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Old August 25th, 2006, 06:46 PM   #1
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PowerBook G4 vs. MacBook vs. MacBook Pro

I'm working on a really big project right now (60 min., with lots of 5 second clips, slo-mo, effects, etc.) with my 12" PowerBook G4 (1.0 GHZ, 1.25 GB RAM, 10.3.9) and am continually dropping frames inside FCP on playback. I have everything set-up right and have tried all of the recommended solutions by people here and at the Apple store. Some of the tips have helped slightly, but the playback still stalls several times throughout my piece (usually at the same slo-mo or freeze frame spots). I did a similar project to this about two years ago with this exact same set-up (save the OS), and it worked flawlessly. I'm thinking that the hardware may just be aging (I believe I purchased it in January of '04). Anyway, I am only halfway through editing -- with a lot more media to put in -- and I expect things to just get worse.

Bringing this query to the guys at Apple, and having none of their solutions work, I asked if they thought upgrading to Tiger and taking advantage of the FC Studio crossgrade might help. While they agreed that this is just a better set-up with more tools, it probably wouldn't make things faster or stop dropped frames. Their suggestion is that I get a new computer -- which I am not necessarily opposed to, considering that mine is 2 1/2 years old at this point.

Since I want to stay with a laptop, their first suggestion was the 15" MacBook Pro. However, I travel a lot and my 12" PowerBook is perfect for plane tray tables. I think the 15" (actually 15.4") MacBook Pro is a bit too big for me. Supposedly, they have no plans for a 13" MacBook Pro.

Then onto the 13" MacBook, which they say will smoke my PowerBook when it comes to FCP and other native apps. even without a memory upgrade (I understand some of the graphics programs are a bit slower still and need Rosetta for support), but even if this computer is as fast as they say (which I find crazy, but who am I to dispute?), the fact that it is the low-end non-pro version makes the snob in me come out. The fact that it is a plastic case that could crack or get scratched easier than my metal PowerBook is also unattractive. Lastly, if I am going to spend this type of cash on a new system, don't I want the dedicated video card, memory, and processor speed for only $500 more?

I feel that if there was a 13" MacBook Pro available there would be no issue, but unfortunately even if something like that were to come out (next spring or so), my system may not be adequate enough to make it through until then. Part of me wants to tough-it and keep my G4 until my "perfect model" arrives in the new configuration (it always does). I mean, if I get a 13" MacBook or 15" MacBook Pro and then a pro version of the 13" comes out next year, I'm going to kick myself -- I only end up getting a new set-up every 2 years or so.

Experience? Suggestions? Something I haven't considered? Help...

Last edited by Shane Coburn; August 25th, 2006 at 07:56 PM.
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Old August 25th, 2006, 08:47 PM   #2
Join Date: Dec 2002
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Waiting is always a good idea if you can...

I have a 1 ghz 15" PowerBook and I wouldn't want to undertake any huge projects on it. Working on my dual G5 desktop is a much nicer experience, and it sounds like the Intel laptops are all at least that fast.

But for what you describe I don't think you should consider anything other than the MacBook Pro. Really, the size isn't going to be all that much of an issue, is it? I'd think that performance would be the main issue and although they run FC studio, Apple does not recommend the MacBooks for it. If you're going to keep the machine for a few years then the $500 price difference isn't going to matter very much.
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