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OlBlueHair
Sep 5, 2008, 09:44 AM
Hey everybody. I am currently working on using my Cube to play videos on my tv because I want to move the appletv to another television.

I got this cube "broken" on ebay for 99 bucks. It was just fine, it was just booting to the apple server management software thing...so I got around that by booting from the OS disc. Anyway, now I upped the RAM to 1.5 gigs, put in a hard drive which is 120 gigs. It still has stock video card and stock processor.

Here is my question. What is the best way to do what I want to do? I have it hooked up to a 32 inch LCD tv via vga, and I have it wired through ethernet into my n wireless router. Now, I was keeping all my media on the mac pro via an external usb drive and streaming it to the appletv. When I network the cube to the mac pro, the video won't play smoothly.

Now, I know that the video card will play DVDs just fine with the stock card. And the cube is wired into the network, so I think that's fast enough.

Do I need to upgrade the processor? Do I need to upgrade the video card? OR - do I spend that money on an external firewire drive to hook to the cube, which can then act as the server to the apple tv?

I have about 250 bucks to spend on this project. I know that I could just buy another appletv with this sum, but I want to eventually upgrade the cube anyway - I just want to give it a use for now.

Thanks for any help - Cubeowner.com lets me register but it hasn't been approved in about a month.

Thank you



IJ Reilly
Sep 5, 2008, 10:34 AM
Presumably your Cube is a stock 450 or 500 mhz G4 and most likely is running the RagePro video card. This is a pretty anemic setup for streaming video. I don't know which is more the issue, but I suspect you'd end up upgrading both before you'd get acceptable performance. Unfortunately, your options on the video side are fairly limited without making some significant alterations to your Cube. Upgrading the CPU is also a somewhat major task, but the options are better.

Cubeowner.com is all but out of business, but you can still search their boards and find all kinds of answers.

OlBlueHair
Sep 5, 2008, 10:39 AM
Presumably your Cube is a stock 450 or 500 mhz G4 and most likely is running the RagePro video card. This is a pretty anemic setup for streaming video. I don't know which is more the issue, but I suspect you'd end up upgrading both before you'd get acceptable performance. Unfortunately, your options on the video side are fairly limited without making some significant alterations to your Cube. Upgrading the CPU is also a somewhat major task, but the options are better.

Cubeowner.com is all but out of business, but you can still search their boards and find all kinds of answers.

Yeah, I figured as much, but I just wanted to hear some other opinions. I do have the stock card and the stock 450.

The thing about streaming video is, it does better than you might think. For example, if I connect to the mac pro over the network and choose a quicktime file sitting on its attached external - for a half hour show it will stream just fine. However, if I connect to the mac pro's library through iTunes and try to watch the same file by sharing the library, it will not work in a watchable manner. So this confuses me on whether its the video card or processor or what.

I'm tempted to just throw an external firewire drive on the cube and make it the apple tv server since it plays videos just fine from it's own hard drive or attached drives.

IJ Reilly
Sep 5, 2008, 11:02 AM
Worth a try, if you've already got the drive. How does it do if the video file is on the internal drive?

g4cubed
Sep 5, 2008, 11:35 AM
Cubeowner.com is all but out of business, but you can still search their boards and find all kinds of answers.
Yep, a shame too, but I still go and check the boards when I need info. Use to be some interesting debates back in the day on flashing cards.

OP, I'd say you would have to upgrade both, it can be done and still kept in the original case, though you wouldn't have the best video card in there, but better than what you have now. If you like to tinker around I'd say go for it.

OlBlueHair
Sep 5, 2008, 12:05 PM
Worth a try, if you've already got the drive. How does it do if the video file is on the internal drive?

It does just fine on the internal drive. It is 120 gig, so I could just copy select things to that drive as needed....but this is a bit of a pain.

OlBlueHair
Sep 5, 2008, 12:07 PM
Yep, a shame too, but I still go and check the boards when I need info. Use to be some interesting debates back in the day on flashing cards.

OP, I'd say you would have to upgrade both, it can be done and still kept in the original case, though you wouldn't have the best video card in there, but better than what you have now. If you like to tinker around I'd say go for it.

Yes I do like to tinker. I was thinking of getting a geforce 6200 off of ebay and a fan and putting it in. It would be the hardest thing I've ever tried computer wise but I think I could handle it. The only thing I'm not sure about is adapting the card so it won't wiggle, as some have said needs doing.

Also modifying the faceplate...that would be tough for me. Perhaps there is a lesser card, like you mention. I looked at the chart at cubeowner for videocards but the one I looked into was more expensive than the 6200 even though it was a lesser card!

cube
Sep 5, 2008, 12:14 PM
Single 1.8GHz, no L3 is not enough for Apple's HD ads, and it stutters a bit with SD MPEG-4. Not an H.264 machine.

You could try if it's enough with a dual 1.6 GHz, no L3 for Cube, if you find one. The PowerLogix ones have temperature monitoring by software, so they normally require you to wait for a temp monitor update when OS updates come out. The Giga Designs have no monitoring, so I thought it was a bit risky. The PowerLogix come with on-board VRM, while for the Giga Designs you have to buy their C-VRM card too, which some people say are a bit risky (I've been using the C-VRM since I got my upgrade with no problems).

I didn't get the dual when they were available because of those issues, plus it seemed too much to plunk in an old computer.

IJ Reilly
Sep 5, 2008, 01:00 PM
The CPU upgrades require tearing down the Cube's core. It's a bit scary but not difficult to complete successfully. I'd be even more careful with video card upgrades. The base fans don't help cool the video card since they are located outside of that airflow, and I've never been convinced that the card-mounted fans work very well in the tight confines of the Cube's core.

OlBlueHair
Sep 5, 2008, 02:27 PM
Single 1.8GHz, no L3 is not enough for Apple's HD ads, and it stutters a bit with SD MPEG-4. Not an H.264 machine.

You could try if it's enough with a dual 1.6 GHz, no L3 for Cube, if you find one. The PowerLogix ones have temperature monitoring by software, so they normally require you to wait for a temp monitor update when OS updates come out. The Giga Designs have no monitoring, so I thought it was a bit risky. The PowerLogix come with on-board VRM, while for the Giga Designs you have to buy their C-VRM card too, which some people say are a bit risky (I've been using the C-VRM since I got my upgrade with no problems).

I didn't get the dual when they were available because of those issues, plus it seemed too much to plunk in an old computer.

May I ask which video card you use? Thanks.

g4cubed
Sep 5, 2008, 02:41 PM
Yes I do like to tinker. I was thinking of getting a geforce 6200 off of ebay and a fan and putting it in. It would be the hardest thing I've ever tried computer wise but I think I could handle it. The only thing I'm not sure about is adapting the card so it won't wiggle, as some have said needs doing.

Also modifying the faceplate...that would be tough for me. Perhaps there is a lesser card, like you mention. I looked at the chart at cubeowner for videocards but the one I looked into was more expensive than the 6200 even though it was a lesser card!

It shouldn't be to hard to mod the the faceplate, especially with a dremel. I once used tin snips to mod a 9800 face plate. It wasn't petty but worked.

I'd go for it (modding the cube), if nothing else you'll learn a little and imho have a little fun doing it.

cube
Sep 5, 2008, 03:20 PM
May I ask which video card you use? Thanks.

Apple Radeon 7500 with ADC (and VGA, of course). No Core Image goodness. DVI requires a simple adapter.

IJ Reilly
Sep 5, 2008, 03:38 PM
I can also recommend the Radeon 7500 (Mac edition). I installed this card into my Cube years ago, no fan, no problems. Especially good if you need an ADC connector and (as already pointed out) ADC easily adapts to DVI. The "fence" bracket won't attach to the mounting points on the Cube core, but that doesn't really matter, just let it dangle (so to speak). You should be able to pick this card up for next to nothing, provided you can find one.

OlBlueHair
Sep 5, 2008, 03:46 PM
I was just looking at one of those 7500s for 40 bucks on ebay. Since the two of you have had no problems with them, I think I may go for this instead of the 90 dollar Geforce 6200. I feel it may be good enough for standard def stuff and I may also go for the 1.5 G4 powerlogix cpu upgrade for 217 bucks. I'm just not sure how much cash to put into this.

But I do love the cube, and I know they only made 150 thousand of them so they are somewhat of a collector's item...

I figure this set up will def be good enough to serve the appletv in the other room and to watch standard def dvds and videos I hope.

OlBlueHair
Sep 5, 2008, 03:51 PM
I am a little confused about the 7500s...

They are both the same price on ebay. But there are 2 versions. One is dvi only, 64MB

http://cgi.ebay.com/Mac-ATI-Radeon-7500-64MB-AGP-Video-Card-DVI-G5-G4-Cube_W0QQitemZ270271745362QQihZ017QQcategoryZ25449QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

I assume this is a flashed pc card or something.

The other is the one I think you guys are talking about - the 7500 32 MB card with dvi and vga connectors.

Like I said, both are around 40 bucks, and you obviously only have experience with the 32 MB version but would the 64 MB version be better?

Thanks

cube
Sep 5, 2008, 03:51 PM
1.8GHz without L3 is enough for SD MPEG-2.

cube
Sep 5, 2008, 03:53 PM
The Apple OEM 7500 has ADC. If it has DVI, it's a flashed PC card.

cube
Sep 5, 2008, 03:56 PM
Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure I watched DVDs with the stock 450MHz, but I don't remember about EyeTV MPEG-2.

I think I watched Formac Studio DV/TV (M-JPEG) with the stock CPU.

IJ Reilly
Sep 5, 2008, 04:03 PM
It's kind of like maintaining a classic car. If you thought about it entirely on the basis of cost, you'd probably couldn't justify investing a penny. Still, my CPU and video card upgrade kept my Cube useful for several additional years. I replaced it with an iMac only a few months ago.

cube
Sep 5, 2008, 04:06 PM
I upgraded my hard disk 5 times. This last time I maxed it out to 750GB.

IJ Reilly
Sep 5, 2008, 04:06 PM
The Apple OEM 7500 has ADC. If it has DVI, it's a flashed PC card.

Right, and the Mac edition was only 32mb. Note that this ebay listing does not mention that this is a flashed card, though certainly it must be. Danger, Will Robinson!

OlBlueHair
Sep 5, 2008, 04:13 PM
Yes it definitely is a flashed card because those Apple Macanix people sell other flashed pc cards. My question is - for the same price, will a 64 mb flashed card do better than a 32 mb apple card? Is there a risk? If it were some random guy flashing a card, I might think so, but this "company" seems to do this all the time with a lot of cards.

Who knows?

OlBlueHair
Sep 5, 2008, 04:15 PM
Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure I watched DVDs with the stock 450MHz, but I don't remember about EyeTV MPEG-2.

I think I watched Formac Studio DV/TV (M-JPEG) with the stock CPU.

Yeah, mine stock right now will do dvds fine and also avi files that were transformed through handbrake for the appletv setting.

cube
Sep 5, 2008, 04:20 PM
If you buy a TV tuner, make sure it has hardware compression, like the discontinued EyeTV 200.

Formac Studio DV/TV M-JPEG files are too big (but it also has hardware compression).

It must also be FireWire, of course.

cube
Sep 5, 2008, 04:29 PM
The EyeTV 250 has hardware encoding, but not for MPEG-4. This is where the 200 wins.

OlBlueHair
Sep 5, 2008, 04:30 PM
If you buy a TV tuner, make sure it has hardware compression, like the discontinued EyeTV 200.

Formac Studio DV/TV M-JPEG files are too big (but it also has hardware compression).

It must also be FireWire, of course.

Thanks, I already have the eyetv that does this hooked up to my mac pro...it is in a room without the satellite hookup and I use it with an antenna I built for about 10 bucks to get all my local HD channels except for one, which will be gettable once the switchover occurs. It's pretty cool to get that stuff for free, and if I weren't married I would've ditched Dish by now...but the wife has to have her 24 hr news channels...and the new channel podcasts on the apple tv aren't good enough for her. :rolleyes:

snberk103
Sep 5, 2008, 04:35 PM
Before you try major surgery.... You have mentioned that if the files are local, they seem to stream fine. Perhaps the bottleneck is the wireless connection to the MacPro. Try running an ethernet cable from the Mac Pro to the router. Not likely a solution, but it should be cheap - and then you can eliminate it as a source of the problem. Always try the easiest solution first. Also try a direct wired connection from the Mac Pro to the Cube.

Good Luck

IJ Reilly
Sep 5, 2008, 04:40 PM
Yes it definitely is a flashed card because those Apple Macanix people sell other flashed pc cards. My question is - for the same price, will a 64 mb flashed card do better than a 32 mb apple card? Is there a risk? If it were some random guy flashing a card, I might think so, but this "company" seems to do this all the time with a lot of cards.

Who knows?

I just don't trust people who fail to disclose.

cube
Sep 5, 2008, 04:46 PM
The other question is why he would want to upgrade to a card providing no additional video acceleration.

OlBlueHair
Sep 5, 2008, 04:51 PM
Before you try major surgery.... You have mentioned that if the files are local, they seem to stream fine. Perhaps the bottleneck is the wireless connection to the MacPro. Try running an ethernet cable from the Mac Pro to the router. Not likely a solution, but it should be cheap - and then you can eliminate it as a source of the problem. Always try the easiest solution first. Also try a direct wired connection from the Mac Pro to the Cube.

Good Luck

Good idea, I'll try it to see what happens. I had my mind set on upgrading the cube anyway, so I'll probably still do the major surgery just for fun. :)

OlBlueHair
Sep 5, 2008, 04:52 PM
The other question is why he would want to upgrade to a card providing no additional video acceleration.

It has double the RAM? I don't know, I was asking to see if it would be any better.

cube
Sep 5, 2008, 06:22 PM
I mean I don't think any of those cards are going to provide anything else in terms of video decoding hardware.

Graphics card memory will have no impact for watching video.

OlBlueHair
Sep 5, 2008, 07:20 PM
I mean I don't think any of those cards are going to provide anything else in terms of video decoding hardware.

Graphics card memory will have no impact for watching video.

Ah, I see. Video cards are probably one of the areas in macs where I'm most ignorant. I've done just about every upgrade except those in the last 10 years over 7 macs.

I pulled the trigger on the 6200. I figured that if I was going to go to the trouble of doing this, I may as well get one of the more powerful ones so that I wouldn't have to do it again in the future. True it was double the price of the 7500 but it also can handle core image and is more advanced so, I guess 90 bucks isn't so much.

Thanks for all your advice everybody. Once it comes I may bump this...or perhaps since cubeowner is dead we could keep a single thread about cube discussion going here?

Cubit
Sep 5, 2008, 08:48 PM
The 6200 is definitely the way to go if you don't need ADC. I did and first went from the Rage 128 to a 7500, then was lucky enough to get a GF3. My Cube also has a single 1.5 GHz Powerlogix processors and has been running very well in this configuration for over a year now.

I currently use my Cube to encode DVD's and as an iTunes server. I frequently watch movies and video podcasts on it and, although they are not HD, it still plays them back very well.

Congratulations on sticking with the Cube and good luck with it. It is an uphill struggle but well worth the journey.

OlBlueHair
Sep 5, 2008, 09:10 PM
Congratulations on sticking with the Cube and good luck with it. It is an uphill struggle but well worth the journey.

Cubes are just so awesome.

I ordered the Titan TTC-CUV3 Copper VGA Heatsink & Fan for the card.

Next move is save some pennies for the cpu upgrade, a base fan, then finally the black powerlogix cube enclosure. :D

IJ Reilly
Sep 6, 2008, 12:01 AM
All the CPU upgrades will come with a base fan, but you might want to read up on some of the quieter fan options.

And those enclosures? Forgedaboudit! The original Cube case is so lovely, why spoil it?

Vanilla Thunder
Sep 6, 2008, 12:25 AM
Just set up my Cube as a headless file server. It works great and is dead silent. I love it.

cube
Sep 6, 2008, 09:11 AM
There were some issues with the 6200 after all, have they finally been solved?

OlBlueHair
Sep 6, 2008, 09:52 AM
And those enclosures? Forgedaboudit! The original Cube case is so lovely, why spoil it?

The enclosure is the only thing I may not do, as I agree with you about how awesome the Cube case already is. The main reason I may do it, is if I find that I need better airflow with the cpu and video card upgrade. Also, and this is not as important, but the bedroom that the cube is in has a black lcd tv sitting on a black cabinet, against very dark raisin colored walls, so I feel the black case would look great there. If it weren't going in that room and were going in my office, I'd def keep the original case.

Also, once you do all these upgrades it's like you might as well go all the way and do everything, I don't know, we'll see.

OlBlueHair
Sep 6, 2008, 09:52 AM
There were some issues with the 6200 after all, have they finally been solved?

From the reading I've been doing at cubeowner I can't get an answer. It seems some have problems, then they disappear, or some don't etc. I'm not sure.

OlBlueHair
Sep 6, 2008, 09:54 AM
Just set up my Cube as a headless file server. It works great and is dead silent. I love it.

Perfect use for the ol' cube. Gotta love that small, fanless design!:D

Cubit
Sep 6, 2008, 09:59 AM
I would have to agree about keeping the standard enclosure. I find it much more attractive than the Powerlogix item and, even with the GF3 (which is notoriously hot) and the CPU upgrade, mine has been absolutely fine with the standard casing.

IJ Reilly
Sep 6, 2008, 11:04 AM
Perfect use for the ol' cube. Gotta love that small, fanless design!:D

That's how I've got mine set up since I bought the iMac. I set it up headless with screen sharing enabled so I can use it whenever I need access to Classic applications.

I have to tell you, I really don't like the enclosure idea. The Cube is such a cool design -- that's at least half the reason for owning one today. I also get prickly when people talk about carving out the insides of a Cube and replacing it with Mac mini guts. Yech.

kd_rome
Sep 6, 2008, 02:44 PM
You can get an idea here: http://www.yourmacstore.com/shop/shopdisplaycategories.asp?id=1&cat=G4+Cube+Parts
They have a lot of parts available, check it out!

OlBlueHair
Sep 11, 2008, 06:00 PM
Hey guys...

I installed the G4 1.5ghz upgrade which comes with a fan, and it is running nice and cool at 19C.

I was kind of pissed because it arrived with the fan wires too short to fit, so I had to run out and buy another fan and use the wires from that to make the cube's wire reach, by splicing them on.

So now I have a question please...I have the flashed 6200 ready to go. I have a titan copper vga cooler fan ready to be put on the card.

Has anyone done this, or can you point me to a tutorial on the web? I searched and all I could find was a blog post where a guy put a base fan in when he put in his 6200...I thought I read somewhere that it was best to put this titan on the card.

I am going to wait a couple days before I tackle this just to try to get more info, thanks!

IJ Reilly
Sep 11, 2008, 06:09 PM
All I know is that the base fan doesn't help with the airflow around the video card.

OlBlueHair
Sep 11, 2008, 07:19 PM
Ok, I spoke too soon wondering about how to attach the fan to the video card. It is super easy. The fan is copper, so it is also a heatsink. What you do is remove the heatsink, and place the fan on top of the gpu (with a new dose of thermal paste, included) and it pins in place with included pins.

Now tomorrow I just have to figure out how to power the fan...I believe from a thread at cubeowner that it can be done off the optical drive. We'll see!

OlBlueHair
Sep 12, 2008, 03:51 PM
Success!

I ran the power for the titan fan (the one on top of the gpu) from the optical drive, no problems...then I took off the bracket and the card attaches to the vga monitor and sits fine.

The temp program I have only sees the hard drive....before it was 15c...now it is 30c, and it saw the gpu one time for a bit, and it was also nice and low, though I forget the exact number.

As far as streaming goes - if I connect via the network to a movie directly sitting on the external attached to my mac pro, it will play just fine. If I share the mac pro's library through iTunes and stream the movie, it now is watchable with a few jitters now and then. I am also now able to watch youtube, which I was not able to do at all before.

I think the solution is to you this as a server for iTunes and that way the videos will be local and will play great.

So -
I now have this cube as follows:
1.5 gig ram - 100 bucks
120 gig hard drive - already had it, took it out of an external enclosure.
1.5 Ghz CPU - 222 bucks including shipping.
Radeon 6200 256 MB video card - 90 w/shipping because I bought one pre flashed and pre taped. They are like 50 if you want to do the flashing.
titan fan for card 20 w/shipping
USB solution for speakers - already had it.
Cube price itself - 99 bucks "broken, good for parts" on ebay (not really broken, the guy was just ignorant of the problem).
Tiger (already had it)
32 in LCD TV as monitor (already had it)

Total price - 531 dollars.

So, the question is, is a g4 1.5Ghz, 1.5 RAM, 120 HD, 256 MB Video card worth 500 bucks?

Maybe not when a 600 dollar mini is 599 with Bluetooth and USB 2.

However - for a Cube, which is a collector's item since only 150k were ever made, I feel it is worth it. I had a blast tearing it apart and learning, and I also think the looks, the small form factor and the specs make it great for a HTPC. Also, with 2 fans, (at least the 2 I have) she is very quiet.

The only other thing I want to get for it is 30 bucks. It's an IR reciever and software named Mira that lets you control front row with an apple remote (of which I have an extra). This would be great for the bedroom.

With this front row setup, I feel this will be a great bedroom PC to watch video and iTunes, and also to serve up video via an attached firewire drive to the appletv in the other room.

I am very happy with this experiment! Long live the cube!

OlBlueHair
Sep 12, 2008, 07:58 PM
Just to report for anyone interested...the gpu idled at 53C and after a few minutes of iTunes visualizer it was 63C...so I think that's safe.

g4cubed
Sep 12, 2008, 08:09 PM
Congrats on a successful mod. :D

OlBlueHair
Sep 13, 2008, 07:13 AM
Thanks...it is so fun. :)

g4cubed
Sep 13, 2008, 07:18 AM
Ahhh, caught the bug did we. ;)