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You are here: MacNN Forums > Enthusiast Zone > Hardware Hacking > Are their limits on hard drives in Powerbooks?

Are their limits on hard drives in Powerbooks?
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Boothwyn, PA, USA
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Aug 16, 2007, 12:21 PM
My HD in my 12inch 1.5 ghz G4 powerbook is getting old and I want to replace it. Now that their are 2.5 inch hard drives up to 250gb I would like to put the maximum amount of storage in there possible. How do I find out if there is a limit that this machine will read?
Quad G5 1.5 gig 12 inch PB Lots of other stuff.

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Join Date: Mar 2007
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Aug 16, 2007, 12:51 PM
The limits are in the interface, not in what the PB can recognize.

The PB uses 2.5" ATA (IDE) drives, which top out at 160GB (with a formatted capacity of about 144GB). The 250GB drives you saw are SATA, and only work in the newer MacBooks/MacBook Pros.
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Aug 18, 2007, 04:51 PM
Older powerbooks do not really utilize any more than the 120GB size. I have dozens of G3 pismos, lombards, iBooks, and Titanium G4 models, and my 160GB PATA drive is seen only as 128GB, whereas the 120GB model shows as 118GB. For old machines, the 5,400 RPM PATA hard drives in the 80 to 100 GB seem to offer the most bang for the buck. In most cases, using a 5,400 vs. 4,200 drive, makes significant speed improvements.

I use external IEEE 1394 external hard drives to store large files efficiently...some are huge (ITB RAID units), but still work very well. They are also seen roughly as the size they are. For overall storage efficiency, you cannot beat the firewire interface. It is entirely processor independent...unlike USB 2...and therefore even the original 400MB model, makes USB look bad. Firewire gives an honest transfer rate, well above the hyped USB 2 format, despite published theoretical USB 2 advantages (supposedly 480MPs vs 400MPs)...advantages that exist on paper only.

The lombards/pismos have expansion bay PATA ability, which often proves quite handy. Again though, there is a limit well below the amount of information allowed on the firewire drive.

There are PATA/SATA converters out there, but have not used the ones I have...as of yet. The results may prove different, but I rather suspect there is a built in limit for the older powerbooks, and by converting to the PATA from SATA...you are again in the same kettle of fish...back to PATA limitataions.

If it was simply the PATA interface that was the entire problem though, then PATA hard drives on desktops would experience similar limitations. Such is definitely not the case.
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Aug 18, 2007, 05:00 PM
I have a quicksilver 2002 933Mhz G4, that has two 500gb hard drives in it, and they function flawlessly in the PATA environment. I did have to use a firmware upgrade though, to do that. Maybe that is all that is missing in the older machines, not that apple is likely to rush out there and release any more upgrades for the older machines. It is like the BIOS flashes needed, to make some windows machines able to handle bigger hard drives. I have never seen an aftermarket upgrade flash, for apple laptops, but maybe someone else has. Apple is certainly not ever going to go there.
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