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Apple Notebooks Apple's notebook computers including MacBook Pro, MacBook, MacBook Air, PowerBook, and iBook.

"Upgrade" iMac G3 to iBook G4

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chopcraft's Avatar
Member Since: Feb 29, 2008
Location: Here, Victoria, BC
Posts: 28
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Mac Specs: iMac 600MHz CPU, 16MB VRAM, 384MB RAM, 100MHz Bus, OS 10.4.11.

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Hello All,

I have a 600MHz iMac G3 that works well with a new hard drive and some RAM. It runs 10.4.11 smoothly. But, there are some things I can't do, like run Logic Pro, or play most FLASH video, because my processor is slow and outdated.
I used to have a 1.06GHz G4 iBook, which ran most things, until it was removed from my car while I was stupid enough to leave it there.
And so we come to my theory: A G4 iBook logic board from a 12" computer could be fitted into my iMac, were I to remove the iMac's logic board. And the iMac's display utilizes a VGA signal, which the ibook produces. With some soldering and connecting, it should, theoretically, be possible to put an iBook's logic board in my old iMac. The power for the imac will come from the original supply, and the power for the ibook from its power adapter, which will be built-in. Also I would do some nifty things like leave the iBook's battery intact so that during a power failure, only the screen would be lost. But there is one concern, overall:
I've read somewhere on some website that the iMac G3's power supply will only supply power to the screen if it detects a current draw from the logic board. Which would mean, somehow, I'd have to trick the power supply into turning the screen on when I turn on the iBook logic board.

There are of course other considerations, such as the fact that the ibook will not likely power the larger speakers of the imac, although if I felt it was necessary I could build in a small seperate amplifier.

Sure would be neat though, don't you think?

Any thoughts on how or why I should or shouldn't do this would be appreciated. Tell me to go bleep myself too if you don't like my idea or face. Also I'd like to hear from anyone who does know about the power supply issue, if there is one, or any other schematic specifics.

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Tanner31593's Avatar
Member Since: Jan 28, 2007
Posts: 1,131
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That seems like way more work than it's worth.
CRTs aren't the safest thing in the world.
I had an iMac G3, I loved it, but when i went PowerMac G4, i didn't really miss anything about the G3 (Except the mic).
What would you do with drives?
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chopcraft's Avatar
Member Since: Feb 29, 2008
Location: Here, Victoria, BC
Posts: 28
chopcraft is on a distinguished road
Mac Specs: iMac 600MHz CPU, 16MB VRAM, 384MB RAM, 100MHz Bus, OS 10.4.11.

chopcraft is offline
Hi Tanner,
Yes it would be a lot of work, although I believe it would be worth something... You see, iBook G4 logic boards can be purchased from sites like, so I wouldn't have to buy the rest of the iBook, which is far less expensive. And it would be difficult in some respects, but I would find out how specific things work, like the current-sensing of the iMac power supply, which is really fascinating to me. Old G3 iMacs have become obsolete as fully-functioning computers. They can't do many things. iBook G4's are fast approaching this point too, but are still capable machines. And iMac G3's use CRT's, which generally can last tens of years before they show signs of failure, like bad tubes causing bleed on contrasting edges.

Anyway, you asked: What would I do with the drives? Well, I'm not entirely sure I know what drives you mean, but I would probably go with the 3.5" hard drive, if it would fit, as they are less expensive (rather than the 2.5" laptop size). As for slot-loading CD drive, I may go with my iMac's original CD reader, although that could be replaced with most any newer slot-load drive, as my old one is a bit glitchy, and doesn't read DVDs or burn anything.

The power to the drives would come from the iMac power supply, with exception to a 2.5" hard drive, which would get it's power from the iBook logic board.

And... In a few years when the iBook logic board is too slow, I can get a Dual Core logic board from a Macbook relatively inexpensively and stuff that into the iMac. If I still don't have my own Macbook.
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Avenger2SER's Avatar
Member Since: Nov 25, 2005
Location: Singapore
Posts: 282
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Mac Specs: Macbook Air 11" (2012), Macbook Pro 15" (Early 2008), Mac Mini i5 (2012)

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You can buy an Old G4 imac on ebay for less then $200, so why go through the hassle? It does sound like an interesting project however, but I would opt for a newer machine. Just my opinion

Or if you absolutely wanted a CRT, go for an old eMac, that would be even cheaper.

Macbook Air 11" 4gb, 128gb SSD (2012)
Mac Mini i5 16gb, 128gb SSD, 1tb internal, 2x 1tb external (2012)
MacBook Pro,4gb,128gb SSD (early 2008)
iMac G3 600, iPad Mini Retina 64gb, iPhone 5, and more.
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chopcraft's Avatar
Member Since: Feb 29, 2008
Location: Here, Victoria, BC
Posts: 28
chopcraft is on a distinguished road
Mac Specs: iMac 600MHz CPU, 16MB VRAM, 384MB RAM, 100MHz Bus, OS 10.4.11.

chopcraft is offline
You're right, an emac would pretty well be the same thing. I guess I'll just have to live with the fact that my imac will end up being the jukebox, instead of having its guts replaced to keep it up to date.
I long for a black macbook. Sorta.
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