12″ iBook G3 (Early 2003)

Apple once again improved the popular iBook by boosting CPU speeds 100 MHz. The entry-level model still has a CD-ROM drive, but it now has the same 32 MB of VRAM as the faster model. Hard drives are also larger: 30 GB for the 700 MHz iBook, 40 GB for the 800.

12" Dual USB iBook G3The Early 2003 iBooks are the first with the opaque white color scheme across  the board, replacing the earlier translucent white.

MacInTouch has called the dual USB G3 iBooks Apple’s most unreliable notebooks ever. According to their survey of iBook and PowerBook Reliability:

…by affected percentage of models, the G3 iBooks were the worst by far, with more than half requiring logic board replacements. Apple created a warranty extension program for some versions, but not all. (MacInTouch readers are still reporting newly failed iBook G3s, and the warranty extension program has ended.)

The white 12″ iBook G3 series became much less reliable through its first five revisions, reaching a 73% failure percentage! The last revision dropped to a 49% failure percentage – much improved over the previous model, but still unconscionably high. The problems appear to have been solved, for the most part, in the newer iBook G4 series.

Keep in mind that Apple had an extended replacement program on many iceBook models, so most problematic motherboards have already been replaced.

It can boot Mac OS 9.


  • Nickname: iceBook
  • introduced 2003.04.22 at $999 (800 MHz) and $1,299 (900 MHz); replaced by 12″ G4 iBook 2003.10.22
  • Requires Mac OS 9.2.1 or later, Mac OS X 10.1 through 10.4 Tiger
  • CPU: 800/900 MHz G3 (PowerPC 750fx?)
  • Bus: 100 MHz
  • CPU performance: unknown
  • FPU performance: unknown
  • ROM: 4 MB, NewWorld ROM in RAM architecture
  • RAM: 128 MB of SDRAM soldered in place, expandable to 640 MB using one 1.25″ 3.3V PC100 compliant SO-DIMM
  • Level 2 cache: 512 KB on-chip cache
  • Video: ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 2x AGP
  • VRAM: 32 MB
  • display: 12.1″ 24-bit 1024 x 768 106 ppi color active matrix, resolution scaling for 640 x 480 and 800 x 600 modes
  • Video out: VGA and composite video
  • Hard drive: 30/40 GB UltraATA-66
  • media drive: 16x8x8x24x Combo (CD-RW/DVD), 24x CD-ROM on 800 MHz model
  • floppy drive: external USB only
  • expansions bays: none
  • USB: 2 USB 1.1 ports
  • FireWire: 1 FW400 port
  • Ethernet: 10/100Base-T
  • Modem: v.92 56k
  • WiFi: 802.11b AirPort optional
  • Modem: 56k
  • Microphone: built in
  • PC Card slots: none
  • Battery: rated at 5 hours
  • size: 11.2 x 9.1 x 1.35″ (28.5 x 23.0 x 3.4 cm)
  • Weight: 4.9 pounds (2.2 kg) with battery

CPU Upgrades

  • Dual-layer SuperDrive upgrade, MCE Technologies, $99. 6x4x8x DVD, 24x24x24x CD. 2 MB buffer. Must be installed by MCE or MCE authorized upgrade center.

Online Resources


  • There is an incompatibility between the Kensington Startup ADB extension (part of Kensington MouseWorks) and the Trackpad control with Mac OS 9.0.4. The trackpad will respond during boot, but not after the extension loads. The solution is to disable the extension. This may apply to other versions of Mac OS 9 on ‘Books with USB ports.
  • Portable Computers: Models Which Do Not Have a Backup Battery notes the iBook has no backup battery to retain time and other settings when the main battery is removed. A small capacitor holds enough energy to maintain PRAM contents for 20 seconds, so switch batteries quickly.

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