View Full Version : PowerMac G4 Cube Upgrade?

Nov 26, 2008, 03:33 PM
Hi all,

I am thinking about purchasing an old Power Mac G4 Cube to hook up to my TV, instead of buying a Mac mini.

I really love the design - and want one regardless, but was wondering about a few things...

1. It runs a 450MHz processor, I have read about people managing to mod it to 1GHz by doing some upgrades - does anyone know of a good guide/parts required?

2. Memory - 340MB already installed, how much can this thing handle?

3. Hard Drive - I will probably be using my external FW400 drive for my iTunes media playback - but was wondering what the highest capacity drive for the Cube is. (I'm sure I read it was 40GB?)

4. Graphics card - Comes with a Rage 128 Pro - anyone know of anyone that's upgraded it, and what card did they use?

5. How much do you think the whole upgrade will cost?

Now before you say - "You're stupid - go buy a Mac mini in January", I really love the design, sure it's 8 years old, but it's a piece of history.

Anyway - anyone know of any info - please post some links, as it would be greatly appreciate it.

(also does anyone know of what the maximum screen resolution on the Cube is?)

IJ Reilly
Nov 26, 2008, 03:44 PM
1. Many options are available for upgrading the processor, up to 1.8 GHZ. They aren't cheap, and require a certain amount of skill, but nothing too daunting.

2. 1.25 GB

3. I believe the maximum it will recognized is 120 GB, but I believe there's work-arounds for using larger drives.

4. Quite few options here too, requiring little or no to a lot of modification to make them work. It all depends on how much graphics performance you are after, how much you want to spend, and how much heat you feel comfortable generating inside the Cube.

5. Again, that all depends.

Probably your single best source is the boards at cubeowner.com. It's kind of a ghost town now but last I checked the boards could still be searched.

BTW, don't let anyone talk you into replacing the innards of the Cube with a Mac mini. That's gross.

Nov 26, 2008, 03:49 PM
Thanks for your quick reply - very helpful indeed.

With the graphics card - it's quite an old one in there - and I wouldn't want to spend big bucks (or 's as it is in the UK).

Probably around $50 (Is there anything for the cube at that price thats better that the Rage 128 included?)

Secondly, no matter what browser I use - Cubeowner.com seems to be down. Safari & Firefox keep on coming back with "Can't find the server", so that's out. You know of anywhere else?

And, no way, I'm never shoving a mini in the Cube's casing.

Also - do you have a link of what processors will work etc/shop selling upgrade kits kind of thing?

Nov 26, 2008, 03:53 PM
Sonnet made some dual 1.5GHz processor cards for the cube. Thats probably about as fast as you could make it. If its just a media hub, I doubt you'll really want to spend that much money though. The cube also shipped with a Radeon 7500 or GeForce2 with 32Mb of VRAM. Either of those cards ships cheap and will be a big improvement over the Rage128. The Rage didn't even support Quartz Extreme. If you want to go really hardcore, you can get a Geforce 6200 with 256mb of VRAM, but like the processor upgrade, i doubt you'll need that much power.

Nov 26, 2008, 04:00 PM
It's just someone selling it (2nd hand).

So it only comes with the standard specs.

Anyway - I want to be able to play movies/tv shows purchased from the iTunes store - and movies ripped from handbrake in the iPod touch/iPhone preset. (I know it's not great quality - but it means I can watch them on the go!)

Also I download quite a few podcasts - most of them in 640x360 - will the graphics card handle it?

Also (Yes a lot of questions!), what's the cheapest graphics card and processor upgrade I can do, and finally - iTunes spec for screen res is 1024x768 - what's the Cubes highest screen res (In relation to the Rage card) - does anyone know?

IJ Reilly
Nov 26, 2008, 04:17 PM
Most Cubes shipped stock with the RagePro 128 card. Build-to-order options were the GeForce 2MX and the Radeon AGP (which I believe was a 7200, not a 7500). The Radeon 7500 can be made to work in the Cube also, but it's not a perfect fit. The easiest to find card probably will be the GeForce 2MX, which was also used in PowerMacs of the same era. Make sure you get the Mac edition, not a flashed PC version.

EDIT: Correction, the maximum RAM is 1.5 GB.

Nov 26, 2008, 04:31 PM
5. How much do you think the whole upgrade will cost?

Far more than a MacMini for a fraction of the performance. Even with a dual 1.5GHz G4 it won't be powerful enough to play HD video.

Nov 26, 2008, 04:35 PM
The Rage 128 Pro supports 1920x1200 resolution, and for just a media center you should be fine with that card.

Up until about 2 weeks ago I was using a 400MHz G4 PowerMac (sawtooth) for a sort of Media Center, it had the Rage 128Pro & ran very smoothly with 1gb of RAM, so I would suggest you just try upping the RAM & see if that makes it fast enough for what you want.

The reason I got rid of the PM was cos of the hdd limitation of ~120Gb, to put anything bigger than that in it you would have to buy a SATA card, (or connect through firewire as you said), so that's why I sold it.

Nov 26, 2008, 04:36 PM
How much do you think the whole upgrade will cost?

Far more than a MacMini for a fraction of the performance. Even with a dual 1.5GHz G4 it won't be powerful enough to play HD video.

I'll check out the Geforce 2MX (Mac version) on eBay. Is upgrading the graphics card an easy job to do on a Cube?

Also - none of the video is in HD.

And I'll probably upgrade the RAM too, probably to the max.

Nov 26, 2008, 04:47 PM
Had a look at eBay for the Geforce 2mx and here's what I found:

(Note - links to UK eBay site)

I think all of these are flashed for the PC, anyone think otherwise?

OK - think I may have found one - http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Mac-Edition-nVidia-Geforce-2-MX-32MB-DDR-AGP-G4-VGA-ADC_W0QQitemZ260307585310QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item260307585310&_trksid=p3286.m63.l1177

Seller also says it works with Cube!

Thanks guys ever so much for you help - got all my questions answered within 30 minutes! Thanks!

IJ Reilly
Nov 26, 2008, 05:34 PM
"Mac edition" is the key word here, though I'm not sure I'd trust anything being sold in Hong Kong. These cards should not be difficult to find locally.

Installing a card made to be compatible with the Cube is easy. Others require modifications, some small, some major.

Nov 26, 2008, 05:43 PM
I think I'll just get the graphics card I found on eBay. It's the Mac version, and ports seem to match. I don't really mind that it comes from hong kong - as the seller seems to have pretty good feedback!

Thanks again to you all.


Nov 27, 2008, 03:35 PM
Far more than a MacMini for a fraction of the performance. Even with a dual 1.5GHz G4 it won't be powerful enough to play HD video.

But it's a cube!!! Time to take the cube off ice?

But yeah, they are pretty old now and won't do modern things.

Nov 27, 2008, 04:38 PM
OK - so for this whole set-up to work, I'm going to need a USB to audio out adapter. Looking for something under $20, does anyone know of any product?

There's also a Griffin iMic on eBay for $14 (not BIN), so might just get that.

Have looked at various adapters on Amazon, but none of them say whether they work with Mac OSX.

Nov 27, 2008, 11:58 PM
u could just open it pull all of it out and pop in a mack mini. WIth a little dremel work on the bottom it would be perfect

Nov 28, 2008, 01:37 AM
cubeowner works for me and it's great for all things related to a cube. it is a beautiful machine and it sad that apple killed it.

Dec 1, 2008, 04:31 PM
Hi there,

Brian here, new member from Vancouver Canada: I need to upgrade my cube, and wondering how yours went Dylan?



Dec 1, 2008, 04:41 PM
Hey Brian,

Sadly I was outbid on the Cube on eBay, and I wasn't prepared to bid again. I have also decided that I will buy a mini, sometime next year.

I love the Cube for its design and looks - but you can only upgrade it so much. Processor upgrades were quite expensive.

Anyway - for the upgrade I was basically thinking about memory and graphics.

The Cube can handle 1.5GB or RAM - so I was going to max it out (I found new memory to be cheaper on eBay than Crucial).

I was also thinking about upgrading the graphics card (Thanks to IJ Reilly for the help) to the Geforce 2MX.

Hope this helps a little.

Dec 2, 2008, 10:15 AM
buy this one:

Everything you need

May 5, 2009, 12:47 AM
Can the Cube handle a little non-HD video (itunes, hulu etc) with an upgraded card? I've read that anything using flash is pretty hopeless on G4 macs. I can get a radeon 7000 on ebay for $30

May 5, 2009, 01:01 AM
Can the Cube handle a little non-HD video (itunes, hulu etc) with an upgraded card? I've read that anything using flash is pretty hopeless on G4 macs. I can get a radeon 7000 on ebay for $30

You would need a Quartz supported video card like an FX5200 for it to be a noticeable difference. The 450mhz G4 is definitely not enough speed for HD video. You would need to look at a dual core 1.6 and up level cpu I would think.

May 5, 2009, 06:49 AM
A 450 cube will barely handle 720p, unless its in the horrible MKV format, then it won't be watchable. The graphics card makes no difference.