quickly and very noisily).

    I use a stand to help it breathe which HAS helped but wondered about the pro's and con's of taking it apart and blasting the fans with my air compressor.

    Basically, I guess I'm asking for advice on PB maintenance so I can keep it going for as long as possible.

    I'm not afraid to take it apart myself and replace bits and pieces as I've just had to do the same thing with my laptop.
  2. Mark-Mac-Attack macrumors regular

    Apr 6, 2007
    Get yourself 1.25GB RAM and 250GB 7,200RPM HDD.

    The drive is easy enough to do if you follow a guide, and have some small screwdrivers.

    I'd stick with 10.4.11 unless you want Time Machine, but it's up to you.

  3. Full-Throttle macrumors member

    Jun 22, 2007
    If you must keep it for a few more years, then definitely max out the ram, and consider getting the fastest 7200RPM notebook hard drive you can. I would also upgrade to Leopard, because I found it ran just as well on my old PowerBook as Tiger.

    Here is the problem, I used to have a 1.33GHz 12'' PowerBook, and I can tell you that the limiting hardware is the CPU (assuming you have more that 512MB of Ram). Open Activity Monitor, and look at your CPU usage, then your memory usage, and then your hard drive read/write usage. You will probably notice your CPU running at 100% a lot, but your Ram and HD will not be fully utilized.

    This problem is especially pronounced when watching Youtube or any website with Flash content (ads, videos, etc). The way I minimized this was by using Firefox, and downloading a plugin called something like "Flash Block". It keeps Flash content from running unless you click on the specific flash object you want. Installing the latest version of Flash player from Adobe also helps.

    The Ram upgrade will be very inexpensive ($30 - $40), so go for that even if you plan to keep the PowerBook for just 6 months, but the hard drive upgrade will be more expensive and is a somewhat difficult DIY job (I did it myself on my 12'' PowerBook because the hard drive died), so if you are not comfortable with electronics and computers, you may want to avoid this or find a friend that is good with computers. It should not be too difficult if you have ever taken laptops apart before though. Just go slow so you don't scratch the PowerBook and make sure you have the proper tools.

    From what I can tell, the entire 12'' PowerBook line just gets hot. You should try the compressed air if you suspect you have dust/dirt blocking the fans and air vents.

    Here is a link to 1GB of memory that is compatible with your PowerBook:
  4. MacGeek767 macrumors member


    Mar 31, 2009
    Chicago, Illinois
    well, you can keep it at 10.4.11...unless you want time machine and boot camp, there's not that much of a difference as far as I can see.

    as for upgrades, max out the ram (as suggested already) and depending on your harddrive size, I'd upgrade that too. I recently upgraded from my old 80 GB to a 320 GB HD (mostly for running Vista on my computer, but I needed the space)
  5. clyde2801 macrumors 601


    Mar 6, 2008
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    Ditto on what everyone else said. In addition, I'd like to point out that all your information is resting in a hard to get to four year old+ hard drive.

    I got a similar rig recently as a netbook, carry around the house laptop. I put in a 250 gig 5400 rpm WD drive, and kept the old drive just in case as a backup. After the replacment, I couldn't help but notice how quiet the new drive is. This means the old drive was making noises, and that's never a good sign.

    I'm quite satisified with my mini laptop. I marvel at its build quality and ease of use. I'm sure it will be excruciating to encode videos with it, but I'm delighted at how well it does what I want it to do.
  6. tm.chen macrumors member

    Apr 14, 2009
    I opened mine up and put a 32GB IDE SSD into it. It is not that hard to do and it does help to speed up operations. Do clean the fans every now and then.
  7. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    Well, the only features in Leopard that would be useful for a PPC notebook are Time Machine and maybe Spaces. Boot Camp doesn't work with non-Intel machines.

    OP: I would stick with 10.4.11. That's what I run on my 12" PBG4. In my experience, Leopard is a bit sluggish on G4s.
  8. steve2112 macrumors 68040


    Feb 20, 2009
    East of Lyra, Northwest of Pegasus
    I agree with most folks on here that the HDD and RAM are the best things you can do to keep your PowerBook running. I upgraded my 17" Powerbook from 512 to 1.5GB of RAM, and it made a big difference. I haven't upgraded the HDD yet, since the 120GB has been enough for me so far. Honestly, though, as others have pointed out, the CPU will be the sticking point. After upgrading RAM, I noticed in Activity Monitor that my CPU would be pegging out while I still had plenty of RAM free. It's just something I have learned to live with. If I need something with a bit more CPU power, I will run it on my Mini.

    Also, I would stick with 10.4.11. I run it on my Powerbook, and it runs fine. Sadly, I have the Family Pack of Leopard, and haven't seen any need to upgrade the Powerbook.
  9. Quad 2.5 G5 =) macrumors 6502

    Mar 29, 2009

    Encoding videos with Handbrake is painfully slow, because it taxes the cpu so much, which is why I use my Quad G5 for that.
    Another thing you can do is disable Dashboard. I don't know how to do this, but I heard that it speeds things up a bit.

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