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My new toy - a PowerMac G4 Cube

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by xraydoc, Apr 26, 2008.

  1. macrumors demi-god


    So last week after playing around on eBay, I finally bought myself a G4 Cube. I've always wanted one but wasn't in need of another Mac when they were in production. But I managed to buy one on eBay for $150 last week.

    Its a 450MHz DVD model in like-new condition. Even still had the original 20GB HD with OS 9.04 on it. Instantly replaced the HD with a 120GB spare I had and dug up some spare PC100 DIMMs for a total of 1GB. Connected it to a 17" LCD Studio Display I wasn't using and installed Tiger on it.

    Its pretty fun and still, even 8 years after its introduction, a real work of art.

    Now, the part that's going to drive my wife nuts - I'm going to buy a processor upgrade (1.8GHz PPC 7448), extra RAM to 1.5GB and a modded nVidia GF6200 video card (fanless, fit the cube, and supports Core Image), then install Leopard on it.

    It'll cost more than a base Mac mini in the end, but way cooler (IMHO). Ah, boys and their toys.
  2. macrumors 68040


    Given the price of the cpu and video upgrades have you considered this. Getting a replacement Mini Logic board and powersupply and putting them in the cube instead. Then have an Intel Mac Cube thus having a mini with a full size hard drive:cool:.

    Since I never owned either I could not say if the board would fit in. However the Cube is 8"x8"x10" while the mini is 6.5"x6.5"x2" so it seems plausible though you would have some work ahead making the mount.
  3. macrumors demi-god


    Yeah, I thought about doing that - it'll fit and I found someone's website showing exactly that... A mini embedded into a Cube core. But it required irreversable surgery to the Cube and I don't want to damage it to the point of not being able to return it to original condition.

    I think the 1.8GHz G4 should be sufficient to turn it into a home-theater type media server (one I wouldn't mind being prominently displayed on the shelf, either). And since its really not going to be a primary work machine, I think the old PPC architecture will be fine for what it is. A toy, basically.
  4. macrumors 68000


    Be careful with the CPU upgrade. Cubes are prone to thermal aging and the power board is probably going to be fragile by now. Be prepared for problems in that area.
  5. macrumors demi-god


    Thanks for the tip. The machine has very, very few in-use hours (less than 100 per the original owner and there's zero dust inside). The upgrade I'm looking at has some kind of VRM bypass, so hopefully I won't have any issues.

    And of it does die, then I guess its mini-Cube transplant time.
  6. macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    This really isn't a big problem. All CPU upgrades for the Cube come with base fans. The people who have a problem with Cube upgrades for the most part are those who try to cheat on the fan, or who add powerful, fan-less video cards. I've been running mine with a 1.7 GHZ upgrade for literally years without any issues whatsoever. I'd also avoid the dual processor upgrades -- some of these were real problems when they first came to market, and I don't know that the issues were ever worked out.

    Whatever you do, don't bastardize your Cube! Transplanting Mac mini guts into a Cube case is (IMO) an absolutely awful idea. A big part of the beauty of the Cube is the industrial engineering which went into the design of the innards.
  7. macrumors demi-god



    Since you're a Cube owner, any hints on decreasing the sensitivity of the power/sleep button on the top? If I even get my hand near it it'll put the machine to sleep.
  8. macrumors 65816

    That's pretty cool. I remember there used to be a popular thing about modding a Radeon 8500 to fit in the case, which was considerably more powerful. I guess that probably wouldn't support core image though.

    Cubes are neat little things. And I agree, putting Mini innards in a cube is a horrendous (practically sacreligious!) idea. There's no way you could do it without doing things to the cube, as quite obviously the ports wouldn't all line up at all. Bad idea. Ugly idea.

    Might wanna try some thermal paste on the CPU upgrade if it doesn't have a thermal pad... help keep it a bit cooler..

    I've always wanted a cube too, haha. They'll probably be gone from ebay soon... :(
  9. macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    I cut a strip of paper and taped it on the inside of the case right above the power switch. This decreases the sensitivity to the point where you have to work at making the Cube startup or sleep with this button, but if you're running the Cube with a ADC Studio Display, you're going to use the touch button on the display for this anyway. BTW, this brings up another issue. If you've got an ADC display, replacing the video card with a non-ADC card denies you use of the very convenient (and Cube-like) power button and USB hub on the display. I don't know what you've got in there now, but if it's one of the OEM 32 MB cards, I'd leave it alone. If you've got the RagePro 128, I'd check out the options for one of the better ADC cards which fit in the video slot without modification.
  10. macrumors demi-god


    I have an Apple ADC to DVI box/power supply doohickie lying around, so I'm covered there.
    Machine came with a Rage128, so its not exactly state-of-the-art anymore. While I certainly wont use the Cube for games (obviously), a Core Image video card should help with some of the OS X user interface eye candy - currently everything comes to a standstill if I scrub the Dock with magnification on. And no drop shadow on the mouse pointer (oh, the huge manatee)!
  11. macrumors regular

  12. macrumors 604


    cool...I've always wanted one, but even at 150, I can think of other things I need
  13. macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    You could use one of these to keep your ADC display going, but I still think it's cooler to find an updated ADC video card and run the Cube as God, I mean Steve, intended. The easiest one to find is the Geforce 2MX, since it was also used in the G4 PowerMac of the same vintage. It supports Quartz Extreme. You might want to browse the forums at cubeowner.com. It's not a very busy place these days but you can still find lots of Q&A on upgrading a Cube. Here's a great chart listing all of your options, and what they will require:


    FWIW, I installed a Radeon 7500 in mine.
  14. macrumors 6502

    As an aside:

    I've always personally thought those were magnificent machines. Congrats.

    Too bad Apple doomed them originally by pricing them @ Pro Levels.

    If they'd priced them at the time of creation as they've priced the Mac Mini now... they would have been an ENORMOUS hit and would have been in production (IMHO) for a long, long, long, long time.

  15. macrumors 68000


    Yeh, I think it was the Cube that swayed me to switch to the Mac, but I could never afford a Mac until years later. So I wallowed in PC misery until I could finally afford a Mac Book Pro. That was 2 years ago. Now I have a MacBook and a Mac Pro.
  16. macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    The Cube was less expensive than the PowerMacs of their day, if not by a lot. One look inside and you can see why the Cube probably cost so much more to manufacture, not to mention that lucite case. With the Cube, Apple pushed the limits of what computer buyers would pay for cutting-edge industrial design.
  17. macrumors 65816

    Actually the original Cube started at $1799, vs. the Power Macs which generally started at around $1599-1699.
  18. macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Actually, the $1599 PowerMac of that vintage had a slower processor than the Cube. The other configurations started at $2499. Then six months after introduction, the entry-level Cube price was dropped to $1299.
  19. macrumors 6502a



    Congratulations on getting you Power Mac G4 Cube. I have one that I have been using since Fall 2004. I have left mine completely stock except for adding a slim 80mm fan into the base of the unit which DRAMATICALLY reduced the temperature of the 450Mhz G4 CPU.

    4 years ago when I got my G4 Cube it was my main computer hooked up to a 22 inch viewable monitor Viewsonic monitor :cool:. That was the Mac that made me fall in love with the Mac OS X.

    What my G4 Cube is being used for now is my music server via accessTunes. I now can listen to my entire library on any computer that has internet access. I know I can just get an iPod but I always seem to lose and/or break the iPods.

    I don't care how out of date that Power Mac G4 Cube gets, I will never ever get ride of that Mac. I absolutely love that G4 Cube.

  20. macrumors 65816

    Erm.. that's great and all, but his point was that they were priced at "Pro" levels. The Power Macs represented that market... so your point is entirely moot. They were more expandable than the cube, thus far more desirable to anyone who didn't really have money to burn on something they couldn't count on being able to upgrade. And I said "original" for a reason; the subsequent price-drops were a result of the fact that the cube sold very poorly, whereupon they dropped the price to the point where they were losing money on every one they sold, with the intention of selling as many as they really could and then discontinuing them.

    Again, they reached into the Power Mac price range, which was the Pro line, as GotPro pointed out.
  21. macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    The point is not "moot" because you disagree with it. Of course the PowerMacs were more expandable, but that wasn't the point to which I was responding. This point was that the Cube was doomed because it was priced at "pro levels," which I am saying isn't quite true, since the only "pro level" Mac which was (initially) less expensive than the Cube was actually less powerful than the entry-level Cube, and the rest of the "pro" line was substantially more expensive.

    And of course we really don't know if Apple was losing money on the Cube at the lowered price. That's just speculation.
  22. macrumors 6502a


    While this is all true, I still think the Power Mac G4 Cube was one of the most elegant and stylish Macs ever made. Yes the Mac Mini is an impressive machine, but it just does not have the same uniqueness about it that the Power Mac G4 Cube does.

    I love my cube, if I had a big LCD monitor, I would hook it up and it use it as a computer to surf the internet and listen to music. I can't explain it, but I just love using that computer, granted its completely out dated but I still love it.

    Again xraydoc congratulations on your purchase, I hope your cube brings you as much joy and excitement that mine has given me over the last 4 years!!!

  23. macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    I just ordered an iMac, so with some regret my Cube is going into semi-retirement. And no, it's not for sale. ;) I'll probably set it up as a file server.
  24. macrumors 6502a


    :( wow that was quick . . . poor G4 Cube :D. Regardless the G4 Cube does make a really good headless file server or even web/music server.

  25. macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Not so quick really, I've been using it daily for something like seven years, and it's not done yet. That's a lot more service than anyone has a right to expect, even from a "too expensive" computer.

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