PowerBook G4 (Aluminum)
Aluminum PowerBook G4 (15.2")
DeveloperApple Computer, Inc.
DiscontinuedMay 16, 2006
CPUPowerPC G4, 400 MHz - 1.67 GHz

The PowerBook G4 was a series of notebook computers that was manufactured, marketed, and sold by Apple Computer, Inc. between 2001 and 2006 as part of its PowerBook line. It uses the PowerPC G4 processor, initially produced by Motorola and later by Freescale, after Motorola spun off its semiconductor business under that name in 2004. The PowerBook G4 had two different designs: one enclosed in a titanium body with a translucent black keyboard and a 15" screen; and another in an aluminum body with an aluminum-colored keyboard, in 12", 15" and 17" sizes.

Between 2001 and 2003, Apple produced the Titanium PowerBook G4; between 2003 and 2006, the Aluminum models were produced. Both models were hailed for their modern design, long battery life and processing power. When the Aluminum PowerBook G4s were first released in January 2003, however, only 12 and 17 inch models were available. The 15 inch retained the titanium body until September 2003 when a new aluminum 15 inch PowerBook was released. In addition to the change from titanium to aluminum, the new 15 inch model featured a FireWire 800 port, which had been included with the 17 inch model since its debut nine months earlier.

The PowerBook G4 line was the last generation of the PowerBook series, and was succeeded by the Intel-powered MacBook Pro line in the first half of 2006.

Titanium PowerBook G4Edit

PowerBook G4 (Titanium)
Titanium PowerBook G4 (nicknamed TiBook)
DeveloperApple Computer inc.
Release dateJanuary 2001
DiscontinuedSeptember 2003
CPUPowerPC G4, 400 MHz - 1 GHz

The first generations of the PowerBook G4 were announced at Steve Jobs' keynote at MacWorld Expo in January 2001. They featured a PowerPC G4 processor running at either 400 or 500 MHz. They were just 1 inch (25 mm) thick, 0.7 inches (18 mm) thinner than their predecessor, the PowerBook G3. The PowerBook G4 Titanium also featured a front-mounted slot-loading optical drive into which optical discs (initially DVDs or CDs) could be inserted. The notebook was given the nickname "TiBook", a portmanteau of Titanium, the material used for the computer's case, and the brand name PowerBook, Apple's professional-oriented line of laptop computers.

Industrial designEdit

The initial design of the PowerBook G4s was developed by Apple hardware designers Jory Bell, Nick Merz and Danny Delulis. The new design was a sharp departure from the black plastic, curvilinear PowerBook G3 models that preceded it, more modernist than ergonomic. Apple's industrial design, headed by British designer Jonathan Ive, was to continue toward simple, elegant, and minimalistic designs—the TiBook laid the groundwork for the Aluminum PowerBook G4, the Power Mac G5, the flat-screen iMac, the Xserve and the Mac mini.

Quality issuesEdit

The hinges on the Titanium PowerBook display are notorious for breaking under heavy use. Usually the hinge (which is shaped like an 'L') will break just to the left of where it attaches to the lower case on the right hinge, and just to the right on the left hinge (where the right hinge is on the right side of the computer when the optical drive is facing you). At least one manufacturer began producing sturdier replacement hinges to address this problem, though actually performing the repair is difficult as the display bezel is glued together. In addition some discolouration, bubbling or peeling of paint on the outer bezel occurred, notably around the area where the palm would rest whilst using the trackpad. This appeared on early models but not on later TiBooks.


Component PowerPC G4
Model Jan 2001 (Mercury ) 400 500 Oct 2001 (Onyx) April 2002 (Ivory) Nov 2002 (Antimony)
15.2", TFT, matte (1152x768) 15.2", TFT, matte (1280x854)
Graphics ATI Rage 128 Mobility with 8MB 2x ATI Mobility Radeon with 16MB 4x ATI Radeon 7500 Mobility with 32MB ATI Radeon 9000 Mobility with 32MB ATI Radeon 9000 Mobility with 64MB
Hard drive1 10GB Ultra ATA66 20GB Ultra ATA66 30GB Ultra ATA66 40Gb ATA66 60gb ATA66
Processor 400MHz (1MB L2 backside) 500MHz (1MB L2 backside) 550mHz (256k L2) 667mHz (256k L2) 667mHz (256k L2 1MB L3) 800mHz (256k L2 1MB L3) 867mHz (256k L2 1MB L3) 1GHz (256k L2 1MB L3)
Memory 128MB PC100 256MB PC100 128Mb PC133 256Mb PC133 512mb PC133 256MB PC133 512mb PC133
AirPort Extreme Optional Integrated 802.11b Optional Integrated 802.11b Optional Integrated 802.11b
Internal Slot-Loading Drive3 6x DVD-ROM 8x DVD read, 8x CD-R write, 24x CD-R read 1x DVD-R write, 6x DVD read, 8x CD-R write, 24x CD read
Connections 2x USB 1.1
VGA Output DVI Output
1x Firewire 400
1/8" audio output 1/8" audio output & 1/8" audio input
Ethernet 10/100 Ethernet 10/100/1000

Aluminium PowerBook G4Edit

PowerBook G4 (Aluminium)
Aluminium PowerBook G4 (17")
DeveloperApple Computer
Release dateJanuary 2003
Discontinued28 February, 2006 (15")
24 April, 2006 (17")
16 May, 2006 (12")
CPUPowerPC G4, 867 MHz – 1.67 GHz

In 2003 Apple introduced a new line of PowerBook G4s with 12- 15 and 17-inch screens and aluminium cases (prompting the new moniker "AlBook"). The new notebooks not only brought a different design to the PowerBook G4 line but also laid down the foundation for Apple’s notebook design for the next three years, and even the successor to the PowerBook G4, the MacBook Pro, is still manufactured with an aluminium body and a very similar design. The 15" Titanium was still available until September 16th 2003 when the Aluminum model replaced it. Notably, the 12" model brought a welcome return to the Apple subnotebook configuration, conspicuously lacking in their product line since the discontinuation of the PowerBook 2400 in 1998. While the Titanium PowerBook G4s were capable of running Mac OS 9 or Mac OS X operating systems, the Aluminum PowerBook G4s could only boot in Mac OS X from startup. Both series of machines could run Mac OS 9 in Classic mode from within Mac OS X.

Industrial designEdit

The Aluminium PowerBook G4 was designed by Apple's VP of Industrial Design Jonathan Ive, and used a radically different design from the preceding Titanium models. The most obvious change was the use of Aluminium, not Titanium, to manufacture the body. The keyboard, which was originally black, was changed to match the color of the body. On 15" and 17" models it was backlit. The design was considered superior to most other notebooks when it debuted in 2003, and consequently it made the PowerBook G4 one of the most desirable notebooks on the market. The external design of Apple's professional laptops continue to remain similar to the aluminum Powerbook G4.

Quality issuesEdit

People have experienced lower memory slot failures with the typical repair being the replacement of the logic board. A petition Started in June 2005 at [1]. Apple had started a Repair Extension Program concerning the issue [2] but it has been noted that some models displaying the issue have not been included.[3]

Apple have previously had an Extension Repair program to fix the "white spot" issue on its 15" PB displays [4]

There has also been a rash of reports concerning sudden and pervasive sleeping of 1.67 GHz mode.[citation needed] Symptoms will include the PowerBook suddenly entering sleep mode, no matter the battery level or if plugged into the mains, and System Logs will report "Received emergency signal from power management. Going to sleep now." The cause is generally the trackpad sensor monitoring the trackpad; it will sporadically spike to over 100+ C, causing the PowerBook to think it will melt if it does not immediately shut down. Often service groups will replace the motherboard or power converter, but the actual fix is to replace the top case which holds the trackpad and sensor. Alternatively, there are reports that removing key sensor .ktexts from /System/Extensions Powerbook Sleeping Issue Fix or rebuilding the kernel using the Darwin Open Source project, commenting-out the relevant sleepSystem() call.

The 1.67GHz model may suffer from manufacturing or design defects in its display. Initial reports pointed to this only being a problem with type M9689 PowerBooks introduced in Q2 2005, but then this problem was also seen in in displays replaced by Apple Service Providers in this period (e.g. because of the bright spots issue). The devices were the last ones shipped with the matte 1440x900 pixel low resolution display. After many months of usage, the displays may show permanently shining lines of various colors stretching vertically across the LCD. Often this will start with 1-pixel wide vertical lines being "stuck" in an "always-on" mode. Various sites have been set up documenting this issue. [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] and a campaign seeks to get Apple to acknowledge that a defect exists [10]. Posts regarding this in Apple forums have been heavily censored. [11] No official word from Apple on the issue.


Component Power Pc G4
Model Jan 2003 (Rev A ) 12" 17" Sept 2003 (Rev B) 12" 15" 17' April 2004 (Rev C)12" 15" 17" Jan 2005 (Rev D) ALL models Oct 2005 (Rev E) 15" and 17"
(all widescreen)
12",TFT XGA, matte (1024x768) 17", matte, (1440x960) 12",TFT XGA, matte (1024x768) 15", matte, 1280x854 17", matte, (1440x960) 12",TFT XGA, matte (1024x768) 15", matte 1280x854 17", matte, (1440x960) 12",TFT XGA, matte (1024x768) 15", matte, 1280x854 17", matte, (1440x960) 15", matte, (1440x960) 17", matte, (1680x1050)
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce4 420 Go with 32MB NVIDIA GeForce4 440 Go with 64MB NVIDIA GeForce FX Go5200 with 32MB ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 with 64MB NVIDIA GeForce FX Go5200 with 64MB ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 with 64MB ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 with 128MB NVIDIA GeForce FX Go5200 with 64MB ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 with 64MB or 128MB ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 with 128MB
Hard drive1 40GB Ultra ATA/100 60GB Ultra ATA 100 40GB Ultra ATA/1005 60GB or 80GB 5400rpm 80GB 5400rpm 120GB 5400rpm
Processor 867 MHz (256kb L2) 1 GHz (256kb L2) 1 GHz or 1.25 GHz (512kb L2) 1.33 GHz (512kb L2) 1.5 GHz (512kb L2) 1.67 GHz (512kb L2)
Memory 256MB PC2100 (266 MHz) 512MB PC2700 (333 MHz) 256MB PC2100 (266 MHz) 256MB or 512MB PC2700 (333 MHz) 512MB PC2700 (333 MHz) 256MB PC2700 (333 MHz) 512MB PC2700 (333 MHz) 512MB PC2-4200 DDR2 SDRAM (333 MHz)
AirPort Extreme Optional Integrated 802.11b/g Optional Integrated 802.11b/g
Internal Slot-Loading SuperDrive3 COMBO 8x DVD read, 24x CD-R and 10x CD-RW recording 2x DVD-R write, 6x DVD read, 8x CD-R write, 4x CD-RW write 2x DVD-R write, 8x DVD read, 16x CD-R write, 4x CD-RW write COMBO 8x DVD read, 24x CD-R and 10x CD-RW recording 2x DVD-R write, 8x DVD read, 16x CD-R write, 4x CD-RW write 4x DVD-R write, 8x DVD read, 16x CD-R write, 4x CD-RW write 4x DVD-R write, 8x DVD read, 16x CD-R write, 4x CD-RW write 8x DVD±R write, 4x DVD±RW write, 6x DVD± read, 24x CD-R write, 10x CD-RW write
Connections 2x USB 1.1 2x USB 2.0
Mini VGA Mini DVI (15" and 17" have full size DVI)
1x Firewire 400 (PLUS 1x Firewire 800 on 15" and 17")
Bluetooth 1.1 Bluetooth 2.0


The PowerPC G5, which powers Apple's now-discontinued Power Mac G5 and iMac G5 computers, proved to be too power-hungry and heat-intensive to use in laptops.[1] This, along with the stalling development of the G5, is said to be one of the main reasons for Apple's transition from PowerPC to Intel processors. It should also be noted that development of x86-based Mac OS X had been occurring for some 8+ years before its release to the public.[1] On January 10, 2006, Apple released its first Intel-based laptop, the 15" MacBook Pro. A 17" version of the MacBook Pro followed on April 24, 2006. The 12" PowerBook G4 and the G4 iBook were discontinued and replaced by the 13.3" MacBook which was released on May 16, 2006, ending the whole PowerBook line. However, an immediate replacement for the 12" subnotebook form factor was not immediately forthcoming. Apple's current subnotebook offering is the MacBook Air, released in 2008.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs noted during the introduction of the MacBook Pro that Apple wants the word "Mac" in the name of all its Mac hardware products. Consequently, the trademark name "PowerBook" was retired in early 2006.

Template:Timeline of portable Macintoshes


  1. 1.0 1.1 WWDC 2005. Steve Jobs Keynote. (youtube video)

External linksEdit

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