A little bit bigger and heavier than its Titanium predecessor, the Late 2003 15″ PowerBook G4 is clad in aluminum, runs faster (at 1.0 and 1.25 GHz), gains USB 2.0 and FireWire 800 support, and includes the same 1280 x 854 15.2″ display as earlier models. The hinge design now matches that of the 12″ and 17″ PowerBooks, and ports are now on the side instead of in the back.
Bluetooth support is built into the Aluminum PowerBooks, and both models support 802.11g AirPort Extreme, which offers 5x the wireless bandwidth of the earlier AirPort protocol. The 1.25 GHz model includes AirPort Extreme as a standard feature and has the same illuminated keyboard first seen on the 17″ PowerBook G4. The SuperDrive on the faster PowerBook officially supports 2x DVD burning, twice as fast as on the Titanium PowerBook.
Graphics performance is improved with the Mobility Radeon 9600 graphics processor and 64 MB of video memory. Memory is PC2700, and Apple officially supports configurations to 2 GB. Battery life is rated at 4.5 hours.
Closed Lid Mode: G4 PowerBooks support “lid closed” (or clamshell) mode, which leaves the built-in display off and dedicates all video RAM to an external display. To used closed lid mode, your ‘Book must be plugged into the AC adapter and connected to an external display and a USB or Bluetooth mouse and keyboard (you might also want to consider external speakers). Power up your ‘Book until the desktop appears on the external display and then close the lid. Your ‘Book will go to sleep, but you can wake it by moving the mouse or using the keyboard. The built-in display will remain off, and the external monitor will become your only display. Since all video RAM is now dedicated to the external monitor, you may have more colors available at higher resolutions. The TiBook is designed to run safely in closed lid mode, but if yours runs hot (perhaps due to overclocking or high ambient temperatures), you may want to open the lid when in closed lid mode: The screen will remain off and the computer will more readily vent heat from the CPU.
To resume use of the internal display, you need to disconnect the external display, put the computer to sleep, and then open the lid. This will wake up your ‘Book and restore use of the built-in display.
- Got a G4 PowerBook or iBook? Join our G4 ‘Books Group or PowerBooks and iBooks Forum.
- Got a PowerBook G4? Join the Titanium G4 email list.
- Our Mac OS 9 Group is for those using Mac OS 9, either natively or in Classic Mode.
- Our Jaguar Group is for those using Mac OS X 10.2.
- Our Panther Group is for those using Mac OS X 10.3.
- Our Tiger Group is for those using Mac OS X 10.4.
- Our Leopard Group is for those using Mac OS X 10.5 and 10.6.
- Nicknames: AlBook, FW800
- introduced 2003.09.16 at US$1,999 (1 GHz/Combo) and US$2,599 (1.25 GHz/SuperDrive); replaced by 1.33 and 1.5 GHz models 2004.04.19
- model numbers: M8980, M8981
- Requires Mac OS X 10.2.7 through 10.5 Leopard
- CPU: 1.0/1.25 GHz G4 (7457)
- Bus: 167 MHz
- Geekbench 2 (Tiger): 556 (1.0 GHz), 688 (1.25 GHz)
- ROM: 4 MB, NewWorld ROM in RAM architecture
- RAM: 256/512 MB, expandable to 2 GB using two PC2700 DDR SDRAM modules
- Level 2 cache: 512 KB at CPU speed
- Level 3 cache: none
- Video: ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 AGP4x
- VRAM: 64 MB
- Video out: S-video and DVI connectors (VGA supported with adapter)
- display: 15.2″ (38 cm) 24-bit 1280 x 854 101 ppi color active matrix
supports 1152 x 768, 896×600, and 720×480 pixels at 3:2 aspect ratio; 1024 x 768, 800 x 600, and 640 x 480 pixels at 4:3 aspect ratio
allows mirroring to external display or extended desktop mode
- Hard drive: 60/80 GB 4200 RPM Ultra ATA/100
- Optical drive: 8x24x24x CD-RW/DVD-ROM Combo drive or 2x8x16x4x24x SuperDrive
- floppy drive: external USB only
- expansions bays: none
- USB: 2 USB 2.0 ports
- FireWire: 1 FW400 port, 1 FW800 port
- IR port: none
- Ethernet: 10/100/gigabit
- Modem: v.92 56k
- AirPort Extreme: included on 1.25 GHz model, optional on 1 GHz
- Bluetooth: Built in
- PC Card slots: 1
- size: 9.5 x 13.7 x 1.1″ (241 x 348 x 28 mm)
- Weight: 5.6 pounds (2.5 kg)
- Low End Mac’s Compleat Guide to the 15″ PowerBook, Charles W Moore, ‘Book Value, 2008.06.10. The 15″ PowerBook G4 gained speed, better graphics, faster WiFi, and much more with the transition to aluminum.
- Upgrade options for 15″ and 17″ aluminum PowerBooks, Charles W Moore, ‘Book Value, 2008.09.02. Memory, hard drive, optical drive, and flash card readers for 15-inch and 17-inch aluminum G4 PowerBooks.
- Best 15″ PowerBook G4 deals.
- Best Classic Mac OS Deals. Best online prices for System 6, 7.1, 7.5.x, Mac OS 7.6, 8.0, 8.1, 8.5, 9.0, 9.2.2, and other versions.
- Best Mac OS X 10.0-10.3 Deals. Best online prices for Mac OS X 10.0, 10.1, 10.2, and 10.3.
- Best Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger Deals. Best online prices for Mac OS X 10.4.
- Best Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Deals. Best online prices for Mac OS X 10.5.
- WiFi cards for PowerBooks with PC Card slots, Simon Royal, Tech Spectrum, 2008.08.12. PC Card and CardBus 802.11b and 802.11g cards known to be compatible with Apple’s PowerBooks.
- What’s the best Mac OS for your iBook, PowerBook, or MacBook?, Charles W Moore, ‘Book Value, 2008.08.19. Tips on choosing the best OS for your PowerBook 500 Series or newer Mac notebook.
- WiFi CardBus adapters compatible with PowerBooks, MetaPhyzx, Mac Daniel, 2009.03.11. CardBus hardware and drivers compatible with PowerBooks running Mac OS X.
- WiFi PC Cards compatible with PowerBooks running OS X, MetaPhyzx, Mac Daniel, 2009.03.11. PCMCIA/PC Card hardware and drivers compatible with PowerBooks running Mac OS X.
- What’s the Best Version of OS X for My Mac?, Ian R Campbell, The Sensible Mac, 2008.02.28. Which version of Mac OS X is best for your hardware depends on several factors.
- The Future of Up-to-Date Browsers for PowerPC Macs, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2009.08.31. With Intel-only “Snow Leopard” shipping, software support for PPC Macs will continue its decline. Also, a look at SeaMonkey 2 and Camino 1.6.9.
- Optimized Software Builds Bring Out the Best in Your Mac, Dan Knight, Low End Mac’s Online Tech Journal, 2009.06.30. Applications compiled for your Mac’s CPU can load more quickly and run faster than ones compiled for universal use.
- Low End Mac’s Safe Sleep FAQ, Dan Knight, Online Tech Journal, 2009.06.15. What is Safe Sleep mode? Which Macs support it? How can you enable or disable it? And more.
- The Safe Sleep Mailbag, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2009.06.15. Safe Sleep mode is enabled by default on modern MacBooks. How it works, and how to change how it works.
- Tips for Installing or Reinstalling Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, Adam Rosen, Adam’s Apple, 2009.06.10. Mac OS X 10.4 uses less memory than Leopard, supports Classic Mode on PowerPC Macs, and, unlike Leopard, is supported on G3 Macs.
- MacBook White updated, DIY Mac tablet, danger of ‘Safe Sleep’, $350 80 GB SSD kit, and more, The ‘Book Review, 2009.05.29. Also Apple tablet ‘confirmed’, 3G and lower cost MacBook Air models rumored, 500 GB bus powered hard drive, Mini DisplayPort adapters, bargain ‘Books from $179 to $2,299, and more.
- Mac ‘Book Power Management Adventures, Charles W Moore, ‘Book Value, 2009.05.19. If your ‘Book won’t power up, shuts down while your working, or has other power issues, resetting its internal power manager may clear things up.
- Does Using Matched RAM Make Your Classic Mac OS Machine Faster or More Stable?, Simon Royal, Tech Spectrum, 2009.04.28. Most Macs don’t need matched memory modules and seem to run just fine with mismatched brands and capacities, but matching modules may be a bit faster.
- Is Leopard Slower than Tiger on G4 Macs?, Simon Royal, Tech Spectrum, 2009.04.17. Truth be told, when you have 1 GB of RAM, Leopard benchmarks an insigificant 4% slower than Tiger.
- Is It Worth Maxing the RAM in Old G3 and G4 Macs?, Simon Royal, Tech Spectrum, 2009.04.15. Increasing memory can make your old Mac faster and make you more productive, but it probably won’t improve resale value by the amount you spend.
- Making the switch from a G4 PowerBook to a Unibody MacBook, Charles W Moore, ‘Book Value, 2009.03.17. The transition to an Intel-based Mac hasn’t been without its problems – slow dialup performance, incompatibility with Eudora, and no real gain in speed with standby apps.
- Do G4 Macs Have What It Takes to Remain Useful in a Multicore World?, Simon Royal, Tech Spectrum, 2009.01.15. With dual-core Intel CPUs running beyond 2 GHz, is any G4 Mac a practical choice?
- 2 compact portable USB 2.0 hubs, Charles W Moore, ‘Book Value, 2009.01.12. Compact hubs from Targus and Proporta make a great complement to your notebook computer. Each accepts a third-party AC adapter to provide bus power.
- Heat management for ‘Books and the last Mac to run OS 9.1, Phil Herlihy, The Usefulness Equation, 2009.01.08. Tips on keeping a first-gen MacBook Air from throttling back with CoolBook, using G4FanControl with a G4 PowerBook, and the fastest Mac that can boot Mac OS 9.1.
- Notebooks and blackouts, Charles W Moore, ‘Book Value, 2008.12.23. When the power goes out, a notebook computer with long-lasting batteries lets you keep working for hours and hours.
- The ‘Better Safe Than Sorry’ Guide to Installing Mac OS X Updates, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.12.16. Most users encounter no problems using Software Update, but some preflight work and using the Combo updater means far less chance of trouble.
- Why You Should Partition Your Mac’s Hard Drive, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2008.12.11. “At the very least, it makes sense to have a second partition with a bootable version of the Mac OS, so if you have problems with your work partition, you can boot from the ’emergency’ partition to run Disk Utility and other diagnostics.”
- Leopard runs very nicely on PowerPC Macs, Simon Royal, Tech Spectrum, 2008.11.19. Some claim that Mac OS X 10.5 is so optimized for Intel Macs that it runs poorly on PowerPC hardware. That’s simply not the case.
- The future of PowerPC Macs and software as ‘Snow Leopard’ approaches, Simon Royal, Tech Spectrum, 2008.11.13. Apple phased out Classic Mode and G3 support with ‘Leopard’ last year, and next year’s OS X 10.6 won’t support any PowerPC Macs. Will other developers abandon PowerPC as well?
- 9 browsers for G3 and older G4 Macs compared, Simon Royal, Tech Spectrum, 2008.09.26. The latest versions of Opera, Safari, Shiira, iCab, Radon, Firefox, Demeter, Sunrise, and Camino that run on Mac OS X 10.4 “Tiger”.
- Does running OS X system maintenance routines really do any good?, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.08.26. Mac OS X is designed to run certain maintenance routines daily, weekly, and monthly – but can’t if your Mac is off or asleep.
- TruePower AC adapter for iBooks and PowerBooks is rugged, reliable, and affordable, Charles W Moore, ‘Book Value, 2008.08.14. Apple’s track record with AC adapters is spotty, but the TruePower adapter is tough enough to survive being run over by a truck.
- Tricking out your notebook for superior desktop duty, Charles W Moore, ‘Book Value, 2008.07.29. For desktop use, you don’t need to be limited by the built-in trackpad, keyboard, and display or a notebook’s compromised ergonomics.
- The Compressed Air Keyboard Repair, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.07.24. If your keyboard isn’t working as well as it once did, blasting under the keys with compressed air may be the cure.
- Leopard best OS for G4 PowerBooks, support expectations from Apple, back to Opera, and more, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.07.09. Leopard features worth a little performance compromise, depreciation and the best value Macs, voice dication software for PowerPC Macs, and more.
- Can Linux replace OS X on older Macs?, Carl Nygren, Classic Macs in the Intel Age, 2008.06.30. Looking at Ubuntu 8.04 on a 1 GHz PowerBook and Kubuntu 5.04 on a clamshell iBook.
- Snow Leopard and the Death of PowerPC Support, Carl Nygren, Classic Macs in the Intel Age, 2008.06.23. It looks like Mac OS X 10.6 will only support Intel Macs – and possibly only 64-bit ones at that. Should G4 and G5 owners start looking at Linux?
- WiMax likely, Apple not green enough, next MacBook in Q3, Cool Feet for notebooks, and more, The ‘Book Review, 2008.05.23. Also LED backlighting in all MacBooks in 2009, cooling down hot laptops, OLPC plans second generation laptop, universal Apple notebook battery charger, slim external third-party SuperDrive, bargain ‘Books from $150 to $2,699, and more.
- SheepShaver brings Classic Mac OS to Intel Macs and Leopard, Alan Zisman, Mac2Windows, 2008.05.20. Mac OS X 10.5 doesn’t support Classic Mode. Neither does Leopard. But SheepShaver lets you emulate a PowerPC Mac and run the Classic Mac OS.
- Rise of the Microsoft monopoly, shafted by Gizmos2go, the end of PowerPC software, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2008.03.25. Also comparing a 2003 PowerBook with a 2005 iBook, Mac ethernet problems, ownership of WordPerfect, and the power of ClarisWorks.
- Apple outsells Dell in education, 2008 MacBooks reviewed and benchmarked, migration tips, and more, The ‘Book Review, 2008.03.07. Also an open firmware fix for PowerBook RAM slot issues, wireless FAQ for PowerBooks, 256 GB MacBook Air possible for 2009, new Samsung and Travelstar drives, bargain ‘Books from $229 to $2,699, and more.
- The Complete and Utter Guide to PC Cards and Expansion Bays on the PowerBook, Insanely Great. All about the PCMCIA, PC Card, or CardBus slots used in various PowerBooks.
- $18 USB WiFi adapter, AirPort flaw in last gen iBook, SuperDrive failure in MacBook, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2008.02.26. Also DVD-RAM for MacBooks, the quietest MacBook, aluminum PowerBooks and Mac OS 9, and expansion slots in affordable Macs.
- Power your recycled laptop with a rebuilt battery, John Hatchett, Recycled Computing, 2008.02.20. Old notebook computers usually mean old batteries that may be dead or on their last legs. You can buy a replacement battery, or you can have your old battery rebuilt.
- Restore stability to a troubled Mac with a clean system install, Keith Winston, Linux to Mac, 2008.01.15. If your Mac is misbehaving, the best fix just might be a fresh reinstallation of Mac OS X – don’t forget to backup first.
- Weak AirPort Extreme, Open Firmware hack, deleting old Systems, and spacing problems in Pages, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2007.12.07. Fixing a weak signal in AirPort Extreme, thoughts on the Open Firmware Leopard install hack, when it’s safe to delete an old System, and line spacing issues in Pages.
- iPods, notebooks, and other modern electronics more readily replaced than repaired, Adam Robert Guha, Apple Archive, 2007.12.07. Whether it’s an intermittent failure or a broken display cable, more often than not it’s cheaper to replace a broken electronics device than repair it.
- Leopard DVD Player requires 1.6 GHz CPU, dual processor questions, and dual boot Macs, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2007.10.24. DVD Player currently runs on any G3 that supports Tiger, but the new version needs 1.6 GHz of power and other bloat in Leopard.
- External $100 Sony DVD burner likes Macs, Brian Gray, Fruitful Editing, 2007.10.10. The box and manual say nothing about Mac compatibility, but this 18x USB 2.0 DVD burner is plug-and-play (at least with Tiger).
- FastMac 8x SuperDrive and BurnAgain DVD: Fast and easy multisession disc burning, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2007.10.08. FastMac’s 8x SuperDrive upgrade is remarkably fast compared with older PowerBook burners, and BurnAgain DVD makes it easy to append files to a previously burned CD or DVD.
- Compact Flash faster than a hard drive, CF in a clamshell iBook, eSATA for PowerBooks, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2007.06.12. Faster boot times with a flash drive, replacing the hard drive in an iBook with Compact Flash, eBay feedback tips, eSATA CardBus options for PowerBooks, and the importance of G3 support in Mac OS X 10.5.
- Operation FlashBook: Running Tiger from flash on a PowerBook G4, John Muir, Mac Daniel, 2007.05.29. With the hard drive failing and Compact Flash prices falling, it was time to consider running the PowerBook G4 from flash. Looking back at 6 months, was it worth it?
- Silence is golden: Running your existing notebook using flash memory, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Reviews, 2007.05.23. With a new adapter from Addonics, you can replace your laptop’s IDE hard drive inexpensively and boot silently from a Compact Flash card.
- OS 10.4.8 making PowerBook run cooler?, Charles W. Moore, OS X Odyssey, Applelinks, 2006.10.24. “…I haven’t restarted, and the ‘Book is still running in the high 40°s – low 50°s most of the time. The fan has only activated sporadically while doing heavy multitasking.”
- Better laptop performance: What’s the best upgrade?, Andrew J Fishkin, The Mobile Mac, 2006.10.09. Memory, CPU, bus speed, and hard drives all impact performance and battery life. Which upgrades will give you the most up time in the field?
- Region Free DVD Viewing Options for Intel and PowerPC Macs, Andrew J Fishkin, The Mobile Mac, 2006.09.12. Several hardware and software options that will let your view ‘wrong region’ DVDs on your PowerPC or Intel Mac.
- Inside your notebook’s battery: Ordinary AA Li-Ion cells, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2006.09.08. That expensive battery in your notebook computer probably holds less than $30 worth of off-the-shelf AA Li-Ion batteries.
- 7 tools for keeping your laptop (uh, notebook) cool, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2006.07.24. A quick look at the Podium CoolPad, ChillMat, ChillHubs, Laptop Desk, Xpad, iLap, and iBreeze – seven stands designed to keep you ‘Books running cooler.
- Pimping my 15″ PowerBook G4, Andrew J Fishkin, The Mobile Mac, 2006.06.19. You can add a faster CPU, but the more cost-effective upgrades are more RAM, a bigger/faster hard drive, and a better SuperDrive.
- Macs take away Microsoft pain, Macs revive James Bond, iMac king of all media, iWoofer, and more, Mac News Review, 2006.06.16. Also Windows users guide to switching to the Mac, Bluetooth firmware update for PPC Macs, universal USB 2.0 drive adapter, waterproof case for video iPod, and more.
- Drive matters, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2006.06.14. There’s more to picking the right hard drive than size, spindle speed, buffer size, and price. But how can a 5400 rpm drive ever outperform a 7200 rpm drive?
- Power strategies for using your ‘Book in the field: Batteries and AC adapters, Andrew J Fishkin, The Mobile Mac, 2006.06.05. One or two extra batteries and at least one spare AC adapter can be essential when you’re traveling and need to get hours and hours of use from your ‘Book.
- End of G4 models points to unprecedented value for used G4 Macs, Leaman Crews, Plays Well with Others, 2006.06.02. The PowerPC G4 may no longer have a place in Apple’s product line, but that’s a far cry from saying G4-based Macs are obsolete. If anything, their value is going to increase.
- Making the move from Jaguar (OS X 10.2) to Panther (10.3), Ted Hodges, Vintage Mac Living, 2006.04.11. One advantage of Apple’s “no upgrades” policy for OS X – someone can give you their old copy after upgrading without worrying about violating their license.
- 15″ PowerBook RAM Slot Failure, The ‘Book Review, 2006.01.06. Allegations that the lower RAM slot in 15″ aluminum PowerBooks fails with recent versions of OS X.
- Benchmarks: New eMac 1.25 GHz vs. iMac 1.25 GHz vs. PowerBook 1.25 GHz, Bare Feats, 2004.04.21. How does that new $799-999 eMac compare with same speed iMacs and PowerBooks? Not bad, but 3D gaming could be better.
- Benchmarks: 15″ PowerBook G4/1.25 compared to others, Bare Feats, 2003.09.17. “I know you’re curious about the performance what with faster clock speed, faster graphics chip and missing L3 cache.”
- Titanium G4 email list, The Macintosh Guy. New list for PowerBook G4 users – count me in!
- PowerBook G4 (15-inch FW800) – Technical Specifications, Apple
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