Pro's and cons of processor upgrades

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by crispy, Mar 21, 2005.

  1. crispy macrumors newbie

    Mar 21, 2005
    I do quite a lot of video editing and DVD encoding and my G4 466 is a bit slow for the job. Problem is I dont really want to fork out £1500+ for a lovely new G5 powermac at the moment, ideal though it would be. One option is to get a processor upgrade. There a few out there, single and dual processor, but what would be the best option. So much choice!!!!
    Also saw a nice new mac mini the other day... so quiet! but would I see a big speed bump if i bought one of them?

    What experiences do people have with these up grades.
  2. strider42 macrumors 65816


    Feb 1, 2002
    I guess it would depend on the upgrade.

    One of the problems with processor upgrades is that if you just sold your current mac, and take the money you would ahve spent on an upgrade, you're often almost at a new, used or refurb mac of comparable speed and power. often the enjwer machiens have other features too, like a newer operating system, better software, and perhaps better built in ports and whatnot. Also, a processor upgrade only upgrades the processor, you're still on the same system bus and on the same graphics card, both of which can have a big impact on your speed as well.

    Frankly, I think you're better off with a new computer, but I guess it really depends on the upgrade youa re looking at and how much it costs.
  3. Demon Hunter macrumors 68020

    Mar 30, 2004
    I would look for the sweet spot in an upgrade line-up... the one with significant speed improvement, but not the bleeding edge upgrade.

    Keep in mind that these companies get the same processors that Apple gets... but since they aren't bought in bulk, they go for much higher prices.

    For example, OWC sells a Mercury Extreme for $299 that will get you over twice the speed, a huge 2MB L3 cache, and for less than the fastest upgrades. (I just looked this up at random, not sure which models it's compatible with).

    If you know you aren't going to buy a new tower, consider overclocking. When done correctly, it can be just the speed boost you need. A 466 isn't worth much nowadays anyway, so if something goes wrong you can just get the replacement.

    The accelerator upgrades often have great overclock potential as well, negating the need for really fast upgrades even more since they're the same chip usually. A few companies even encourage it by making testing the chip at higher frequencies!

    Also read this article on a Sonnet upgrade; it has a lot of useful info for your G4. :)
  4. combatcolin macrumors 68020


    Oct 24, 2004
    Northants, UK
    CPU upgrades in Mac land are a bit of a none starter.

    For the following reason.

    There are many more PCs than Macs.

    Most Macs can't have the CPU upgraded.

    And a lot of the Macs than can be upgraded their owners arn't intrested.

    So you end up with a product aimed at a very small user based so each CPU upgrade product has to have a very large profit margin in order to make money out of them.

    Much better option to sell your old machine and put the money towards a flash new Dual G5.
  5. combatcolin macrumors 68020


    Oct 24, 2004
    Northants, UK

    Don't get the current G5 if you are going to sell, the new version is just around the corner.
  6. plastique45 macrumors regular

    Jan 10, 2005
    1- Selling a used 466Mhz G4 on eBay will bring you nowhere near the price point of a G5

    2-If you do video editing, the only new "ports" you could really benefit from are the FW800 ones (if you use external FW HD's). You can buy a PCI FW800 card for below $75

    3-While the bus speed on the G5 is much faster, real life tests have shown that at equal clock speed, G4's and G5's performances are virtually identical in Final Cut Pro and Compressor (see for detail on their FCP shootout).

    4-The only components I would recommend you to change are the CPU and the GPU. You can add as many FW hard drives as you want.

    For the CPU, check out They have Dual 1.8GHz G4 upgrade cards. If a single processor is enough for you, get the single 1.73Ghz G4 for $499. Gigadesigns cards come with jumpers that allow you to overclock them. The 1.73 can be overclocked pass the 1.8 mark and may run at 2Ghz if you try it. You shouldn't be worried about the word "overclocking". Apple sold overcloked 1.25Ghz PowerMac G4's at Dual 1.42GHz when Motorola failed to produce faster chips, then an overclocked Dual 2.2GHz G5 @ Dual 2.5GHz when IBM couldn't reach faster speed, Gigadesigns (and others like Sonet and Powerlogix) sell 1.6Ghz cards at 1.8 or 1.73 Ghz. Motorola chips have a certain scale within which it remains perfectly stable.

    For the GPU, you have no choice but to get the Radeon 9800 128mb. Not only is it the most powerful GPU (and probably the last one) to be released for the G4's AGP 4X slot, it is the ONLY G4 card that can support Motion and 10.4's Core Video. So for you it's a no-brainer. The card retails for $249 new.

    Therefore, you can get a powerful machine for about $899. A single 1.8GHz G5 (with a non upgradable CPU stuck to it's motherboard) + a good video card will cost you TWICE as much and will perform at about the same speed. You decide.

    P.S. Don't forget to sell your used GPU & CPU on eBay ;-)
  7. Mechcozmo macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    eMac. Am I crazy? Maybe. But hear me out.

    You can buy then for CHEAP. 17" display, 1.25 GHz G4 processor, and 512 MB of RAM will cost you nothing on eBay.

    You can overclock the eMacs to 1.4 GHz or higher.
    Add RAM to it.
    Change the hard drive out for something like a 120 GB 7200 RPM one. You can also expand through the two FW 400 ports or the 3 USB 2.0 ports.

    Or get the 800 MHz model, overclock to 1.2 GHz, add RAM to it (cheaper because it is non DDR and the G4 doesn't support DDR so well), add the hard drive, and you still have 2 FW 400 ports. No USB 2.0 but then again, they aren't the best for hard disks.

    And that 17" monitor is very nice.
    Regardless of what people say about the eMacs, they are very capable computers that are often overlooked because of their "educational" label or their "cheap" pricetag. They really are that good.
  8. crispy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 21, 2005
    To clarify my present system
    G4/466 133 mhz bus. 1.25Gb ram, 2x120Gb internal hard drives 1x 120Gb external drive, external lacie DVD writer, 17" ADC apple LCD display, 4xusb2 pci card, miro motion DC30+ pci card (not that it is much use these days) running OSX 10.3.8. I am thinking a 1.4Ghz processor or dual of the same might be the best way forward. I dont want to put in an upgrade that costs the earth & is chocked by the rest of the system.
    By the way we pay a lot more for these upgrades in the UK. The latest sonnet dual 1.3Ghz is about $1000 over here.
  9. kronos2611 macrumors member

    Jun 14, 2004
    If you do go for the processor upgrade I'd suggest adding a new PCI ATA Card for your newer internal HDs as they will probably be capable of running faster than the ATA/66 on the mainboard. This is probably not holding you back at the moment but with a CPU upgrade it just might...
  10. caveman_uk Guest


    Feb 17, 2003
    Hitchin, Herts, UK
    Buy it in the US then. :rolleyes:

    I'd never pay UK prices for CPU upgrades or video cards. OWC and Macgurus will both ship to the UK providing adequate proof of ID is given. The shipping rates are very reasonable. I paid just over $24 shipping on a new radeon 9600 from OWC. Even if you get to pay VAT on import you'll still pay a lot less than the UK price. The only downside is if it breaks you have to ship it back to the US. :(

    For example this upgrade would cost about £270 shipped including VAT

    And this gigadesigns card would be about £340 shipped including VAT
  11. crispy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 21, 2005
    Gigadesign dual 1.4GHz purchased and installed. It flies

    Gigadesigns M5D-1214U processor upgrade

    Installation was very simple. Bit confused about Mac OS ROM file version. Instructions said it should be version 8.7 but mine was 10.2.1. No mention on their data base about newer versions.

    Also their jumper settings were all messed up and needed resetting. It would not boot at all with the settings as delivered. If it was supposed to have been tested before dispatch.. how come the jumpers were wrong?

    System Info G4/466
    Xbench Version 1.1.3
    System Version 10.3.8 (7U16)
    Physical RAM 1280 MB
    Model PowerMac3,4
    Processor PowerPC G4 @ 467 MHz
    Version 7400 (Max) v2.9
    L1 Cache 32K (instruction), 32K (data)
    L2 Cache 1024K @ 234 MHz
    L3 Cache
    Bus Frequency 134 MHz
    Video Card ATY,Rage128Pro
    Drive Type ST3120024A

    CPU test 54.32
    Thread test 41.49
    Memory test 93.7
    Quartz Graphics 63.58
    Open GL graphics 81.23
    User interface 108.33
    Disk test 67.78

    System Info Gigadesigns dual 1.4GHz
    Xbench Version 1.1.3
    System Version 10.3.9 (7W98)
    Physical RAM 1280 MB
    Model PowerMac3,4
    Processor PowerPC G4x2 @ 1.4 GHz
    Version 7455 (Apollo) v3.3
    L1 Cache 32K (instruction), 32K (data)
    L2 Cache 256K
    L3 Cache 2048K
    Bus Frequency 134 MHz
    Video Card ATY,Rage128Pro
    Drive Type ST3120024A

    CPU test 173.01
    Thread test 186.49
    Memory test 127.15
    Quartz Graphics 182.78
    Open GL graphics 199.47
    User interface 268.01
    Disk test 77.78

    Real world tests

    Start up time bong to menubar complete

    G4/466 63 seconds
    dual 1.4GHz 47.5 seconds

    iTunes encode 13.9Mb 128Kbps mp3 to aiff

    G4/466 47 seconds
    dual 1.4GHz 12 seconds

    iTunes encode 153.1Mb aiff to 128Kbps mp3

    G4/466 180 seconds
    dual 1.4GHz 56 seconds

    copy 695Mb file to firewire drive

    G4/466 33 seconds
    dual 1.4GHz 33 seconds

    generally noticed much faster web page loading
    and real time rendering in final cut express is great!

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