Things That Go Bump In The
Night: The December 2001 PowerBook G4/550 & G4/667 Information
On december 17th, Apple modified their existing Titanium PowerBook
line to make slot loading combination drives standard. The
combination drive can read CD's and DVD's and burn CD's. This
represents the only significant change to the Titanium PowerBooks.
The processor spped, grahics chip and feature set remain unchanged
from the October
The latest revision to the PowerBook line represents
a significant change for Apple. Not because of the specs,
as impressive as they are, but because of the manner in which
they were released. Historically, Apple has timed product
launches to coincide with Major expos; Macworld, Apple Expo
Paris, or Seybold. The iBook launch last May broke this tradition,
but was introduced to the press at a conference held in Cupertino.
The speed bumped October PowerBooks, in stark contrast, simply
showed up overnight at the Apple Store along with a distributed
press release to make the launch "official." The
quiet launch does a disservice to the new PowerBooks which
have received a number of exciting improvements.
most obvious change is the processor speed, now at 550MHz
and 667MHz. Less obvious is the fact that the new PowerBooks
are using an entirely different processor. While the previous
generation used a 1MB backside cache running at half the processor
speed, the new PowerBooks have a 256K "on chip"
cache running at full processor speed. We will put both of
the new PowerBooks through their paces and let you know how
they stack up against their
The 550MHz PowerBook still has a 100MHz system
bus, but the 667 model makes use of a 133MHz one for faster
throughput. The on board Ethernet has been bumped from 10/100
Base-T up to 10/100/1000 Base-T which will be a boon
for professionals working with large graphics or DV files.
Great Prices On Upgrades Check The Vendors Below
Speaking of graphics, the aging 8MB ATI
RAGE Mobility 128 graphics chip which sported 8MB SDRAM
and resided on a 2x AGP bus, has finally been upgraded to
Mobility Radeon. The Mobility Radeon has 16MB of faster
DDR RAM and resides on a 4x AGP bus for improved throughput.
Gamers should get far better frame rates out of the new chip.
Hard drive size has been increased from 10GB
and 20GB in the G4/400 and G4/500 respectively to 20GB and
30GB in the G4/550 and G4/667. A 48GB drive is also available
exclusively through the Apple Store under the "fastest"
heading. The 48GB drive is not just larger, it is faster than
the other drives, kicking out 5400 rotations per minute (RPM)
to the others' 4200. Slot loading DVD-ROM drive is still standard
issue, but you can now opt for a CD-RW as a BTO option through
the Apple store. I think it is safe to assume that Apple is
working feverishly to get a slot loading combination (DVD-ROM/CD-RW)
drive into production, but this is not an option at the moment.
The 667 PowerBooks also include an installed
AirPort card so you are ready for wireless access right out
of the box. You will need a hardware or software base station
of course. Our experience is that software base stations provide
limited range when compared to a hardware base station.
For a complete side by side comparison of the
three most recent generations of PowerBook, refer to our chart
below. We have placed
an order for both of the new 'Books and will post benchmarks
on this page after we have run some real world tests.
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