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Boosting performance on a G5 PowerMac?

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by joe.pelayo, Jul 5, 2011.

  1. macrumors member

    Hello everybody.

    I am posting this from an "aging" PowerMac (2 x G5@2.0GHz, 2GB DDR400, 80GB 7,200RPM HDD) which runs Leopard. I am well aware that this configuration was big several years ago but now I do realize its limitations (comparing with a Core 2 Duo Macbook Pro).

    Since this machine has a superb monitor, before asking for a replacement (which might not come soon), I'd like to give it a performance boost (if possible), the most logical choice being adding more RAM.

    So, here is a question for the experienced Mac users who might have run into a similar situation: would the performance boost given by adding an extra 2GB of RAM be truly noticeable? Or, is there anything I could do to boost the performance even further? (I am well aware it will never outperform a recent Mac).

  2. macrumors 68040


    Max out the RAM, 8GB. Buy a pair of WD blacks and RAID 0.

    Those are the two easy things to do. It's an old computer and that really does limit your options
  3. macrumors 65816


    Put a SSD there. It will fly.
  4. cocacolakid, Jul 5, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2011

    macrumors 65816


    Increasing the RAM from 2gb to 4gb will make a big difference, so definitely do that.

    Also, SSD hard drives are dropping in price and you can pick up a 60gb SSD for well under $100 now, sometimes as low as $75 or so. You could install that, clone your existing drive to it, then use the SSD as your main drive and the 80gb as an extra storage drive. The difference in speed between an SSD and any other hard drive is insane. It will feel like you have a new computer.

    Have you also tried running OnyX on it? It will clean out temporary files and do a few other things, and if it's never been run on your Mac it will speed things up a bit, especially shutting down and booting. (run everything under each tab of the Cleaning section, and then run the Automation section, and reboot - I do this about once a month on all my Macs and it helps)

    But if you are on a budget and hope to get another 2+ years out of your Mac, increasing the RAM and adding an SSD drive would be a gigantic improvement.
  5. macrumors 6502a


    what apps do you use?
  6. macrumors member

    SSD and ram, in that order, will greatly improve performance.
  7. macrumors G5


    Only 2 gigs of RAM? Good lord, your G5 is crippled. Give it as much RAM as you can afford. My dual core 2.0 has 8 gigs and gives my C2D MacBook a run for it's money. Actually, I do all my heavy lifting on the G5.
  8. macrumors 68000


    I agree, adding more RAM makes a difference, I am now at 8.5 Gigs and looking to add more to mac out 16 Gigs. My dual core 2.3GHz G5 feels and behave like a new machine, well I have an SSD there too as a boot drive.
  9. macrumors member

    Trying to answer to eIveryone

    Hello everybody.

    Since it is not my machine (it has been assigned to me in the University) I can not make some of the changes proposed (like the SSD), but I can definitely ask for more RAM. I just wanted to make sure that the upgrade was worth the trouble. I'll be looking for at least 4GB.

    I didn't know about Onyx, I'll give it a try tomorrow when I get to use the machine again.

    The machine is mostly used for visualization purposes (thanks to its great 24 inches screen), but even when watching moderately sized PDFs there are lags involved. Of course I use Safari, iTunes, and VLC, for communications & entertainment. I also program in Fortran and Octave, but perhaps the most CPU intensive task I use it for is creation of documents using Latex.

    Another one that suffers performance-wise is Jmol (atomic visualization tool) which almost doubles the time it is supposed to take for it to run a presentation when writing on-the-go snapshots.

  10. macrumors 65816


    Unless you are running out of RAM, i don't think you will see much improvement by upgrading to 4gb. For example, most of the tasks you listed appear to be CPU bound, as I doubt opening and scrolling around a PDF file is going to use up all that much ram.

    I would run activity monitor during your daily workload and watch the ram usage. If you see lots and lots of red and yellow eating up the pie chart during the day, and little to no blue and green, then you may benefit from more ram, especially if the slowdown occurs when you are low on free ram.
  11. macrumors 6502


    That powermac G5 is a really fast computer. I wish if I had one!
    The G5 is only a few years old. Still an awesome computer.
    To make your powermac even faster

    1. Get new hard drive 7200rpm+ 500GB+
    2. Add as many fans you can even if it mean drilling the case
    3. Add as much RAM as possible
    4. Get a better GPU


    1. Store all your data (Not apps!) on a 2nd Hard drive. Your computer will run better the more room you have in your main hard drive

    2. Download a program called "OnyX" and run through everything.

    If you do this it should be super fast.
  12. macrumors 6502a


    ^^^^^^^^ Adding more fans? Are you seriously suggesting wasting a perfectly good computer case and adding more fans will be any good, because the G5 is optimized with the number of fans it has, and the fans are probably far higher quality than any replacement fans (server grade Delta fans, Dell actually uses them too, or has, impressively enough). But yeah, that wouldn't help at all bro :confused:

    Like others have noted -

    GET AN SSD for a boot drive and I'd even put some of the main apps on it, man I'd pay to see how a G5 would work w/ an SSD, probably be epic.

    Max the RAM

    Get better Video Card (didn't read what you had already), but you can buy flashed PC video cards which I'd say is the way to go instead of bending over backwards buying the Mac-only versions price-wise.

    That's really all that can be done I do believe.
  13. macrumors 68000


    I can tell, not that epic as in "EPIC". I have an SSD as a boot drive on my DC PM G5. It is still limited with the SATA I speed on the PMG5. But it is a huge improvement from a rotating disk.
  14. macrumors 6502a


    Ofcourse, SSD's in RAID0 - that would probably be epic as in "EPIC", at least relative to a spinning disk ;)
  15. macrumors 6502



    Fans will improve your performance. I have had experience that they make the computer smoother and somewhat faster. I did tests on Sibelius 6, Logic pro 8 and safari. Everything was smoother. Arctic cooling, antec and thermaltake and great fans. A case is only a case.
  16. macrumors regular

    Sorry, but this is nonsense. The G5 is carefully configured into thermal zones, with separate sensors to control fan speeds. Randomly adding more fans is a waste of time and money, and could actually hurt heat dissipation performance by ruining correct air flow.

    Better to clean the inside of the case totally of dust, to ensure the cooling system is working as efficiently as possible.
  17. macrumors member

    The best way to increase airflow is by modifying the AppleFan.kext file.

    Stock code has it set to start to spool up up at 135*f and max them out at 144*f with very small even speed steps between and a very long delay before they spool down.

    I modified the code to spool up gradually 129*f-163* then ramp up to max quickly between 165*f-167*f. Slowdown delay was cut by 2/3 from 48 to 16.
    FYI, heat has ZERO impact on processor performance. It works the same at 20*f as it does at 195*f. So, yes, what MM said is absolute nonsense.
  18. macrumors member

    Did it!

    Hi guys,

    Just wanted to post that I installed an additional 2GB RAM, so now the machine has 4GB installed RAM (with room for another 2GB if I don't want to throw out the 2GB [512MB sticks] originally installed).

    The performance boost is definitely noticeable: the machine back in business! To be honest I don't think I'll need to add another 2GB of RAM (unless they don't get me a new Mac next year). Now, the only thing required for it to be "complete" is to install an additional 250GB (7200RPM) SATA drive (on its way).

    Thanks for the encouragement to do the upgrade,

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