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Apple Desktops Discussion of Apple's desktop machines including Mac Pro, iMac, Power Mac, and mini

Power Mac - Upgrading an old Power Mac G4?


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shthap3ns

 
Member Since: May 10, 2007
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Hey all!

New to these forums, and to Macs in general. I just got a Power Mac G4 donated to me because a friend of mine 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!

-shthap3ns
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SuB8HaVeN

 
Member Since: Aug 29, 2006
Location: Tampa, FL
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Mac Specs: Powerbook G4 12" 1.5GHz

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It looks like you have a G4 DA. I would upgrade the memory (max is 1.5GB with 3X 512MB modules) and upgrade the video card as well. The Mac Edition ATi Radeon 9800 should work in the G4 DA. Upgrading the hard drive will give you more speed and performance, and you can add a DVD-RW if you wanted. You can also upgrade to OSX.

12" Powerbook G4 1.5GHz/512MB/Superdrive/100GB Seagate Momentus 7200.1
PowerMac G3 B&W 350MHz/1GB/DVD-RW/Adaptec 39160 2X Seagate 36GB 15k RAID0
Dell E521 AMD X2 4600+/2GB/7600GT/320GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.10
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dtravis7

 
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Member Since: Jan 04, 2005
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Agreed with SuB8HaVeN. All good recommendations. I have a Digital Audio here with those upgrades. Works well.

If you don't mind spending even more $$$ you can upgrade the CPU. I put in a 1.8Ghz G4 here and it fly's.
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shthap3ns

 
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Hey guys,

Thanks for the advice! I'm leaning more toward the CPU upgrade and RAM, not too sure about the video card, since I won't really be working with 3D, and (mostly Photoshop and Illustrator). How much do CPUs and RAM cost? How do 1.8GHz G4s compare to today's Intel processors? Or to G5's? Or to PCs? I did a bit of searching on this forum and found that there are also dual core CPUs, but if I have a 100 mhz bus it's not worth it. I think I have a 133 mhz bus though...but I'm not certain. I'll double check. I guess I'd need two sticks of 512. G4s don't support higher than 512MB sticks?

Also, where can I get these upgrades? eBay, Mac store? or somewhere else?

Thanks again! I know I have a lot of questions, but I just want to make sure I get the most bang for my buck. :-D
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dtravis7

 
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Your Digital Audio has a 133Mhz Bus. I would go with a single G4 though. Mine is a Giga Designs. Got a good deal on it off Ebay. It was brand new but half price. Search for Sonnet and Giga Design. Ram is pretty much any PC133 SDRAM (Not DDR). Each module can be up to 512Megs as was already posted.

The G4 even at 1.8Ghz does not compair at all to the new Intel CPU's but not a bad upgrade if you get it at a good price. The G5 is faster of course but a Digital Audio like yours with a 1.8Ghz is not bad at all.

Check Ebay for used Sonnet or Giga Design CPU's.

It's early morning here and I have not been to bed at yet. Will write back more later.
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mbgaski

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dtravis7 View Post
Your Digital Audio has a 133Mhz Bus. I would go with a single G4 though.
Quick question, on this (don't mean to hijack the thread but I'm curious): can you put a single CPU upgrade board into a Mac that was originally dual-processor, or must you stick to dual-cpu upgrades on those machines?

Thanks.
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shthap3ns

 
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I just read up a bit on the processors available. Seems there is a newer CPU, the NewerTechnology (MAXPower) 7448 processors, which were 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/....cpu.upgrades/

Sonnet 1.8 GHz: $299
NT MAXPower 1.8 GHz: $399
NT MAXPower 2.0 GHz: $449
I got these prices from: http://macsales.com/

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.

dtravis7, how much did your processor cost you on eBay?
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dtravis7

 
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There is NOTHING out there faster than the current Intel Core Duo2. No G4 could even come close. So I call that article bunk!

My Giga Designs 1.8Ghz G4 was $199 at the time. It was new in the box. It was quite a bit lower than retail then. That was at least a year ago now.

My 1.8Ghz G4 in a Digital Audio with 133Mhz Bus, 1.5GB RAM, Radeon 9800 Pro takes around 3.5 hours to convert a DVD to an MP4 in Handbrake. My 1.66Ghz Intel Mac Mini takes less than 55 Minutes to do the same conversion. There is no way any G4 will ever equal leave alone beat a Core Duo.

Another thing they are not telling you, Memory Bandwidth. At 133Mhz even, the memory bandwidth will not be enough to really support that CPU. That is one thing that holds it back. Since you own the machine, upgrading will make a large difference, but don't spend too much as if you go too far you just as well buy a Intel Mini. I did my Digital Audio as a project as for me building and upgrading computers is Fun.

Ask Baggss about his AGP PowerMac with 100Mhz Bus with faster G4 CPU's.

They use Adobe for their proof. Adobe CS2 runs under Rosetta on the Intel Macs and is slow due to running under emulation. Some have said that it runs like on a G4 1.2Ghz on the Intel Macs. Use Universal applications for the tests and the results would be a lot different.
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shthap3ns

 
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Yeah, that makes sense.

My main concern is just to have the system run smoothly. It doesn't need to be extremely fast but at least good enough for me to do my work without a problem.

If I'll just be working with Adobe CS3, a text editor, and perhaps some video viewing, which processor would work the best for me?
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dtravis7

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shthap3ns View Post
Yeah, that makes sense.

My main concern is just to have the system run smoothly. It doesn't need to be extremely fast but at least good enough for me to do my work without a problem.

If I'll just be working with Adobe CS3, a text editor, and perhaps some video viewing, which processor would work the best for me?
The G4 1.8 I have been talking about will do all that. It's running Tiger 10.4.9 and very smooth. I would say go with the lowest priced 1.8Ghz you can find and up the RAM to 1.5GB if you can. OSX Loves RAM and Adobe Photoshop (ANY VERSION) Eats RAM for dinner. So give it as much RAM as you can and that CPU and it should be happy.

What video card is in your machine? A real Slow card can make OSX's interface seem jerky. I upgraded another G4 way back and got an older Nvidia GF2 with 32Megs VRAM in place of the 16Meg Ram ATI and it made a lot of difference in smoothness scrolling and moving things around.
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shthap3ns

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dtravis7 View Post
The G4 1.8 I have been talking about will do all that. It's running Tiger 10.4.9 and very smooth. I would say go with the lowest priced 1.8Ghz you can find and up the RAM to 1.5GB if you can. OSX Loves RAM and Adobe Photoshop (ANY VERSION) Eats RAM for dinner. So give it as much RAM as you can and that CPU and it should be happy.

What video card is in your machine? A real Slow card can make OSX's interface seem jerky. I upgraded another G4 way back and got an older Nvidia GF2 with 32Megs VRAM in place of the 16Meg Ram ATI and it made a lot of difference in smoothness scrolling and moving things around.
It's got a 128MB ATI Rage in there right now. I'm thinking about upgrading to a Radeon 9800 Pro or Radeon 9800XT. However, I think I will try with the processor and RAM first, and if need be, I'll think about jumping on a video card as well. How much does RAM generally run for?

Let's say I get the Sonnet 1.8GHz for $299, a video card for $200, and some RAM...this shouldn't run me more than $700 right? Since I got the G4 DA for free, this should be a pretty good deal instead of dishing out $1500 or more for a newer-generation Apple, am I right?
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SuB8HaVeN

 
Member Since: Aug 29, 2006
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I would recommend upgrading the video card simply because that will make OSX's graphics run much smoother. With the stock ATi Rage card, it tends to jerk around a little bit, especially in Safari or other browsers and when using Expose.

With all those upgrades you will have a very decent machine. It won't be faster than the Core 2 Duo, but you will certainly be able to use it for what you need. When they say that the 1.8GHz G4 is faster than the Core 2 Duo, they may be benchmarking it in Adobe CS2 or Office 2004 or some other application that is not universal binary and is only native PowerPC compatible. With applications like CS2, the Intel Macs crawl.

Regarding upgrading a dual-processor G4 with a single-processor G4; as long as the upgrade processor says it is compatible with your model G4 it should work just fine.

12" Powerbook G4 1.5GHz/512MB/Superdrive/100GB Seagate Momentus 7200.1
PowerMac G3 B&W 350MHz/1GB/DVD-RW/Adaptec 39160 2X Seagate 36GB 15k RAID0
Dell E521 AMD X2 4600+/2GB/7600GT/320GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.10
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