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OS X - Operating System General OS operation information and support

OS 10.3 - Squeezing what I can out of a G4.


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G-Dog
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I have a couple tech questions about improving the performance and reliability of my Mac at work. I asked a question about Mac vs. Dell last week, and you guys gave me some great information, so here I am again.

First: The Mac specs.

OSX Panther
CPU Type: PowerPC G4 (2.1)
Number Of CPUs: 1
CPU Speed: 933 MHz
L2 Cache (per CPU): 256 KB
L3 Cache (per CPU): 2 MB
Memory: 1.25 GB
Bus Speed: 133 MHz

Second: The Problem.

I have been told that this Mac will not be replaced for another year or two, even though it keeps getting less and less stable, and running very, very slowly. However, Iíve been told I can order a few new parts for it, but nothing over a couple hundred bucks.

Solutions I want to try. You guys tell me if these will help at all.

1.Reinstall OS X.

When I boot, I get about three error windows telling me things are missing, not installed correctly, and the like. The person before me who used this Mac had zero tech skills and really did a number on this machine. Things donít run, fonts are spread all over the place and so on. Also, the only Mac repair people in town are idiots, plain and simple. Every time I have a problem I canít fix myself, they show up and create new problems, including jacking up Adobe software installs and deleting font libraries with out asking. I want to start fresh. But, will this speed up processing time when working on graphics and other jobs?

2. Hard drive upgrade.

Iím still using the original IBM Death Star drive that came with the computer years ago. (If you donít know why the IBM Deskstar is nick-named the Death Star, google ďIBM Death StarĒ. Itís quite a story.) Iím hoping that a new system drive would speed things up. Is this the case, or would the difference not be worth the trouble? As far as drive choices, Iím interested in one of the fallowing.

2A. New IDE drive. A nice 7200 RPG drive with 16megs of Cache.

2B. New SATA controller card + SATA drive. I was looking, and found a company that makes SATA controller cards for the G4 series. I know that in the PC world, even a single SATA drive can reduce bottle necking, but what about on a Mac? Can a Mac boot from an SATA drive with no issues? Can a Mac run an SATA RAID setup to really boost drive performance?

3. Other Suggestions

Iím at my wits end with this machine. Anybody have any suggestions about ways to squeeze more out of this G4?

Thanks.
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dtravis7

 
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That should be a VERY stable system. I take it that it was Stable at one time?

I know the DEATHSTAR IBM drives OH TOO WELL. Back in the day on Anandtech Forums, the drives performed so well everyone bought them including Anand for his servers. Within the first year most died a horrible death including some in Anands own servers. There was a Class Action Lawsuit against IBM. If the system was fast at one time and is going slow now, the DEATHSTAR could be getting errors which will cause, SLOWNESS, Lockups, corrupted files, ETC. I had a 40GB IBM start to go in my G4 500 and it got slower and slower and then I started hearing faint clicking from the IBM. New Seagate made the machine like it used to be., I backed up that deathstar just in time for it to die completely. So getting the new drive would be the first thing I would try. The 933 CPU is pretty fast, but you can get faster but that might be over the budget. You have plenty of RAM for Panther. Put in the fastest HDD you can. One thing, is that 933 the Quicksilver with the two skinny drive covers? Those might not STOCK take more than a 120GB drive. The MDD (Mirror Drive Door) ones will. You can get a PCI IDE ATA 133 card for it that will allow any sized modern drive. SATA would work but I think that would push it over your budget.
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trpnmonkey41

 
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That is not a bad machine you have there. I still have a PowerBook G4 867mhz with 1gb ram that runs Tiger just as fast as it ran Jaguar when I got it. Wiping out the hard drive would definitely make sense to get rid of all of the junk that is causing problems for you.

Apple's have no problem booting up from SATA (Thats what the iMac's, PowerMac's and MacPro's are) and the 3gbps speed you get from them should help with loading up images and storing them.

You can run a SATA raid and set it up in Disk Utility. I am not sure how much performance you will see out of it since I haven't used a RAID setup yet but I would imagine it would be noticeable especially over a ATA drive that is probably only 5400 rpms

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coach_z

 
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look into a sonnet cpu upgrade that should be able to give you a lot better performance.

also search for our maintenance and general upkeep thread that will tell you how to repair your permissions and do a few other things to help your computer along before you go for a complete re-install of the os
-chris

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G-Dog
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Where did all you guys come from? When I was in college, learning the Mac for the first time, "More RAM" was the only answer to every question. The Mac users I knew didn't even know the difference between a CPU and a GPU. Even today, one of the other designers here at work was telling me her process for creating an "IBM PDF" for XP. For some reason, she thinks you need to use Virtual PC.

Anyway, to reply to everybody above, thanks for the info. Seems hard drive is the way to go, and these days less than 100 bucks gets you a killer drive.

Thanks again. This forum saved me a $500+ bill from Compucraft, and they would have mucked something else up in the process.
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G-Dog
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dtravis7
That should be a VERY stable system. I take it that it was Stable at one time?

I know the DEATHSTAR IBM drives OH TOO WELL. Back in the day on Anandtech Forums, the drives performed so well everyone bought them including Anand for his servers. Within the first year most died a horrible death including some in Anands own servers. There was a Class Action Lawsuit against IBM. If the system was fast at one time and is going slow now, the DEATHSTAR could be getting errors which will cause, SLOWNESS, Lockups, corrupted files, ETC. I had a 40GB IBM start to go in my G4 500 and it got slower and slower and then I started hearing faint clicking from the IBM. New Seagate made the machine like it used to be., I backed up that deathstar just in time for it to die completely. So getting the new drive would be the first thing I would try. The 933 CPU is pretty fast, but you can get faster but that might be over the budget. You have plenty of RAM for Panther. Put in the fastest HDD you can. One thing, is that 933 the Quicksilver with the two skinny drive covers? Those might not STOCK take more than a 120GB drive. The MDD (Mirror Drive Door) ones will. You can get a PCI IDE ATA 133 card for it that will allow any sized modern drive. SATA would work but I think that would push it over your budget.
Nope, it's got skinny drive doors. Now, that 120Gig limit, is that for all drives, or just the system drive? I have two external firewire drives hooked up right now, one of them is 160 Gigs.

If my company will let me, I'll just get my drive at the local computer shop in town. That way, I can get a drive with 16 megs of cache, that's +120 megs, and if it doesn't work, I can exchange it.


Oh, and BTW, I had a Death Star in my PC for 4 years! As long as you kept the drive very, very cool, the super hot chips wouldn't cause the metal platters to expand, crashing the drive on all levels.
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dtravis7

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G-Dog
Nope, it's got skinny drive doors. Now, that 120Gig limit, is that for all drives, or just the system drive? I have two external firewire drives hooked up right now, one of them is 160 Gigs.
It's the limit on the built in IDE controler on the older Macs before the MDD. Like I said a PCI card will take care of it. It's not a problem when you go Firewire as that does not hook up to the IDE controler. My older P3 and before PC's had the same limit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by G-Dog
Oh, and BTW, I had a Death Star in my PC for 4 years! As long as you kept the drive very, very cool, the super hot chips wouldn't cause the metal platters to expand, crashing the drive on all levels.
Yeah, I knew about the heat with those DeathStars but some seemed to fail even when kept pretty cool. The one in my Mac was very cool and it died quite fast.

Good luck and if you need any more help we are here for you.
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xstep

 
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If your not the only one using that Mac, I suggest you might want to set up an administrator user account and one or more accounts with no administrator priv's for the other users daily use. This may help keep the system stable, and keep out that third part if they show up.

I'd say more, but everyone else did such an excellent job. :spook:
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i want to bounce htis idea on people, could tiger run faster than panther on that computer? hasn't apple done a better job optimizing the operating system for use on older systems.
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G-Dog
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macAttack
i want to bounce htis idea on people, could tiger run faster than panther on that computer? hasn't apple done a better job optimizing the operating system for use on older systems.
Good point. If I'm reinstalling, and I can afford it, I might as well update, right?
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BlindingLights

 
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I suggest that if you're going to upgrade the OS, hold out until Leopard, it should run on G4 systems, otherwise Jobs is an idiot in not providing support for PowerPC chips. I mean, the VAST majority of mac owners use PowerPC chips, and to make them all go out and buy Intel macs, while it may make him more money, he'll lose SO many users as he'll then seem like he's a crook.

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trpnmonkey41

 
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Leopard will be supported by G3's and up

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G-Dog
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But the better question is, will it be more optimized or more of a system hog than the previous version? Seems OS X has been going to the way of system hog since Panther.
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trpnmonkey41

 
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Apart from Dashboard I see nothing that uses any more resources in Tiger then in Panther or Jaguar. I don't use dashboard so I just kill it in the terminal and my PowerBook from 3 years ago that came with Jaguar runs Tiger just as fast as it did Jag

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G-Dog
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I guess this is my last question on this thread. Would it be worth the money to get a PCI ATA IDE controller? One that does ATA100? I see the G4 only does 66. That, however, doubles the cost of this upgrade.

What do you guys think? Dramatic speed increast at 100 over 66, or not worth the cost of the card?
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