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Cheap Power Mac G4 upgrade? Please advise

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by rmb7984, May 6, 2008.

  1. macrumors regular

    I purchased a 500 mhz G4 from a friend of mine a few months ago. The purchase represented my first foray into upgrading mac hardware. As you might expect, the bottleneck for this system seems to be the processor. However, I really don't want to spend 3-4 bills on an 3rd party processor for a simple speed bump (remember, this is a toy to play around with).

    Consequently, I became interested in changing my G4's processor with one from another G4. From what I've read, the Sawtooth processors and the Gigabit processors seem to be easily compatible. Can anyone confirm this?

    I have my eye on a dual 500 mhz processor from a Gigabit G4. I have 2 questions about this:

    1. Can I replace my 500 mhz processor with the dual 500 mhz processor with no hacking (both have 100 mhz bus). and
    2. Will this be worth it? Do you think I will see a significant processing boost?

    Thanks to everyone in advance! :D
  2. macrumors 6502a


    I don't believe you can put a dual processor into a single slot.

    Also, the best way I have found to upgrade a G4 is to put a newer video card in it. It is an AGP, so a card from a later G4 should help you out alot.

    Edit: I know the aftermarket ones will work. I was thinking more about a swap from another mac.
  3. macrumors member

    you can put a dual-processor in if it is a cross-compatible model. some of the early g4 towers were actually dual-processor. i swapped my g4 agp 350 up to a 1.4ish from OWC (macsales.com), and they have a configuration interface on their website that tells you what works...

    installation is really easy btw. on the g4 towers, the processor is on a separate card that pops in and out, so if the card has two processors on it (like the 500 dualie) it'll work.

    check OWC to make sure the card you've found is compatible. but sounds like it is...

    video card will help too, if you want to do anything that requires faster image processing (or core image support, like later versions of fcp, etc.)

    edited to add: the multiprocessor will only help if the apps you are running benefit from it...i know nothing about this...barefeats.com?
  4. macrumors 68000


    You can absolutely put a dual in provided A) your motherboard supports it (some of the early Sawtooth models don't; if you go onto MacSales.com you can find a free utility to test and see) and B) it is compatible with your model. I have a Sawtooth running a dual 1.3gHz upgrade it runs great and even competes with my G5 on non-RAM intensive tasks...
  5. macrumors 6502a

    Lord Zedd

    Except in OSX. It will spread the load across the two CPUs.
  6. macrumors regular

    I have a PowerMac G4 AGP 400Mhz that I upgraded a couple years back. It is still going strong.

    I found my best bang for my buck was a G4 1 Ghz processor upgrade that ran something like 170-180 USD, a video card boosting the video ram from 16 MB to 128 costing just over $100 USD. Max out the RAM--you can load up to 2 GB (although I am told the system only recognizes 1.5 GB).

    Another thing--grab a usb2 PCI card. They are cheap!

    Right now I am debating whether or not to install Leopard on it.
  7. macrumors regular

    Thanks a lot for the information. I checked whether my motherboard supports dual processors, and unfortunately, it does not. Kinda a bummer.

    But thanks for the info concerning the video card - didn't really think of that one!

    Now it's looking like i'll drop some money into a third party processor. Oh well.

    Thanks again.
  8. macrumors 6502a

    Lord Zedd

    You want cheap? Overclock it for free!


    It got my G4 from 400 to 450 in about 20 minutes with only a small soldering iron, Phillips screwdriver and a tiny dab of thermal grease needed.

    It worked without any problems at all and the speed boost was actually noticeable in daily use. Specifically, there were certain MAME games that would not play smoothly at all at 400 but played perfectly at 450. Its still working great, I just upgraded to a computer with about 12x the power. :D
  9. macrumors 68030


    You can load 2GB.

    OSX will see 2GB, but OS9 will only see 1.5GB.
  10. macrumors 65816

    That's not exactly easy on anything other than a Beige or B&W G3. People used to chip their 233MHz G3s to 266 or 300 all the time.. I hit 366 with my 300 (significant, since they were the fastest personal computers on the planet bar none at one time); B&Ws would usually go another 50 MHz... but most people aren't proficient with a soldering iron.
  11. macrumors 6502a


  12. macrumors G5


  13. macrumors 68000


    How much did you purchase the machine off of your friend? Only asking because, with that money, plus the upgrade you want to do, that would roughly be what? 400 or 500 you would spend all together? Might as well kick another 100 in and get a MacMini that would blow the G4 500 out of the water. :)
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Lord Zedd

    That doesn't matter. If I can figure out how to move a 0ohm resistor to a different lane then anyone can.
  15. macrumors regular

    Or maybe I could do both for twice the $$! :D
  16. macrumors 65816

    Okay, let me rephrase. Not everyone is going to be comfortable wielding a soldering iron on their Mac, even if it's an older one.
  17. macrumors 6502

    The Sawtooth board and the Gig-E are basically the same board except for the ethernet chip and some other slight revisions that don't really affect performance (mostly chip model revisions).

    A 500MHz G4 will be fine most likely since it'll have a latter revision North Bridge thats capable of a Dual Processor configuration. I believe only the earliest boards have the incompatible NB, and the 500MHz model was delayed by nearly a year, making the inclusion of old parts unlikely.

    That said, I'd recommend saving for a Mac Mini instead unless the CPU card is cheap cheap cheap and the rest of the parts you get are free or cheap cheap cheap.

    A USB 2.0 card is a must. Max out the ram if you have SDRAM laying around. The reason the Sawtooth's max is 2GB is that it has four DRAM slots. 133+MHz FSB Macs have only 3.

    The nice thing about G3 era Powermacs was that everything was configured by jumpers. No soldering required unless you wanted to try to hit something extreme on the B&W like the 120MHz and 133MHz FSB (the 133 never worked for anyone apparently - makes sense since the MPC106 was originally only designed as a 66MHz/83MHz part).

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