17″ PowerBook G4 (Early 2003)

Just two months after Apple boosted the 15″ Titanium PowerBook to 1 GHz, they surprised a lot of people by rolling out both the largest and the smallest PowerBooks ever, including this 17-incher.

17" PowerBook G4The 17″ PowerBook G4 is Apple’s first portable with a 17″ display. It’s also the first PowerBook with a backlit keyboard and two FireWire ports, including one FireWire 800 port.

New features include built-in Bluetooth and support for “five times faster” 802.11g AirPort Extreme. Along with the 12″ PowerBook G4, it is the first Apple portable to ship with Nvidia GeForce 4 440 Go graphics. The newest PowerBooks also use aluminum cases, rather than titanium, which will help with AirPort range.

Battery life is rated at 4.5 hours, down from 5 hours on the 15″ TiBook. Not a bad compromise for a huge display.

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.


  • Nickname: Big AlBook
  • introduced 2003.01.07 at US$3,299; replaced by 1.33 GHz model 2003.09.16
  • Requires Mac OS X 10.2.4 through 10.5 Leopard, not bootable in OS 9.2.2
  • CPU: 1 GHz G4 (7455)
  • Bus: 133 MHz
  • Performance:
    • Geekbench 2 (Tiger): 572
  • ROM: 4 MB, NewWorld ROM in RAM architecture
  • RAM: 512 MB, expandable to 2 GB using PC2700 DDR SDRAM memory
  • Level 2 cache: 256 KB at CPU speed
  • Level 3 cache: 1 MB
  • Video: Nvidia GeForce 4 440 Go
  • VRAM: 64 MB
  • Video out: S-video and DVI (VGA with included Apple VGA Display Adapter)
  • display: 17″ 24-bit 1440 x 900 100 ppi color active matrix. Supports 1152 x 720, 1024 x 640, and 800 x 500 at 16:10 aspect ratio; 1024 x 768, 800 x 600, and 640 x 480 at 4:3 aspect ratio. Supports up to 2048 x 1536 on external display. Allows mirroring to external display or extended desktop mode
  • Hard drive: 60 GB 4200 RPM Ultra ATA/100
  • Optical drive: 1x SuperDrive
  • floppy drive: external USB only
  • expansions bays: none
  • USB: 2 USB 1.1 ports
  • FireWire: 1 FW 400 port, 1 FW 800 port
  • IR port: none
  • Ethernet: 10/100/gigabit
  • Modem: v.92 56k
  • WiFi: 802.11g AirPort Extreme standard
  • Bluetooth: built in
  • PC Cards: 1 slot, supports Type II cards only
  • size: 10.2″ x 15.4″ x 1.0″ (259 x 392 x 26 mm)
  • Weight: 6.8 pounds (3.1 kg)

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