The 12" PB: A Story of Negligence?

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by Demon Hunter, Feb 9, 2005.

  1. Demon Hunter macrumors 68020

    Mar 30, 2004
    This was written with a splash of humor and a pinch of sarcasm. But I am indeed, quite perplexed. Enjoy!

    The 12" Powerbook. The proud baby-brother of Apple's professional line of laptop computers. Used by mobile writers, students, and designers all around the world, the owners of this fine machine's "D" revision now have even more reason to smile. Its 1.5 GHz speed rating is faster than ever. Hurray!

    But... what's this? A gimped, wooden leg; a weak, flighty heartbeat; the nVidia 5200 FX Go.

    Apple shamelessly advertises its power, as if this processing relic was given its Power just because it says Apple, and has the approval of Mr. Jobs. "Now with... 64 MB NVIDIA GeForce FX Go5200 with mini dvi. Now starting at $1499."

    It is all too evident to those who monitor the GPU industry how sinister and twisted a company must be to incorporate this technology in its latest and greatest machines.

    Originally intended to be an entry-level chipset in March 2003, it has had a long life because of its early-adopter DX9 compatibility and use of pixel shaders.

    Why, then, would Apple be using this now? Surely it must be size or weight; afterall, this is Apple's professional line. But alas, even Sony offers a laptop which weighs less, and incorporates the mighty Radeon 9700 for a similar pricepoint, albeit its 13.3" screen size.

    Perhaps Apple was concerned about price. But, then, isn't that what the iBook is for? More likely, Apple has been unable to fit ATI's new chipsets in the current design, and defaulting to the Mobility 9700, kept the Go5200 in use as a cruel reminder of little brother's place in the family. Another possibility is that Apple is saving this extra power for the next planned update.

    We may also find insight in the fact that Apple still includes the 5200 chipset in the flagship PowerMac G5. A marketing conspiracy? Nothing more than stupidity, and even haughtiness for offering this to pro customers? The world may never know.

    Now, I don't pretend to know everything. There may be a detail I am missing here. But why not the 9600? Or ATI's newest PCI Express line for notebooks? Are Freescale's newest dual-core chips not PCI Express compatible?

    I know the 12" PB was never intended for high-end graphics purposes; but this is simply ridiculous. I can't wait to see how Tiger runs on this gimped excuse for a GPU. :D

    And what about a backlit keyboard for the 12", Apple? Where's the love?
  2. liketom macrumors 601


    Apr 8, 2004
    i'm with you on this one , i would have had a 12" powerbook over a iBook but price just was not right for me .

    but i think the 12" is one of the better sellers when they first luanched and hence apple wanted people to buy either the 15/17" models as they make more money on these models .

    what if apple upped the graphics to 128mb and backlight keys for same price? i would doubt if they sell many 17" at all and the 15 would be hit as well ?

    but what do i know :confused:
  3. Electric Monk macrumors member

    Jan 9, 2005
    Yes the 12" PB GPU is not the best by a long shot. However it is very small, does not use that much power, and gives off relatively little heat.

    The 12" PB uses more of a modified iBook motherboard. The 5200 is similar to the Radeon 9200. Therefore a different card would probably require a motherboard redesign (and they've already done that with the A revision to the B revision) and costs would rise.

    Motherboard revisions to support PCI Express is even more unlikely as Power Macs do have that feature.

    I don't know if it was ever produced but I believe the 5200 FX Go does support 128 MB of memory.

    There is no room for the backlighting feature as it bulky in some aspects. Light sensors, and the backlighting stuff itself take up some room.

    Freescale's e600 chips (the ones with PCI express, and other nice features) will not be in production until early 2006.

    G5 chips, well approaching possibility in the 15" and 17" models remain incredibly unlikely in the 12" format.

    The 13.3" widescreen display does offer somewhat more room in the case for cooling.

    Apple knows all this.

    The next case revision of the 12" PB will probably transition to a 13.3" widescreen and achieve feature parity with at least the low end 15".

    However this will probably not occur until either a G5 or e600 chip is put in a Powerbook.
  4. Demon Hunter thread starter macrumors 68020

    Mar 30, 2004
    Hmm, interesting. I hope so, a 13.3" laptop would be my godsend. =) Do you think dual-core is realistic in that kind of design?
  5. brap macrumors 68000

    May 10, 2004
    Well, returning to the title, I think you might mean "neglect" - but I agree with that wholeheartedly.

    The 12" Has been neglected as the baby of the line, the cheapest base price - therefore it is assumed I am obviously not a "Power" user when I decide I need portability.

    Don't come on with the "But it's too small, Bill, it won't fit". How much bigger are Gigabit Ethernet controllers, and Firewire 800 bridges than their previous generation counterparts? Why must I have a worthless analogue MODEM socket when I could have another Firewire, or an S-VHS out, or an optical/coaxial audio out?

    The video card is really not the bigest of the issues here. Really.

    With regard to the next generation, I can't see Apple staying with 12" (much as it pains me, this form factor is perfect). 13.3" displays are newer, they are brighter and they are higher resolution. Apple need an ultraportable to replace the 12", and dual-core 75xx is a much better option for this than 970FX with the thermal challenges they speak of.
  6. JRM macrumors member

    Aug 13, 2004
    Melbourne, Australia
    The FX5200 may not be the worlds greatest performer, but who uses a 12inch screen for purposes that require a ubeaut graphics chipset. That's what the 15" and 17" are for. The 12" is about portability with decent power, and indeed the current 12" fulfills this more than aptly.

    I'm going to buy one to start uni with for $AU2100edu what more can you really want - and don't compare it to others, coz it's a mac (I want a computer which works!)
  7. brap macrumors 68000

    May 10, 2004
    I never understand this argument. "It's good enough" - no, it's not. It could, and should be so much better... one requires all the GPU processing power available when driving an external monitor at 1600*1200 (as I do, most of the time).
    This argument for the iBook may be reasonable with it's analogue video out, but the Powerbook is a professional machine.

    I hope I'm interpreting "ubeaut" correctly.
  8. cluthz macrumors 68040


    Jun 15, 2004
    The FX5200Go is very hot! After a 30 min gaming WOW/UT2003 or similar it reaches 84C with fans on full!! The FX5200 is the hottest part of the PB 12.

    The 5200 was ok in the Rev B 12-incher, but thats two years ago!
    Why apple keep putting in lowest-end cards in rather expensive machines (read: 20 iMac, 12-inch Powerbook and PowerMac G5s) is stupidity.

    Ibooks are aimed at persons tha acutally only uses the internal screen.
    The advantage with the PB12 over the ibook is runing external screens. The smallest screen apple sell is a 1680x1050 screen and the natural screen to buy with a PB12 (if you buy from apple). The external 20-incher transforms the sinlent relative cool PB to a loud and hot mosnter.. why.. the GPU!!!

    My PB12 runs an external 17 incher (1280x1024) ok, but i had to get a stand, to reduce the heat and noise.

    Don't get me wrong, I love the 12 inch PB, its the best machine apple sells (IMHO), but with a better GPU it would be perfect...
  9. Zaty macrumors 65816

    Mar 14, 2004
    I couldn't agree more, the GPU really should have been updated long time ago. I mean it's great that my Rev. B still has the same GPU as the current Rev. D. However, I imagine that the higher amount of VRAM (64 MB vs. 32 MB in Rev. Bs) should improve performance when driving an external monitor with a resolution above 1024x768. I can't watch DVDs on my 17" LCD (res. 1280x1024) without losing some frames. If I change its resolution to 1024x768, I lose much less frames, but it it isn't as smooth as on the laptops' LCD. I'm sure the next big revision will get a better GPU. What about the 6600 Go? I read somewhere that chip was supposed to be six times faster than the 5200 Go.
  10. wizz0bang macrumors member

    Feb 2, 2005
    Apple should have gone to the ATI X700 mobility line for all of it's powerbooks at the last revision. The 9700 is good, but not earth shattering; the Go5200 is just a joke in todays world.

    I agree... a 13" widescreen PB would be heaven. They could incoporate the backlit keyboard and upgrade the video. Having a 13" - 15" - 17" lineup would be ideal, all with the same graphics chip - or perhaps upgrade the 17" model to an X800 mobility... but the heat and space might not be possible.

    For me, 12" is the sweet spot. The features that make it sweet are size and the ability to attach an external display. By continuing with the Go5200, Apple seriously limited the latter at no real benefit to the former. With a small notebook, computing on the go is a joy... but when you get to your desk, it's nice to plug it into a 20" widescreen and still be able to use it without dramatically heating up the GPU and spinning up the fans. Of course going to clamshell mode probably makes it harder to dissapate some of the heat that would normally go out the keyboard side when the screen is in the open position.

    We can only dream...
  11. JamesSykes macrumors newbie

    Jan 28, 2005
    It is totally gimped, if you output to a second monitor you really notice it when using expose etc..
  12. Koodauw macrumors 68040


    Nov 17, 2003
    This is good to know. Thank You.

    While I dont really have a use for a better video card, I would really like to see features such as FW 800 and a backlight keyboard make its way into the 12'' PB. I have a Rev. A, and would love to upgrade, but there is just not enough reason for me to do so at this point and time. I guess ill keep holding my breath for some PB with a G5 or Dual-Core G4.
  13. Electric Monk macrumors member

    Jan 9, 2005
    I said relatively little heat. In say comparison to a Radeon 9700 squeezed in the same case.

    As for more advanced chips (especially PCI express ones) they would require motherboard redesigns and at least in the 12" case a case redesign to 13.3" just for the extra room and the newer better LCDs. Like Sony's xbrite..

    I think Apple is waiting for a new chip (G5 or e600) before they do that.
  14. panphage macrumors 6502

    Jul 1, 2003
    Ain't no dual-core 75xx. There's gonna be a dual-core 8461d (e600 core) with dual on-die memory controllers, GigE, and PCI-Express late this year or early next "supposubly". The dual-core chip will require a completely new architecture.
  15. Mechcozmo macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    EDIT: The "?" is really a degree symbol... meh.... they didn't make the jump to cyberspace too well....
    Right now according to Temperature Monitor:
    Hard Disk Drive Bottomside is 39.8?C
    Processor Topside is 40.2?C
    Graphics Processor Die is 49.2?C
    Battery and SMART disk sensors both read 29?C

    The GPU is nearly 9?C higher than EVERYTHING ELSE! That's rather toasty. And it has spiked into the 60?C range during heavy usage.

    I love the 12" screen... its great for everything. While I could see a 13.3" screen, the 12" screen is just SO NICE. I mean, just by using it and having it so small, so crisp and clear...:) Its very nice. 13.3" would just kinda ruin it. 12" is just dead perfect.

    I agree here... But there are quite a number of people with v.92 modems, or only have dial up, so its a good thing that its still around. But FW800 is needed, GigE is needed, and it would be nice if a S-Video out cable came with the computer. Like a mini-DVI->S-Video would be fine by me. I like the mini-DVI because the adaptors aren't really that big of a deal-- pretty small and durable, and they make the computer smaller.
  16. wizz0bang macrumors member

    Feb 2, 2005

    We are talking 13.3" WIDESCREEN vs 12" normal (1.3:1 vs 1.6:1 aspect ratio). I think the 13.3" will "feel" a bit smaller than a 12" standard, definitely in horizontal height, and will fit more nicely to the keyboard, possibly even allow a little more space in the same volume? But even a 12" widescreen would be nice (then the machine would be smaller in volume overall).

    I agree... the Sony screens are hard to beat... Apple should stick those in the next PB.
  17. Demon Hunter thread starter macrumors 68020

    Mar 30, 2004
    the pack is no longer gaining on us, gentlemen, they are a few miles ahead

    These recent press releases taken from suggest one of these two things in my mind:

    • Apple is really, really behind. I mean, this is beyond embarrassing now.
    • A significant redesign of the PowerBook graphics architecture is underway as we speak...

    Meanwhile, the latest excitement on the Macintosh/ATI front is the Radeon 9200 in the Mac Mini and the release of the X800 XT. Also of interest, these new PC laptops are using DDR2-400. Ouch, Apple.

    Yay.(my joy knows no bounds)

  18. ddtlm macrumors 65816

    Aug 20, 2001
    I have never been able to understand the amount of bitching and moaning about the FX-5200, designated whipping-boy, bearer of all blame. Probably the same phenomenon that has a lot of Mac users claiming their G4's are kicking P-M butt: seeing what you expect to see. Who here can actually claim that a 5200 performs worse at desktopping than some other chip with 64M? I know the R-8500 with 64M that I had was terrible when it drove two 20" LCD's.

    Additionally, I think people who want a R-9700 in a 12"-sceened laptop are off their rockers. The FX-5200 is possibly already the fastest video card installed in any laptop this size, anywhere. Premium small laptops from Dell/IBM make do with far inferior cards, often chipset-integrated cards. I'd be delighted if someone could find me a small PC laptop with even 64M video RAM.

    Seriously, people need perspective here. If your 12" PB with a FX-5200 is lacking, the finger should not be pointed at the FX-5200. Instead blame the video RAM paired with it, or the weak FSB, or the drivers, or OSX.
  19. varmit macrumors 68000


    Aug 5, 2003
    I don't know why you people are getting on Apples case about the low end of the line of PB having a not so great of a graphics card, and no back lighting. Its also small, ment to be traveled with and basically used for writting. Not gaming, otherwise you would want a bigger screen, thus the 15 or 17 inch is for you. Plus, its a 12" screen, it doesn't need a mobile X600 or X700 to power it. That would just be over kill and pointless because other parts of the computer are where preformance takes a hit the most. It just needs a low end graphics card, and that is what it has with Nvidia's card.
  20. Demon Hunter thread starter macrumors 68020

    Mar 30, 2004
    The fact remains that this was low-end 2 years ago. If you are comfortable buying that kind of technology, that's your business.

    Isn't Apple supposed to be ahead innovating? Even if that's true, other laptops continue to burn the Powerbook on almost all fronts. Style continues to be the premium here.
  21. ddtlm macrumors 65816

    Aug 20, 2001

    The FX-5200 is arguably still the best option for Apple, because larger/hotter video chips run counter to the idea of a small laptop, and because AFAIK the next generation of smaller/cooler video chips hasn't yet made it to laptops.

    Besides, faster video chips are nothing more than a "feel good" when they are paired with a processor and system architecture that haven't changed much since a Radeon was a BTO upgrade for the PM, back in Jan 2001.
  22. brap macrumors 68000

    May 10, 2004

    The Powerbook marque should imply a reasonable set of standards across the line. The 'low end' 'used for writting(sic)' is the 12" iBook.

    I need portability and power, together. It's already thicker than the 15 and 17, and the points I've raised earlier about GigE and 1394b are completely valid. Tell me, how difficult would it be to put in a 100GB hard disc,, hm? It's no bigger, and it should be a BTO option. The FX5200 is bloody hot, and really shouldn't still be here either, but it's the lack of other standard power-user features which gets to me.

    edit: Boing! Not in quite such a bad mood today, normal service has been resumed ;)
  23. StarbucksSam macrumors 65816


    Nov 21, 2004
    Washington, D.C.
    I think this debate is heating up more than the 970. Let's play nice.

    I would like to see SOME KIND of update on the PB's before this summer as I'm buying one by August.

    Will the 13.3" ruin the whole "The 12 is so compact and easy" thing?
  24. Mechcozmo macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    Fine. Up the VRAM to 128 standard, leave the chipset alone.

    And we are talking about Apple. Yknow, company that was bleeding edge into graphics cards a few years back? It is a PowerBook. I don't want a hacked iBook comparing to my Powerbook. I want to shove that iBook into the dust! :)
  25. ddtlm macrumors 65816

    Aug 20, 2001

    You bet, 128M should at the very least be available as an option on anything capable of driving two displays. I also think 64M should be available for anything that can drive a 20" or larger screen. I bet the inferior video cards shipped on "average consumer" PCs are going to bite MS in the butt when its their turn to get all fancy with desktop graphics.

    I always thought it was an act put on for PR. :) They had announcements, but I'm not sure that they actually shipped any card before the PC world did. In any case, Apple is a company very willing to change strategy to fit the market.

Share This Page