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Upgrading an old Mac G4

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I just got a Power Mac G4 donated to me because someone just had it lying around and wasn't using it. I've been searching around and found some information -- people are saying that upgrading a G4 can be pretty good and MUCH cheaper than buying a new one on the market today. I've been an avid PC user for the last 10 years so I'm pretty much a complete Mac noob. Here are the specs on the new machine:


Operating System: OS 9.2.2

Processor: PowerPC G4

Processor speed: 466 mhz

RAM: 641 MB (PC133 SDRAM)

Video: 128MB ATI Rage


It's also got built-in ethernet and and AGP port for video.


Now my question is, is it worth upgrading if I'm on a budget and would like to work on a Mac? What kind of upgrades can I do to it? How well would it perform compared to today's models? I'm a web developer/designer, so I'd be spending a lot of time with Adobe applications and a text editor. No gaming (I've got my PC for that) and barely any video work/editing.


Any suggestions on what kind of upgrades and where I can get them from?


Thanks for any input!



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The description doesn't tell me a whole lot, as there are three G4 models that fit your description (The original AGP model, the Gigabit Ethernet model, and the Digital Audio model). Here are the questions I'm asking to make sure I know what I'm dealing with:


1. Are there three or four RAM slots available? (if there are three, skip #2)


2. Does it have Gigabit Ethernet or 10/100 ethernet?


Most likely you won't need a fast graphics card (Adobe relies on the processor and RAM, not the graphics card). Go ahead and max out your RAM (if there are four slots, you can stick up to 2 GB of RAM in OS X) and do come processor upgrades (I always suggest macsales.com).

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Thanks for the reply! There are three RAM slots. What does this mean?


I just read up a bit on the processors available. Seems there are two now, the Sonnet CPUs and the NewerTechnology (MAXPower), which was just released recently. The MAXPower CPUs (7448) are claiming to be as fast or even faster than today's Intel Core 2 Duos. Is this possible?


Article: http://www.macnn.com/articles/07/03/28/pow...4.cpu.upgrades/


Sonnet 1.8 GHz: $299

NT MAXPower 1.8 GHz: $399

NT MAXPower 2.0 GHz: $449


Would it be worth paying an extra $100-$150 for the faster (7448)? I can't find any reviews on the maxpower, as it seems to be fairly new, so I don't know if their claims of "faster than today's Intel-based Macs" are true or not.

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3 ram slots means you have the Digital Audio model, which is the best of the graphite G4s. http://lowendmac.com/ppc/g4-133.shtml



You can easily upgrade the video card. Checkout http://strangedogs.proboards40.com/

Easiest to do is a 9800pro 128MB, 5 minute flash from PC to Mac, and still a respectable card for about $50 second hand.


With the slow bus speed/memory it's probably more cost effective to find one of the older 1.2/1.4 dual upgrades. You get to the point of diminishing returns after that.


Your machine won't recognise hard drives bigger than 128GBs, there is a 3rd party driver to allow that YMMV.


Any pioneer DVDR will be recognised as native, I found 104 -> 111 to work best.


There is a slot for an airport card built in, that will take care of wireless, but you are limited to b speeds. Use any USB dongle for bluetooth.


Most PC USB 2 cards work without problems, preferably with the Texas Instruments chipset.


The biggest problem is the puny PSU, once you upgrade CPU & video card the fans will scream and you might have random crashes. 99% of the time putting in a 400W+ PC ATX PSU cures the problem, but you will need to swap a couple of wires on the plug. It does make the computer a LOT quieter as a bonus.


so I don't know if their claims of "faster than today's Intel-based Macs" are true or not.


Maybe if you measured the raw CPU performance, but as far as real world stuff where HD, memory, video card is involved - nah, no way. As a rule of thumb 1GHz of G4 = 1.5 GHz P4, so your 466 is about the same as a 700~800MHz P4


It's all doable, but it's a question of how much money/time you wish to spend. At the end you still have slow PC133 sdram and a 133 single pump bus. But, except for games and other heavy lifting, it will be a very usable machine.

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You can also use a Sonnet PCI card for 802.11 g/n speeds; just make sure it's Sonnet since wireless cards are apparently screwy when it comes to non-WIndows support.


In terms of the processor itself, I'd go for a good mid-range model also rather than the best one that will only give a nominal speed increase. Also, max out your RAM by filling up those slots with 512 MB sticks. It will make Photoshop fly (as it is RAM-hungry) if you use it.


I'd seriously think about using that G4 for some video stuff (if you ever do it) since most OS X applications have already taken advantage of Altivec (which makes things scream on those "slow" G4 processors).

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