Powerbook 12"

in General Discussion edited January 2014
I am considering purchasing the 12" Powerbook, but the stories of poor graphics performance on DVDs has got me a little woried. So, I have a few questions...

1) Is everyone with a 12" Al. have this problem?

2) Has anyone used the 12" with an external monitor, and if so, was the performance reasonable?

3)Are their any other problems floating around with the 12"?

4) Is Applecare worth the money?



  • Reply 1 of 19
    stevesteve Posts: 523member
    The DVD playback issue is a software problem that will be corrected in the next 10.2.x update. Don't feel that it has any bearing on the actual performance of the hardware whatsoever.

    Using my PowerBook 800 with an 1024x768 external display simultaneously causes a slight hit in interface speed, but it's hardly noticeable now with 10.2.4. Previously, the GUI was like molasses, but they must've done something. Since the PB12 has 1) a better graphics chip than the Ti800 and 2) less pixels to push on its OWN display, it should be even better.

    AppleCare was a little too expensive for my tastes, even for a $3500 investment like this Ti. My reasoning was, if in two or three years the thing should break down, the computers then would be so much more advanced, it would justify another purchase. Even the entry level $999 iBook is light years ahead of the top-of-the-line PowerBooks from two or three years ago. If you ever decide you want to add another year or so, Apple will approach you after about nine months, allowing you to buy a warranty extension for slightly more than when you bought your computer.

    The PB12 is a good machine in all respects (engineering, price/performance, asthetics, etc.). You'd do well to get yourself one.

    [ 03-16-2003: Message edited by: Steve ]</p>
  • Reply 2 of 19
    I have 12"pb, 640 megs of ram 60 gig HD and a Super drive, I have it hooked upto the Old G4 17" studio CRT monitor.

    External Monitor does hit Performance, but not that badly, I can play Medal of Honor and Wolfenstien just fine on the external display.

    I Haven't noticed any of the mentioned DVD performance Issues.

    Buy Apple Care, you Never know what Might happen and its always good to be safe.

    also Buy an iCurve, it works great upside down or right side up..

    anything else you wanna know?

  • Reply 3 of 19
    matt ftmatt ft Posts: 87member
    Thanks for your advice. It is conforting to know that it is a good machine and can handle MoH on an external monitor. However, that is one for, and one against the applecare - anyone else?

    Oh, and being in the UK, I'll get screwed a little more for the purchase price - does anyone know of any amazing UK reseller offers? Can't find much in Mac User.

    Thanks again for all your help!
  • Reply 4 of 19
    stoostoo Posts: 1,490member
    If you're in education (teacher, lecturer, student, pupil) you can get Apple's education discount, about 5% to 10%.

    The Apple Store does refurbs on Wednesdays, but they tend to go fast (be ready at 11:59pm on Tuesday) and have variable availability.

    As Far As I Know, Aquatic's particularly bad situation is unique (if that's what you were referring to by "poor graphics performance").

    [quote] If you ever decide you want to add another year or so, Apple will approach you after about nine months, allowing you to buy a warranty extension for slightly more than when you bought your computer.<hr></blockquote>

    You can buy Applecare any time up to 12 months after the purchase date. Dunno if it's worth it or not.

    I have a 12" PowerBook and it's great. I'm using a 19" CRT at the moment but I haven't had the chance the play games or DVDs yet.
  • Reply 5 of 19
    hey Stoo, do you notice any reduction in performance when it's hooked up to the 19" crt
  • Reply 6 of 19

    I've had my Powerbook 12" for a few days now... I played the Monsters Inc and Meet The Parents on DVD and I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary... seemed to play just fine.

    Sorry, I can't answer your question about an external display cause I don't have one...

    I posted earlier about a wobbling problem that I seemed to be having on my desk... well i tried it on another table and it seemed to be fine... so who knows... once I finish 'switching' i'll try to post some follow up.

    Overall, it's a fabulous machine... my PC is ok and all, but it's nice working in your room without the obnoxious PC fan running. Oh, well, the fan in this powerbook came on this morning when i was importing all my pics into iPhoto.. but it wasn't too loud and it was on for 5-10 min.

    If you can afford it, go for it. I have no regrets.
  • Reply 7 of 19
    paulpaul Posts: 5,278member
    [quote]Originally posted by Stoo:

    <strong>You can buy Applecare any time up to 12 months after the purchase date. Dunno if it's worth it or not.</strong><hr></blockquote>

    with a rev. A machine, getting applecare should be automatic... but you may want to wait to see if your computer is trouble-free
  • Reply 8 of 19
    aquaticaquatic Posts: 5,602member
    I have 640 RAM and SuperDrive and everything and DVD in Full Screen lags. Opening CPU monitor and having the floating window over the DVD fixes the stuttering for some weird reason. I assume 10.2.5 will fix it since it's widely reported on Apple Discussions and I called Apple and they know about it.

    The "lines" in my more graphics weirdness thread are just the limited refresh rate of the LCD I believe but I'll keep experimenting.
  • Reply 9 of 19
    paulpaul Posts: 5,278member
    i think they do, just not in the same way as CRTs... the entire screen doesn't get refreshed...parts just change... thats why if you have a video of a CRT it will flicker,but an LCD will seem clear...

    there has to be a refresh rate tho... right?
  • Reply 10 of 19
    matt ftmatt ft Posts: 87member
    Thanks for your posts guys. I think I'll hold off on the applecare until after I have got the 12"!
  • Reply 11 of 19
    matsumatsu Posts: 6,558member
    Aquatic's machine must be buggered somehow, I still have only 256MB in this machine, still waiting on my cheap 512 stick, and I don't have any DVD playback problems in 10.2.4. Nor any other video problems or any of the kinds of weirdness when attaching my 17" CRT.

    This little beast should fly along nicely when I get 640MB's in it.

    One thing that is definitely weird since my 10.2.4 update has been the battery life monitor, not the battery life itself, just the way in which it's reported. On a full charge, the machine will wake from sleep to show about 3-3.5 hours, then, after a little use it jump to 4-4.5 hours. Sometimes it will look like the battery life is going down fast, only to jump up again after a while, though this oscilation gets less dramatic as the battery life decreases, it doesn't seem to report a stable linear battery life decrease untill the machine gets down under 2 hours remaining at which point the decrease reported is fairly steady, but slow, ie, it says 2 hours but when you look at the clock you relaize more like 2 and a half hours have gone by. All told, using word and Safari, I see over 4 hours, but you can never tell from the battery life monitor exactly what's going on, just a general idea.
  • Reply 12 of 19
    stoostoo Posts: 1,490member
    I didn't notice any performance difference, but I was just browsing the web. I'm currently trying to install OS X Quake 3, so I'll repost when I've done that.
  • Reply 13 of 19
    stoostoo Posts: 1,490member
    Quake 3 info.
    • version: 1.32

    • resolution and depth: 1024x768, 32bit

    • textures: medium quality, bilinear filtering, "default" depth (16 bit?)

    • sync. to refresh rate off

    • demo used: four.dm_68

    PowerBook 12" info.
    • Mac OS X, 10.2.4

    • 640MB RAM

    • the beastly GeForce 4 Go 420.

    LCD only: 52.7 fps

    Mirroring: 54.0 fps

    Dual display, CRT: 54.1 fps

    CRT only: 54.2 fps

    So not that much difference. I'm not sure why the LCD only scores are lower: I tried it again after a restart and got 51.2 and 51.9 fps. :confused
  • Reply 14 of 19
    The DVD playback on the 12" and 17" Powerbooks isn't going to be as good as it is on the iBook or 15" Powerbooks because for some reason known only to Apple they used the nvidia GeFarce 4 Go chipset instead of the Radeon. The GeForce 4mx that the mobile chips are based on are a good two generations behind the Radeon 9000 used in the other powerbooks.

    The DVD acceleration provided by the ATI chipset is far better than that provided by the nvidia chipset. The result being the processor utilization is MUCH higher with an nvidia chipset when playing a DVD, meaning if you are doing anything in the background while playing a DVD on a 12" Powerbook, it is going to be a less than stellar experiance.

    Even the lowly Rage 128 provides better DVD acceleration, but for reasons known only to the sheep (consumers) people perfer even shitburg nvidia chips like the GeForce 4mx over top of the line ATI chips.
  • Reply 15 of 19
    stoostoo Posts: 1,490member
    An observation about the GeForce 4 Go:

    If you've installed the developer tools, go to /Developer/Applications/OpenGL Profiler. Open up the "OpenGL Profiler" application. What is the driver selectable on the 12" PowerBook? GeForce2MXGLDriver.

    The GeForce 4 Go appears to be using the same driver as the GeForce 2 MX (the only GeForce 2 Apple used).
  • Reply 16 of 19
    matt ftmatt ft Posts: 87member
    Would that explain the poor graphics performance of the 12", and if so, would a driver update improve performace?
  • Reply 17 of 19
    stoostoo Posts: 1,490member
    Some of the reasons for the ill feeling toward the GeForce 4 Go/MX series is that they're essentially GeForce 2s with the addition of the GeForce 4 memory architecture. Therefore there isn't really much difference between the drivers required for the GeForce 2 Go and the GeForce 4 Go (note how the grammar gets worse in the product name too ). I suspect that there will be some performance gains in the future, but there aren't vast, untapped reserves of power. The GeForce 4 Go/MX can render four pixels per clock, unlike the GeForce 2 MX's 2, giving speedy rendering.

    The strange case of the 12" PowerBook: the GeForce 4 Go 420 comes in for "bonus" criticism because it has half of the memory bandwidth of the GeForce 4 Go 440 (3.2GB/s vs. 6.4GB/s), so it can't shift textures around fast enough to keep the rendering pipelines as well feed and happy . You'd have thought nVidia would have learnt from the TNT2 m64 (64 bit memory on the card crippled its performance compared even the original TNT with 128bit memory). We'll have to wait and see how badly it lags behind the GeForce 4 Go 440 when the 17" PowerBook is released. Tests comparing the two should be at high resolutions, texture depths or sizes, so that the 17"'s L3 cache and extra Hz don't bias the result.

    However, rendering is not all 3D accelerators do these days: shaders accelerate operations on rendered pixels (e.g. blurring) or on geometry. The GeForce 4 Go/MX don't have the vertex or pixel shaders of the Radeon 9000, so they are seen as a downgrade to the PowerBook line's specification. Furthermore, as shaders were introduced with the GeForce 3, it's a bit odd that they're not in the GeForce 4 Go/MX. In the Windows/DirectX world, they're DirectX 7 compatible, missing the shaders that would make them i) DirectX 8 compatible and therefore ii) "proper" GeForce 4s (ie better than the GeForce 3). This is quite useful to remember when reading articles written from a Windows/Direct X centric viewpoint. Pixel shaders do work in OpenGL: there's an application for writing them in /Developer/Applications/OpenGL Shader Builder. I have some OpenGL knowledge so I might see if they do anything on the GeForce 4 Go.

    An article linked from here compare the GeForce 4 Go 440 and the Radeon 7500 Mobility:
    • worse power consumption than the Radeon Mobility 7500 (~10%)

    • higher CPU utilisation (~15%, and hence worse power consumption) when playing DVDs

    • slightly faster in benchmarks, but doesn't win them all.

    However, these are for Windows laptops.

    However, although my PowerBook 12" has a 420, I don't mind: it has enough redeeming features to make up for it. It isn't terrible, won't prevent you from playing games, watching DVDs, etc. and doesn't cause blackouts whenever it's called into action. Unfortunately, there aren't any PowerBooks 12"s with a Radeon 9000 for comparison. Time to get on the grapevine? 8)
  • Reply 18 of 19
    matt ftmatt ft Posts: 87member
    Thanks Stoo. I think I'm going to wait for the 17" benchmarks and 15" update before taking the plunge.
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