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PowerBook G3 Firewire Hard Drive Upgrade
(Using IBM's TravelStar 32GB, 5411 RPM drive)
Performance Comparisons & Install
Note: This guide was written using a PowerBook G3 Firewire (2000 model) but the case design is similar to the 1999 Powerbook G3 Bronze keyboard (aka Lombard), so it may be of use to owners of that model also. As with any work done inside your computer, I cannot be responsible for any damage you do during upgrades or modifications. These instructions are for reference only - you assume all risk of any work done inside your Powerbook. See the Apple owner's manual for precautions and other instructions.
I, like many owners of Powerbooks, eagerly awaited the availability of the IBM 32GB TravelStar model since it was first announced in the spring of 2000. With a 5411 RPM spindle speed, 2MB cache and very high density platters, this drive promised to be not only the largest notebook drive ever, but also the fastest. For this article I'm using a Powerbook G3/500 Firewire model (reviewed here) since it has a faster onboard IDE interface than my PowerBook G3/250 Wallstreet used for the previous install guide/review of the IBM TravelStar 20GB drive. This article will compare performance of the 32GB TravelStar to the 20GB model (4200 RPM/2MB cache) as well as an original equipment 12GB Toshiba drive (thanks to a reader's submitted benchmarks, since the PB Firewire I had access to already had the original drive replaced with an IBM 20GB model).
Replacing the internal drive on the Powerbook is a lower cost upgrade than buying an expansion bay drive or portable Firewire drive. And since it's internal, you always have access to the extra space without having to swap out bay devices or carry along cables and external drives. Don't get me wrong, I love my portable firewire drives, but if I had to choose one drive upgrade for a Powerbook, I'd go with a larger internal drive. Although performance with the 32GB TravelStar in many cases wasn't any better than the 20GB model, the extra storage space is a plus.
Remember before proceeding to remove the old drive you should backup your files to CDR, Tape, or external drive. Ideally if you own a Firewire or Expansion bay drive you can copy your old drive's contents over, making restoring files to the new drive faster and easier.
The TravelStar 32GH drive used for this article was provided (on loan) by Transintl.com. Check their web site and the OWC Site Specials page for the latest pricing and drive sizes. (60GB notebook drives are now just above $200, 40GB under $150 often.)
IBM TravelStar 32GH Specifications:
- Model No: DJSA-232
- Capacity: 32 GB (unformatted, formatted size 29.80 GB)
- Cache: 2MB (Upper 173KB used for firmware)
- Rotational Speed: 5411 RPM
- Interface: ATA/5 (UltraDMA/66)
- Media Transfer Rate: 15.1-28.5 MB/sec
- Latency (avg): 5.5ms
- Seek: 12ms Avg, 23ms Full Stroke
- Height: 12.5mm
- Warranty: 3 years
See the IBM Travelstar 32GH page for more details. (Link working when posted, may not in the future as IBM may change their website.)
Before getting into the details of how I replaced the drive, the following is a list of tools required for the drive swap. The Powerbook G3 manual shows how to remove the drive assembly, but doesn't cover how to actually replace the drive in the bracket. As always, if you are not qualified to do upgrades or repairs on a Powerbook, I recommend you have an authorized service center perform this upgrade for you. Be aware you will void the warranty by replacing the hard drive and should you damage anything in the process, you will be responsibe for the cost to have it repaired. This procedure took less than one hour total (not counting installing the OS on the new drive), so the cost should be minimal to have a dealer swap the drive out for you.
* Small Phillips Screwdriver
* Cup to store small screws during assembly
* Anti-static wrist strap (recommended)
* Torx T8 screwdriver
Of course you'll also need a 2.5" notebook hard drive.
Note: The IBM 32GH drive height is 12.5mm, the max height allowed for PowerBook Lombard (1999 model) and PowerBook Firewire (2000 model). The PowerBook Wallstreet allows up to 19mm high drives (see my previous Wallstreet hard drive upgrade guide). iBooks are limited to 9.5mm max heights, but there are 30GB drive models (from Toshiba and IBM) that are 9.5mm high. (Note - in 2001 Toshiba announced a 40GB 9.5mm high drive also.) Consult a vendor of notebook drives if you have any question on compatibility or fit. The Mac Drive Compatibility Database here also has Powerbook owner reports with various brands of drives (simply select your PB model and select hard drive as the device type to see those reports).
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Index of PowerBook G3 Firewire HD Install Guide
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