Do I Wait For The Powerbook G5?
April 5, 2005 2:47 PM   Subscribe

So when is the Powerbook G5 really coming out? I have been a lifelong PC user, but I want to get a laptop as my next computer and after using several of my friends' Powerbooks I was sold on buying one. However, it seems like there's conflicting information and advice on (a) whether I should buy the revised G4 PB or wait for the G5 (which could have some quirks upon initial release), (b) whether I really need the power of of a G5 in my laptop, and (c) when the hell the thing is even coming out. Please help AppleGurus.
posted by rooftop secrets to Technology (17 answers total)
Don't hold your breath!

I wouldn't expect seeing a PB G5 for a while: Apple themselves have confessed that figuring out how to properly cool a G5 processor into a notebook it is a mother of an engineering problem.

Don't wait for the G5 - but do wait for Tiger to be announced :)
posted by moxyberry at 2:55 PM on April 5, 2005

The MacRumors Buying Guide makes educated guesses about whether or not it's a good time to buy various Apple products.

Nobody knows anything about the G5 powerbook (at least that they can share with us publicly) so I wouldn't get your hopes up.

As far as whether or not you need a G5... they're nice, but a good G4 is no slouch. Depending on what you're doing, you could be fine for many years to come with a 1.5Ghz G4.
posted by mosch at 3:10 PM on April 5, 2005

Response by poster: What kind of improvements will be in Tiger? And will it ship with the G4 Powerbooks once it's released or will I have to buy it seperately?
posted by rooftop secrets at 3:34 PM on April 5, 2005

Since the PowerBooks were just updated it's a good time to buy. I wouldn't expect PowerBook G5s for quite a while. It's just not very practical. Look at the size of the iMac G5s, and the way the heat is drawn though it... It'll be an impressive feat to accomplish that in a laptop form factor. I'll be surprised if they're out this year even.

The PowerBook G4s are great machines... It all depends what you're doing, but chances are it will meet your needs. If you really need a lot of power you're better of with a desktop machine anyway.

Tiger ought to ship with every computer from Apple once it's released (though it may take longer before it's pre-installed). Once they announce it, any new Mac without Tiger should be eligible for a $20 upgrade price as well.

There's a nice tour of the major features here.

Apparently Tiger is complete and an announcement is imminent. Everyone's expecting it to be out around two weeks from now.
posted by robotspacer at 3:46 PM on April 5, 2005

The improvements in Tiger make it worth the upgrade, in the same way that Win98 was a significant upgrade over Win95 (except, of course, that Tiger is many orders of a magnitude more advanced). The two headline features in Tiger are Spotlight, which is a rapid search tool, and the CoreImage (and CoreVideo, etc.) features that will (or can) radically alter the way developers provide multimedia content on a Mac. Additional improvements are in speed, stability, an improved Mail client, so-called "burnable folders" and about a hundred more improvements. There's also this nifty visual tool to automate tasks and a widgets service much like Konfabulator (or somewhat like DesktopX from Stardock). Anyway, Apple's OS X page is a great resource.

As for buying a PB G5, I wouldn't wait. I have a 1.25GHz G4 with a gig of RAM, and it's every bit as fast as my 1.5GHz Centrino Dell, probably faster on most tasks. Unless you're a 3D modeler, serious video editor, or something like that, a G4 should be sufficient (but DON'T skimp on RAM -- buy the minimum you can from Apple then upgrade through or a generic vendor).

PS. I'm an OS agnostic and am happily writing this from an XP machine right now. I do, however, believe my Powerbook is the best single purchase I've ever made, other than my education.
posted by socratic at 3:49 PM on April 5, 2005

Damn you robotspacer... :)
posted by socratic at 3:50 PM on April 5, 2005

Didn't IBM announce another processor that is widely expected to power the next PB? Am I dreaming?
posted by lbergstr at 3:50 PM on April 5, 2005

IBM recently leaked info about the PowerPC 970MP, which is basically two G5 processors on one piece of silicon. It's not going in a PowerBook any time soon. Separately they briefly mentioned something called a 970GX, which may or may not go in a PowerBook (current G5s use the "970FX", older ones used the "970").

As regards to when, my earliest bet would be WWDC in mid-June, though they probably wouldn't be shipping until like August. Latest would be MacWorld 2006 next January. NB This is pure guesswork, nobody really knows.

(btw the G5 isn't all that compared to a G4 at the same clock speed, except in a small subset of tasks. The iMac G5s often benchmark as slower than the eMac G4s)
posted by cillit bang at 4:12 PM on April 5, 2005

I don't think it's gonna happen this year or anytime soon. I myself just went from a G4 PB 867 to a iMac G5 1.8 and the speed difference is significant, though that may have to do more with the MHZ, I dunno. I'd get the PB "now" if I were you (ie, as soon as Tiger's included for free, which is prior to Tiger's actual release, I think).
posted by dobbs at 5:05 PM on April 5, 2005

The Macintouch Performance Comparison Page indicates that there isn't a terribly large difference in speed between a Powerbook G4 and an iBook G5. Given that the PB line was recently revved, I'd say it's a good time to buy one. As others have noted, you might want to wait a couple of weeks to get it with Tiger.
posted by alms at 5:27 PM on April 5, 2005

iMac G5, i believe you meant.
posted by pmbuko at 5:43 PM on April 5, 2005

According to MacRumors, there's plans to introduce a High Definition 17" PowerBook and some further revved PowerBooks at the next National Assoc. of Broadcasters conference in Nevada in a couple of weeks. I'd probably wait to see if that pans out, and if it does, buy at that point.

I know that as soon as my business can afford to provide me with a Mac PB, it will, and I'll relegate my admittedly faithful Dell C400 to the backup role.
posted by SpecialK at 6:53 PM on April 5, 2005

That's a great comparison page, alms.
posted by pmurray63 at 8:31 PM on April 5, 2005

Call me old fashioned, but I would wait for the release of the new HD PowerBooks SpecialK refers to, and then buy the older 1.25 or 1.5 Ghz PB. I've never been an early-joiner, and have instead tended to get what was hot 6 months to a year ago because of the price difference and because I prefer to let other people play beta tester. But that's me. I say buy in two or three weeks, once the HD PB and Tiger come out. Welcome to the sunlight!
posted by squirrel at 9:47 PM on April 5, 2005

One of the nice, but subtle, things to point out about the current G4 PB is that it's the 3rd revision with the same form factor. Meaning: they're loaded with features, at a decent price, and most of the bugs have been worked out.

Personally, I'd rather have the last revision of a solid product rather than the first version of the latest and greatest.

Not that this is the last G4 revision. They're going to have to do something in the interim. I'm thinking that HD screens, 1GB RAM (standard), and buff video cards across the line would be very nice :-)
posted by C.Batt at 10:09 PM on April 5, 2005

Freescale also has dual core G4s out, so it's possible you'll see a dual core G4 in the powerbook before a G5.

You should definitely wait until NAB before buying, and if you can, until WWDC. I would assume that by the time WWDC rolls around, something will have happened to the powerbook line, judging from all the buzz that's going around now. But who knows, the powerbooks were last updated in late January, so maybe there's no updates for several months.
posted by beaverd at 10:43 PM on April 5, 2005

The smallest G5 heatsink is still about the size of half a brick, or about three or four Hershey bars stacked on top of each other.

I would wait until at least Tiger, but don't extend the agony much longer than that. As I once read Number One say, "something something 'opportunity cost.'"
posted by britain at 3:30 AM on April 6, 2005

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