In my article about the recently received PowerBook 1400c, I wrote:
The intriguing part of this setup is booting from the Compact Flash card: everything is even more responsive (opening applications, opening files, saving files) and the PowerBook becomes practically silent. […]
Just for fun, I performed an informal test. I booted the PowerBook 1400 in Mac OS 8.1 from its internal hard drive, then I booted in Mac OS 7.6.1 from the CF card, then I booted in Mac OS 8.6 from the PCMCIA Toshiba hard drive, measuring boot times using my iPhone’s stopwatch (all the following are cold boots, not just restarts; all times are approximate):
- Internal hard drive (Mac OS 8.1): 54 seconds.
- Compact Flash card (Mac OS 7.6.1): 47 seconds.
- PCMCIA hard drive (Mac OS 8.6): 1 minute, 12 seconds.
As you can see, on this PowerBook 1400c there isn’t a dramatic difference between booting from the internal hard drive and from the Compact Flash card. Maybe it’s because the hard drive isn’t a bad performer after all; maybe it’s because of the G3/333 processor upgrade; I don’t know. Earlier today I wanted to test a hunch I had — that the Compact Flash solution would be an even better alternative for my PowerBook 5300. This machine has just a 117 MHz processor, and a noticeably slower hard drive than the one in the PowerBook 1400.
So I inserted the Compact Flash card with Mac OS 7.6.1 in the PowerBook 5300 and performed the same test as quoted above. First I booted the PowerBook 5300 from its internal hard drive, then I selected the CF card in the Startup Disk control panel, turned off the machine, and booted it from the CF card, again measuring boot times with a stopwatch. The results:
- Internal hard drive (Mac OS 8.1): 2 minutes, 30 seconds.
- Compact Flash card (Mac OS 7.6.1): 1 minute, 5 seconds.
Less than half the time when booting from the CF card! True, those are two different versions of Mac OS, but the amount of extensions loaded during start-up is more or less the same.
After starting the PowerBook 5300 from the CF card, I opened control panels, applications, files, and the PowerBook 5300 felt way more responsive than when operating from the internal hard drive. And considering how noisy the 1.1 GB IBM hard drive is, one really appreciates the quiet when working from the Compact Flash card.
As I said, these are just very first impressions, and I’ll perform a more thorough investigation in the following days, but what I’ve seen so far has left me rather amazed. I expected a better performance overall, since that internal hard drive is definitely a slug, but the difference is noticeable even after a cursory examination.