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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > Finally a 12" Review with some useful info...

Finally a 12" Review with some useful info...
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Jan 31, 2003, 10:32 AM
well this is my 1st post:
i had to let everyone know that I just read the 1st review of the 12" that i felt was reliable and informative.
The German version of Macworld has just posted their initial test results (http://www.macwelt.de/_news/200301/id14899.shtml).
In essence, their conclusion was that the iBook 800 is faster than the 12" in non-AltiVec tasks (e.g. Cinema 4D render scene was 5 seconds faster on the iBook). The only exception seems to be in 2d actions where the nVidia chip beats the ATI 7500 in the iBook (500 page scroll test got 59 seconds, iBook 78 seconds, 15"PB got 44seconds).
The AltiVec edge was noticeable in iTunes (94 vs. 58 seconds) and a ten-task Photoshop test (12" was 23 seconds faster). What about Quake? 54fps on the 12" and 51fps on the iBook--the 15" PB got 75fps.
Given that we poor Europeans MUST pay tax on our purchases, these test results led me to cancel my 12" order in favor of a 15"PB or a 14" iBook. As much as I have waited for a 12" PB, these are not the results i expected from 4xAGP vs. 2xAGP, and 133MHz vs 100 MHz Bus. The 12" PB may be beautiful, but I can't see the value when compared to the iBook or a potentially new Alu 15". Granted, the quick review did not address OSX responsiveness (which I assume would profit greatly from a G4), but I'm not sure this would sway me.
I hope this info is helpful for some of you.
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Jan 31, 2003, 10:56 AM
There was a quick benchmark test from some Mac site right from the Expo. The tests showed, that the iBook 800 and the 12" PB were on par on most tasks (memory access being an exception where the PB beat teh iBook by a wide margin). But speed wasn't so much an issue for me. I had an iBook 800 and it was fast enough, graphics handling and OS X responsiveness were good. So I expect the same from the PB (although for certain tasks the G4 should really kick in).

What I like most about the PB is the availability of the SuperDrive. Also the form factor, the aluminium case and built-in bluetooth are a plus. Keyboard should be better according to some reviews. I'm still waiting for shipment...
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Jan 31, 2003, 11:00 AM
for those of us who don't speak german and don't want to waste their time on an online translation service, i've wasted mine for you:

A jewel names Steve jobs the 12-zoll-notebook 12-zoll-notebook customs compactest and at the best equipped after its statements 12-zoll-notebook notebook of the world. Certainly the task of the Apple-Bosses is its products as good as possible anzupreisen. Yet in exact view, it concerns in the little Powerbook G4 a solidly revalued iBook. The housing of the minuses Powerbooks resembles very that of the iBooks, to be sure latter about four millimeter is thicker. Instead of plastic, the housing of the Powerbooks consists of aluminum.

The G4-Prozessor of the 12-Zoll-Powerbooks related Level-2-Cache large processor speed to compromises solely a 256 KB. The Powerbook-Nesthäkchen does not offer Level-3-Cache large a 1 MB in contrast to its large brothers unfortunately. This additional between storage furnishes can the processor like the Level-2-Cache however more quickly with lining than it the slower memory. To be sure also the G3-Prozessor of the iBooks must come out without Level-3-Cache, offers for that it vis-ā-vis the G4-Prozessor a twice as large Level-2-Cache. In the practice, the missing Level-3-Cache makes itself clearly noticeably. The processor of the 12-zoll-powerbooks 12-zoll-powerbooks customs works became iBook fast about equally quickly like the 800 MHz 12-zoll-powerbooks 12-zoll-powerbooks in Appleworks and in Microsoft and that, although the processor of the iBooks around 86 MHz of slight taktet. These uses do not use the Velocity unit of the G4-Prozessors like Cinema 4D. In this 3D-Programm settled the iBook its Renderjobs of even through way faster than the little Powerbook G4. so settles the 800-MHz-iBook 800-MHz-iBook 800-MHz-iBook 800-MHz-iBook 800-MHz-iBook the Rendern of an example scene in 43 seconds, the 12 customs large Powerbook needs here for 5 seconds. Up trump can the 12 customs Powerbook large in uses as well as about Photoshop, iTunes or iMovie. These uses fall back often on the additional fluent comma unit of the G4-Prozessors. The little Powerbook settles our Photoshop test that consists of 10 filter calculations after altogether 72 seconds nevertheless 23 seconds more quickly than the 800-MHz-iBook. Also in iTunes, the minuses Powerbook depends the iBook. For the rib of our test song, the little Powerbook with 58 seconds clearly less time needs than the iBook, that is finished first after 94 seconds with this task.

Brisk graphics for the picture worry large brother instead of the ATI-Grafikchips in the 15 customs now the new Nvidia GEFORCE4 420 Go that take action on 32 MB video storages. This mobile variant of the GEFORCE4 works in our test to be sure more slowly than the ATI Radeon Mobility of 9000 the 15-Zoll-Powerbooks, for that however above all in the 2D-Grafikbeschleunigung clearly faster than the graphic card of the iBooks. The 12-zoll-powerbook 12-zoll-powerbook customs needs became 59 seconds 12-zoll-powerbook 12-zoll-powerbook around a 500-page text in Microsoft scrollen. While the 15-zoll-powerbook 15-zoll-powerbook customs more quickly settles 15-zoll-powerbook 15-zoll-powerbook this task 15 seconds, the 800-MHz-iBook 800-MHz-iBook 800-MHz-iBook 800-MHz-iBook 800-MHz-iBook needs for 19 seconds. With 54 pictures per second (fps, frames per second), the 12-zoll-powerbook 12-zoll-powerbook customs can would croak 12-zoll-powerbook 12-zoll-powerbook to be sure in our 3D-Test with 3 only three of pictures per second more notices than the iBook. Latter uses the graphics chip ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 at a half so fast AGP interface as in the Powerbook. Clearly faster in this discipline the 15-Zoll-Powerbook, whose graphics chip ATI Radeon Mobility 9000 can represent in our test 75 of pictures per second, is.
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Jan 31, 2003, 11:16 AM
Yay finally a review with some benchmarks on Altivec applications. This is the exact kind of benchmarks I have been wanting to know and the difference is pretty significant. 94 seconds to enconde an mp3 on the ibook compared to 58 seconds on the powerbook is pretty significant. Hopefully this margin of speed improvement is also present in final cut pro. I went by the Atlanta store to try out the 12 inch and I found it to be of much better quality than the ibook. It was slightly less warm(not hot) than the ibook and the keyboard was much better on the powerbook. Hopefully my check will go through today so that I can finally order the powerbook.
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Jan 31, 2003, 11:25 AM
Wow! Is it just me or can anyone else understand this review?
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Jan 31, 2003, 11:44 AM
"A jewel names Steve Jobs"? Wow, talk about rich parents!

"The 12-zoll-notebook"? Holy ASS, where can I get one??!

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Jan 31, 2003, 12:15 PM
Ok, maybe grammar and spelling aren't perfect, but I hope it is better understandable, than the first one

The 12" PowerBook Review (by Markus Schelhorn, macwelt.de)

Steve Jobs calls the new PowerBook a jewel, the most compact and best equipped 12-inch notebook in the world. It is certainly the job of the Apple boss to praise his product, but if you look closer at the little PowerBook G4, it is an upgraded iBook. The casing of the mini PowerBook is very similar to the iBook, which is indeed 4 milimeters thicker. Instead of plastic the PowerBook's casing is made from aluminium.

Processor speed with trade-offs

The G4 processor of the 12" PowerBook uses only a 256k Level-2 cache. In contrast to the 1MB Level-3 cache of its bigger siblings the 12" PowerBook has none. This additional buffer memory can feed the processor faster than the slower RAM. Although the G3 processor of the iBook neither has a Level-3 cache, it has a doubled Level-2 cache compared to the G4 processor.
You will definetely notice the missing Level-3 cache. The processor of the 12" PowerBook is of similar speed as the 800MHz iBook when using AppleWorks or Microsoft Office, although the iBook is clocked 67MHz slower. These applications (like Cinema 4D) don't use the Velocity Engine of the G4 processor. Using the 3D program the iBook renders generally faster than the little PowerBook. The 800MHz iBook renders an example scene in 43 seconds whereas the 12" Powerbook need 5 seconds more. The 12" PowerBook shows its strengths with Photoshop, iTunes or iMovie. These applications frequently use the floating point unit of the G4 processor. Our Photoshop test (rendering 10 filters) was done after 72 seconds on the PowerBook, and it took 23 seconds longer on the 800Mhz iBook. Ripping a song with iTunes required 58 seconds on the little PowerBook and 94 seconds on the iBook.

Fast graphics.

The new nVIDIA Geforce4 420 Go with 32MB video RAM is responsible for the graphics compared to the ATI graphics chip in its 15" big brother. This mobile variant of the Geforce4 is slower than the ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 built into the 15" PowerBook in our tests, but is considerably faster than the graphics card of the iBook, especially with 2D acceleration.
Scrolling a 500 pages document in Microsoft Word took 59 seconds on the 12" PowerBook. Where the 15" PowerBook is 15 seconds faster, the 800MHz iBook is 19 seconds slower. But with 54fps in the Quake3 test the 12" PowerBook got only 3fps more than the iBook. The iBook uses an ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 with an AGP interface half as fast as the PowerBook's one. The 15" PowerBook is a lot faster in this discipline, the ATI Radeon Mobility 9000 generated 74fps.

Configuration: partly with trade-offs

The little PowerBook has the same mini VGA interface as the iBook, whereas his big brothers have a DVI-I interface, which can connect to both digital and analog VGA displays. After all you can use spanning with the little Powerbook instead of just mirroring on an external display as is the case with the iBook. Appel provides a mini-VGA-to-VGA adapter and a S-Video/Composite adapter with the PowerBook.
On the right side of the PowerBook you can find the slot-in drive, depending on mode it is a Superdrive or Combo. Contrary to the iBook the power plug is located on the left side. There are also the ports for modem, ethernet, FireWire, USB, mini VGA, headphones, and microphone. You can find the slots for the RAm and AirPort Extreme card on the bottom side of the PowerBook. After removing the cover of the meomry slot we saw the SO-DIMM slot. Unfortunately it is loaded with an 128MB module. if you want to add more memory, you have to remove this module. After removing the battery you can reach the AirPort slot easily without any tools. If you need a bigger hard disk, we recommend to built to order. We quickly gave up our attempt to see the inside of the PowerBook.
We were surprised that the 12" model has a faster ComboDrive that the 15" model. It writes to CD-R with 24x instead of 8x, it writes to CD-RW with 10x, instead of the 8x in the 15" model. Also, the SuperDrive of the 12" model is faster than the 15" one's, because it reads DVD with 8x instead of 6x.


The little PowerBook G4 left us with mixed feelings. The gain in speed is to little for the hefty premium compared to the iBook, the better configuration does not justify the big drain on your wallet. For the premium you get an PowerBook which design may appeal to some people more than the plastic of the iBook. Additionally you get an slot for an AirPort Extreme card. and the possibility of monitor spanning. This function has been dispabled by the Mac manufacturer in the iBook's Open Firmware.
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Jan 31, 2003, 01:02 PM
despite things as trivial as frame rates and the time it takes to launch apps (since apps in OSX can stay launched.....) my 12" powerbook is better than my 800mhz ibook in MANY ways..... You can't s-video out on the ibook. You can't filter in photoshop without waiting...... and waiting..... you can't burn a DVD in the iBook..... The keyboard on the PB is the best on any notebook..... OSX runs FASTER... I booted the two up and once at the desktop, opened a finder window (PB faster). Then minimized it (PB much faster)... then ran the cursor over the dock.. magnification much better on PB. DVD control features operate with no delay. iTunes is more responsive in all areas. As is iPhoto and encoding in iMovie is a LOT faster... about the same as my 733 tower.

The fact that you get a G4 and the superdrive makes the system worth every dime. For someone to claim they are not buying a PB because of the frame rate and how long it takes photoshop to launch...... that's fine... you're not who the system is marketed toward anyway. It's marketed towards people who want an iBook because of the size.....but also want to burn DVD's... hence the G4. It's the first step in eliminating the iBook or making it education only. Just click on HARDWARE on the apple site... the iBook isn't even THERE.. you have to scroll down into the lists to find it. I love both of my systems but the PowerBook does exactly what it's marketed to do: Provide iBook customers the ultimate iBook..... renamed a powerbook because it has a G4.
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Jan 31, 2003, 02:04 PM
Jmatero hit the nail on the head, the 12" Powerbook isn't aimed at people who want the absolute best mobile performance in the Mac world. It is instead aimed at people who'd like the iBook's dimensions but want a little more umph and features than is available in the iBook.

The SD Powerbook would be a bad value for someone who used their laptop for school and office tasks with some iTunes and gaming on the side. It would on the otherhand be a great value for a mobile video editor or audio tech who used G4 enhanced apps on a regular basis. You can do the entire off-line process on a 12" Powerbook AND output to a CD or DVD for about $2000 in hardware. An iBook plus FW DVD-R or Superdrive would cost at least that much and wouldn't be nearly as satisfying as running on the G4.

If you don't want a 12" Powerbook don't buy one. Macwelt's tests are suspect because there's no information given about the test environment and the fact they're using Cinema 4D which is a Classic-only benchmark. The iBooks can run it in OS9 where the Powerbooks must run it in Classic. Arbitrary tests like stop-watching the load of a program are getting ridiculous, there's so many factors involved in opening an application it is silly to consider it a performance metric.

The topic's title ought to be "More arbitrary tests try to make 12" Powerbook owners feel bad". I'm all about good purchases, the Powerbooks are not for everyone, there's iBooks for everyone else or faster Powerbooks. I'm pretty content with the ability to watch and burn DVDs, play Quake 3 and Jedi Knight 2, connect to Bluetooth periphrials, and use G4 enhanced programs in a computer under five pounds with no extra periphrials or attachments.
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Jan 31, 2003, 02:17 PM
Originally posted by Graymalkin:
The topic's title ought to be "More arbitrary tests try to make 12" Powerbook owners feel bad". I'm all about good purchases, the Powerbooks are not for everyone, there's iBooks for everyone else or faster Powerbooks. I'm pretty content with the ability to watch and burn DVDs, play Quake 3 and Jedi Knight 2, connect to Bluetooth periphrials, and use G4 enhanced programs in a computer under five pounds with no extra periphrials or attachments.
Well said. A lot of people don't seem to understand that these computers are not going to be suitable for everyone. But for the people that need what they have to offer, they are great! I'm just so glad that Apple now has some real choices with their portables. Not just "if you want power, get a powerbook, if you want portability get an ibook". They have now added a lot more choices to the spectrum. In my case, before the new books I thought the ibook was a pretty good size (could always be smaller and lighter of course) but it didn't have a G4 or superdrive, which for my purposes (DVD authoring) made it useless. The powerbook G4 had the power, but it was too big and fragile (not to mention a bit pricey for me).

The 12" powerbook is a very good fit for people like me. I do wish it had a larger resolution screen, but that's about it. I'm sure I will be satisfied with overall performance.
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Jan 31, 2003, 02:51 PM
Icruise and Graymalkin are right that these tests are probably quite useless. But well, I just have nothing else to spend my time on. So here you go, I tried to sum the whole thing up:



AppleWorks / Word:
pb12" about same Speed as ibook 800

Cinema 4D Rendering (doesn´t support altivec):
pb12" around 10% slower than ibook800
48 vs 43 sec

Photoshop Filter Rendering (supports altivec):
pb12" around 32% faster than ibook800
72 vs 95 sec

MP3-encoding in iTunes:
pb12" 38% faster than ibook800
58 vs 94 sec



Scroll 500 pages WordDocument:
pb12" 34% faster than ibook800
pb12" 32% slower than pb15"
44 vs 59 vs 78 sec

pb12" 6% faster than ibook800
pb12" 24% slower than pb15"
51 vs 54 vs 75 fps


Well, that´s it.

My 12" BTO will arrive on Monday/Tuesday.
Then I´ll see if it suits my needs
I think it will. Even as a desktop replacement

( Last edited by gaianchild; Jan 31, 2003 at 02:58 PM. )
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Jan 31, 2003, 04:09 PM
Step toward eliminating the iBook?
Let me laugh at you a while for that one. The eMac also isn't up there right now... why's that? Cause it hasn't been reved recently.
The iMac.. well they're still trying to sell those.
The Power Book has been left out of there a few times while the iBook has stayed up.
The iBook shines when students are buying, hence they put it up in the window around that time, right now it's buying base is much smaller.

The Power Book 12 inch is NOT going to over take the iBook, I have a friend who knows about both I'm going for the 12 inch, he's going for a 12 inch iBook. Why? Doesn't need Altivec. And he likes the cheaper price tag.

right now the iBook is largely an edu computer... although I do think it would be smarter to have a more dedicatied prosumer computer than the current 12 inch PB.
Perhaps a stylish iBook that doesn't bust your budget, similar to the iMac, and have a 1Ghz G3 based eBook.
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