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View Full Version : Mac Mini G4 Booting from External FW Drive Can't Play Hulu-Old Chip or FW Bottleneck?




pokeydonut
Mar 9, 2009, 11:12 AM
I just set up an old G4 Mac Mini with a 1.5 GHz PPC chip and 64 MB VRAM as an HTPC with the intent to use it to watch Hulu and ABC.com and other sites where you can stream TV shows online. However, Hulu is very very choppy. The audio's fine but the video is pretty disappointing. In full screen it's really just a series of still pictures. I know Flash on the mini is supposed to not be that great, but is there anything I can do?

Is there any way to change the video settings of the g4 or of the TV to improve the streaming video playback? I'm playing it on a 40" Samsung LCD connected via DVI--> HDMI.

I'm booting off an external firewire drive through Firewire 400 and my concern is that perhaps this is the problem - the slowdown is not coming from the processor or the VRAM but rather from the Firewire. Can anyone with a similar setup let me know if this works for them. Is there anyway to speed up the I/O between the G4 and the Firewire drive? it's a LaCie 250GB D2 Hard Drive Extreme with Triple Interface.


According to the Activity Monitor, Safari's using 72% of the CPU to play from Hulu. According to Hulu's support page, the Mac Mini meets the system requirements. I'm just trying to watch the SD videos, not the HD. I have Flash 10 and Safari 3.1.2.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions - I've already convinced my wife to cancel cable and rely on fullscreen Hulu. Now I'm going to be stuck with no viable source for old episodes of Alf. Help!



Consultant
Mar 9, 2009, 11:20 AM
Flash is really awful. CPU bound. Stutters on more recent machines sometimes.

It might help to pause the content so more of the content loads before playing.

Some people say updating flash will help.
http://www.macupdate.com/info.php/id/4783/adobe-flash-player

Others said certain versions of Firefox might help.

You might need an intel mini.

California
Mar 9, 2009, 11:25 AM
I think, though I could be wrong that the upgraded video chip in that "silent upgrade 1.5ghz PPC mini" is actually better than the intels up until this last mini update

I had that machine and I maxed out the hard drive and the ram for best performance

I had the 100gb travelstar 7200rpm hd which they no longer make but the now cheap western digital 250gb 5400rpm hd is actually just as fast because of the larger disc platters (I owned both in my 12" powerbook, so I know).

Make sure you have the full gig of ram in there, too. You could also try a RAID set up on your firewire, I was actually thinking of that as the last way to speed up that mac mini.

shu82
Mar 9, 2009, 03:07 PM
I don't think it is your machine. I run a PPC 1.5 on a 42" Works great. I am about to You could get between 200-300 for the mini. SD should be perfect. I've even done 720p h.264 on it before (with nothing else running/freshly booted). It was actually watchable.

Update: Downgrade to flash 9. Adobe laid a turd when it made flash 10 for PPC

pokeydonut
Mar 9, 2009, 03:40 PM
So if it's not the machine, you guys think that it's the Firewire that's slowing down the system. The connection to an internal hard drive is faster than Firewire 400? That would slow down streaming video?

elcid
Mar 9, 2009, 05:30 PM
It shouldnt be the connection. Safari will be holding all of that information in RAM and it shouldnt have to write it to a drive. If it is really a bottle neck though I would just install on an internal just to see if it makes a difference.

pokeydonut
Mar 9, 2009, 05:51 PM
It shouldnt be the connection. Safari will be holding all of that information in RAM and it shouldnt have to write it to a drive. If it is really a bottle neck though I would just install on an internal just to see if it makes a difference.

The internal hard drive (a seagate 80GB momentus) is mysteriously unrecognized by the Leopard installer - I'm assuming it's dead. It saw it once but wouldn't install onto it and hasn't seen it since. I could get a new internal hard drive or I could upgrade to 1 GB RAM from 512 MB. I'm happy to do either but I'd rather not do both, especially if it's not a guarantee that it'll fix the problem.

OrangeSVTguy
Mar 10, 2009, 02:40 PM
Upgrade the memory to 1gb and install the WD 5400rpm 250gb (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136159) or WD 5400rpm 320gb (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136345) hard drive in your Mini.

Are you using Leopard 10.5 or Tiger 10.4?

If you're good with a soldering iron, you can always overclock your mini too to squeeze a few more mhz out of your Mini ;). Free upgrades are great!

California
Mar 10, 2009, 09:22 PM
Upgrade the memory to 1gb and install the WD 5400rpm 250gb (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136159) or WD 5400rpm 320gb (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136345) hard drive in your Mini.

Are you using Leopard 10.5 or Tiger 10.4?

If you're good with a soldering iron, you can always overclock your mini too to squeeze a few more mhz out of your Mini ;). Free upgrades are great!

Yes totally agree and am psyched for all my PPC ibook/powerbook pals that they came out with a 320gb ATA hard drive. That's great.

Also flash 10 sucks. downgrade to flash 9 as another poster said.

pokeydonut
Mar 11, 2009, 10:43 AM
I ordered 1GB of Crucial RAM so I'm hoping that'll help. Also I've noticed that if you turn the resolution way down - like 1024 x 640 or whatever then the picture is a lot smoother. Obviously this plan has substantial drawbacks though.

I haven't tried to downgrade to Flash 9 but I will. I upgraded to Safari 4 beta but I'm not sure that does much other than make the VLC plug-in stop working. Has anyone figured out a way to play DivX files in Safari 4?