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Ask Max: Upgrading PowerBook Hardware

Asked on 05/26/2006:

I'm a web developer for a medium sized company and use my PowerBook on a daily basis testing and working in Flash and HTML. While Macs are hated in my dept. it doesn't sway choice to use a Mac in any way. I'm addicted to my PowerBook G4 1.5 like its my grown up woobie. I wonder if there will be any processor upgrades for these aluminum PowerBooks in the future? Or are there any tips you can give that I can boost the power here?

PowerBook specs:
Tiger 10.4.4
1.5 GHz
1.5 MB RAM
80 5400 rpm HD
Combo drive
ATI accelerator (application)


We get this question often. The short answer is no, almost all laptop hardware is set in stone. That being said you could squeeze a little more performance out of your RAM and hard drive. If you have the 17" or 15" PowerBook, then you should be able to take it to 2 GB of RAM. This will make sure that most everything you are working on is in memory and not coming off the hard drive. Hard drives are the bottleneck of most computers. They run much slower than the rest of the system so having the maximum memory will prevent the system from throwing away data only to get it back from the hard drive seconds later. And if you must use the hard drive, as we all do, then you can get a faster one. Laptop hard drives are now available at 7200-rpm speeds.

OK enough squeezing. The truth is that this is not a good use of your money. The benefit of those improvements will not get you the upgrade you want. This is precisely why PowerMax has a trade-in program. The new MacBook Pro will likely be your next system and you will be able send us you old laptop to help offset the cost. Don't start feeling sad yet. You still have much time to spend with your old PowerBook. The MacBook Pro is not shipping yet and you still have to wait for all your work programs to be rewritten for Intel before you need to upgrade.

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