New PowerBooks underwhelm

New PowerBooks underwhelm

Summary: Only Apple could announce PowerBooks at the same clock speed, and PowerMacs and a lower clock speed and call it an upgrade.

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TOPICS: Apple
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powerbook-g4-17-oct05-200.jpgOnly Apple could announce PowerBooks at the same clock speed, and PowerMacs and a lower clock speed and call it an upgrade.

There are some really cool things about the new PowerBooks announced yesterday: larger displays, support for the 30-inch Apple Cinema display, faster DDR2 memory and the 8x double-layer SuperDrive. My issue is that the new PowerBook's clock speed is the same as it was before—1.67GHz. Sure the faster RAM and better video card, an ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 with 128MB of DDR SDRAM and dual-link DVI for those playing at home, should yield a little better performance, but a 1.67GHz processor?

The new dual-core PowerMac G5 is a stunner, however. And before you jump all over me, I know that two 2.5GHz cores are faster than a single 2.5GHz core. But whatever happened to the 3GHz PowerMacs? No matter how you slice it, the new PowerMacs are going to scream and I have to admit that these are the first PowerMacs that I have ever lusted after. I want one. Bad.

The PowerBooks, however are a yawn upgrade. Sure it would be great to have some additional screen real estate, but this is not an upgrade that I'll be buying. I think that once Apple announced that they were switching to Intel chips Freescale Semiconductor, Motorola's chip division, cut Apple off. Why would Freescale go out of their way to deliver faster chips to Apple when they know that their contract is soon coming to a screeching halt?

Topic: Apple

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14 comments
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  • I don't think you will see faster PowerBooks until...

    Apple starts using the Pentium-M's.

    There IS a reason they made this switch ya know :)
    BitTwiddler
  • You don't understand computer architecture

    RAM is one of the slowest non-mechanical aspects of computer system. As a processor needs to read and write to memory it is constantly blocked because of the need for RAM to be constantly refreshd, otherwise all those stateful 1's and 0's become a jumbled mess.

    Upgrades of this sort DO make a difference. And for the record, I don't have a Macintosh. I'm speaking purely as someone who understands what's going on under the hood.

    -M
    betelgeuse68
    • One more thing

      Also note the availability of faster hard drives (7200 RPM) instead
      of the older 5400 RPM models.
      tic swayback
  • I'm buying one

    Like you, I'm a bit underwhelmed, but unlike you I am buying a
    new PowerBook. Understand that I'm limping by on a 1st Gen
    TiBook 500 Mhz with 500 Mb of RAM, so this should be a decent
    boost for me. I can't really wait at least another year for the
    Mactels, and since all of the software I own is PPC, I don't want
    to run it under emulation and take a performance hit.

    I figure by the time I'm ready to ugrade again, the bugs will have
    been worked out with the Mactels, and most software companies
    will have native x86 versions of their programs available.
    tic swayback
    • I bought one too

      My 17 inch is too big to carry around and my 12 inch doesn't have
      a card slot for the Verizon Broadband Card. So, i got the new PB
      and the speed and screen, scroll pad and updated SDrive are
      enough for me.
      lenow
  • Possible upgrades in the future

    "Why would Freescale go out of their way to deliver faster chips to Apple when they know that their contract is soon coming to a screeching halt?"

    And why not? How about making upgrade kits for older macs? How about making upgrade kits for current macs (for when they make faster processors)? There is life in the aftermarket!
    Roger Ramjet
  • bass ackward

    Umm, Apple cut off Freescale because freescale couldn't deliver faster chips. You have it backwards.
    baggins_z
    • Agreed...

      Yes, Apple cut off Freescale and IBM because THEY could not
      deliver faster CPUs. That's why they are switching to Intel. Normally
      I don't get upset when I see incorrect articles, but this one was so
      easy to get right. Do SOME research please!
      my.subscriptions9
  • Powerbooks vs. PC Notebook

    I have both a PB and Toshiba Laptop. It's intersting to me that my notebook with 1.67 ghz, using DDR2 chips, DVDRW/DL, ATI 128mb video is probably using the same vendors as Dell, Gateway, HP, and now probably Apple. The more companies using the same vendors and technology, the lower the prcies will be, IMHO....
    tatdude
  • It's all they had

    Sure there was a 1% chance Freescale/Moto would deliver the
    dual core G4 about now (as was "planned") but that's not
    happening. The 1% chance was due to the fact that Freescale
    might actually have wanted to make some good sales off of it
    before the Mactel PB showed up.

    The new PB does add some nice features, especially with the
    display, and the memory change and 7200 HD are going to help
    performance - with the faster HD probably being the most
    noticeable. The hidden factor is the enhancements PLUS the
    price cuts. The new 15" PB is significant lower in price than the
    1.5 I bought when you consider that I had to pay for more
    VRAM, the 80 gig HD, SuperDrive, Airport and BT.

    For those that really need a notebook the PB is a very good
    value. For people like me there is no need to change, especially
    since 90% of the time the PB is attached to a 23" display at work.
    Ken_z
  • Stuck on processor speed

    Stuck on processor speed, nothing intelligent in this blog.
    holycow_z
    • Stuck on processor speed -- Indeed.

      I would add widening the plumbing is a great step forward. I wish so called experts could see the significance.
      ajv123
  • Big Problem with the Memory DDR2 400 not really.

    Everyone seems to be missing the big problem with the memory "upgrade" on the 15 and 17 inch powerbooks. The DDR2 400 is only running at 333mhz which makes it no better (except for the slight drop in power consumption) than the old DDR 333 used in the 12-inch and older powerbooks.

    http://www.apple.com/powerbook/specs.html

    I was hoping someone would have pointed this out long ago but after a recent trip to my local apple store I have found that even the sales people don't read the tech specs.
    IdleWanderlust
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