Lowest Spec Machine you'd run OS X on?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by Thomas Harte, Jan 25, 2006.

  1. Thomas Harte macrumors 6502

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    Nov 30, 2005
    #1
    I'm sufficiently new to the Mac world that I only have one Mac and have only ever had one Mac - a 667 Mhz G4 Powerbook. I run OS X v10.4 and find it to be fast enough for my uses, which tend to be just Office, the internet and messing about with Cocoa or low end OpenGL work with XCode.

    I am trying to help a friend who wants a cheap low end Mac. The machine will probably only be used for the web, email and Microsoft Office tasks. Because web standards have moved forwards since 2001, I do not imagine that the Classic OS is something I should recommend. I am therefore thinking of at least an OS X machine.

    With that in mind, what sort of minimum spec sounds reasonable? My guess from research is that once the G4 threshold is crossed, RAM and graphics card matter more than the difference between a 350Mhz G4 and a 450 Mhz. I guess what I'm asking is what spec of machine is required before the various costs of running the OS become less significant than the cost of the apps that are wanted. My friend is not a real task juggler and the machine is only for home use so the runtime setup will almost always be the web browser + the email client running or Office. Windows will probably rarely be moved, let alone resized.

    So, comments, suggestions? I guess even with a 350Mhz G4 I can swap in a decent graphics card now that PCI for Quartz Compositor Extreme is reenabled?
     
  2. dops7107 macrumors 6502a

    dops7107

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    Mar 19, 2005
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    Perth, Oztrailya
    #2
    Bearing in mind that at work we run 10.2 on G3 iMacs (all the way down to Rev A), a G4 that you are considering will be plenty capable for email, internet and office work. Lots of RAM and a big hard drive are more important in your case I suspect.
     
  3. Thomas Harte thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Nov 30, 2005
    #3
    How does 10.2 run on G3s? I may have only switched to Mac recently but I've followed OS X for several years - albeit in mainstream newspaper columns rather than the specialist press - and I remember a lot of complaints about performance in the early days. But I'm also aware that OS X supposedly got faster with every release, at least as far as 10.3.

    Certainly if a G3 will do the job then a G3 is sufficient. They seem to go for peanuts too. I see from MacTracker that the final Blue&White series are still officially supported, which presumably means that Tiger can be installed without any hacks or patches?

    The main reasons for switching from Windows are security and the way that OS seems to become slower and slower and take longer and longer to boot just through long term use - even with Spybot S&D, Adaware, etc doing their absolute best. As I understand it, OS X does not suffer any similar artificial decline in speed so if set up for Office & the web it will remain as capable for as long as the physical hardware survives. Is that accurate?
     
  4. frankblundt macrumors 65816

    frankblundt

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    Sep 19, 2005
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    #4
    it's certainly been my experience on a B&W 350, no problems and still runs well even under reasonably demanding situations. 1GB RAM helps tho, and a bigger (not to mention quieter) HD with enough spare space for the OS to breathe.
    I found 10.3 faster than 10.2, haven't tried Tiger yet.
     
  5. yippy macrumors 68020

    yippy

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    Mar 14, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    #5
    It depends how much waiting he can stand. I just put Panther on a 500Mhz G3 iMac with 192Mb ram and it runs ok but load times for most programs is a good 5-10 seconds. This includes system preferences. That said the ram is bringing it down a lot.

    I also have a 466Mhz G4 with 256Mb ram that runs Panther fairly well.

    Personally, my recommendation would be any desktop G4 with 512Mb ram (although 256 might due) running Panther. That should be a nice cheap machine that will run well.

    EDIT: I would also recommend at least a 20Gig HD.
     
  6. dops7107 macrumors 6502a

    dops7107

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    #6
    Well OS X is a little sluggish on G3s, no doubt about that, at least with the early revisions (233/266 MHz). If you were looking for reasonable performance from a G3 iMac, then the slot loaders are the ones to go for, with 450 MHz processor - they will run 10.3. I would agree that 10.3 is faster than 10.2, from what I can gather, but I wouldn't know how 10.3 runs on the real slow G3s. I imagine the B&W G3s will be of comparable, and probably better, performance.

    Having said all that, I agree with yippy - you might as well fork out a bit more for a basic G4, because the performance gains are well worth it.

    I think it is largely accurate. There is some slow down, I think, but it is nothing like Windows, and you don't have to spend time "looking after" your system to maintain performance. The slight slow down may be simply due to the fact that more applications are installed over time. If you install the minimum and they remain alone, I expect performance will remain pretty much at its original level.
     
  7. Dane D. macrumors 6502a

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    Apr 16, 2004
    Location:
    ohio
    #7
    G3 is fine

    I run a B/W 300Mhz, see sig, runs great. IMO B/W's are good home computers. Or look for G4/450, we still use two of them here at work.:)

    As you can see from sig. I've pick-up small HDs for minimum prices and can still get another couple of years out of them. For the curious, my G3 only came with one 6GB ATA, no ZIP drive, I installed a HD under optical drive. Added a PCI SCSI card and carefully added two more SCSI HDs next to the original HD.
     
  8. ReanimationLP macrumors 68030

    ReanimationLP

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    Jan 8, 2005
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    On the moon.
    #8
    I use a Powermac G4 400 MHz with 1 GB of PC133 RAM and a Radeon 7000 with a 20 GB hard disk for most tasks, and its quite snappy and reliable. Its a very fast machine.
     
  9. Thomas Harte thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Nov 30, 2005
    #9
    Well, I guess this thread has now become academic as based on the posts received I've just bid for and won a 400 Mhz G4 on eBay. RAM will definitely need upgrading, but as it seems to take standard PC100 that shouldn't be too hard to track down.

    Thanks to all for the helpful advice!
     
  10. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #10
    My experiance with CPU clock speeds is that you have to double the clock speed before a "normal user" will notice the difference. All else being equal. So if you like your 667Mhz machine a 333Mhz machine (if one existed) would be clearly noticably slower but not unworkable. While ther 450Mhz machine would be not noticable slower than you 667, All things being equal.

    "The "all things equal" part is not easy. It turns out that older computers use not only slower CPUs, but also slower disk drives, slower graphics chips, slower RAM and less of it too. So watch these items. You _really_ want 512MB of RAM and a reasonable hard drive.

    Watch the Apple web site. Sometimes they offer refurbished Minis. I got one for under $400. I did the 1GB upgrade and now it flys Sell your machine to your friend and use the cash for a new Mini. Each of you will b out only a couple hundred bucks and you bth will have nicer comuters

     
  11. Soulstorm macrumors 68000

    Soulstorm

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2005
    #11
    I have ran os x 10.3.9 into my G3 350MHz 384 mbytes RAM and it worked perfectly. It was a little slow, however, it was absolutley usable. I even played tomb raider on it!
     
  12. altair macrumors regular

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    Nov 22, 2002
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #12
    My parents are using my old iMac 333mhz, which is running 10.3.9 pretty well.

    its sluggish at times, but they don't seem to mind, and all they do is email, web, office stuff.
     
  13. FadeToBlack macrumors 68000

    FadeToBlack

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    Apr 27, 2005
    Location:
    Accoville, WV
    #13
    My friend has a 350MHz B&W G3 and he's running 10.3.9 on it with only 256MB of RAM. It runs great, considering it's age. It could definitely benefit from more RAM, though.

    My old Lombard with 333MHz, 320MB of RAM ran Panther really good, as well.
     
  14. jefhatfield Retired

    jefhatfield

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2000
    #14
    i have os x, 10.2 on a 1999 g3 ibook/3 gig hard drive/160 mb ram and it's really only ok for word processing and programming...i won't attempt to use it for internet/email since that would just beach ball the heck out of that machine and slow it down

    but when that ibook runs os 9, then i can do everything on it, including photoshop, illustrator, and page maker without too much problem

    my old ibook only has a cd and not a dvd and i heard playing dvd's on some g3 based macines with os x can be problematic

    like many say here, go at least g4 which has altivec optimized for os x
     
  15. shyataroo macrumors regular

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    Dec 17, 2003
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    Hell... Wanna join me?
    #15
    as long as you have at least 512MB of ram you will be fine I'm using a iMac G3 450 and it runs at around 90% as fast as it does on my friends eMac until you have acquistion open...at which case it runs like a perntium 3 1Ghz trying to run windows vista..
     
  16. Benjamin macrumors 6502a

    Benjamin

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    Oct 27, 2003
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #16
    Ok well I have had OS X on a PM 9600 with 9GB HD, 96MB RAM, ATI 7500... and it was runable... but lowest specs i would recommend someone... at least.. a 500Mhz G4 with 512MB RAM and a 5400 rpm drive with idk... probably something higher then a ATI 7500.
     
  17. janey macrumors 603

    janey

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Location:
    sunny los angeles
    #17
    Haha..ha...ha.

    I do (at least) an archive & install, and sometimes an erase & install, on average every ~2-4 months. Then again, I do much more than just Office & web, so I dunno. But my machine slows down dramatically over time (check sig for specs on iBook). I had to restart a few days ago because after ~20 days of being up it was beachballing EVERYTHING and eventually Finder refused to start, dragging the whole machine down, didn't want to restart, had to force restart it (bah). Am planning on a clean reinstall before classes start again (sigh).

    Back to topic on hand - most G3s seem suitable for the job (like, >400mhz) as long as it has a decent amount of RAM. Just my 2 cents.
     
  18. Nermal Moderator

    Nermal

    Staff Member

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    Dec 7, 2002
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #18
    I have 10.2.6 on a 233 MHz G3 with 128 MB of memory. As for speed, let me put it this way: The ball mouse frustrates me more than the speed.
     
  19. FadeToBlack macrumors 68000

    FadeToBlack

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    Apr 27, 2005
    Location:
    Accoville, WV
    #19
    YES! Those old hockey-puck mice are VERY irritating to use. I don't think it's really the shape of them, though, just the fact that they aren't optical.
     
  20. Nermal Moderator

    Nermal

    Staff Member

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    Dec 7, 2002
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #20
    Heh, no, I'm using an old "square" one that originally came with an LC III :eek:

    I really need to buy a USB card :rolleyes:
     
  21. FadeToBlack macrumors 68000

    FadeToBlack

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    Apr 27, 2005
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    Accoville, WV
    #21
    :eek: Wow. I mis-read your post and I guess I thought you said iMac G3. :D
     
  22. Thomas Harte thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Nov 30, 2005
    #22
    Anybody care to speculate on which of these is closest to the experiences of most users?
     

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