PowerBook G4 is slow for video - time to upgrade?

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by greenfuzz00, Feb 27, 2011.

  1. greenfuzz00 macrumors newbie

    Feb 27, 2011

    I have a PowerBook G4, 1.67 GHz, 2 GB SDRAM that I bought in 2006. I love it and use it constantly as my primary machine, so it's running about 8 hours/day, sometimes more. I've had few problems through the years, other than typical problems as a computer ages: my hard drive crashed, new batteries and power cords, etc.

    However, I am becoming increasingly frustrated with how slow the computer is for watching videos online. I'm teaching a blogging class, and am constantly checking out videos, and the video is either constantly interrupted or won't run at all. I'm not very technically literate, but does this have something to do with the processor? (I don't think it's the internet itself, since videos run fine on other machines.) Can this be upgraded, or is it time to purchase a new MacBook Pro? I also use programs such as InDesign and PhotoShop frequently, and run WordPress.

    Perhaps I'm just looking for a reason to buy a new MacBook Pro...

    Thanks for your advice!
  2. Nameci macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2010
    The Philippines...
    Yes, if that is what you need it for then sell your PB to me and buy a macbook pro. lol...
  3. drewsof07 macrumors 68000


    Oct 30, 2006
    G4s just have an awful time with Flash (i.e. 99% of online video)
    It is the processor. You've gotten a good 5+ years out of the machine I assume, so it's time to sell it or use as a backup machine. Buy something Intel if it is for your job/school. :)
  4. greenfuzz00 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 27, 2011
    Thanks for the advice! I was hoping to save some money, but I'm getting sick of lagging video!
  5. zen.state macrumors 68020


    Mar 13, 2005
    My single 1.8GHz G4 7448 plays 360p youtube video at around 48% CPU use. 240p can be as low as 27%. In his case though I doubt he is watching youtube video. Could be something much more demanding. His CPU is also a 7447 which is only really better than the 7400 and 7410. The 7450, 7455 and 7448 and the best performers by far. Any dual MDD or Quicksilver will play online video well. In my experience a 1GHz single or dual 800Mhz is enough for at least low res flash. The 7447 is kind of like the Celeron of the G4 family yet it's the 2nd newest.

    To the original poster:
    One way you could make it work with a bit of extra effort but also saving the cost of a new computer is to download and downrip. Down-rip is kind of my own term but it means to re-rip something to be able to play on less CPU power.

    If you give me more detail about the kind of video format it is and maybe give me a link I can help you determine if these videos can be downloaded and down-ripped. Most can be grabbed from cache or the site directly even if the site is somehow setup to stop that.
  6. drewsof07 macrumors 68000


    Oct 30, 2006
    This is a mobile computer though, desktops are in a different league. I know my dual 800 QS handles flash okay, but my 1.5ghz G4 burns the lap and stutters just playing youtube. :eek:
  7. greenfuzz00 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 27, 2011
    Here's an example of a video that I might show to students (the highlights video is free). When I play it on my laptop, the sound plays fine, but the video lags behind the sound. This makes it difficult to peruse videos to show to my class because they don't play well on my machine.


    I find that I am searching for and watching videos more and more lately, which is why I am beginning to wonder if it is time for an upgrade.

    I also notice that my computer gets very hot when playing videos! I assume this would not happen with one of the new MacBooks? Also, Apple just released a new MacBook... Best Buy is selling the new MacBook as well as the most recent model for a couple of humdred dollars cheaper. If I do decide to upgrade, would you suggest purchasing the model that was just released, or save a little and go with the recently retired model?

    I really appreciate your time!
  8. Dave H macrumors 6502

    Dave H

    Mar 2, 2008
    The Fact Checking video played well enough on the G4 in my sig.
    Have you checked your Energy Saver settings?
  9. zen.state macrumors 68020


    Mar 13, 2005
    Played well for me also. The energy saver preferences could very well be where his problem lies.

    I find it so sad that just because flash is such horrible, inefficient and non-optimized code it actually forces some people to feel that need to upgrade to have enough power for this crap. It's gotten out of control and adobe/macromedia should be ashamed of ever being involved with creating it. Shame on them.

    The even more sad fact is that video codecs like Xvid/DivX look far better than flash and play fine on even a G4 500. Heck I used to even play lots of DivX on my old B&W G3 350MHz.

    The only video codec on earth worth a heavy load on the CPU is h.264 because of just how unblocky it can be at such low bitrates. 480p h.264 is about the highest that plays smooth on my G4 1.8GHz.
  10. Hakkera macrumors member

    Feb 13, 2009
    Agreed. Part of my job is to design flash applications, and everything involved with the program, from the design phase to the actual end use is ridiculously bloated and inefficient.
  11. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    I'd suggest a new MBP, personally. It may be a good bit of money, but it has many advantages over your G4. Better battery, easily 5x or more the processing power (although that doesn't mean it will be 5x as fast doing everything), far better graphics, and you can put in up to 8GB RAM which helps greatly with Photoshop and other adobe stuff.

    Also, you'll be able to keep up to date with software, as Leopard is getting to be two releases behind now. These new computers should last you quite a while as well, so it would be a good time to get one.
  12. Str8edgepunker macrumors 6502

    Nov 4, 2001
    Philadelphia, PA
    The best advice that I can give in regards to slow flash video on Power PC Macs is to downgrade to Flash 9. It performs a lot better on older Macs for flash content. Still, some flash content on the web is Flash 10 only so YMMV with this. Here is a link to archived flash versions:


    BTW if you haven't done so already, sign up for Youtube's HTML 5 test. :D
  13. Ratpack1961 macrumors member

    Apr 7, 2006
    Try this web browser TenFourFox

    Its a version of firefox for power pcs. It improved video streaming on my G4 considerably.
  14. mabaker, Mar 1, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2011

    mabaker macrumors 65816


    Jan 19, 2008
    I think you should upgrade the Flash player. It should run ok on your machine as long as you are not running HD video.


    Remember that last Flash Player for PPC is the version 10.1, not the current 10.2.

    BTW. That Fact Checker video played on my Titanium PowerBook without any problems. So do install the newest version of Flash, greenfuzz.
  15. greenfuzz00 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 27, 2011
    Thanks - and another question

    Thank you, everyone, for your advice. I decided to bite the bullet and purchase a new MacbookPro. Best Buy is selling the older model (which was just returned) at a discount. It is open box -- the salesperson claimed that the person who bought the computer returned it within the two-week return time period to get the new Macbook Pro model. It seems new -- no surface damage, and the power cord still has its plastic wrapping around it.

    This is the 15" MacbookPro with a 2.4 GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of 1066 MHz SDRAM, 320 GB hard drive -- and I can get it as Best Buy for $1315.

    The new, comparable Macbook Pro (15") has a 2.0 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 4GB 1333 MHz SDRAM, and a 500 GB hard drive. I could buy this machine for $1699 with my educator's discount.

    My question is: Is it worth it to pay an extra $400 to get the new model? I mostly use the Adobe creative suite, edit family movies using iMovie (but hope to learn Final Cut), store and edit lots of photos and use WordPress and watch YouTube videos on a daily basis.

    Thanks once again for your advice!
  16. iMikeT, Mar 8, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2011

    iMikeT macrumors 68020

    Jul 8, 2006

    Yes, continue biting the bullet. Investing the additional $400 will only further ensure that you will be future proofing your purchase.

    One personal philosophy that I practice and often tell others is not to be cheap when it comes to technology purchases. That is, be realistic about your budget but when you're presented with a better model and the difference is only a few hundred dollars, take it.

    On a different note, you might want to look at the base model 13" Macbook Pro or the high end 15" Macbook Pro instead. The "middle models" just aren't worth it this time around. The middle model 13" only has a slightly better processor and the 15" doesn't have that great of a GPU. Or if you really needed the horse power, which Adobe CS requires, look at getting a desktop like the iMac, though you will lose the portability.

    Oh and don't bother purchasing at Best Buy. Though I must admit that I'm an ex-Best Buy employee. You can make the purchase in the comfort of your own home from Apple.com and also get the education discount as well as other BTO options.
  17. greenfuzz00 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 27, 2011
    iMikeT: $1699 is really my max, which is why I was considering the lower-end 15" MacbookPro. Think this will suffice for Adobe Creative Suite work and light video/photo editing?

    Also, I was going to by from Best Buy because it offers 18-month financing as opposed to Apple's 12-month financing. Am I still better off buying from the Apple store? Also, as a former Best Buy employee, do you think it's possible that the computer was used on the floor instead of just returned in order to upgrade to the new model, like the salesperson said? The power cord was still wrapped in the box, but I suppose the floor models don't use the power cords anyway.

    Also, is Best Buy's extended warranty any better than Apple Care? I was not actually planning on getting an extended warranty, because I never used it on my old PowerBook G4.

    This is my first apple purchase since my PowerBook G4 six years ago, and it's expensive, so I want to make the right decisions. I appreciate your help!
  18. fhturner macrumors regular

    Nov 7, 2007
    I have the same model you are contemplating buying for $1315, and have loved it since last April. The new quad-core models are tempting as well, but both are nice machines. It might be nice to have full quad-core functionality (instead of my dual-core w/ HyperThreading), but here's another thought: if you're running Adobe CS and potentially FCP, you could use some of the savings of the $1315 model to buy add'l RAM and take it to 6GB or 8GB. Except for some specific stuff like long Compressor encodes and maybe some Photoshop filters, you'll probably get more gain out of a 2.4GHz i5 DC w/ 8GB than a 2.0GHz i7 QC w/ 4GB. Then again, having 4 whole cores in a laptop would be pretty sweet... ;)

    I think it'd be pretty obvious if it had been a floor model. Just look at the keyboard and trackpad, and you should be able to tell if it was a floor model or a barely used open-box return.

    Dunno which one is better than the other, but I can tell you that you have a full year to purchase AppleCare. You can save that $$ for now and buy it at the 11-month mark. Plus, you can probably save quite a bit by buying that separately w/ your educator discount, even if you don't buy the computer that way.

    Funny that I went through the same process last year. I had a next-to-last-gen PowerBook G4/1.67GHz 15", much like yours. I've really enjoyed the extra oomph, brighter screen, better battery life, and add'l RAM capacity of this machine after the PowerBook. The PB was my trusty companion for several years, tho... :) Whatever you do, enjoy!

    Good luck,
  19. iMikeT macrumors 68020

    Jul 8, 2006

    Understandable. I'm on a budget as well concerning my next computer purchase.

    The specs on the base 15" MBP should be more than enough to handle CS5. Which by the way you'll need to upgrade as running CS or CS2, which I'm assuming you're running because you're on a PowerBook G4, is no fun under PowerPC emulation (Rosetta). The only thing you will not benefit from in the base 15" MBP is the lower power GPU.

    The main reason why I am still going to suggest to buy from Apple directly is that you're not dealing with the middle-man. Though Best Buy might have a better financing option, you'll get better service directly from Apple.

    While we're on the topic of financing... I wouldn't take Best Buy's financing options. I remember that they used some really fuzzy math when I was there. The initial numbers looked decent but in the long term you ended up paying nearly 35%+ on top of the product's total price.

    As a former Best Buy employee, anything is possible. I can tell you stories that will make you never want to buy anything from there again (which is why I never buy anything from there).


    Like I have previously mentioned, it is better to deal with Apple directly, especially for warranty service. Getting Best Buys' store warranty is a huge waste. Why? One of the stories from when I was there.... Geeksquad NEVER really does anything to service your computer. Those clowns pop in some diagnostic CD that never finds any problems then returns it to you saying that there was nothing wrong with it. Then tells you to call the manufacturer directly and deal with them. IF they actually honored their store warranty, they send it out to some third party hole-in-the-wall repair shop found in some back alley and you'll be lucky if your computer comes back to you. :eek:

    Apple Care is actually one of the few extended warranties that I would buy on any product. Why? Because you deal with Apple directly. You have a problem, phone them, if there isn't an Apple store nearby, that's ok because they'll have you drop it off at UPS or FedEx and they take care of the shipping. Within a week, problem solved.

    I know what you mean. I'm planning on purchasing an iMac myself, after Apple updates them, possibly within the next 60 days. It will be the first Mac purchase I'm going to be making since getting my G4 six years ago as well. I love this machine but I'm well overdue for an upgrade. I couldn't do it before due to financial reasons and other obligations. :(
  20. fhturner macrumors regular

    Nov 7, 2007
    No offense, but this is simply inaccurate. Apple will support the product the same no matter whether you buy it from Best Buy, Apple.com, an Apple Store, or a 3rd-party Apple Specialist like the company I use for my reselling (I'm a consultant). They will look up the product by serial #, and as long as the warranty period is still in effect (standard or AC), you'll get the support you need at no charge. If you buy from Best Buy, you are not restricted to only their support.

    You can also get repair work done by 3rd-party Apple Authorized Service Providers, in addition to Apple Stores and shipping to an Apple repair depot. AppleCare on a 15" or 17" MacBook Pro is a tough call, as it is the most expensive flavor of AC by $100 @ $349. Compared to AC for an iMac @ $169, for instance, the iMac AC is a relative no-brainer. The $349 MBP AC, however, is a bigger pill to swallow...
  21. iMikeT macrumors 68020

    Jul 8, 2006

    I'm assuming that you are referring to Apple Care and not the financing option as you quoted.

    True that Apple will still honor the product within the standard warranty period or extended by Apple Care. However, that should be limited to the standard one year warranty that ships with the product and Apple Care. Apple will probably not honor an extended warranty sold by and labeled "Best Buy Extended Warranty" or "X retailer".

    Yes but a single issue or repair could easily cost the amount of Apple Care, if not more. There is an educational discount for Apple Care. And since the OP is making the purchase as an educator, he or she is going to be able to take advantage of the discount.

    Definitely a tough call to make, I will not disagree. However, if 28 months after the purchase the logic board goes bad, the screen starts to flicker, or a unusual clicking sound is being heard from the hard drive.... perhaps Apple Care may not have been a bad purchase decision after all.

    My personal philosophy, "If an Apple product ships with a built-in display and it costs over $1000, buy Apple Care".
  22. greenfuzz00 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 27, 2011
    I was told the GPU in the recently replaced 15" i5 Macbook Pro is actually better than the new i7. The price for the middle model is really the highest I can go. For running Adobe, editing home movies, etc., would the new i7 still be my best bet?
  23. MacHamster68 macrumors 68040


    Sep 17, 2009
    i still use a iMac G3 for watching streamed divx movies from my eMac's in another room over ethernet and it does that great , without any lagging or stutter and its really ultra quiet for use in a bedroom
    and my iMac g3 can play flashvideo up to 240p and it is watchable using TENFOURFOX browser
    i dont understand people who need to watch every crap online available in HD
  24. iMikeT macrumors 68020

    Jul 8, 2006

    I'm not entirely sure if your source was referring to the last generation i5 15" MBP or the current. But if they were referring to the last generation model, then yes the GPU will perform better than the current base model 15" MBP.

    As for running CS5, yeah you'll definitely benefit from the added horse power with the i7. Keep in mind that Adobe CS[5] is much more CPU intensive rather than GPU intensive. Unless you're planning on doing anything that is GPU intensive, you'll be fine with the current base model 15" MBP.

    Just to give you an idea of what I'm going for and the way that I think... I like having a powerful machine at my workstation, a desktop or a pick up truck to do the heavy lifting. So my next computer purchase is going to be the highest end iMac that Apple offers (also within my budget). I plan to eventually get a portable computer in the future as well. I need a model that does pretty much what my desktop can do (so an iPad is out of the question) but not so much all the heavy lifting, a sports car if you will. In this case, the current 13" base model MBP will more than suffice for my needs.

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