PowerBook G4 vs. MacBook Pro

October 17, 2009

For the past seven years my primary day-to-day computer has been a Titanium PowerBook G4. In a word this laptop has been outstanding. Except for a faulty CD drive early in its life, I have had no mechanical difficulty with this machine. I replaced the original hard drive with a new 100 GB model about 4 years ago; the original 40 GB drive has continued to perform faithful service in a USB/FireWire enclosure. I bumped the memory up from its original 256 MB to the maximum 1 GB. I'm still using the original battery, and the AirCard I added weeks after getting the machine. In short it has been a phenomenal machine, well worth every penny of it's $2500 cost.

This morning I purchased a new 15" MacBook Pro, a uni-body model with considerably more oomph in the CPU cycles, RAM, and battery life areas. Oh, and the ability to run the newest operating system, Snow Leopard. There will no doubt be several entries about the new machine once it arrives, but I wanted to do a straight up technical specification comparison now, just for grins.

Technical Specifications

15.2-inch PowerBook G4 15.4-inch MacBook Pro
Model no. M8858LL/A MB985LL/A
Processor 867 MHz PowerPC G4 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
Level 3 cache 1 MB DDR SRAM
L2 cache 3 MB
Memory 1 GB (256MB originally) 4 GB
Display 15.2-inch (diagonal) TFT, 1280-by-854 resolution 15.4-inch (diagonal) Antiglare widescreen display, 1440-by-900 resolution
Graphics ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 with 32MB of DDR SDRAM NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT graphics processor; and NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics processor with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory
Video Built-in iSight camera; Mini DisplayPort output port with support for DVI, VGA, and dual-link DVI (requires adapters, sold separately)
Hard disk drive 100 GB (40 GB Ultra ATA originally) 320 GB Serial ATA; 5400 rpm
Keyboard and Trackpad Built-in full-size keyboard with 77 keys, including 12 function keys, 4 arrow keys (inverted "T" arrangement), and embedded keypad Solid-state trackpad provides precise cursor control; supports tap, double-tap, and drag capabilities Built-in full-size backlit keyboard with 78 keys, including 12 function keys and 4 arrow keys (inverted “T” arrangement) Multi-Touch trackpad for precise cursor control; supports two-finger scrolling, pinch, rotate, swipe, three-finger swipe, four-finger swipe, tap, double-tap, and drag capabilities
Expansion One 400-Mbps FireWire (IEEE 1394) port, Two 12-Mbps USB ports, One PC Card/CardBus slot supporting one Type I or Type II card One FireWire 800 port (up to 800 Mbps), Mini DisplayPort, Two USB 2.0 ports (up to 480 Mbps), SD card slot
Slot-loading Optical drive Combo (DVD-ROM/CD-RW) 8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
Ethernet Built-in 10/100/1000BASE-T (RJ-45 connector) Built-in 10/100/1000BASE-T (Gigabit)
Modem Built-in 56K V.92 modem
Wireless networking AirPort Ready Built-in AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi (based on IEEE 802.11n draft specification)2; built-in Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) module
System Software Mac OS X, Mac OS 9 Mac OS X 10.6
Hardware Accessories Modem cable, power adapter, AC wall plug, power cord, S-video to composite adapter, DVI to VGA adapter. Product contains electronic documentation. Backup software provided on DVD. 85W MagSafe Power Adapter, AC wall plug, power cord.
Dimensions Height: 1.0 inch (2.6 cm) Width: 13.4 inches (34.1 cm) Depth: 9.5 inches (24.1 cm) Weight: 5.4 pounds (2.45 kg) Height: 0.95 inch (2.41 cm) Width: 14.35 inches (36.4 cm) Depth: 9.82 inches (24.9 cm) Weight: 5.5 pounds (2.49 kg)

My hope is that I get as much longevity and use out of the MacBook Pro as I have out of the PowerBook. After the new machine is delivered I plan on a performance comparison between the two, and the ubiquitous "new Apple goodie un-boxing picture set."

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.