Jump to content
Mighty Jabba

A tale of 3 Tibooks...

Recommended Posts

IMG_3598.thumb.jpg.3786e2fe0439d41ce5bd9ad826473a68.jpg

 

My first PowerBook was a Lombard PowerBook G3, which I replaced not long afterward with a Pismo. That one I used for quite a while, even upgrading it to a G4 back when such things were possible. I never owned a Titanium PowerBook because I liked my Pismo so much, and I didn't really have the need or money for an upgrade. All of this is to say that while I was around while the Titanium PowerBooks were new, I had never owned one or even used one for more than a minute or two. But I recently discovered that a lot of the computers from the late 90s to early 2000s are extremely cheap on the secondhand market, so I figured this was my chance to finally try out some of the things that I had never had before.

 

Long story short, I ended up buying three of them for around $75. One was separate and was listed as non-working, but it came with some accessories and even the original box, so I thought that even if I couldn't get it working, it would serve as a parts machine. The other two were sold as a lot and I was the only bidder. One thing was that the auction description was terrible, and didn't even make it totally clear that you were getting two machines or what their specs were, and all of the photos were of one machine by itself. Anyway, these were pretty dirty and not in great cosmetic shape, but I took it upon myself to rehabilitate them.

 

The first "non-working" machine turned out to be the earliest of the three: a 500mHz G4 with 256MB of RAM and a 30GB hard disk (this is the one on the right above). Sure enough, it appeared dead when I got it and plugged it in, but I was able to get it to show some signs of life by unplugging the PRAM battery. But I couldn't get it to boot completely unless it was using an external firewire disk (actually one of the other Tibooks in target disk mode), and sometimes it would still have problems booting. After trying some other hard disks, I decided to make this a parts machine. This is not quite as useful as I had hoped, since the other two machines are newer revisions and have pretty different internals, but some things are still usable. I've already taken out the hard disk and RAM for use with other machines.

 

The other two machines turned out to be a 1gHz G4 with 1GB of RAM and a 60GB hard disk (in the middle above), and a 867mHz G4 with a 30GB hard disk and 512MB of RAM (on the left). Functionally, they are totally fine, but they were having some issues in that glue holding the titanium panels to the plastic frames had weakened enough that they were starting to feel seriously rickety. So I reglued these as best I could and gave them a thorough cleanup with alcohol. And while they do have quite a few scuffs and scratches that can't be removed, it's impressive how decent they look from a short distance away (maybe a foot or two). And the interiors of the machine, around the palmrest and screen, are both in very good shape, so you don't notice it too much when using them.

 

I upgraded the 1gHz machine with a 60GB SSD and put its original 60GB hard disk in the 867mHz machine, and also upgraded that machine's RAM to 756MB using the donor machine's RAM. Putting Tiger on these was easy, but I originally had some trouble installing OS 9/Classic because the retail install CD does not appear to work with these Tibooks. So managed to find the original restore CD on Macintosh Garden, and that allowed me to finally put OS 9 on. Since the 1gHz machine is the fastest portable ever made that can run OS 9 natively, it was important for me to be able to get it on there.

 

Even though these machines are showing their age, I'll have to say that I really like how they feel. When they came out, I was kind of critical of the choice to paint the titanium, and of course that decision has resulted in some chipping, but it really feels nice against the hand -- better than the raw aluminum of later machines. And these machines are still fairly usable on Tiger with things like TenFourFox, so I'm very happy to have them in my collection. (As a side note, they are also great because they can natively read and write the SD cards in my SCSI2SD, which my modern Macs cannot do.)

Edited by Mighty Jabba

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By the way, I was amazed that one of the batteries actually holds a pretty decent charge (it was an original Apple battery and not a replacement). I think it quit after a little more than an hour and a half of actual use, which isn't too bad at all. The main thing I care about with these older machines is that I have enough battery to be able to transport them from one outlet to another (and that the batteries don't swell or leak!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember when the TiBooks came out, how beautiful and powerful and ahead of everything else they seemed - it's also quite amazing how well the look has held up, I think. These look to be in extremely good condition, what a catch. I missed one locally a few months ago and I'm still a little sad about it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/7/2019 at 5:42 AM, paws said:

I remember when the TiBooks came out, how beautiful and powerful and ahead of everything else they seemed - it's also quite amazing how well the look has held up, I think. These look to be in extremely good condition, what a catch. I missed one locally a few months ago and I'm still a little sad about it.

I kinda disagree.. if you get a Pismo that someone took care of, it still looks really good today (IMO). But most of the TiBooks look like shit due to paint issues.  I had a 1ghz back when they were current, and I had to buy touch up paint for the hinges. Buddy who used to sell that paint probably made a mint. They're also quite shitty to work on if you ever have to do anything with the screen.. so I shy away now. If you want to run OS9, a Pismo (especially a G4 upgraded Pismo) rocks that like a champ.. and if you want OSX, then the Al-Powerbooks do a better job.

 

But yes, when brand new, they looked effing sexy!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The TiBooks looked great new, but didn't hold up physically, and to be perfectly honest, granted I haven't put in serious face time with any TiBook other than a stock 1GHz one (512mb/60gb/superdrive/airport) they weren't actually much faster than a G3@500 or so.

 

Thats due in large part to the disk, but I'll be honest, the experience of having one of them new and having it just perform so badly compared to things you could get on eBay for under $500 was just really souring to me.

 

Seconding that a pismo or an iBook g3 is probably a better OS9 machine and a PowerBook or later iBook g4 is probably a better portable macppc OSX machine. (I've got a 12-inch iBookG4/1.33 and this is purely anecdotal and I haven't done any 'real workd" on it but it feels way faster than my TiBook/1000 ever did, probably due in thanks a lot to that 5400RPM hard disks were easier to get your hands on in 2005. (also the better graphics and newer/better CPU and higher bus speed.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The big, big weakness to Tibooks other than their general fragility is their screen hinges; given enough time they *will* fail, and when they do there's a good chance it'll be catastrophic. (IE, literally snapping the screen off the machine.) Problems with hinges are not unique with the Ti, they go *way* back in the PowerBook lineage, but the Ti was the first machine with a glued-together tinfoil-covered screen that made it that much more terrible to try to repair it without swapping the entire lid and its contents.

 

The Ti was a pretty impressive machine when it came out (although still laughably fragile; I remember with the 400/500mhz models you could make the CD-ROM drive make bad noises simply by resting your hands under the keyboard) but it aged remarkably badly even over its relatively short market life. Apple really oversold the supposed speed advantage of the G4 over the Pentium III (the ugly truth is that outside of that little suite of photoshop benchmarks that Apple loved so much their per-clock performance was very much in the same ballpark), and the Titanium was further hurt by the fact that early versions of OS X were so sluggish on *any* machine. To be honest, most laptops from 2002 kind of suck; this is when Intel was split between pushing arguably overclocked revs of the Mobile Pentium III on the mainstream and the terrible, power-guzzling-and-contantly-throttling Mobile Pentium 4 on the high end.

 

Where the late Titaniums really suffer is when you compare them with the Pentium M machines that came out very shortly later; they're *laughably* slow by comparison. They also look bad compared to the Aluminum machines, although I personally don't count the original 1.0/1.25 Ghz 15" models as overall superior because they had a lot of bugs. (Most notoriously the "white spot" problem with the screens.) A 1.33Ghz Al feels like it's in a completely different category than any Titanium.

 

Technically they are still the "best" laptop that boots directly to OS 9, I can't actually think of anything a Pismo would actually be better at. The original TiBook is electrically identical to the Pismo other than the G4 CPU, and later ones only got better CPUs and video cards.

 

Offhand I will note that I did successfully install an MSATA->PATA adapter in my 867mhz Titanium with cheapo 128GB MSATA stick, and it certainly boots OS 9 pretty darn fast.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
45 minutes ago, Gorgonops said:

To be honest, most laptops from 2002 kind of suck; this is when Intel was split between pushing arguably overclocked revs of the Mobile Pentium III on the mainstream and the terrible, power-guzzling-and-contantly-throttling Mobile Pentium 4 on the high end.

Sidenote here: There were two different portable Pentium 4 families.

 

One was the Mobile Pentium 4 you're describing, in the 65watt-and-up category. Landtanks, basically.

 

The other, which is what shipped in a number of business PCs at the time was the Pentium 4 Mobile, which ranged in heat output from 15 to around 35 or so watts. These systems were far from svelte by modern standards but they weren't un-portable and mostly the OEMs that built them made up for the size by pairing them with 14 and 15-inch screens and pairing them with two or three storage spindles per machine. My dad had such a machine from Micron that could run its floppy and CD drive at the same time, and the same is true of, say, the Dell Latitude C840.

 

A couple years ago, I had a ThinkPad T30 from 2002 with the midrange 20-ish watt Pentium 4 is a much thicker computer than any TiBook or AlBook, matched the score on a 1.67Ghz PowerBook G4 in some benchmarks. (Cinebench. Cinebench 11.5 was the one benchmark.) Upgrading from the 1.8GHz CPU I had in mine to a 2.4 or 2.6Ghz CPU, would of course have that going even further. (And, from there things only look up. Those two got 0.22, a coresolo mac mini could get 0.35, I had a T42p get 0.41, The Apple DTK got 0.53, MBP15 2.4GHz got 0.65, and a 2*2GHz G5 got 0.70. Things went up from there.)

 

People give the Pentium 4 a hard time but a couple revisions in and it mostly Did Fine. I think in 2002 it makes perfect sense to have the Pentium IIIm and two different Pentium 4 variants all sit alongside one another in a portable product stack the very same way that we have 7, 15, 28, and 45-watt mobile chips all making up unique parts of the portable computer landscape.

 

In terms of TiBook vs. pismo: the only tangential benefit the TiBook has is the bigger display. I would argue a good solid pismo is a better OS9 computer in every respect, and I include in this my typical general idea that OS9 doesn't benefit a whole lot from newer graphics chips and faster CPUs, and the apps that do usually run better on OS X anyway and then you're looking at, really, having a better overall experience on a midrange Power Mac G4 or a G5, or even a much newer PowerBook G4 or iBook G4.

 

Not that batteries in working shape are easy to find these days but an early advantage when I switched to the pismo in ~2006 was that it came with two high-capacity third party batteries, which were each around 8800mah, up from the Pismo's stock 6500mah battery, if I remember correctly. When hypermiling in Mac OS 9, I could get around 17 hours of runtime off of them. What that meant in practice was running 10.3 or 10.4 at about medium screen brightness and with wifi I was getting better battery life than classmates with brand new MacBooks, ~7-10 hours.

 

That probably wouldn't apply today, however.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Cory5412 said:

The other, which is what shipped in a number of business PCs at the time was the Pentium 4 Mobile...

I think you're thinking of the "Pentium 4-M" here. (I know it's incredibly confusing because both were regularly referred to as the "Mobile Intel Pentium 4", the -M would use confusing nomenclature like "Mobile Intel Pentium 4 Processor-M" in flyers, like in this dell ad..)

 

Alas you're not going to convince me that they were good products. I had one of the aforementioned Latitude C640s in my hands briefly and while I can't say it was a "terrible" (and I can certainly believe that it would outrun a Titanium) the "class of 2003" with Pentium M's was just *so* much better. I don't know about Cinebench scores, but if you check the GeekBench 2 browser a typical score for a 2.4Ghz C640 is around 1000, which was easily bested by a 1.6Ghz D600 which weighed a pound less and could sustain that performance for longer without throttling/the fan sounding like a blow dryer. I can't find scores for a Thinkpad T30 vs. a T40 but I'm willing to bet the equation was much the same. This isn't to say that the T30 wouldn't have been a better buy than a 2002 Powerbook if max performance was what you were after, but there was a definite physical trade-off involved. If you're comparing to x86 laptops It's probably more fair to put the PowerBook up against "executive" Pentium III-m laptops like the C610 or Thinkpad T23, and for those Geekbench scores are very much in the same ballpark for a 1 Ghz PowerBook vs. a 1.2Ghz PIII.

 

Anyway, that whole tradeoff went away when the Pentium M came out, which was my point. A fully fitted out D600 is actually *slightly* lighter than a 15" AL and runs positively roughshod over the Aluminum G4 in benchmarks. (Outside of those Photoshop monkeyshines.) There were much fewer compromises forced on you if you could have skipped the 2002 generation of laptops.

 

2 hours ago, Cory5412 said:

In terms of TiBook vs. pismo: the only tangential benefit the TiBook has is the bigger display.

It is still *faster*, G4 support or no, and it is lighter as well, so I'm still not quite sure how it's objectively "better". Is it a G4 a *lot* better, or even "meaningfully better" than the G3? I would agree probably not, but there are a few very isolated edge cases where the Titanium would be able to seriously show up a Pismo. (Laughable example: 3D gaming. Mobile Radeon > Mobile Rage Pro. I'm sure you can find, uhm, one thing where that would matter.) I would also say that if we're comparing the third gen or later Titanium to the Pismo the Titanium's support for DVI monitors is a *significant* win.

 

At this point the remaining Pismos are worn out enough I'm not even sure the originally better physical robustness of the Pismo is going to matter that much. They're old, their hinges are failing, and they also have that goofy CPU-on-a-daughtercard thing that technically makes their motherboards slightly more likely to fail.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have some higher spec T30's with 2.x Ghz P4M's and they run decently but the T40's destroy them with their Pentium M mobiles while running cooler. T30's are kind of thick and have non leaded solder issues with the GPU and RAM slots, but I still like them.

 

Think I have 3 TiBooks all 500mhz and they are nice OS 9 machines. Don't have a Pismo to compare them to and any of my Aluminum G4's would probably run circles around them because of the faster CPU, RAM, HD, and GPU. Maybe a G4 Ibook would be better for comparison. I do have a bunch of G3 Wallstreets so I know about shitty hinges. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Gorgonops said:

It is still *faster*, G4 support or no, and it is lighter as well, so I'm still not quite sure how it's objectively "better". Is it a G4 a *lot* better, or even "meaningfully better" than the G3?

When the PSU on my DA/466 croaked, I ran a my graphics apps Pismo/500r on it on a 1600x1200 LCD in Clamshell mode. It wasn't my 2 screen minimum, but very serviceable all things considered. I'd put a bigger/faster than stock HDD in the DA, so the Pismo was at a disadvantage, but didn't seem all that much or not much appreciably slower in AI and GraphicConverter. Dunno about Photoshop, never used it and all benchmarks I've seen for it appear to be slanted in some way or another. Disk performance would have reared its ugly head in my Pismo/500 vs. DA466 showdown. Both ran versions of OS9, BTW.

 

One of the really good things I have to say about LEM was that their series on using a Pismo to maximum advantage well into its "obsolescence," and even beyond was interesting.

 

Edited by Trash80toHP_Mini

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Trash80toHP_Mini said:

One of the really good things I have to say about LEM was that their series on using a Pismo to maximum advantage well into its "obsolescence," and even beyond was interesting.

To be clear, I'm not saying the Pismo is a "bad" machine for running OS 9, it's probably more than adequate for almost anything you might possibly want to do under that OS. I'm just not quite able to grok how it's a "better" machine than one that's objectively (if only incrementally) higher spec in every regard. It's hard to argue that even the fastest Titanium (which realistically is only going to be about twice as fast as a Pismo for most things) has passed some sort of performance singularity where no further improvement in user experience is possible, might as well take whatever you can get.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Never took it as such, nobody in their right mind eschewed X for doing serious graphics work in OS9, at least not in the last fifteen years or so. I'm not so serious. [:)]

 

Not saying anything against the TiBooks other than that they weren't ttrue to Titanium as opposed to the salmony pale pink that TiNikons had the self assurance to flaunt. Ruggedness in pink vs. flimsiness in silver lipstick/toe polish. Ti harbingers of style over substance servings in years yet to come. Thinner is better, maybe it was on runways past, but no more. Rules were put in place for higher body fat content there as heroine chic butterflies pressed the limits of thinness at Apple.

 

What-ever! Aluminum is better! With the onslaught of the G4, Pismo became a LowEndPowerBook and I found the LEM articles on their continued use interesting from a technical standpoint. By the time I got one they were obsolete, as was my brand spanking new DA by that day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I used a Pismo for years as my main machine so I have more affection for it versus the Tibook, but I will say that the Tibook feels more like a modern machine in a lot of ways. I should do some comparisons between the 1ghz Tibook and my 500mhz Pismo to see if I can really see a difference in performance. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Gorgonops Well, even though the TiBook is a technically better machine than the Pismo, the bad physical design mostly cancels out any advantage the TiBook may have, which I think is the main metric that @Cory5412 is basing his statement on.

 

c

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My assertion that, at the very least, the TiBook isn't a better OS9 machine than the pismo, is based on a bunch of different things. Largely, nothing in OS 9 meaningfully benefits from over a 500MHz G3. The handful of people who are doing anything in OS 9 that might be limited by that speed are doing it on Power Macs anyway. In stock configuration, the TiBook is very very held back by its bad stock disk. (Granted: a Pismo would be too, and upgrading the internal disk should improve either a pismo or a tibook a lot.)

 

The graphics uplift from Pismo to TiBook867/1000 are almost entirely a moot point for OS 9 desktop usage and for pre-OS9/edutainment software designed to run fine on a 630 or 6200. Mac OS 9 gaming would benefit a lot from the Radeon 9000M (or whatever's in the 667/800 TiBook) - if you're doing 9 gaming.

 

High end OS9 productivity software is a bit of a unique scenario, but again, most high end OS 9 productivity software also runs in OS X, and arguably runs better in OS X, and can benefit from running on newer hardware that doesn't originally support booting OS 9 like newer PowerMac G4s with even better graphics (which is meaningful in OS X), PowerMac G5s, or early-ish Intel machines that have Rosetta - which is to say that if you want to run Office v.x and Photoshop CS2 really fast, a 2011 MacBook Pro running 10.6 might be the best way to do it.

 

And none of that's counting the physical unreliability of the TiBook.

 

So, like, on paper, the TiBook is a better computer (than the Pismo), but it's in this weird middle zone where it's not really good enough to be a good OS X machine, nor is it as durable or reliable as later OSX-running MacBook/Pros or even the iBooks, and the spec bumps mostly don't matter for OS 9 usage. I also don't know that a 1GHz G4 will end up being twice as fast at out-and-out CPU than a 500MHz G4. The 1GHz TiBook uses a 7455, which if I'm remembering correctly uses some Netburst-like go-fast stripes that only work well once you've scaled a bit beyond 1GHz. I suppose a way to find out would be to bench say, my PowerMac G3/450 and my TiBook/1000 in macbench 4 or 5.

 

I get why people like them, but I just don't, even in an environment where brain worms are starting to cause me nostalgia for old versions of OS X or for interest in late-era PowerPC hardware.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To add: What I'm saying is that the on-paper performance boost to OS 9 from an upgrade from the fastest PowerBook G3 to the fastest PowerBook G4 isn't worth the trade off in physical reliability and flexibility.

 

This isn't relevant today but historically the G3 had a huge operational advantage with the modular bays where you could put two big third party batteries in and get 12-15 hours off-network with OS 9 and 8-10 hours in OS X on wifi. Those figures would probably be boosted today by installing an SSD.

 

The TiBook has a better display, and if you're going to strap it to a desk anyway, having DVI output to run bigger/nicer monitors better is an advantage, but at that point there's no reason not to get a Mac mini or a PowerMac G4, both of which can far outperform the TiBook, even at OS X, because the Mac mini's graphics supports CoreImage.

 

(Ironically, at this exact moment, on eBay US, TiBooks are trending  a fair bit cheaper than Mac mini g4s, so if performance wasn't important and having the fastest TiBook wasn't important, you can get a pretty good deal BIN on a working TiBook for under $100, whereas the cheapest mini on US eBay at the moment is $110 BIN. Last year, this was very much the reverse where G4 minis were going for like $30.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Cory5412 said:

The TiBook has a better display, and if you're going to strap it to a desk anyway, having DVI output to run bigger/nicer monitors better is an advantage, but at that point there's no reason not to get a Mac mini or a PowerMac G4, both of which can far outperform the TiBook, even at OS X, because the Mac mini's graphics supports CoreImage.

Several notes:

 

1: CoreImage is relevant for running OS 9 software?

2: The G4 Mac Mini had a Radeon 9200 in it. That is *not* a CoreImage supported GPU.

3: In fact, the *only* G4 tower that came with a CoreImage compatible GPU was that non-9-bootable one, and then only as an option.

4: CoreImage GPUs are *useless* under OS 9, they act as dumb framebuffers. There's not even support for resolution changing. So going through the trouble of installing that hacked version of OS 9 that *sort* of runs on these machines is getting pretty seriously into diminishing returns territory.

 

So, having established that a CoreImage GPU renders a machine useless for direct OS 9 booting, then I guess we're left comparing a TiBook to a hacked Mac Mini. And sure, assuming the hacked video drivers for its Radeon 9200 actually work then it probably is at least somewhat faster, although I doubt the difference between 1.0 and 1.25Ghz is that worth writing home about. As for OS X performance... color me skeptical the difference is much greater. The big advantage the Al books had over the Titanium was they could take 2GB of RAM instead of one. (At least until their extra slot blew out.) The Mini is limited to one gig, same as a TiBook. So where's this big jump in performance going to come from? Here's Geekbench2 results comparing a 1Ghz Ti to a 1.25Ghz Mac Mini. The scores are 621 and 767 respectively. So, let's do some math:

 

621/767=0.8096... so, okay, let's round this to 80%

 

1/1.25=.8

 

So... there you go. Unless I'm missing something the Titanium is 80% as fast as the Mini, which is exactly the relationship between their respective clock speeds.

 

2 hours ago, Cory5412 said:

I also don't know that a 1GHz G4 will end up being twice as fast at out-and-out CPU than a 500MHz G4. The 1GHz TiBook uses a 7455, which if I'm remembering correctly uses some Netburst-like go-fast stripes that only work well once you've scaled a bit beyond 1GHz. I suppose a way to find out would be to bench say, my PowerMac G3/450 and my TiBook/1000 in macbench 4 or 5.

 

I don't have a PowerBook G3 kicking around to play with, but for laughs lets play with Geekbench scores again.

 

Geekbench pegs a Pismo (400mhz) at a 225. Same benchmark ranks a 400mhz TiBook at 271, so it doesn't look like having a G4 really skews the numbers that much. If we multiply the 400mhz Pismo's score by 2.5, which is admittedly a *little* unrealistic, to get the theoretical score of a 1Ghz Pismo, we get 562. If we multiply that by 1.2, which is roughly the difference between the 400mhz G3 and G4, we come up with, (drum roll...) 676. This compares to the real score of 621 from the 1Ghz Titanium. Okay, so that's faster, but it's a fake number because it's highly unlikely that multiplying the number that way is valid; among other things it means this theoretical Pismo we're going against effectively has a 250mhz system bus. The actual Geekbench score of a 900mhz iBook is 419, which only bolsters my suspicions. So let's multiply the iBook's score by 1.11111 and apply the 1.2x fudge factor. That give us a score of 558, which is probably far more realistic.

 

So, yeah, looks to me like a 1Ghz Titanium is easily twice as fast as a 500mhz Pismo even if we handicap the difference in G3 vs. G4 out of the equation. No problem. It probably won't be on real world benchmarks that rely on hard disk throughput, sure, but on video benchmarks it'll crush it, so we'll call that a wash. (And it's not like it's going to *lose* the hard disk benchmarks.)

 

Not to say you don't have your reasons for thinking Titanium PowerBooks are POSes, it sounds like the one you had really earned that appellation and, frankly, I pretty much agree with most of your criticisms in an absolute sense. (And over the period they were relevant I actually used three of the bloody things, a 400mhz, a 667mhz, and an 867mhz, and I had plenty of other machines to compare them with, including contemporary PC laptops and their Aluminum G4 successors.) The supposed performance of these things was badly oversold, they were physically flimsy, and they were *terrible* at running OS X. But I frankly think by picking on them *in particular* you're kind of ignoring the fact that all Apple products from this era kind of suck. The only reason the G4 towers could even remotely pretend to compare with PCs is because Apple invested so heavily in dual processing (which wasn't quite a mainstream thing in the PC world yet), The G3 iBooks they were churning out were dropping like flies because of the issues Apple was having with keeping their GPUs soldered down, and OS X sucked on everything because of how bloated and inefficient it was; "Jaguar" got a lot of press for being the first "usable" version, but it was still bad, and it was only released a couple months before the last rev of the Titanium.

 

Frankly by Apple's low standards I think the Titanium is... okay, at least from a performance standpoint. I don't see any evidence that it's unusually slow for its "rated speed" compared to any of its contemporary Apple machines, nor its immediate ancestors or descendants. It almost comes across as bad faith to keep dropping references to how much better *very late* PowerPC machines or Intel Machines running Rosetta run OS X software as support for the contention that a Pismo, a machine less than half as fast as the Titanium, is a better OS 9 machine. Frankly that whole argument can easily just be flipped on its head and the same data can be used to make the case that a fast Titanium is the best PowerPC laptop you can own because it is the fastest officially supported native OS 9 machine *and* it can at least run OS X software almost as well as a Mac Mini, which you certainly cannot say about a Pismo.

Edited by Gorgonops
Fixed the math in the Pismo section.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
51 minutes ago, CC_333 said:

I think @Cory5412 is probably biased against the TiBook primarily because his experience with it was so negative.

c

My experience with them was pretty negative too.

I was doing Mac support at Motorola when the the TiBooks came out.

They were over-engineered and too fragile for a business environment.

All the execs and managers got them and inside of six months (or less!) I'd say at least half had broken hinges or the plastic around the edge cracked.

Performance-wise they were fine. The problem was they just fell apart.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, MOS8_030 said:

Performance-wise they were fine. The problem was they just fell apart.

And yeah, I'll totally agree that physically they sucked. The first gen ones in particular were comically fragile, but they were all pretty bad. Even a *minor* drop, like a few inches down on a desk, could crack the bonding in such a way that the laptop would henceforth feel "floppy" when held in one hand. Almost every Titanium that was turned back in after its tour of duty at my company had that condition.

 

(I've noticed that condition seems slightly less common with privately owned machines; it's another data point that confirms my suspicion that paying money for used corporate-lease laptops is often a bad idea. People often don't treat things they didn't pay for with the same care they would if it was their own $2,500 on the line, oddly enough.)


Honestly I wasn't that impressed with the few Pismo's I've handled, but I kind of have to take a pass on judging them simply because they're so much rarer than Ti's. They struck me as very similar to a similarly priced Dell Latitude or similar in terms of robustness, which is, well, fine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
36 minutes ago, Gorgonops said:

Honestly I wasn't that impressed with the few Pismo's I've handled, but I kind of have to take a pass on judging them simply because they're so much rarer than Ti's. They struck me as very similar to a similarly priced Dell Latitude or similar in terms of robustness, which is, well, fine.

The first new Apple laptop I bought was a grey 466 iBook SE. 

I could have gotten a Pismo but after seeing how they held up at work I opted for the iBook.

It was much more solid and was still going strong when I passed it on five years later.

 

The Dell laptops of the era were total junk. I had to work on those too.  Again, performance wise they were fine, just poorly built.

One big problem they had was the screws fell out.

I just carried a screwdriver and every time I had to work on one I'd tighten all the screws that were left.

 

And you're right, corporate hardware takes a lot of abuse.

Edited by MOS8_030

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My apologies for any confusion. I didn't intend to imply that a 500MHz G3 with a Rage128 and a 100MHz bus would numerically, on paper, outperform a 1000Mhz G4 on a 133MHz bus with a Radeon 9000.

 

Of course if you get a raw CPU benchmark, a 1000MHz G4 will be much faster than a 500MHz G3. I suppose that seemed obvious enough to me not to have to say it. At the time, I was using SETI@home Classic and, sure enough, the TiBook rocked at fast fourier transforms, which I'd bet fit within its meg of L3 cache. (I believe BOINC had come online by the time I got the Pismo, I don't remember if I ever used SETI Classic on the Pismo, but I did on a blue G3/450 tower, and, the TiBook was, as you'd expect, much faster at raw out-and-out compute that only touches the CPU.)

 

My, admittedly anecdotal, and it appears literally nobody else had this kind of experience, is that the TiBook buckled immediately and hard once you started to do certain types of difficult work on it. Mine was "looking at photos." (In OS X, which was my daily OS at the time, because of convenience and the web.) It was bad in iPhoto with 2-megapixel JPEGs, which were a common file format and size in 2002 when the TiBook/867-1000 launched, and it got worse when I got a camera that could produce 6 megapixel RAW files.

 

The TiBook was solidly "fine" at mostly everything else I did with it. Email, internet, word processing, page layout, and even (because this relies more on achieving a certain consistent throughput, which became trivial in 1999, than random i/o perf) ripping DV tapes and simple standard def video editing with DV files.

 

In retrospect, the problem was the disk drive. The TiBooks (and first-gen AlBook) all shipped with 4200RPM hard disks as stock, because it wasn't until later that there were two suppliers of 5400RPM laptop hard disks, at which point Apple adopted them for PowerBooks.

 

From a technical perspective, I could have worked around the problem by using an external firewire hard disk, or buying my own 5400RPM laptop hard disk and installing it. I didn't have the means (or, to be honest, I was a literal child at the time, so, the knowledge) to do that.

 

It really, really, soured the experience of using a machine that retailed for $2,799 and was under three years old. I've thought for years that the $2,800 would have been better spent on almost any other combination of Mac hardware at the time. The scenario was, I don't know if this is unique, but it was one where the machine showed up one day largely in exchange for my coming along quietly with a big cross-country move into some much smaller living quarters. It's not exactly relevant here, but it's perhaps useful context for why I as a literal child even had a TiBook.

 

It suffered lots of random physical failures along the way, more than any other laptop I've had up to this point, and suffered a display failure I didn't have the means/wherewithal to recover from, so I swapped it for a pismo, which itself did have an upgraded disk installed. Between that and ho-hum normal 5400-7200RPM desktop drives in my 450MHz blue-and-white tower doing my photo work as fast as the TiBook, I don't think it was entirely unreasonable for Young Cory to come away with the impression that G4s were bad machines.

 

That was, of course, bolstered by the bad physical reliability of the G4 I happened to have.

 

And then by the fact that the slowest MacBook Pro that ended up shipping, the 1.83GHz Core1Duo model, also managed to outperform my TiBook at the photo tasks.

 

A faster disk would've resolved a lot for me, but I still think, given that my workload in 2005 isn't even remotely comparable to what most people are doing on vintage OS 9 machines today, that recommending a PowerBook or iBook G3 over a TiBook today for that need is reasonable. You miss out on the upgraded screen and the newer graphics, but you're not really missing out on any real-world performance improvements for OS 9 apps. I'm not convinced that OS 9 gaming on TiBooks is a thing a lot of people are interested in, mostly because we'd hear about it if they were. From what I can tell, most of the vintage Mac gaming people are either fine on Pismos and iBooks, or they're doing "maximum possible" PowerMac G4 configs.

 

And if you wanted to use apps that ran in OS X and needed a lot of horsepower anyway, you could just get much newer PowerPC Macs (such as the last round of G4s, as suggested above, or G5s) or, heck, Macs released up through 2012 will run 10.6, which still has Rosetta. 

 

 

Re Radeon 9250 and Core Image: Whoops, sure enough. I was mis-remembering both some mini specs and the Core Image information. The second group of Aluminum PowerBook G4s supports CoreImage, and the 1.42GHz eMac supports it with a Radeon 9600, but only some (17-20") of the last generation of iMac G4 support it, no G4 minis support it, and on the PowerMac side, of course the MDDs support it, but talking about PowerMac CoreImage support is a little moot as you can install newer graphics cards into any PowerMac G4 minus the Yikes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/7/2020 at 8:16 PM, Trash80toHP_Mini said:

Ti harbingers of style over substance servings in years yet to come.

Post TiBook, Apple managed to improve in build quality a lot. I would argue that the TiBook was too ambitious of an early attempt to do something that was pretty clearly possible and reasonable. Though, I'd also argue Apple didn't really get it right until 2008 when the unibody enclosure was introduced.

 

I don't think it's because the TiBook was thin that it was flimsy. ThinkPads from the era are nearly as thin and have almost none of the problems the TiBook did, physically.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My 2006 MBP was ideal to me. Thin, sturdy, and relatively easy to disassemble. The unibody was definitely harder in that regard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/12/2020 at 12:53 PM, Cory5412 said:

A faster disk would've resolved a lot for me, but I still think, given that my workload in 2005 isn't even remotely comparable to what most people are doing on vintage OS 9 machines today, that recommending a PowerBook or iBook G3 over a TiBook today for that need is reasonable. You miss out on the upgraded screen and the newer graphics, but you're not really missing out on any real-world performance improvements for OS 9 apps. I'm not convinced that OS 9 gaming on TiBooks is a thing a lot of people are interested in, mostly because we'd hear about it if they were. From what I can tell, most of the vintage Mac gaming people are either fine on Pismos and iBooks, or they're doing "maximum possible" PowerMac G4 configs.

Here's the counter-argument:

  1. TiBooks are *considerably* more common than Pismos; they made the Pismo for 11 months and Apple was still climbing out of the big hole Steve Jobs was recruited to dig them out of when he got on board in 1997, so they also weren't selling anywhere near as fast. Perhaps Ti's did have a higher mortality rate, but in absolute terms there were more of them to start with, and Pismos weren't that sturdy in the beginning nor were they immune to age-related illnesses. (Their hinges also blow out, and their motherboards are very possibly less reliable than Ti's, although of course I have no numbers to demonstrate that suspicion.) So despite the advantages a Pismo may have had in physical robustness back in 2001 it's easier to lay hands on a working Titanium today. As for the iBook G3, those things had *terrible* reliability issues; all but the original 500/600mhz versions of the "Icebook" had the defective GPU bonding, and as a consequence it's actually easier to find a working "Toilet Seat" model than a fast IceBook, and you *will* notice the performance difference between any Titanium and a toilet seat. So on availability the TiBook wins, hands down.
  2. None of these machines make sense as a true portable anymore; batteries are scarce unless you're into rebuilding them, and honestly rebuilding a Ti's battery takes about as much effort as doing the same to a Pismo's. (IE, neither is fun.) So if we're going to assume that this retro machine of yours is going to spend a lot of time tethered to a desk then let's face facts: the Titanium is going to give you the best experience, although how much better is going to depend on the generation. The original 400/500mhz will be roughly a tie; they're both cursed with an 8MB Rage 128. But every subsequent model has a Radeon card and enough VRAM to run both the internal LCD and an external monitor at full resolution, and the last two gens have DVI ports. And they're standard DVI ports, not a mickey-mouse thing that needs an adapter. (And they're also not limited to running in mirror mode with limited resolution choices like an iBook.) Yes, it's not going to be as good of a setup as a maxxed out G4, but it's a heck of a lot smaller and quieter and you have the option of portability that's missing even from a Mac Mini.
  3. Even if your heart is with OS 9 for practicality's sake you might want at least the option of booting into OS X. (Like if you want to use wireless on an at-least-kind-of-vaguely-secure network, which is technically possible with TKIP, although it is true many routers have it disabled by default now.) A G4 runs it better than a G3. Full stop. And three out of four versions of the Ti also win big over a Pismo by at least supporting Quartz Extreme.
  4. Most stock hard disks for these machines, any of them, are pushing up daisies now anyway, so replace the Ti's with a faster one or an SSD. It's not fun to take apart a Ti enough to change the hard disk but it's way, way easier than it is to do the same in an iBook.

Taking everything into account I'd say that a Titanium G4 seems like a perfectly reasonable option, if not the absolute best one. (Maybe it's the best of a bad lot, but it's still the best.)

 

If you didn't get your hands on your TiBook until 2005 no wonder you thought it sucked. They did suck in 2005, muchly. But you're wrong that $2,800 would have gotten you a much better machine from Apple at the time it was made. I mean, sure, you could get a dual CPU G4 Tower and that'd be faster. But for a portable it was the only game in town, like it or hate it. And, really, I'm serious when I say laptops sucked in 2002, across the board. The Ti was competitive with "executive class" PC laptops of the era, and all of those laptops were seriously slow compared to a desktop PC you could buy for the same money. Also, people forget that many laptops of that era also had severe reliability problems. (Ever heard of the Thinkpad "Blink of Death"? That was a big thing with the T20 series, as were cold solder joints that took out a memory slot.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×