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Powerbook as workstation: thumbs up or thumbs down?
June 15, 2006 11:52 AM   Subscribe

Is it a good idea to use a Powerbook running closed-lid as a workstation?

Here's my situation: I currently have an iMac G4 and a Powerbook G4 (just about the last model made before the Intel switch). The PB is still quite nice, but the iMac is starting to show its age.

As it happens, my workplace has just gotten me a snazzy new MacBook Pro, which I will probably begin using for all my portable computing needs.

I like having a desktop at home, in addition to my laptop. I'm tempted to sell my PB and iMac and get either an Intel iMac or Intel Mini setup for home, but given my mostly modest needs, I've been thinking about just getting a monitor and other external gear and running my existing PB with its lid closed as a workstation.

I know it's technically possible to do this, but I'm wondering if it's a good idea. Is it a bad idea to leave the laptop running pretty much all the time with its lid closed (especially considering how hot these machines run)? Is the hardware simply too valuable to repurpose this way? Am I just being dumb?

Any and all opinions would be appreciated, but I'm particularly interested to hear from folks who have already done this, or decided not to do this. Thanks!
posted by j-dawg to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
 
AFAIK you can do this, but why? It seems silly to not use the perfectly good (and expensive) screen on the laptop. You can still plug in an external display, keyboard, and mouse. It may be a little tricky to position everything ideally, but I'm sure you can work it out...
posted by xil at 11:59 AM on June 15, 2006


No, it's never a good idea to use a Powerbook closed-lid. The cooling design counts on having heat vent out through the keyboard.
posted by SpecialK at 12:00 PM on June 15, 2006


I've done this (for a week or so at a shot) using my Powerbook. It's fine. There were some older Apple products that vented heat through the keyboard, and they could fail if used this way; modern laptops (including Apple's) don't suffer from this problem.

I'd suggest removing the battery, though.
posted by majick at 12:02 PM on June 15, 2006


I'm not sure about the heat issue, but you're definitely right about the hardware being too valuable.

I would sell the Powerbook and the iMac. You can build a nice low end PC for a fraction of what you'll get, or (if you must) buy a mini.
posted by Drunken_munky at 12:02 PM on June 15, 2006


No, it's never a good idea to use a Powerbook closed-lid. The cooling design counts on having heat vent out through the keyboard.

Are you sure? That seems like a design flaw to me. My ThinkPad operates 90% of the time closed lid as do most corporate ThinkPads.
posted by caddis at 12:08 PM on June 15, 2006


You can run with the lid closed. Apple themselves give instructions for doing so.
posted by xil at 12:19 PM on June 15, 2006


apple does say its okay, but the thermal system is a lot happier with the lid open... IMHO anyway.
posted by joeblough at 12:32 PM on June 15, 2006


No, it's never a good idea to use a Powerbook closed-lid. The cooling design counts on having heat vent out through the keyboard.

Been doing this for 2.5 years with my AlBook without incident. Go for it.
posted by Scoo at 12:32 PM on June 15, 2006


If you're concerned about the heat, you could get a notebook cooler like this Antec one.
posted by junesix at 12:49 PM on June 15, 2006


There seem to be a lot of these ... though I'd guess the one dollar plastic ones probably are worth what you pay for them.
posted by dmd at 1:16 PM on June 15, 2006


Just in case there's any confusion, the iBook can't be used with the lid shut, or at least, the white ones, the first post-clamshell ones, can't. If you close the lid, the computer goes to sleep.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 2:16 PM on June 15, 2006


The models that vent through the keyboard won't run closed, like the iBook. The others are fine with it, and get no hotter than they would with it open.
posted by bonaldi at 5:42 PM on June 15, 2006


I've been using my 12" powerbook as my sole desktop workstation for my graphic design business for the past 2 years and have had no problems.

I used to run it with the lid closed but now I keep either mail or iTunes in the 12" window so I can see what they're doing and use my 22" LCD monitor for all the big stuff. So If you've got a nice monitor to hook it up to hold onto the Pbook.
posted by mule at 8:44 PM on June 15, 2006


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