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Upgrade my 17" G4 PowerBook

edited August 2013 in PowerBook
I would like the communities feedback. I have a 17" G4 PowerBook with a 1ghz processor and 1 gig ram and a 60 gig hard drive. The machine is running OS 10.3.9 and I would like to upgrade to OS 10.5; I understand this is the most current OS I can move to as I am running a Motorola chip. My research has lead me to the following:
I should "try" a single stick of 1 gig ram and see if the machine "recognizes" the additional memory. If so buy a second and move from 1 gig of ram to two.
Next are optional items that I believe would give more life for this machine. A new larger hard drive, new cooling fan, new mother board and power supply, and last some new batteries as the current ones are shot.
Besides purchasing the OS what else should I purchase to get the maximum life out of this machine?

Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.




  • edited August 2013
    Hi, and thanks for the post!

    Before starting I would take note of the fact that very nice 13" MacBooks are available on eBay for less than $300. Since a random handful of the upgrades you've mentioned would cost about that amount, it's worth considering that $300 spent on a machine that old, that only has a fraction of the ability, might not be a good investment.

    That said, if for whatever reason you are intent on sticking with the PowerBook (big screen, etc.), here are my thoughts:

    First off, the 1.5/1.67GHZ boards are not compatible with the 1GHZ chassis and screen assembly, so that upgrade is not possible.

    Your machine should recognize 2GB of RAM. Whether or not it would make a considerable difference with Leopard is debatable, and probably depends on exactly what you are doing with the machine (higher-end media apps would likely benefit), but it never hurts. Make sure to get the faster PC2700 333MHZ RAM, and not the slower PC2100 266MHZ. Also make sure the two sticks of RAM are the same brand, since these PowerBooks can be temperamental with mixed memory.

    IDE 7200RPM hard drives are available, and so are IDE SSD drives, although they are a little pricy compared to SATA SSD drive (which won't work in your machine). If you currently have a 5400RPM drive, a 7200RPM can make a difference, although not earthshattering.

    There's no reason to get new fans unless the existing ones are loud and whining. Most of the time taking off the topcase and blowing off the board/fans with compressed air is all you'll need to do.

    The OS is an obvious upgrade, but Tiger is far faster on G4s than Leopard, so before upgrading I would consider whether the functionality of Leopard is worth the loss in speed. If everything you need to do works in Tiger, you might want to stick with it. Also, a fresh install of the OS (wiping the hard drive and starting over) can reduce clutter and potentially represents a speed boost all by itself.

    Also, the cheapest source of parts is always a dead laptop. If you decide to go forward with several of the upgrades, you may do better by purchasing a parts machine on eBay for $50 that you can salvage the parts from.

    Hope that helps, and let me know if you have more questions!

  • John,
    Thanks for the thorough reply. Your insight on the larger screen is the reason I think I will stick with this machine for the time being. I run many business applications and also access my phone switch through an, albeit slow, Virtual PC platform. As the 1.5/1.67 boards are not compatible with my chassis should I replace the one I have? Thanks again for all your help.


  • Hi! Again, I would be somewhat reluctant to invest too much in this machine due to the cost associated. You can get a working 17" 1.67GHZ machine for $250-$400 on eBay, but definitely consider the fact that you can get a 17" MacBook Core 2 Duo Aluminum for only a hundred or two more, and that is a machine which is far more powerful and will last you years longer. Buying a 1.67GHZ will only increase performance by 30% or so, compared to 2-4X with the MacBook, not to mention you can use Lion, which is a much more modern OS.


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