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PowerBook G4 (Titanium) Hard Drive Upgrade Guide
Illustrated Step-By-Step Guide
NOTE: Some Powerbook G4 Ti manuals show how to remove the bottom cover and the hard 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 if you damage anything in the process. And when returning my PB G4 for warranty repair (dead Firewire ports), I was told to put the original hard drive back in and test to see if the problem still remained (it did). This procedure took less than 30 minutes 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.
This guide was written using an early PowerBook Titanium G4/400, although later Titanium models are similar (the Alum powerbooks are totally different. See the Systems page Powerbook section for some articles on the AL PB G4 15in and 12in models). Also the FAQ's PowerBook section includes a link to Apple's CIP (Customer Installable Parts) page for PowerBooks, which often has hard drive replacement guides in PDF form (with line drawings vs photos).
Replacing the internal drive on the Powerbook is usually a lower cost upgrade than buying an external Firewire drive. And since it's internal, you always have access to the extra space without having to 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. Once you upgrade the internal drive, you can reuse the original drive in a portable Firewire case kit. (About $100 or so - see the Firewire articles page here for reviews and build guides of portable Firewire case kits.) Prices on notebook drives has really fallen in the last year and in the summer of 2001 IBM now seems to be shipping all its Travelstar drives with fluid bearings (which should help with noise based on the 48GB model owner reports, the first drive to use fluid bearings). In the past, the IBM Travelstar drives I've used (at least the 20GB model) after about 6 months of use had a noticeably louder whine than when new. Hopefully the fluid bearing models address this.
Remember before proceeding to remove the old drive you should backup your files to CDR, Tape, or external drive. (You can reinstall applications and the OS, but any data files you have, email, etc. should be backed up.) Ideally if you own a Firewire drive or a CDRW, you can copy/burn your old drive's data files onto it. (Or install the original internal drive in a portable firewire case will allow it to be reused as is, with data intact. The Firewire articles page has build guides to several portable firewire cases showing how to install the drive in the case kits.)
Tip: Owning a portable (2.5in) Firewire case is a HUGE plus, as you can put the original Hard Drive in the FW case (here's a typical Portable FW case HD install guide) and boot from it (using Option key) and then use Carbon Copy Cloner to clone the original drive to the new drive after formatting it in Disk Utility or Drive setup. (OWC has Macally FW/USB 2.0 portable drive case kits for under $50.)
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 G4 manual shows how to remove the drive assembly, but doesn't cover how to actually replace the drive with a different one. Also my early PB G4 Manual has an error - it notes the drive retaining screws are philips #1 size (they are actually Torx screws). 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 (size 1)
Cup to store small screws during assembly
Anti-static wrist strap (recommended)
Torx T9 and T8 screwdrivers* (Sears has these)
Rubber Cement (optional)
Of course you'll also need a 2.5" notebook hard drive.
* My PB G4/400 early model had T9 screws, but some are reported to have T8s. So have both handy just in case. (In fact working on PBs and Cubes I have seen some of both - and the Cube even has some T10s inside. I own a T7 through T10 screwdriver set from Sears just to cover all the bases.)
Note: The maximum drive height allowed in a PowerBook G4 is 12.5mm. (The same height limits for the PowerBook G3 Firewire and PB G3 1999/Bronze keyboard models.) The Mac Drive Compatibility Database here also has Powerbook G4 owner reports with various brands of drives (simply select your PB model and select hard drive as the device type to see those reports). The IDE articles page also has a page on IBM Travelstar 48GB owner comments as well as my past performance tests with the IBM 20GB and 32GB Travelstar drives tested in a PB G3 firewire. The performance of my PB G4's original IBM 10GB Travelstar was much lower than expected, with even pure benchmarks like ATTO's Tools showing only about 5MB/sec sustained rates (much higher reads though). Owners of OEM Toshiba 10GB drives reported much better ATTO rates than I noted in my PB G4 First Impressions page where I show a some quick benchmarks on the OEM 10GB IBM drive and a 20GB IBM drive replacement.
You may follow the preferred path for this guide or jump to a specific page using the links at the top and bottom of each page.
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Index of PB G4 HD Upgrade Guide
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