12" PB any good for occasional gaming?

in Mac Software edited January 2014
My quest for a new computer continues... After checking out prices of new PC components, I started thinking about Macs again, specifically the 12" PB that I've been lusting after ever since they came out 8). So I popped over to the Apple UK store to see if they had any info about what games are available. I got a bit of a surprise when I read under the entry for Unreal Tournament 2003:


700 MHz G4 processor or faster (except 12" PowerBook manufactured in 2003)

What's that all about then?! Why is the 12" PB unable to cope with it when other slower G4's can run it? I'm not after bleeding edge performance - I run most games at something like 1024x768 (no anti-aliasing) at the moment on my PC, so I'd have thought the 12" PB would be OK.

Can anyone comment on the 12" PB's suitability for playing games?




  • Reply 1 of 6
    lucaluca Posts: 3,833member
    I have an 800 MHz G3 iBook. It will run UT 2003 very, very poorly. As in absolute minimum settings, 640x480, 16-bit color, no detail settings at all, and I'll get maybe 20 fps if I'm lucky. Usually more like 10-15. Enough to beat some of the bots, but not good enough to fight real people. It just slows down too much.

    Performance is about the same on my brother's 400 MHz G4 with a Radeon graphics card. His system is VERY close to mine in performance of a number of things, although my processor is noticeably faster in many areas. He only has a slight advantage in AltiVec optimized applications.

    I haven't tried UT 2003 on a 12" PowerBook but I think my brother tried it in an Apple Store and he said the performance wasn't very good, especially compared to the 15" and 17" PowerBooks. Those 12" ones just have cruddy graphics... the GeForce 420 Go really is a piece of crap. Maybe about equal to the Radeon Mobility 7500 in the iBook, but not much better. I guess it would be playable but don't expect anything wonderful. Maybe 1024x768 w/ minimum settings, or 640x480 with low-medium settings.
  • Reply 2 of 6
    Oh dear . That doesn't sound very good at all, especially for the longer term.

    Do you have any experience with some 'older' games like Return To Castle Wolfenstein, Quake 3?


  • Reply 3 of 6
    stevesteve Posts: 523member
    The 12" PowerBook is definitely NOT a gaming machine, even relative to other portables. The GeForce 4 MX is inferior to the iBooks' and other PowerBooks' Radeons (7500's, even; the Ti's have 9000's), and even the cache is bigger on the iBook than on the PB12 (UT2K3 is heavily cache-dependent, even on Intel chips).

    You can go to http://tcwo.com and spend the $400 you saved with EDU and other price drops and deals to get something twice as powerful as this PowerBook that will actually play games fairly well, not to mention you save money from not having to buy VPC (for whatever reason).

    I wouldn't trade my 12-incher for the world, but when it comes to gaming, I forgive the little guy for his shortcomings.
  • Reply 4 of 6
    Thanks for the replies.

    I don't think it will be too bad, as I've still got my PC that can cope with games (ok, usually at low resolution, but it's good enough for a while I guess). And I have a PS2 as well, so they should keep me going for a while.


  • Reply 5 of 6
    stoostoo Posts: 1,490member
    I've played the UT 2003 demo on my 12" PowerBook and it runs fine (note: I normally play games on my Duron/PCI Radeon PC). I'd recommend medium/low details (as the GeForce 4 Go 420 has only 32 MB of low bandwidth VRAM) but it is definitely playable. Although the 420 is the PowerBook's major downside when it comes to games, the lack of L3 cache coupled with a 133MHz FSB doesn't help compared to other PowerBooks. Hopefully it'll be sorted with the next revision, which is coming Real Soon Now. Honest .

    Quake 3 based games run fine.

    What is going on with those system specification for UT 2003?
  • Reply 6 of 6
    lucaluca Posts: 3,833member
    Interestingly, UT 2003 plays MUCH better on my brother's Pentium III-550 with a GeForce 4MX 420 than it does on my iBook. It's quite smooth at low detail and 800x600, and it's playable even at medium to high detail settings.

    Quake III runs fine on my iBook, even at tippy-top settings. So does Unreal Tournament original. Max Payne works, but I usually have to tone down at least a few settings. Warcraft III is well-nigh unplayable, almost as slow as UT 2003 but not quite. Strangely, I see almost no difference in performance between 1024x768x32 and 640x480x16 on Warcraft III. It's like it's determined to have the exact performance it wants and changing my settings won't do anything to help. My favorite game (for the moment), EV Nova, runs perfectly of course, but that ran fairly well on a PowerMac 8500/233.
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