A Look Under the Hood of the PowerBook G4 (DVI) 800MHz

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 21st, 2002, 02:02
Category: Archive

First a little history. For the sake of this article we will define PowerBook G4 Titanium models as follows:

  • Rev. A – 400/500MHz – 19 Dec 2000 – dev note
  • Rev. B – 550/667MHz (no combo) – 11 Oct 2001 – dev note
  • Rev. C – 550/667MHz w/combo – 17 December 2001 – dev note
  • Rev. D – 667/800MHz (DVI) – 29 April 2002

The PowerBook G4 667 and 800MHz (DVI) models were announced on 29 April 2002. The main benefit of the new Rev. D PowerBook is the addition of a 32MB ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 video subsystem, a DVI video-out port, and expanded 1280 x 854 pixel resolution which is 23 percent more than previous TiBook models.

thumbnail
Figure 1: 10.1.4 build 5R60, 1280*854 resolution

Read the entire review and check out 17 pictures comparing the newest PowerBook 800MHz to the model it replaces by clicking on the “Read More” link below…


First a little history. For the sake of this article we will define PowerBook G4 Titanium models as follows:

  • Rev. A – 400/500MHz – 19 Dec 2000 – dev note
  • Rev. B – 550/667MHz (no combo) – 11 Oct 2001 – dev note
  • Rev. C – 550/667MHz w/combo – 17 December 2001 – dev note
  • Rev. D – 667/800MHz (DVI) – 29 April 2002

The PowerBook G4 667 and 800MHz (DVI) models were announced on 29 April 2002. The main benefit of the new Rev. D PowerBook is the addition of a 32MB ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 video subsystem, a DVI video-out port, and expanded 1280 x 854 pixel resolution which is 23 percent more than previous TiBook models.

thumbnail
Figure 1: 10.1.4 build 5R60, 1280*854 resolution

The first thing I noticed was that although the DVI PowerBooks come pre-installed with Mac OS 10.1.4, the build is number is 5R60, whereas the 10.1.4 update downloaded from Apple is build 5Q125. This picture also shows the slightly larger 1280*854 resolution. The extra real estate is noticeable if you open System Preferences and look at the extra space around it. This is even more evident in the 800/667 side-by-side picture gallery.

thumbnail
Figure 2: note the mirroring icon on the F7 key

Another distinguishing feature of the PowerBook G4 (DVI) is the mirroring shortcut that is silk-screened on the F7 key. Pressing it alternates between monitor mirroring and spanning.

thumbnail
Figure 3: straight shot of the backplane, including DVI video-out

The backplane of the new PowerBook G4 (DVI) show the new port lineup: FireWire, Ethernet, Dual USB, cooling vent, DVI video-out, S-Video, Audio-in and RJ11 (modem). Missing is the IrDA window which is usually to the right of the right hinge. Compare the port lineup of the 550/677 and the 800/667 in our side-by-side picture gallery.

thumbnail
Figure 4: bottom case – one less screw & "mystery panel”

The bottom of the PowerBook G4 (DVI) and the mystery panel, which was initially thought to be some sort of cooling device or AirPort antenna. The panel appears to provide heat dissipation as it is covered by more conductive foil than the previous 550/667MHz models on the inside of the bottom case. The panel is made of an acrylic or plastic material that is stuck to the titanium bottom case with a strong adhesive. The bottom of the DVI PowerBooks is attached with 8 (instead of 9) screws, the mystery panel covers what was previously the ninth screw hole.

thumbnail
Figure 5: note the second fan on the far left

As with the change from the original 400/500MHz (Rev. A) to the 550/667 (Rev. B & C) TiBooks, the new 667/800 (Rev. D) model has a completely new logic board. The new design features two, two-speed cooling fans that keep it running cooler and quieter. The second fan, visible along the left edge of the logic board above the optical drive, gets more airflow though the PowerBook with both fans running on low speed than the previous model’s single fan running on high. On my previous PowerBook 667MHz (Gigabit Ethernet) the fan would run on high as soon as I launched Folding@home. With the 800MHz DVI the fans stay on low while running Folding@home.

thumbnail
Figure 6: all-white RJ11 cable & DVI>VGA adapter

The DVI PowerBooks ship with an ultra-cool white RJ11/telephone cable with, get this, white connectors – WAAAY cool. The new RJ11 cable is eminently cooler that the clear model it replaces. Also included in the box is a DVI>VGA video adapter allowing you to connect the PowerBook to traditional analog monitors.

If you want to connect the PB-DVI to an Apple (digital) LCD display you will need to purchase a US$150 Apple DVI to ADC adapter. If you purchase a PowerBook, flat-panel display and adapter from Apple by 30 June 2002 you can get US$150 back by mail-in rebate.

Conclusions

Overall the new PowerBook G4 (DVI) feels tighter a little better engineered. The hinges are super tight at first, requiring two hands to open the lid, but this is probably because they are new. The trackpad seems to be connected a little more securely to the top case and there is less of a gap between the trackpad and the top case when you press lightly on the top left and right edges. The trackpad button is also super-firm.

AirPort reception is slightly improved in the PB-DVI. Previously when I would work in my bedroom, the AirPort connection would get dropped every 15-20 minutes or so. So far I have had no such Airport disconnects with the PB-DVI in my room. The AirPort status in the menu bar also appears to get about one-bar better reception (four bars where I would previously get three, etc.) in the newer PowerBook model, but this is far from scientific and your mileage may vary.

The new 1280*854 display is crisp and spacious without menus and windows being too small. The ATI Radeon 7500 mobility chip is zippy and promises to be even faster with Quartz Extreme in Mac OS 10.2 (code-named Jaguar). When I launched Entourage v. X for the first time after installed my 60GB HDD from my 667MHz TiBook, I was surprised at the extra screen real estate that was available around my previously-maximized Entourage setup. The extra 128 and 86 pixels (horizontal/vertical) provide a surprising amount of additional space – more than you’d think. You can now display two average Web pages, or a BBEdit and browser window side-by-side on the new PowerBook quite easily.

XLR8YourMac.com has published some impressive PowerBook 667/800 performance tests that include AppleWorks, Photoshop, Quake3 and CineBench2000. Quake3 frame rates were 40 to 100 p

ercent faster and CineBench OpenGL Shading was 25 percent faster, raytracing was 23 percent faster. Macworld has posted a review of the new PowerBook that also includes some performance benchmarks.

For pictures of the previous 667MHz compared to the new 800MHz PowerBook be sure to check out our side-by-side picture gallery.

The new PowerBooks are available from PowerPage sponsors MacResQ, Small Dog Electronics, Tekserve (New York) and Springboard Media (Philadelphia).

  • PowerBook G4 667MHz, 256MB, 30GB, Combo – US$2499
  • PowerBook G4 800MHz, 512MB, 40GB, Combo – US$3199
  • PowerBook G4 800MHz, 1GB, 60GB, Combo – US$3799

What’s your take on the new PowerBook (DVI)?

Recent Posts

Comments are closed.