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wicker_man 03-15-2006 11:24 AM

First mac, looking for advice on cheap 2nd hand
Hi, first post here.

I am a student with no job, and currently have a fairly modern Windows laptop (Athlon 64 3200+/512mb RAM/40GB HDD/DVD Burner/128mb ATi 9700/15.4" widescreen etc).
But, as I read and research more into Mac, it looks much better than windows.

I want to keep my current laptop, and as soon as I get a job (which would be in a few months) and get some money, I want to buy a cheap second hand Mac but not quite sure what to get.

I want something that can run OSX (Tiger?) and would be OK for general web browsing (using wireless or ethernet), iTunes, etc. I don't mind if I have to upgrade the RAM/HDD/optical drive, but not too sure on what processor would do.

I have seen a couple of the original iMac G3s with 350MHz processors going cheap on a well known auction site for £50, but are these suitable for OSX?

If not, what would be the best to get?

Thanks in advance for any help.

inflexion 03-15-2006 11:46 AM

those machines will run OSX fine but you would need to max out the ram.

on the wireless front you will need a USB wireless adapter to make it wireless but that should get you running fine for what you want to do with it

mmoy 03-15-2006 12:51 PM

You'll be pretty disappointed with an older machine coming from a 3200+. I have a 3200+ notebook with w GB of RAM and 180 GB of
disk space and it creams my PowerMac G5 1.8 Ghz with 1 GB of Ram
in performance. Your best bet would be to install Mac OSX on your current notebook if you can convince Apple to sell you such a license.

I'm happy with the PowerMac and work on making it faster from time to time but it is the family desktop and I do my real work on the AMD notebook. The PowerMac is fine for iTunes and okay for browsing.

surfwax95 03-15-2006 12:57 PM

I'm going to have to disagree with Inflexion on this one.

I work with an iMac G3 (DV version 500Mhz, 2x 512 RAM) that has Tiger on it. It is mind numbingly slow and unbearable to work with even if it's just cruising the internet or transferring files. The tech guys didn't ask me before they upgrade from 9.2.2 to OSX Tiger. I would've preferred to stay on OS9 because it ran so much faster than OSX on this machine. It (the iMac) also has only a 10GB hard drive and Tiger alone takes up 2 Gigs as opposed to OS9's 500MB.

I would recommend getting a little more hardware than an older G3 iMac. I would recommend the "Daisy" iMac G4. You're going to pay a little more, but you'll be at the point where you can run most any software that's up to date. Plus, they look cool. :mac:

wicker_man 03-15-2006 01:03 PM

Thanks for all the replys.

So a G4 400MHz Powermac wouldn't be any better? (Also, I'd have to buy a screen for it too.)

I do like the look of the G4 iMacs (like the one in my avatar), but they are a bit pricey £400+ for a 1GHz 15" model.

I have also seen some eMacs with G4 700MHz for £250, but this is getting a bit pricey.

I did try installing OSX86 on my laptop to try it out a while ago, but due to a chipset incompatibility, it kept freezing upon boot.

inflexion 03-15-2006 01:10 PM

Tiger aint that bad on old machines once you disable dashboard. Its always down to the end user.

as for the PowerMac only been good enough IYO for iTunes and browsing is absurd, what type of work are doing to call a machine like that slow?

mmoy 03-15-2006 01:20 PM


Originally Posted by inflexion
Tiger aint that bad on old machines once you disable dashboard. Its always down to the end user.

as for the PowerMac only been good enough IYO for iTunes and browsing is absurd, what type of work are doing to call a machine like that slow?

The original poster indicated that he wanted to run iTunes and do browsing. I indicate that the PowerMac was fine to okay for that. I did not imply that other applications were slow but was providing my opinion on the suitability of the applications that he mentioned for the PowerMac G5 platform which is arguably
faster than G4s and G3s if your application is built to take advantage of the additional processor improvements.

lil 03-15-2006 01:38 PM

The PowerMac G4 won't be a bad choice, it won't be amazing -- but one key difference to any iMac is its upgradeability. This means you can pretty much expand every part of the system should you wish to do so. To start with however it will have enough power (depending on the level of RAM, 256MB for Panther—10.3 or 512MB for Tiger—10.4) to browse the net and iTunes; though for much else it won't be as slick as other new Macs.

Take for example the Power Mac G4 I have, a graphite one like those 400MHz ones you have seen; except mine was the so-called Digital Audio variant. It started off quite meagre, but it had potential. The only thing to make sure of on a G4 Power Mac is to ensure you get an AGP or later version, not the PCI only one—those are a dead end.

So my Digital Audio G4 started with 256MB RAM, a 466MHz G4, Rage 128 Pro 16MB graphics, 40GB Hard disk, CDRW drive, Zip 100 and that was it.

I first added more RAM, I maxed it to 1.5GB; that made a good difference in Tiger. Then I added a second hard disk, a Western Digital Caviar 120GB drive and a DVD±RW/DL drive—it worked well enough.

Then I wanted a better graphics card; and lost the Rage 128 and instead got a Radeon 9800 Pro 128MB with VGA/DVI/SVideo output—this made a big difference alone with the slickness of graphics. I hooked this up to my Dell 2001FP monitor I already had for my PowerBook G4.

I then added a Belkin wireless card that was Mac compatible, and now I have 802.11b/g wireless that functions the same as Apple's Airport Extreme wifi card.

Still; the thing was all hinged around a 466MHz G4; and that was turned around with a Dual 1.8GHz G4 upgrade; and now the machine absolutely flies along.

My next upgrade will be another Dell 2001FP for dual displays, and in the future a SATA card to increase hard disk space and speed.

Sure, this hasn't come cheap but the point I am emphasising is that with a PowerMac G4 you may get a pretty basic machine to start with, albeit cheaply. It won't give you the best Mac experience. But over time you can tweak it more and more, as it is expandable and in the end you will have a really good machine; as those G3 iMacs cannot be expanded in the same way.

Food for thought.

Plus the Graphite G4s look gorgeous in my books :flower:


Aptmunich 03-15-2006 01:42 PM

I'd recommend going with your original plan and getting a cheap iMac, but stick 10.3. panther on there, or get the fastest G3 iMac you can find and fill it up with RAM.

Have you looked into getting a Mini?

xbrian87 03-15-2006 01:50 PM

My first mac (about 2 years ago) was a G3 iBook. It was GREAT and only ran me about $600. I'd assume they're $300-400 now.

You don't want anything TOO cheap, or you'll get the wrong impression of how great a Mac can be. And DON'T get anything without (or that cannot handle) OS X 10.4 at least.

wicker_man 03-15-2006 02:14 PM

Thanks for all the replies.

I have considered a Mac Mini (an even an iBook G3 or PowerBook Pismo) but they aren't that easy (or cheap) to upgrade compared to a desktop.

I think I like the PowerMac G4 idea. The G4 400MHz with 128mb RAM, 20GB HDD, DVD ROM, ATi Rage 128 Pro AGP 16mb and OSX Puma is just under £200.
Obviously I'll need a monitor aswell (a cheap CRT will probably have to do until I can get a nice TFT). This should be fine for a while for general basic use and to find my way around Mac OS and until I can afford upgrades.

How much is a processor upgrade (approx) and what kinds can you get?

Also, is the ATi Rage Pro capable of running widescreen resolutions? (1280x800 or 1440x900 for example)

Obviously, I need to find a part time job first and earn money, so I won't be buying for a few months, but I like to research first and get advice from experienced users.

lil 03-15-2006 02:24 PM

As noted don't get the PCI based G4.

Processor upgrades start from about £140 for simple single processor G4 upgrades to around £420 which is what I paid for the dual 1.8; it's not cheap—one of the problems with upgrades based on CPUs that are not produced in the same large volumes like Intel's chips.

They range from 1GHz G4 upgrades with 256KB L2 and 2MB L3 cache, up to 1.4GHz, then newer G4 (so-called 7447A G4s) at 1.6, 1.8 to 2.0GHz with 512KB L2 and no L3, and then dual processors upgrades typically 7447A based G4, with 512KB L2 cache per processor and no L3.

OS X Puma... Ack. That's 10.0; try not to get that, you can get a Power Mac G4 Digital Audio for somewhat under £200, you just have to bide your time and the right one will come along.

Puma - 10.0 (Avoid)
Cheetah - 10.1 (Somewhat better but not amazing)
Jaguar - 10.2 (What 10.0 should have been, bit dated now)
Panther - 10.3 (Now we are talking...)
Tiger - 10.4 (Latest version)

The Rage 128 might support those resolutions but it's hard to say 100% because I have never tried myself. Generally with the correct VGA cable; the card should detect the resolutions the monitor can accept.

I'm certain the GeForce2 MX that a fair few G4s came with can though, in fact I am 99.9% sure.

But as noted, if you get an older Mac that is not 'current' in terms of specs, just think of how it would be using a PC on a PII 400MHz on Windows ME trying to judge how PCs with Windows are :) Although the PowerMac G4 will be considerably nicer than that!

The uograde the older Power Mac G4 route may not be the cheapest or the most economically sensible, but it's the best way to get an upgradeable Mac for little money, that looks beautiful and can have a lot of potential.


dtravis7 03-15-2006 02:28 PM

I second going with a G4 Mac with AGP. Later you can upgrade it and make it a really nice machine. The first thing I would do is upgrade the RAM. The more RAM the better with OSX. I think the stock ATI Rage will do those resolutions. I have never tried my G4 500 Tower on a Flat Panel but it did 1280x1024 though on my 19" Sony Trinitron. The Digital Audio that Lil is talking about is a very nice machine as the Bus speed is 133 VS 100 with the older G4 towers.

coach_z 03-15-2006 02:42 PM

PowerMac G4 466MHz
466MHz Processor
256MB Memory
30GB Hard Drive
CD-RW Drive
2x USB ports
2x FireWire ports
USB keyboard & mouse

that can be had for 338+ship (unless you live in CA you can go pick it up)
throw a dvd drive in there and a lil bit more ram and you should be all set, but at that rate you might as well buy a mini

lil 03-15-2006 02:42 PM

The Digital Audio G4 has a number of advantages:

4 PCI slots vs. 3.
AGP 4x instead of 2x.
133MHz bus Vs. 100MHz as dtravis pointed out -- can make a big difference.
All are Dual processor capable.
All have gigabit ethernet.

The only downside vs. the other graphite G4s is the amount of RAM, a max of 1.5GB instead of 2GB (3 DIMM slots vs. 4) -- but you do gain an extra PCI slot which is always handy.


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