Switcher needs help choosing PB Config.

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by TIGERmac, Dec 14, 2004.

  1. TIGERmac macrumors member

    Nov 12, 2004
    Hi everyone,

    I've been drooling over the 15 in. PB (Superdrive, 5400 rpm HD, 128 vRAM) for quite some time now. I'm pretty much a typical computer user...internet/email, projects/reports, some Photoshop, etc. An iBook would probably suit my needs fine for now, but my current PC is about 6 years old and I intend to keep whatever I purchase until I get out of college (~5 yrs.-plan on grad school). In this aspect, I think the higher-end graphics card and faster HD would help the PB stay modern for a bit longer. If my assumptions are wrong or misguided, please correct me.

    My parents have agreed to contribute to the purchase as my Christmas gift, and have expressed concern about me spending so much money on a computer. They worry that in a 3-4 years I'll either want a new laptop or will require one because the machine will be outdated. I must admit, I share that concern (to an extent) due to the fact that the Mac OS is being optimized for the G5. Can anyone estimate how long it will be before new applications stop supporting the G4?

    Is the system I've selected overkill for my application? Would I be better suited with a 1.33 Ghz model (Superdrive, 64 vRAM, 512 MB RAM)? Would I be better off getting an iBook and getting a new one more often? Should I wait for MWSF to see if updated models are announced? Even a price drop would be sweet!

    If I wait, I'll miss out on FREE shipping...about how much is standard shipping?

    Oh, the questions...

    Please forgive the very long post. I probably shouldn't have waited so long to ask all of these questions!

    Thanks in advance for your help.

  2. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Firstly, you don't need the 128MB of video RAM. Your video card won't be outdated because of how much RAM you have. If the 64MB video card is outdated, so will the 128MB card since it's the same card. They'll both be outdated due to technological advances, not necessarily amounts of RAM. Anyway, you will never fully use the 128MB of RAM with what you do.

    My statement concerning obsolescence can also be said about the processor. Do you really think that a 1.33GHz G4 will be outdated faster than a 1.5GHz G4? Trust me, they'll both be obsolete at the same time. When you compare a future 2.0GHz G5 Powerbook with either the 1.33 or 1.5GHz G4 proc, they'll both be obsolete. The 1.5 GHz will obviously be faster than a 1.33GHz chip, but they'll both serve you well, and both be slower than what's on the market in 2-5 years.

    I would either get the 1.33GHz 15" PB with 5400rpm HD and 64 MB of vRAM, or get two iBooks (one now, and one in 2 years). I'd buy 512MB or 1GB of RAM at newegg.com or OWC (http:\\eshop.macsales.com), not from Apple. Samsung RAM is what Apple uses anyway, except you get it cheaper from these places. I'd also get an external DVD burner since the ones from Apple aren't top notch. Superdrives are slower, much too expensive, and they don't offer dual layer like other laptop computer makers like HP-Compaq. However, external burners aren't compatible with iDVD, so if you plan on using iDVD, then get the Superdrive.
  3. TIGERmac thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 12, 2004
    My reasoning for selecting the 128 MB VRAM option was in response to the current iBooks not supporting the new CoreImage requirements. I was under the impression that a lack of VRAM was the reason.

    I've heard it mentioned that these minor speed bumps really can't be "felt" because of the slow FSB. So, if I buy a 1.33 Ghz and load it up with 1 gig of RAM, the speed difference (of the 1.5 Ghz) will be irrelevant? I haven't used any PB with 1 gig of RAM, though the 1.5 Ghz w/ 512 MB RAM felt pretty snappy.

    Part of me wants to wait for the G5 PowerBook just to have the latest and greatest--I know that's natural. The current PB models are plenty fast enough for what I need now, but that uncertainty of what I'll need for it to do later keeps bothering me.

    The iBook seems to be a great machine, and perhaps I should look into them more closely. If only the PowerBooks weren't so sexy...

    I don't currently require the ability to burn DVDs. However, when my current computer was purchased, I didn't think I'd ever want/need to burn CDs. I figured if nothing else the SuperDrive would help with resale (in the event I'd have to sell it).

    Any reason to expect price drops in January? To wait or not to wait, that is the...well, you know.

    Thanks again for the suggestions.
  4. aswitcher macrumors 603


    Oct 8, 2003
    Canberra OZ
    Whatever you get, I highly recommend bumping up to a gig of RAM for photoshop and if you like multiple apps and accounts. Everythign runs a bit smoother with more ram.

    As for life span...at least the new PBs have Core Image and Video compatible graphics cards, so I would avoid an iBook unless of course it gets a bump on 10 Jan at MWSF.

    For me the 128 versus the 64 was less than $100 AUD, so it was a no brainer to allow me to screen span with good res and response, as well as take maximuim advantage of Tigers up coming tricks.
  5. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    All the Powerbooks support the CoreImage requirements. None of the iBooks do. Again, the RAM has nothing to do with it, as the technology incorporated into the video cards themselves are the same, only the amount of RAM is different. But if you get an iBook now, you can get another iBook in 2 years or so. I don't really believe CoreImage will be THAT important immediately after Tiger is released. It'll take time before you'll really want it, and by then, the iBooks will support it.

    And yes, I believe it's true that 1.33GHz and 1.5GHz will feel the same to you, and to almost everyone. Even go look up XBench scores on the 2 systems, and you'll see that the difference isn't much. So while it's natural to worry about what you'll be able to do in the future, the 0.167 GHz isn't going to make the difference.

    Spring for the 128 vRAM if you want, but you really don't need to pay extra for the minor speed bump.

    1.33GHz G4; extra 1GB of RAM from OWC, ramseeker, or newegg or something; 5400 rpm HD; and even a Superdrive if you want to make the resale value higher later on.

    If you can, wait until after MWSF in January, or in February. You may as well if you've waited this long already.
  6. JasonL macrumors regular

    Feb 13, 2004
    Ware, MA
    If this computer is going to be your last one for ~5 yrs I would wait until next month and see what happens with the PB, which is due for an update. Then I'd get the best one you can afford. When I bought my PB early this year my plan was for it to serve as my only computer for nearly 3 yrs. I plan on buying a PowerMac with my edu discount right before I graduate.

    I can't imagine that people think a PB G4 1.33 is going to do it for you for 5 years. It is very true that it will be able to do the same stuff then as it does now, but I find that there is always new stuff coming out that I'd like to use...the requirements of which are always going up it seems. This problem does appear to be less severe with macs though.

    Good luck, and enjoy whichever PB you decide upon.
  7. budaapple macrumors regular

    Jun 15, 2004
    14" Ibook it is

    Get the 14" Ibook with superdrive and be more than happy for the next 4-5 years. Why pay for a pro line when you will not use it to it's fullest capabilities. Besides the gap in hardware is so narrow right now between the two that it just does not make sense to spend the extra. Use the money saved to buy an Ipod.
    Cheers! :)

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