Ask Max: My G4 Powerbook processor is failing, I think...
I have a 4 yr old Powerbook G4 1.5ghz. It seems like the processor might be going. It's stalling frequently. Big spinning beach ball. It'll eventually catch up but it's pretty annoying to pause a song in iTunes and it takes 30-120 seconds for it to actually pause. I have 1.25g of ram. I think that's the max I can have in it. I've done a ton of maintenance as recommended by http://www.macattorney.com/ts.html. I can't even find a replacement processor anywhere.
Any suggestions (besides a new mac)?
In general Apple laptops can not get replacement processors or even upgrade processors. In a portable PC or Mac, the processor is often soldered to the logic board.
Early PowerBooks used daughter cards for the RAM and Processor, consequently that made them upgradable, but the G4 Powerbooks never used that design. The good news is that you processor may be slower than you like but it is not physically failing, at least not by what you describe. You can have a total of 2 GB of RAM in that computer so I would recommend that you buy another 1GB stick and remove the 256 MB stick. Also replacing your hard drive with a faster unit could be a good way to boost speed. You can get a 2.5" 7200 RPM drive for your laptop and greatly increase your file access speeds. Also if you have not done so in a while, backup your data and erase your hard drive. Then install a clean version of OS X and pull your data back over.
Starting fresh can provide a amazing boost to your overall system performance.