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PowerPC era notebook quality issue

sanfrancisofont1984

macrumors regular
Original poster
Aug 5, 2020
208
46
Hey, I’m interested in PowerPC era Macs. So far I have 2 mini G4 which works ok for 10.4 (worth doing SSD upgrades?)

I don’t have enough space for towers (I assume 4K monitors wouldn’t work?) so notebooks or maybe iMacs. Is my impression (from Wikipedia) correct that almost all late notebooks suffered some quality issues that required replacement programs? What does this mean if I try to buy today.

Example, Titanium PowerBook G4 looks cool but how big of an issue is the hinge?
 

eyoungren

macrumors Core
Aug 31, 2011
22,637
15,589
ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
Almost anything you find today is going to be fine hardware wise. All the stuff that has had defects has died off a long time ago.

That isn't to say that there are no problems - but most of those problems now stem from old age, not defects.

It's possible to run a 4K display. I had my 55" 4K HDTV hooked up to my Quad. The issue is getting the complete resolution. There is some hardware that allows for that, but it's expensive. You aren't going to just be able to hook it up and go without that hardware.

Just about any PowerBook you find in good condition today you can expect to last a while without much problem.
 
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Amethyst1

macrumors 68020
Oct 28, 2015
2,424
3,068
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Rikintosh

macrumors regular
Apr 22, 2020
102
118
São Paulo, Brazil
Don't worry so much about recalls. The big question is not whether the machine will fail, but how well cared for during life. I have 2 PB Ti and none of them have had problems with the hinges in the last 20 years. If you notice that your hinge is getting stiff, a simple WD40 solves the problem.


The overwhelming majority of 17-inch screens, which apple used, give problems (one day a colored vertical line will appear and, over the months, many colored vertical lines) is a common problem and, in my opinion, has the to do with the heat produced by the machine, but I never had trouble finding another one and changing at home.


Any notebook you buy over the age of 20 will now be subject to a chronic polarizer problem, it is simply the end of the display's useful life, be it ibook, powerbook, compaq, dell, or any other that has been kept for many years and is over 20 years old.
Something like the image below



You can remove the damaged film and paste a new one (it is a bit of a hassle), or simply change the display.



I collect some macs and many other notebooks, if you want a tip, learn a little about repairing these machines (no need to learn how to solder plates, just have a minimal idea of how to disassemble and assemble them again if you need to change a part) and you will be fine.
 
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eyoungren

macrumors Core
Aug 31, 2011
22,637
15,589
ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
The overwhelming majority of 17-inch screens, which apple used, give problems (one day a colored vertical line will appear and, over the months, many colored vertical lines) is a common problem and, in my opinion, has the to do with the heat produced by the machine, but I never had trouble finding another one and changing at home.
If you are referring to the screens of the 17" PowerBooks, this issue with lines was traced to a particular factory in China. There was a website that gave all the details because Apple kept removing posts regarding the defect in their community forums. Apple swept it under the rug (and denied warranty replacement) but ultimately fixed the problem.
 
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Rikintosh

macrumors regular
Apr 22, 2020
102
118
São Paulo, Brazil
If you are referring to the screens of the 17" PowerBooks, this issue with lines was traced to a particular factory in China. There was a website that gave all the details because Apple kept removing posts regarding the defect in their community forums. Apple swept it under the rug (and denied warranty replacement) but ultimately fixed the problem.
The 17 and 20 inch imacs also suffered, and not only limited to the white models, I even had a 2009 core2duo that started to appear the damn lines. After the first one appeared, in a matter of 2 months, 4 more lines appeared.

I also had a powerbook that burst into flames, unfortunately Apple refused to give me another machine, simply because I live in Brazil and the machine was bought in the USA. At the time I was really upset, and I ended up buying a Dell XPS 1710. It was a problem with the battery, on the part of sony, but as you said, nowadays these machines were either repaired correctly at the time, or have died, there is notting to fear ...
 
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Windreader

macrumors newbie
Aug 3, 2019
17
22
Iowa
The 17 and 20 inch imacs also suffered, and not only limited to the white models, I even had a 2009 core2duo that started to appear the damn lines. After the first one appeared, in a matter of 2 months, 4 more lines appeared.

I also had a powerbook that burst into flames, unfortunately Apple refused to give me another machine, simply because I live in Brazil and the machine was bought in the USA. At the time I was really upset, and I ended up buying a Dell XPS 1710. It was a problem with the battery, on the part of sony, but as you said, nowadays these machines were either repaired correctly at the time, or have died, there is notting to fear ...
I have some experience with the white 2006 17" iMacs running into the whole screen issue. It was my family's main computer in the living room that we used for everything, from the kids playing games on it to all the important bills being paid. It was really sad because just as the system had gotten out of warranty, it started to develop the pesky problem with a line starting to run down the screen. Over the years the lines multiplied and at this point the screen is unbearable to use. It's pretty amazing that I had used that thing up until 2015 or 2016 and had gotten used to it, but these past four years made it much much worse. I definitely have got to go back and replace the panel as there is a lot of sentimental value attached to that machine. :)
 
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iluvmacs99

macrumors 6502a
Apr 9, 2019
663
459
Hey, I’m interested in PowerPC era Macs. So far I have 2 mini G4 which works ok for 10.4 (worth doing SSD upgrades?)

I don’t have enough space for towers (I assume 4K monitors wouldn’t work?) so notebooks or maybe iMacs. Is my impression (from Wikipedia) correct that almost all late notebooks suffered some quality issues that required replacement programs? What does this mean if I try to buy today.

Example, Titanium PowerBook G4 looks cool but how big of an issue is the hinge?

The hinge can be an issue in some of the latter Powerbook G4s. I own the last Powerbook G4, which is the 1.67Ghz DSLD Hi-res screen and one side of the hinge is slightly loose. It doesn't really deter from its functionality though. It still works, but that's what you get from a 15+ machine. I am still using it now and in fact, I am typing this post with this Powerbook! What I like about this Powerbook is the keyboard and is one of the nicest keyboards when compared to my Macbook Pro 17" and my MB Air 13". I prefer doing my writing on this Powerbook.

Another weak point of this type of Powerbook G4 is the memory slots. One of the slots will somehow malfunction, leaving you with just 1 slot active. In fact, I took some of the parts from my other PB G4 laptop and built this one I am typing on now. This G4 is fast and the Graphics GPU is fast enough to play some games still. Technically you can drive a 2K monitor with a decent refresh rate and perhaps I'll replace the current hard drive with a larger capacity SSD. It's worth that upgrade. It's currently running Leopard Rebirth with all the major apps.
 
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AshleyPomeroy

macrumors member
Dec 27, 2018
83
152
England
Example, Titanium PowerBook G4 looks cool but how big of an issue is the hinge?

The problem is that the hinge gets stiff over time, but it's really flimsy, and you naturally want to push the lid open by shoving the top of the display, which puts a lot of torque on the hinge. It either snaps in two or breaks free from the lid (it's glued on). Lubricating it is awkward because there isn't much space for the lubrication to spread.

It wouldn't be so bad if the hinges were easy to replace, but they have to be epoxied in place, and they're long out of production. It's frustrating because the oldest laptop I still occasionally use - a ThinkPad 600X from 1999 - still has a fantastic hinge that's loose enough to open with one finger but stiff enough to remain in place even when the machine is turned upside down. The TiBook hinge wasn't Apple's finest moment. The irony is that it doesn't even look stylish, it's just an awkward design presumably brought on by a desire to put all the ports along the back of the laptop so that you didn't have to look at the cables.

Beyond that my understanding is that the G4 iBooks had a poor reliability record - over time thermal cycling caused the GPU solder joints to break, at which point the video failed. There were home-made fixes that involved baking the motherboard in an oven or using a heat gun on the GPU to reflow the older. A similar problem affected the PlayStation 3 and xBox 360. In the case of the iBook it was exacerbated by the difficulty of dismantling the machine.

In Apple's defence faulty GPUs were endemic in the world of PC laptops as well. Back in 2010 Dell settled a class action lawsuit because lots of their notebooks with NVidia GPUs overheated and died:

Off the top of my head the problem was that (a) the chip naturally ran hot (b) the cooling system looked something like this, with a combined cooling system for the CPU and GPU:


But the BIOS only monitored the temperature of the CPU, so if you played games or watched HD video the GPU ended up running way hot all the time.
 
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Rikintosh

macrumors regular
Apr 22, 2020
102
118
São Paulo, Brazil
I have some experience with the white 2006 17" iMacs running into the whole screen issue. It was my family's main computer in the living room that we used for everything, from the kids playing games on it to all the important bills being paid. It was really sad because just as the system had gotten out of warranty, it started to develop the pesky problem with a line starting to run down the screen. Over the years the lines multiplied and at this point the screen is unbearable to use. It's pretty amazing that I had used that thing up until 2015 or 2016 and had gotten used to it, but these past four years made it much much worse. I definitely have got to go back and replace the panel as there is a lot of sentimental value attached to that machine. :)

I bring news that can cheer you up again. There are adapters that convert the old video system to modern screens of high resolution and contrast (and cheaper), this means that you can even purchase a modern led screen to use on your mac, I think the only challenge is that screens 16: 9 aspect ratio, and the imac had a 16:10 screen, which means that a modern screen (the same size) would be slightly larger horizontally and slightly smaller vertically.
 
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Rikintosh

macrumors regular
Apr 22, 2020
102
118
São Paulo, Brazil
The problem is that the hinge gets stiff over time, but it's really flimsy, and you naturally want to push the lid open by shoving the top of the display, which puts a lot of torque on the hinge. It either snaps in two or breaks free from the lid (it's glued on). Lubricating it is awkward because there isn't much space for the lubrication to spread.

It wouldn't be so bad if the hinges were easy to replace, but they have to be epoxied in place, and they're long out of production. It's frustrating because the oldest laptop I still occasionally use - a ThinkPad 600X from 1999 - still has a fantastic hinge that's loose enough to open with one finger but stiff enough to remain in place even when the machine is turned upside down. The TiBook hinge wasn't Apple's finest moment. The irony is that it doesn't even look stylish, it's just an awkward design presumably brought on by a desire to put all the ports along the back of the laptop so that you didn't have to look at the cables.

Beyond that my understanding is that the G4 iBooks had a poor reliability record - over time thermal cycling caused the GPU solder joints to break, at which point the video failed. There were home-made fixes that involved baking the motherboard in an oven or using a heat gun on the GPU to reflow the older. A similar problem affected the PlayStation 3 and xBox 360. In the case of the iBook it was exacerbated by the difficulty of dismantling the machine.

In Apple's defence faulty GPUs were endemic in the world of PC laptops as well. Back in 2010 Dell settled a class action lawsuit because lots of their notebooks with NVidia GPUs overheated and died:

Off the top of my head the problem was that (a) the chip naturally ran hot (b) the cooling system looked something like this, with a combined cooling system for the CPU and GPU:


But the BIOS only monitored the temperature of the CPU, so if you played games or watched HD video the GPU ended up running way hot all the time.

It is a bit annoying to disassemble, but if you disassemble it, you will notice that it accumulates so much dust on the hinges, that there is a kind of dust carpet. I recovered a Ti once with a broken hinge, it is actually glued (I took off using a blade) and not crushing the carcass after taking off the hinge is a real challenge. At the time I didn't find the hinges to buy, so I adapted hinges from another notebook, HP or Dell, I don't remember. I glued them to the carcass, and the result was even surprising, although there was no original white finish on them, it didn't clash so much with the design.

The hinges also have adjustment, through a small nut, but loosening it there is a lot of force.

The defect of the ibooks is very easy to solve, optionally you can have the original solder spheres replaced by spheres with lead in the composition (they are more resistant) so the problem will not occur again. Or, you can simply bake the plate (it doesn't have to be too high, a hairdryer is enough) then cut the heatsink, the main heating problem on apple machines is the poor quality of the heatsinks.
 
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retta283

macrumors 68020
Jun 8, 2018
2,186
1,993
Victoria, British Columbia
If you are referring to the screens of the 17" PowerBooks, this issue with lines was traced to a particular factory in China. There was a website that gave all the details because Apple kept removing posts regarding the defect in their community forums. Apple swept it under the rug (and denied warranty replacement) but ultimately fixed the problem.
Is this website that you mentioned still up, or available in the Web Archive? I'd be curious to find the part number for them. I believe this was also a problem on the 17" iMacs, at least the Intel ones.
 
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Windreader

macrumors newbie
Aug 3, 2019
17
22
Iowa
I bring news that can cheer you up again. There are adapters that convert the old video system to modern screens of high resolution and contrast (and cheaper), this means that you can even purchase a modern led screen to use on your mac, I think the only challenge is that screens 16: 9 aspect ratio, and the imac had a 16:10 screen, which means that a modern screen (the same size) would be slightly larger horizontally and slightly smaller vertically.
Do you have any links to one of those adapters? I'm actually kind of curious because I've been putting off a panel swap due to the price some people charge for a replacement screen eBay.
 
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Rikintosh

macrumors regular
Apr 22, 2020
102
118
São Paulo, Brazil
Do you have any links to one of those adapters? I'm actually kind of curious because I've been putting off a panel swap due to the price some people charge for a replacement screen eBay.
Avoid buying a used one on ebay, you are in danger of buying an old screen, which will present the same problem in some time

The adapter you will find on aliexpress, it is something like the image below, check the compatibility (number of pins, size) before buying.

You can buy some ordinary, inexpensive monitor instead of the screen, and enjoy the monitor screen. Sometimes the separate screen is more expensive than a complete monitor, like this 40 bucks crap:
 
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Windreader

macrumors newbie
Aug 3, 2019
17
22
Iowa
Avoid buying a used one on ebay, you are in danger of buying an old screen, which will present the same problem in some time

The adapter you will find on aliexpress, it is something like the image below, check the compatibility (number of pins, size) before buying.

You can buy some ordinary, inexpensive monitor instead of the screen, and enjoy the monitor screen. Sometimes the separate screen is more expensive than a complete monitor, like this 40 bucks crap:
I definitely will look into that and thanks for bringing these adapters to my attention, I really wouldn't have known otherwise! And regarding buying a used panel, running into the lines again was a big reason as to why I never got one. It just seemed like a big waste of money and time getting one that could potentially run into the same issues, so this solution does look pretty interesting! Thanks again! :)
 
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AL1630

macrumors 6502
Apr 24, 2016
366
319
Idaho, USA
The TiBook hinge wasn't Apple's finest moment. The irony is that it doesn't even look stylish, it's just an awkward design presumably brought on by a desire to put all the ports along the back of the laptop so that you didn't have to look at the cables.

I don't think the TiBook in general was their finest moment. The hinges, flimsy plastic trim, paint that flakes off, crappy glue etc. They look really cool - until you actually use it and it comes apart.

In terms of build/design quality, the AlBook was a huge step up imo.
 
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Amethyst1

macrumors 68020
Oct 28, 2015
2,424
3,068
On a different matter, I've always wondered if the 17" iMacs could be upgraded to a 1680×1050 or 1920×1200 LCD (harvested from e.g. an MBP). It would still be a TN panel but those additional pixels would come in very handy :)
 
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sanfrancisofont1984

macrumors regular
Original poster
Aug 5, 2020
208
46
Thanks all. I end up starts to play more with one of my mini G4 through Remote Desktop.
As for notebooks I think I would probably buy more than one just in case. They aren't too expensive yet.
 
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weckart

macrumors 603
Nov 7, 2004
5,178
2,542
In terms of build/design quality, the AlBook was a huge step up imo.

It was and it wasn't. Apple tended to swap one problem for another rather than tackle issues correctly and solve them. The AluBooks concentrated all the ports on one side within a thin shell leading to inherent structural weaknesses. It takes very little effort to bend the lower casing around the input ports or around the optical drive slot and once deformed, even more difficult if not impossible to straighten the casing. Flaky paint aside, the TiBooks were more impervious to dents, too.

As bad as the TiBooks were, I'd rather work on one of those than have to disassemble an AluBook. Apple never allowed those to breathe as it were.
 
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