Super slow PowerBook...

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by c073186, Jun 8, 2008.

  1. c073186 macrumors 6502a

    Nov 2, 2007
    My sister has a four year old PowerBook, 1.33 GHz G4, 256 MB memory, running Panther, and it is incredibly slow. It has nothing installed but Office 2004. And I mean really, really slow. She said it has been that way pretty much forever but never said anything because she did not know it was out of the ordinary :)confused:). But I've used an iBook that was older than this PowerBook and it was faster, and it had a bunch of garbage installed on it. I have tried an Erase and Install on the PowerBook - no change.

    This makes me think it is a hardware problem. But I do not know how to test for bad hardware other than the hard drive, which checks out okay. How do I test the RAM, CPU, etc. to see if there is a faulty component?

    And, if I do find something not working properly, is there likely anything that can be done to fix it? I mean, it is four years old so obviously no Apple warranty / protection. Nonetheless I would like to know the cause of its slowness.
  2. InLikeALion macrumors 6502a

    Jul 18, 2007
    Greener places than I used to live
    256mb of ram is ridiculously low. That would likely be the problem. You can bump it to the 2gb max for less than $100 I would imagine. My wife's 1.5ghz powerbook was running slow on 512mb. We added a 1gb stick last year for cheep and it really boosted performance. Give it a try.
  3. nick9191 macrumors 68040

    Feb 17, 2008
    You can run the Apple Hardware Test, I believe this is on the install disks.

    If you find something that is broken you would need to fix it yourself, or pay Apple a ludicrous amount of money to do so. Depending on whether this is a 12" Powerbook or a 15/17" will tell us how easy it is to open up.

    And yes I would recommend chucking a GB of RAM in there, plus the original 256 (or 128 if its 2 sticks of 128, since you will need to remove a 128 to fit the 1GB.)
  4. c073186 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Nov 2, 2007
    256 MB is low for Panther? It seemed normal at the time of purchase...

    I am running the hardware test now and will post back the results. It is a 15/17" model.
  5. bankshot macrumors 65816


    Jan 23, 2003
    Southern California
    Yes, it's very low. Follow the advice of the other posters and upgrade the RAM. It'll be like getting a whole new machine.

    For my own experience, I still have a 1.25 GHz PowerBook at work running Panther. It originally came with 2x256MB from Apple, and we replaced that with 2x512MB third party memory. We had 2 separate problems crop up simultaneously: the third party memory was crap and had to be exchanged (constant kernel panics), and one of the RAM slots in the machine went bad. That meant that I was down to a solitary 256MB stick of memory for a time. It was slow. Painfully, agonizingly slow. This is because it was constantly swapping to the 4000 rpm hard drive for additional memory.

    Given the likelihood that your sister's machine probably has the same slow speed of hard drive, I'm not surprised at all. Give that hard drive a rest and add some memory. ;)
  6. c073186 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Nov 2, 2007
    Okay I am open to the more RAM idea. A few questions:

    1. How much is enough? 1 GB? Since it has a stick of 256 MB in it already, I basically will have to trash that one if I want 1+ GB since there are only two slots, right?

    2. From this page: -- which RAM should I buy? I am new to buying and installing RAM, so help is needed please.

    3. If this does speed up things, would it be unreasonable to try to install Leopard on the computer since it would now satisfy the 512 MB requirement? Or would that just counter any speed increases because it is more system-intensive?
  7. MacBooksRock macrumors regular

    Nov 27, 2007
    It's four years old, maybe the hard drive is going bad...
  8. tremendous macrumors 6502


    Jan 16, 2008
    UK? Yeah I'm OK. Stop asking.
    I have the exact same machine, with 1GB installed (only one stick as the other slot is buszteddd) and it's still pretty fast. in fact, for normal stuff, it's plenty fast and it's only really when i am doing some seriously nuts audio processing that it gets a bit mardy and slows down. when i had just 256 (when i first got it) it felt slow and crappy.
  9. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    256MB is not low for Panther, it's too low for Mac Office.
  10. steeler macrumors regular

    Jan 30, 2008
    Yes, if you want more than the 1.25GB that you'd get with the 256MB plus 1 GB you'd have to pull the 256MB out and it wouldn't be used any more. That really depends on the Powerbook though, because the 12" had 1 ram slot soldered to the board, so you could only add one stick and max out at 1.25 GB. The 15" and 17" don't have that limitation.

    Go here:

    Look under the heading, "OWC PC2700 DDR 333MHz SO-DIMM for all other 12/15/17" Models"

    Personally, I would definitely upgrade to Tiger, but I haven't experienced Leopard on a G4, so I can't speak to the performance. Search for threads about Leopard and Powerbooks here. I'm sure there's several that discuss performance.

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