Why is my computer so sluggish?

I just picked up a 2003 15" PowerBook G4 for my daughter. It's the 1 ghz model with the original 60 gb hard drive, SuperDrive, and airport extreme. It also has 2 gb of RAM.

Right now it's running 10.5.8 Leopard. This computer is very sluggish. Opening things within the system takes a bit and trying to do simple things such as streaming YouTube is impossible. It won't even play purchased video from iTunes. The only thing that it seems to do smoothly is play music, and it's a very large iPod at this point.

So I'm wondering what my next steps should be. I've tried to reset the NVRAM which hasnt worked. I'm using the command+option+P+R and I only get the chime once and then it boots to the OS. So I'm wondering if the key combo is different for this model.

I wonder if perhaps the 4200 rpm hard drive is the culprit. But you'd think that it should be at least able to play back a basic SD video smoothly. And my ram should be more than enough.

So what should I do now? Reinstall the OS? Try different ram? Replace the hard drive? Your thoughts would be appreciated!

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I think that I somewhat figured it out. I found a setting in iTunes to only play in SD and disable HD. This has cleared up issues in iTunes. I also found several threads about issues with PPC and Flash. I enabled hardware acceleration in Flash settings and this has made the streaming video somewhat watchable. The 1 ghz processor is definitely the issue here though. According to the computer, it jacks up to 80%-90% usage while playing flash. My ram usage only goes up around 25%. So it's likely just the limitations of the older computer. Thanks for the advice!

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Thanks for posting about the settings you found...that's good info. Also, lowering the screen resolution and color depth can help (although of course doing that is not ideal).

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A 4200RPM hard drive is definitely on the slower end of the spectrum, and could easily be responsible for most of the issues you're experiencing. A 5400RPM drive, or even 7200RPM, would be an improvement. But first wipe and reinstall the OS (assuming the OS on it now has been in use for a while, or by the previous owner) to see if that makes a difference. A wipe/reinstall is far preferable to "cleaning up" the drive because it's never possible to know whether you've successfully "cleaned up", whereas with a fresh install of the OS, you know it's clean and that you've reached an adequate baseline to make a determination as to whether or not it helped.

I wouldn't suspect RAM, as long as it's PC2700 RAM. And the resets you mention are not going to speed up your computer.

You can always downgrade to Tiger 10.4, which will provide a much quicker experience, although you'll sacrifice browser and various software compatibility, and you can't sync an iPhone 4.

Keep in mind though that you have a 1GHZ 7+ year old computer with limited processing power, that was manufactured before YouTube was prevalent, so regardless of what you do I would not expect consistent smooth playback of YouTube videos in SD, or especially anything HD. It's important to keep that in mind before investing even $50 in a faster hard drive.

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First i would disable any extra add ons that run at start up. Then I would shutdown any unused programs that I would,nt be using. After that,run a system and disk cleanup, then defragment your harddrive. Depending on how much stuff is stored on the harddrive, this should speed up your system quite a bit.

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Flash runs very poorly in Apple's PPC computers. It's just the way it is. My suggestions re your sluggish laptop is to run the disk utilities (verify disk and repair permissions). This has worked wonders for my slow Powerbook in the past. It will also tell you if you need to change your hard drive.

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If you would like to play YouTube there are several apps out there, my personal favorite being MacTubes. You can also try a different web browser, because Safari is very slow on PPCs, I would also recommend downgrading to 10.4.11 (Tiger) because it is officially supported and much faster in my experience.

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