New (damaged) PowerBook G4 user, some Qs

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by xdanieldzd, Jul 11, 2017.

  1. xdanieldzd macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2017
    I recently took a chance on two PowerBook G4s, both advertised as broken on eBay Germany. Well, the second one I only ended up getting because the first one - save for a few components (RAM, optical drive; maybe the 17" display and keyboard...?) - turned out to be a complete write-off, with a heavily bent chassis and a chip on the logic board physically damaged, plus missing screws, no hard disk, and so on.

    The second one - sold as broken because it was untested (missing power supply) - arrived today and, well, it's the machine I'm typing this post on! It's a "PowerBook5,6", i.e. 15" Aluminium at 1.67 GHz, Mobility Radeon 9700 with 128 MB VRAM, etc., this particular one having 1.5 GB RAM and a 80 GB hard disk installed. Now, there's some issues with this one, and a few things I'm curious about, so here's my Q(uestion)s:

    1) The keyboard is technically working, but it's missing all keycaps, a third or so of the plastic mounting hinge things, and worst of all, most of the rubber domes that actually create the contact with the keyboard - currently typing this on my old iMac G3's USB one. Are the keyboards of this model, and the dead 17" one I got (a 1.5 GHz from 2004 if I'm not mistaken), interchangeable? If not, could I at least remove all keycaps etc. from the dead machine's keyboard and mount them onto this one?


    2) The hard disk is a 4200 RPM Seagate, an ST9808210A. How much of an impact do the comparatively low RPM have on performance? Also, does this machine have the same 128 GB size limit that older desktop G4s have, or would a 160 GB drive work at the full capacity without having to use workarounds?

    3) In addition to the messed up keyboard, there's also a dent in the case, on the edge right underneath the Cardbus slot. It doesn't really bother me as such, but because of its location, it's hard to insert Cardbus cards without scratching, or possibly bending them. Is there any way of repairing dents like that or, as a total amateur at metal working, would I just make it worse?

    I hope this isn't too much of a wall of text, and that someone might be able to chime in with some info and ideas, on how to basically bring this damaged PowerBook back to full health.

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  2. eyoungren macrumors Core


    Aug 31, 2011
    ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
    1. It should transfer. With the exception of the 12" PowerBook the keyboards between the two are the same. Getting the keyboard in right is the problem. See for guides.

    2. Slower drives make for a slower experience overall. If you can get a faster drive that would be a good thing. And no, the AlBooks (Aluminum PowerBooks) do not have the 128GB large disk limit.

    3. For the dent, you'd need to pull the logicboard and hammer it out. It's aluminum so it shouldn't take too much with a small rubber mallet or a piece of wood and a small hammer.
  3. amagichnich macrumors 6502


    Feb 3, 2017
    Stuttgart, Germany
    There is a huge impact with these old drives! On modern terabyte drives not that much anymore... I'd go for a 5400 at least, better have a 7200 but these are rare. Way better is of course an SSD no matter if via mSata or 44pin IDE. I tried a 4200 and a 5400 in my PB and the difference is noticeable. In one of my eMacs I upgraded to a 7200 (3,5") and and it's amazing how much of a difference it makes. Never had the chance of testing a 2,5" 7200 in the PB. Therefore I can't say anything about that but having the difference between 4200 and 5400 it should be much of a difference!
  4. xdanieldzd thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2017
    Hm, I looked up the two PowerBooks on iFixit and the two keyboards seem to be different: The working 15" model (check the number and locations of the screws) vs the dead 17" one (with more screws and in different places; also checked the model number on the case, A1085)... I suppose I'll have to either try the keycap/hinge/rubber dome transplant, or get a compatible replacement keyboard?

    As for the hard drive, I might go for an SSD (probably a 64 GB one in that case, either mSATA via adapter or an IDE one), or just get a 160 GB drive with 5400 RPM. Cost will be a factor tho, and I'd assume the HDD would end up being cheaper, but we'll see. By the way, is there anything else to consider when going for an SSD, regarding system settings and such, ex. TRIM?

    The dent I'll take care of some other day, I guess. I can't think of any Cardbus cards I would want to use on the PB right now (good thing the internal AirPort Extreme works fine!), which leaves the cosmetic aspects of it, which... don't bother me much right now, since you don't even notice it much with the system just sitting there.
  5. MacCubed macrumors 68000


    Apr 26, 2014
    If you are going to replace the keyboard, you should replace the entire top case assembly. Fitting a new keyboard to an existing top case is a really painful process, and many people have issues with the keyboard flexing and warping upon it being installed.

    In regards to the SSD, an mSATA SSD and adapter will actually run at comparable prices to their hard drive counterparts. I recommend finding an adapter with the Marvell chipset, they are more reliable and have faster transfer speeds. When I did this to my PBG4 DLSD, I bought the adapter for around $25, and a used 128GB SanDisk SSD also for around $25. I was looking at a 7200 RPM 100GB drive to replace the HDD that died in it (It was an 100GB 7200RPM drive), but the prices were looking way to high for a mechanical drive, so I thought that I would take the more economical route, and get better performance by getting an SSD. I never enabled TRIM, but there is a guide somewhere on here for doing that, and the SSDs are plug and play in Mac OS X. One thing to note about the IDE SSDs, the KingSpec SSDs are just mSATA SSDs in IDE Converters from what I can tell, so there is no sense in spending nearly double the cost of just doing an mSATA SSD with adapter.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 12, 2017 ---
    Oh and one more thing about the keyboard, make sure that you get the correct one for your model, and not the 5,8 DLSD PBG4. They may have the same clock speed at 1.67GHz, but apple changed the top case connector on the DLSD
  6. xdanieldzd thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2017
    A quick progress update of sorts, I happened to find a complete top case with keyboard etc. for my machine last week. Replacement of the old one went without a hitch, thus making this PowerBook a true portable again. I also upgraded the RAM to 2 GB, replacing the 512 MB module with a second 1 GB one, and did some very basic testing of the battery, which still gives me about 2:30h of runtime while browsing the web, with low display brightness etc.

    So the next step will probably be a 64 GB mSATA SSD plus adapter, since, now that I'm actually using the system, the slowness of the old HDD is starting to get to me.

    (Please excuse my crappy photography skills :p)
  7. AphoticD macrumors 65816


    Feb 17, 2017
    A successful revival of another good PowerPC Mac. Well done!

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