Is It Worth Upgrading a Sawtooth 400 Mhz G4?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by bsichran, Aug 5, 2004.

  1. bsichran macrumors newbie

    Jul 28, 2003

    A few months ago, I really needed a mac bad and couldn't wait for G5 updates, so I bought an old Sawtooth AGP Graphics, 400 Mhz G4 with 320 MB RAM for $100.

    Then the G5 updates came out, and I was less than impressed.

    What do people think of spending $450 to upgrade the Sawtooth? I do audio and video (DP, FCP, AE), and thought about a $239 Sonnet 1Ghz G4 card, $140 to boost the RAM to 1Ghz, and $100 for a DVD burner.

    I thought this might hold me over until the next revision, and I'll save $300 because I can still use my OS 9 Digital Performer 3.

    Does this make any sense, or should I just go for a new 1.8DP G5?

  2. SuperChuck macrumors 6502


    Nov 15, 2003
    Chucktown, SC
    I would not invest any more money in an old G4. $100 is a great deal for a fully functional PowerMac, but if you sink all of that dough on bringing it up to date, you have an old, outdated, expensive computer.

    Wouldn't you much rather have a new, up-to-date, 4-times-faster machine for just a little additional cash? And when the OS and your favorite apps go 64-Bit, you'll be spending your money on app upgrades instead of a computer upgrade.
  3. Horrortaxi macrumors 68020


    Jul 6, 2003
    Los Angeles
    If it's working well enough for you I'd just keep it as is (well, maybe more RAM) until it's time to get the new Mac.

    I'm generally not a big supporter of the upgrade processors. If you're a struggling graphic designer or something like that and you make money with your Mac, but you need to run software your current Mac won't run (like if you have an old G3 or pre G3 PowerMac) and can't afford a new system. The upgrade can be a good intirim measure to make things a little better for a few months until you can get that new system.

    But I know the 400ish mhz PowerMacs very well and they're capable machines. I really don't think you'd get your money's worth out of the "upgrade."

    You say you're not impressed with the G5 updates, but you're not happy with your G4 either. It's time to crap or get off the pot. Any G5 PowerMac will run circles around what you've got. What are you waiting for?
  4. aidamahn macrumors regular

    Jul 26, 2004
    Syracuse, NY
    I recently upgraded a Cube from 450MHz to 1GHz and put 1GB of ram in it. I say the upgrade was worth it for me, only becuase I don't do anything at work that requires anything that powerfull, and 1GHz will keep me going for another 3 years. Also the upgrade was cheaper than an emac or ibook.
  5. osprey76 macrumors 6502

    May 3, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    I did this, too. I spent more on the upgrade, but I won't be getting a new Mac for at least a couple of years now. I think that made it worth it. Also, I didn't have $2500 to spend on a new Power Mac.
  6. bsichran thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 28, 2003
    Thanks for your reply, it was helpful. To answer your question, though, I agree a new G5 will run circles around my G4, even with a maxxed out upgrade. But although I run pro apps, I don't use my Mac in a pro, factory like setting, so rendering speeds are a nuisance, but not critical. A new mac means not only $2500 for a computer, but also at least $500 to replace what OS 9 software I still use and probably a new monitor. So if I can spend $400 now and get another few years out of my new old Mac, that could make sense.
  7. Horrortaxi macrumors 68020


    Jul 6, 2003
    Los Angeles
    It could work out for you, but you won't know until after you've done it. And after you've done it you're not going to be objective about it--of course it's better at that point.

    Your computer is still perfectly viable in the professional world. There are still a lot of shops out there using 9600s with no plans to upgrade (but granted with unhappy artists).

    I'd still say to stick with it until it falls on its face. When rendering times move from nuisance level to "is this thing even on?" then it's a good time to do the upgrades or buy a new system.
  8. sinisterdesign macrumors 6502


    Dec 10, 2003
    yeah, i tend to agree w/ superchuck. why turn an old $100 computer into an OLDER $580 computer? IF you're still OK w/ the G4, throw some RAM in it and leave it be for now until you just can't stand it no mo'. but that's a big "IF".

    i was on a 400MHz G4 running OS9 at work up until a couple months ago. the only difference was i'd been using OSX for the past three years, since 10.0 (i worked at Apple at the time) AND i have a DP 1.25GHz G4 here at home. it's tough to go from a relatively speedy DP G4 and OSX at home and have to work on a slow computer and OS9 [blech] at work.

    if you just haven't used OSX enough to absolutely hate OS9, then stick w/ it as long as you can, i guess. but i have to tell you, if something starts to try and open OS9 on my computer, i quit it. i just don't do "Classic" anymore. OSX is leaps and bounds above OS9. it would be worth the $$ of going to a G5 if for no other reason than to switch to Panther. that sawtooth just doesn't cut it in X, i know, i tried. it's painfully slow.

    good luck. i know it's tough to plunk down so much cash on a new system, so if you can stand it for now (and if you can, you're a more patient man than me), put that $400 in a G5 savings account right now and add to it every month.
  9. Macmaniac macrumors 68040


    I think I am going to say go for the upgrades on your G4, first of all its going to be a long time before we see a G5 update, and if you do want to get some work done an upgraded machine can get you there. I recently read a PC magazine article about a guy who took the same model Mac you have and upgraded it with a proc card, RAM, and a HD, and its almost as fast as a 1.25ghz G4, which is respectable, and you can do it for cheap. $600 and $2500 is a big difference when it comes to upgrades vs a new computer. Also your upgraded mac will sell for a lot more when u decide to get that G5.
    Here is a shopping list....
    Sonnet Encore/ST G4/1GHz AGP Processor Upgrade W/ 2MB DDR L3 Cache 3yr Sonnet Warranty. (STISG410002M) more info... $249

    512MB PC100 CL2 168 Pin SDRam 2-2-2 for PowerMac G4 AGP/Sawtooth/Gigabit Models up to 500MHz(PC100), G4 Cube, iMac G3/350-700MHz., eMac 700MHz Lifetime Warranty! (OWC100SD512328) more info...$92.97

    Pioneer DVR-107 DVD-&+R/RW up to 8X, CD-R/RW at up to 24X - 'Superdrive'. New, 1yr Pioneer Warranty. -See More Info for Apple Software Compatiblity- (PIODVR107) more info...$99.00

    80GB Western Digital Caviar 7200rpm 8.9ms 8MB 'JUMBO' Cache UltraDMA 100. 3yr Western Digital Warranty. (WDGWD800JB) more info...

    ATI Technologies RADEON 9000 PRO MAC EDITION 128MB 2x/4x AGP High Performance Dual Head Video Card W/ ADC & DVI Ports. New with 3yr ATI Warranty. (ATI100433022) more info...
    So with all this you get a 1ghz G4, 835mb RAM, a DVD burner, a 128mb video card, and a larger and faster HD. All of this is $670, if you don't need the HD you could easily find a cheaper one, and also leaving out the video card would bring the price down, however if you want to Run OS X I would recommend a video card upgrade since the Rage 128 in your machine is not well suited to handle pro apps in X.
  10. crackajacka macrumors newbie

    Dec 21, 2005
    I currently have a 400 mhz sawtooth and it does exactly what i want to do with os X panther right now, im going to be doing more work with my mac cause i bought this cause i got to playing around with dad's powerbook and really liked it so i run on my mac and i turned my pc into a file server for extra storage. but anyways when u see a processor upgrade that is a dual processor running at 1.7ghz or so, does that mean that the combined speed of both is that much or is both of them running at that speed? im just really confused about that. my machine will upgrade to a dual processor but would it be worth it in performance gains over just a single proc upgrade? any help is greatly appreciated. I also dont have the cash to shell out for a new g5 or i would just go that route. a quad 2.5ghz machine with about 4-16 gigs of memory would be nice (i drool at the thought). sorry about the large font just wanted to point out the main question.:D
  11. 840quadra Moderator


    Staff Member

    Feb 1, 2005
    Twin Cities Minnesota
    Both Processors are 1.27Ghz in that case.

    The dual processor means that your system will have 2 processors, that will share the of system resources. In most cases on multiprocessor aware applications, the speed will amount to being 1.5 times faster then a single processor system of the same MHz. Mind you this is only for Multiprocessor aware programs. speed improvements for non multithreaded applications will be less, but still slightly faster then a single processor system.
  12. tweakers_suck macrumors regular

    Feb 7, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    I chose the upgrade route.

    I really only needed to upgrade the processor and add a dvd burner to do my video editing projects -- just home movies of the kids and such.

    Rendering is painless -- I save to a disk image, turn off the monitor, and go to sleep. It is ready for me in the morning.

    I will probably buy a new Powermac or maybe an iMac this summer, but for now my computer does what I need it to do and I am satisfied.

    See signature for my setup.
  13. WinterMute Moderator emeritus


    Jan 19, 2003
    London, England
    You can make your point with italics or bold text, no need for the fireworks

  14. California macrumors 68040


    Aug 21, 2004
    How'd this thread jump almost a year and a half and still make sense?

    I have no idea what a sawtooth is but thought it was peculiar that the conversation skipped 17 months and picked up again.

    I just hope the OP plucked down his cash on aapl stock 17 months ago. Wish I did.
  15. atari1356 macrumors 68000


    Feb 27, 2004
    Hehe... I was wondering why nobody had suggested the person just get a Mac Mini as a temporary solution. Well, that's because when the original message was posted, the Mac Mini hadn't even been announced yet.
  16. Photorun macrumors 65816


    Sep 1, 2003
    Not sure if you're a recent switcher or a long time Mac user who clearly would have had to be living under a rock but rather than act ignorant about it look it up!
  17. Photorun macrumors 65816


    Sep 1, 2003
    To the poster who probably never will return, the Mac Mini is one, but not necessarily good by the current trolls posting, suggestion... if you ever come back, or someone who wants actual information, not what the current above posters came here to babble needlessly about.

    I just did upgrade to someone's older sawtooth model they got for $50 from 533 MHz to a PowerLogix 1.6 GHz that is in most tasks clearly visibly faster than the Mac Mini, it also bested the boot up of a 15" Powerbook 1.5 GHz machine, $249 and it's as good as some of Apple's current offerings some five years later. The best part is it costed only $249... worth every penny. The only downside is the bus is still back at 133 MHz so there's some squeezing in instruction and slower RAM, this didn't hold back the performance.

    The system indicated by the poster lacks one thing rather important though, RAM, and sawtooth models were limited to (I think) 2 GB (the machine I have has a 768). 384 isn't enough, but if someone has more an is trying to make a decision an upgrade may be in order. Also the machine I have (a xmas present) was blessed with a two hard drives giving it 110 GB of space.

    One more thing is for high end video one would want a good video card, there's only a few options left but they're not bad, a 9600 with 64 MB (as good as the original G5s) with 64 MB to even a 9800 Pro for $250 which, if you find an old sawtooth with decent specs and a sweet price, put about $600 into it, you'd have a Mini absolutely destroyer despite some of the old architecture.

    Best of all OS X Tiger works on it (well, with the PowerLogix update it has).

    It's easy to breathe new life into an older machine if that's what one wants that can rival the current crop and/or if someone wants to hold out through the transition to Intel and keep their current Mac "snappy," an upgrade card and some RAM may just be the way to go!
  18. electronboy macrumors 6502

    Sep 27, 2005
    Don't waste your money

    I would look at buying another used Mac.

    The problem with your computer is the slow graphics bus. I believe that your computer if it is a 400MHz G4 is actually a Yikes, not the Sawtooth. The Sawtooth was AGP based and had much better performance. The 400MHz G4 was basically a G4 crammed onto a G3 system board, hence the name Yikes.

    I recommend a Quicksilver or better. Putting some upgrades into that Mac won't be such a waste.
  19. aquajet macrumors 68020

    Feb 12, 2005
    There were two versions of the 400mhz based on Yikes! and the other based on Sawtooth.
  20. dblissmn macrumors regular

    Apr 30, 2002
  21. disconap macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2005
    Portland, OR
    Just to add to the positives--I just dropped a 1ghz Sonnet upgrade into a 400mHz sawtooth. It ****ing cooks. It's worlds better than it was--not a huge difference in general usage (email, web, openoffice, filemaker, stuff like that) but all the CS2 apps and video processing apps run almost 3 times as fast. Probably extended the life of this box for another 2-3 years, easily.

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