Powerbook owner-are they all this slow?

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by selizo, Apr 6, 2009.

  1. selizo macrumors newbie

    Apr 6, 2009
    I have recently bought a Powerbook 1.67Ghz with 1 Gb ram and a 80 gig hd. I'm running a fully patched "erase and install" Tiger install. I have 0 page outs most of the time. The harddrive has plenty of space left.

    I love the screen, love the keyboard, and love the looks. However I'm quite dismayed at the performance. This laptop is roughly 3 years old and I don't think it should be this slow given the age but I would like to have some confirmation on it.

    Firstly, flash seems to bring this laptop to its knees. Watching a video on youtube and typing this message is causing me to use anywhere from 50-70% cpu usage(monitored using istat menu). 720p is unwatchable.

    Secondly, iWork '09 takes about 10 seconds to load. When I use it to open Word documents, including the conversion, it takes about 30 seconds before I am able to see anything.

    Lastly, my notebook runs very hot. After about 15 minutes of casual usage(firefox, itunes, iwork), the idle temp is ~52C. Is this normal?

    The reason I ask is that I realize that switching to Intel has done wonders to boost the performance of Macs, but is the G4 powerpc really this slow? It feels completely outdated and sluggish. Hell I can even type faster than words appear on the screen. Obviously I'm also a PC user but my 5 year old Dell laptop with a 1.2Ghz pentium M fares much better during multitasking. Under similar conditions when viewing youtube, my cpu usage would be ~20-30% and the processor peaks at ~50c. Is this because something is wrong with my Powerbook or are g4 processors just complete piles of dog manure?
  2. Eidorian macrumors Penryn


    Mar 23, 2005
    1. Flash performance is terrible on OS X. You're going to need a lot of CPU power for it.

    2. iWork has a lot to load up off of a 5400 RPM laptop drive. It's sluggish to load on my MacBook when first opening it up.

    3. PowerBook G4s were ice cold. Try a current Unibody at over 70-80° C.

    Pentium-M is a G4 killer when you get into the higher clock speeds.
  3. jjahshik32 macrumors 603

    Sep 4, 2006
    I think there is no point buying a powerbook g4 at this time. They are way TOO SLOW for most things.

    Its ok if you just read webpages like articles or whatever, but for flash and hd trailers and stuff like that it may be a little too much for the powerbooks.

    Also the pricings are still too expensive on the g4 when you could add a couple more hundred and get a core duo macbook or even a 2nd gen macbook.
  4. chris.robison macrumors regular

    Feb 16, 2009
    I just sold my PowerBook about a month ago, and bought a new 15" 2.66.

    Sadly, yes, the PowerBook is much slower. There are a few things you can do to help it out...

    Get Leopard.
    Upgrade RAM to 2GB.

    Both helped my computer out immensely.

    I also noticed that the PowerBook doesn't handle flash well...at all. That could be your connection too though, as video played just fine at work with T1.

    I think PowerBook's are great. You just have to work with them and do a few workarounds. For sure get Leopard and more RAM.
  5. dontwalkhand macrumors 601


    Jul 5, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    Adobe really needs to get their act together when it comes to coding Flash player for the Mac.

    A 600Mhz PC can somehow play flash videos just fine, but on an old PowerBook G4, the fans came on to full blast! On my iMac, video would be choppy for a few seconds, etc.

    Adobe, please fix this now, I am surprised no one has been complaining much about Flash on the Mac.
  6. chris.robison macrumors regular

    Feb 16, 2009
    Also, Word and iWork are pretty heavy.

    Word is a memory eater. I actually chose to remove it after I was unable to run a Keynote presentation alongside having Word merely open, I simply ran out of memory. :(
  7. chris.robison macrumors regular

    Feb 16, 2009
    I don't think its Adobe's fault, or anyone's for that matter....

    The PowerBook is just older, it needs more power. That processor just can't handle a whole lot. Great computer, just isn't going to perform like a newer one.
  8. m85476585 macrumors 65816

    Feb 26, 2008
    No, not all Powerbook owners are slow.

    Part of the problem is that software has advanced (and become more bloated) since Apple used PPC processors. In addition, most new stuff is optimized for Intel, and while PPC code is still included, it is probably not as extensively tested or optimized as Intel code.

    Flash is particularly bad all around, especially version 9. Version 10 is a bit better, so you might want to make sure you have that installed. You could try version 7 if you can find it, but it might not be compatible with the latest and greatest content (like HD youtube videos). My old laptop is similarly slow with Flash, almost to the point that all flash content is unusable, even though I don't remember any issues with it when it was new.

    HD is also a problem because HD youtube videos use H.264, which is relatively processor-intensive to decode. I think the latest UMBPs have GPU decoding for h.264, but on my last-gen MBP (C2D 2.4, early '08), watching a HD youtube video uses 120-160% CPU and spins the fans up to 4000RPM. I'm not surprised that an older computer struggles with that.
  9. Jurwin macrumors regular


    Yes it's truE. All powerbook are slow, infact very very slow. The fastest powerbook only gets a score of @ 800 using geekbench. Slowest intel mac scores over 2000. But yeah, it's slow because it's just an old tech. My pentium 4 dell is faster than my old powerbook G4.
  10. selizo thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 6, 2009
    Hey thanks for confirming my suspicions. I know the PPC processors were outdated, just not this outdated... lol

    I know that Intel powered Macs were fine performance wise but I didn't expect the PPC to be this slow.

    Another question then, how old is the PowerPC architecture?
  11. Firefly2002 macrumors 65816

    Jan 9, 2008
    Flash runs horribly on PowerPC-based Macs, especially G3s and G4s, and Radeons as well. There's not really anything you can do about that....

    As for launch times, that would really be a combo of your HDD and CPU, mostly your HDD, I imagine. You can always upgrade to 2 GHz for an arm and a leg, but w/o a tremendous performance increase and for a lot of $$.

    My roommate's using the same computer and complains constantly :)

    I doubt more RAM will help if you're not having any RAM issues as is..
  12. peskaa macrumors 68020


    Mar 13, 2008
    London, UK
    I used to use a PowerBook G4 1.5Ghz, and it was fine on PPC era software, but it was on its knees with Leopard, new versions of iLife etc. Apple are designing their software with expectations of better CPUs and graphics cards, and the older hardware is being left way behind.

    As others have said, max out the RAM and put a 7,200rpm drive in. This won't however help the bottleneck of the CPU. Flash is a dog, and always has been.

    PPC has been around since 1991.
  13. Full-Throttle macrumors member

    Jun 22, 2007
    Yes the PowerBook G4's are much slower than their Intel counterparts, however, Flash for Mac just sucks. My MacBook Air even struggles with Flash videos, so it is just bad coding on Adobe's part. Flash is heavily optimized for Windows, and does not work well on any other OS (the Linux and Mac OS version of Flash are both terrible).

    As for getting hot, 50C is cool. My 2.4GHz unibody MacBook Pro idles in the 60C+ when using its 9600GT GPU and gets over 80C+ when gaming.

    Microsoft Word 2004 takes 15 seconds or so to load on my MacBook Pro, so 30 seconds is not bad on a much older machine. I would stay away from Firefox for Mac and use Safari or Camino instead. I love Firefox when I run Linux or Windows, but I have found that it is not as well optimized for Mac OS as Safari (which is not surprising).

    Finally if you want to improve your PowerBooks performance, you should consider getting more RAM, which is very inexpensive if you have the DDR2 version or the 1.67GHz PowerBook. I believe 2GB is the max your PowerBook can take. You could also consider upgrading the hard drive. A new 7200RPM HD with a large 8 or 16MB cache would perform much better than the older 5400RPM you have and would improve application load times. Upgrading the hard drive is a somewhat complex task, but if you are good with computers and are patient, you can download the instructions from PowerBookMedic.com or iFixit (I upgraded my 12'' PowerBook hard drive and it was not too difficult). I would consider upgrading to Leopard as well.

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