View Full Version : Looking to buy older mac system

Sep 3, 2003, 04:53 PM
I need a computer for my dorm room. The college I am at (Northwest Missouri State University) does supply a computer and high speed network into each room, but unfortunately, the computer is a pathetically out-of-date 900Mhz Gateway "running" (look up definition of the word run, I use that word veeerrrrry loosely) Windows 2000 Professional with 128MB of RAM. It is horribly unstable, that it hardly even can handle web-browsing or word processing. For some reason (first time Windows user, so I don't know the history of the OS) the copy/paste function, or IE's ability to open web pages will cease to function often times within a few hours of start-up even without heavy usage. And it seems that background tasks such as playing mp3s/CDs (especially running folding) make the problem worse. These problems can only be remedied AFAIK by restarting and re-logging in on the machine which often takes at least 5 or 6 minutes. Needless to say this seriously breaks my trains of thought and distroys any possible workflow. So.....

I am looking to buy an older macintosh system. Here is what I need from it.

1. The ability to reasonably run Mac OS X (Jaguar)
2. Word Processing (I have a connection, so I can get MS Office X)
3. Internet Browsing/E-mail/Network Games (battle.net)
4. iPhoto and Photoshop with my Canon PowerShot S45 digital camera
5. FCP3 reasonably well (just for fun, and not essential). I bought the software for my home computer (Quicksilver 733Mhz G4), but that computer is like I said, at home.
6. iTunes (must have a FireWire connection for 10GB 3G iPod)
7. I want it to last and not have it go the way of the Bondi iMac within the 4 years of college. I need it to retain usefulness till graduation. (Graduation May 2007=real job=more money=G6/G7) :p

The questions I need answering then are:

1. What kind of mac should I get?
2. Do I REALLY NEED a new computer?
3. If I do need a new computer, how long should I wait (new Apples) before I buy? (I think I can make do with the Gateway box for at least a few months)
4. Where is the best place to buy an older mac (cheapest/most reliable)
5. Is there anything I can do with the free (a good thing) computer in my room so that I don't need to buy a mac?

Thanks in advance for any answers/thoughts.


Sep 3, 2003, 05:21 PM
If you were happy with the performance of the 733 quicksilver, then any new Mac will be just fine. Smalldog.com has a lot of inexpensive refurbs, as does Powermax.com.

Sep 3, 2003, 05:34 PM
The key problem with your Gateway is the low RAM. Windows 2000 does not run well with less than 256MB, and Windows' VM swaps very poorly (once swapping starts, performance goes completely into the tank). With only 128MB, you should be able to work as long as you limit yourself to one task at a time, closing everything else - just like we used to do under Windows 3.1.

If I were you, I'd still want a Mac. But for what you want to do, you can accomplish it on the Gateway if you add another 512MB of RAM or so.

Sep 3, 2003, 08:55 PM
Is there any place to get an unsed older mac, or do I have to go refurb or pre-used? What kind of system would probably be the oldest/cheapest that would still do what I need?

Sep 3, 2003, 10:32 PM
Originally posted by stoid
Is there any place to get an unsed older mac, or do I have to go refurb or pre-used? What kind of system would probably be the oldest/cheapest that would still do what I need?

What is your price range?

Would an eMac do the job (with edu price)?

Go to eBay, search for 'G4', click on 'completed items', and look at what has sold for how much, and then see what you can afford.


Sep 3, 2003, 11:10 PM
I'm simply interested in spending absolutely as little money as I possibly can.

I want a system that can do what I discribed, I have enough money to buy a G5 dual 2 and a 23 inch flat-screen, but in my opinion, that's over-kill (and I'd be completely broke).

I'm willing to spend as much money as I need to, I'm just trying to figure out how much that is. I can afford any system, price is not the main concern. The main concern is usablity without have more than I need.


I just want to know what is going to be the cheapest system that will do what I need to do.

Is this not an answerable question?

Sep 3, 2003, 11:27 PM
Desktop: 1Ghz eMac (Combo drive and up the RAM to at least 512MB)

Portable: 900Mhz iBook with maxed RAM. (Or maybe the 12" Powerbook, depending on how good you want WC3 to run)

I'd wait on the iBooks since they may get a substancial update soon along with the Powerbooks.

I'm pretty much in the same position as you right now, with the exception that I'm a senior in High School right now and have an elderly iMac.

The above mentioned systems (eMac/iBook) will work fine for what you listed in your original post and will be miles ahead of your old Gateway. The eMac currently offers IMO the best bang for your buck, so if you don't need a portable, I'd go with the eMac.

However, refurb and used G4 towers also offer really great deals. Don't ignore them either.

Sep 4, 2003, 12:31 AM
Originally posted by job
Desktop: 1Ghz eMac (Combo drive and up the RAM to at least 512MB)

Portable: 900Mhz iBook with maxed RAM. (Or maybe the 12" Powerbook, depending on how good you want WC3 to run)

a current emac or ibook would both do everything that you want quite well. If FCP is a big deal, the emac would be a lot better. With edu pricing, neither would cost you very much. I've used both a 1 Ghz emac and 900 mhz ibook extensively for basically all of the things you list, and both perform *quite* well. (both with 640 RAM)

If those don't appeal to you, I'd suggest looking at an older G4 powermac, at least 800 mhz with 512 RAM for what you're talking about doing, IMHO. But I think the emac would be the better deal. The 1 Ghz combo emac is a fantastic deal, esp. with edu pricing. Probably the best bargain Apple offers right now.

oh, and btw: the 12" PB would outperform the ibook on photoshop and FCP, but will NOT do better than the ibook on wc3.

Sep 4, 2003, 11:32 AM
thanks, just one more question then

Where is the best place to look for older machines?

(Painfully ignorant in this regard)

:eek: ouch

Sep 4, 2003, 10:39 PM
Ebay is usually a good place to start as it gives you some idea of the price ranges.

It helps to also put out feelers in other forums and seeing if anyone is wanting to sell their older Mac.

Otherwise, Powermax.com and smalldog.com are pretty good resellers.

Sep 5, 2003, 03:18 AM
I say go for an 800 MHz PowerBook G4. I used to have one and it worked splendidly. I ran FCP3 on it for awhile, and was great. Granted, I didn't do any heavy editing or rendering, but it was snappy nonetheless. For everything else, it's more than enough. I would recommend finding a used one on eBay or going to the classfieds section of http://www.powerbookcentral.com - I sold mine there in April for $2000 and that was with maxed out RAM and bundled software. You could probably get a cheaper one now. Do max out the RAM, and if you can find a cheap 60 GB hard drive replacement, get it. Great computer, great computer.

By the way, I am incredibly sloshed right now. Mr. Smirnoff and I have had 15 conversations at this writing. But I digress....