upgrading 233mhz imac

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by amemoryoncelost, Jul 18, 2006.

  1. amemoryoncelost macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2004
    I just picked up one of the old 233mhz Imacs today for $40, good deal I suppose. Seems to have a CD burner, not sure and I haven't tried. It just has a few disc burning references on the computer. Also has a stick of 128mb ram to put me at a total of 160mb. The video is at 6mb, so Im guessing this is a rev. b, but Im not sure how to figure out for sure.

    Either way, my question is this:
    I'm going to upgrade the HD and ram. I've read the 128gb limit, which is fine, I won't be using this for much anyways, probably just give it to my girlfriend. I've also read the OSX partition cannot be more than 8gb. So basically, when I install panther on this machine, I'll do an 8gb partition and another 120gb of free space. In order to upgrade to OSX, I basically just need to update my firmware and go for it right?
    nd the ram, I keep reading how some computers will take two 256mb sticks for a total of 512mb and also read it will only take on stick of 256 and another stick of 128mb. Has anyone had any luck with this and where should I purchase my ram. I've had good luck with crucial, any reason i should go elsewhere?

    I know it's a lot, but I did search and I just need to clarify.

    thanks everyone!
  2. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    First: Update the firmware and you shouldn't have a problem installing OSX. The update is, however, important.

    Second: You're correct about the drive: 120GB or less is fine, so long as the first partition is under 8GB (I'd do 7.5 just to be sure), and that's where you put the OS.

    Third: I've run one of those on 160MB, and you do NOT want to do that. Get at least 256 in it, and it will be useable. I've never tried installing more than 2 128MB sticks, and I'm not sure I'd take the risk for a computer that old, but if you buy from somewhere with a money-back-guarantee, maybe it's worth a shot. I wouldn't go for 512MB, though--at most one stick of 256 and one 128, in case the 256 only works in one slot, and since you already have a 128 stick anyway.

    Fourth: Crucial is fine, but espically for an older computer like that, I'd go with a cheaper company who also pays a little more attention to specific compatibility. Specificaly, take your pick of DMS (datamem.com) or OWC (macsales.com) for this machine--you'll find lots of recommendations for both around here.

    For this particular one the prices are a about the same (and both less that Crucial), and you'll notice that both sell two different modules: One cheaper "upper slot" one, and one specifically for the lower (or upper) slot that's a bit spendier (the lower slot is more cramped). DMS even has a kit of one of each.

    For the 1.2" "works in either" module DMS has the lower price, for reference, but both have a lifetime warranty and should stand behind their products--if it doesn't work, they'll take it back. Compare and pick whichever you like more. I usually go DMS, but I have nothing against OWC.

    Finally: I doubt it has a CD-RW drive in it; I'm pretty sure they weren't an option on those models, and they're not a common upgrade unless you're tricking one out (I can't even find a drive for sale anymore), which it sounds like that one wasn't. The Disc Burning stuff is probably just from a stock install, and doesn't do anything.
  3. erickkoch macrumors 6502a

    Jan 13, 2003
    Gee, it's been a while since I upgraded my iMac G3 233 mhz. I just threw it out for recycling 6 months ago.

    Anyway, here's what I remember:

    I had a Rev A, I remember that because I upgraded the video ram from 2 to 6 MB so I'm guessing you probably have a revision B.

    CD burner? I had an external one so maybe they added that also on Rev B?

    As for memory, there are two memory slots, an upper one and a lower one. One of them ( I think the upper) is not very accessible when opening up the computer but not too bad to instal, the other required pulling out the motherboard from the chasis (very scary) but I managed to do it. I got a total of 384 megs of ram into it. However, this was when I did a CPU upgrade (Sonnet 500 mhz) so I'm not sure if you can put that much into a stock iMac 233, it might have a smaller maximum RAM. I don't remember where I got it.

    As for the partition, you are correct. You need a small partition for the OSX on these older machines. I had the hard drive installed for me at CompUSA, 30 Gigs I seem to recall.
  4. amemoryoncelost thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2004
    Makosuke: Thank you very much, I'll check out both sites and go from there. I'll find out which slot my 128mb is sitting in and go from there. I think it's upper if I remember right.

    erickkoch: I just did an HD upgrade in an icebook, which I heard is VERY difficult on mac upgrades. I think the imac might be doable, but then again, I really do not know much about the insides of a computer, so I'll take the warning wisely and do it with much caution. So yeah, I appreciate it!

    I'll probably wait a couple weeks until I get back from vacation to do the RAM and HD upgrade.

    Another question: Is there a specific drive I need to get? Just an IDE drive right? ATA66 or something I think... I have no reason to get a huge 300gb drive in this thing, so I wont need that little upgrade from OWC...

    Also saw this: http://www.mcetech.com/imacrw.html which is a cd-rw slot loading drive for the imac, might be fun to try out...
  5. munkees macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2005
    Pacific Northwest
    If you are planning on purchasing memory datamem is great, good prices, also they know all about mac, and will send you the correct memory for the correct place, weather upper or lower banks.
  6. California macrumors 68040


    Aug 21, 2004
    I've upgraded a 233 rev b to 384 ram no problem with a new 80gb Hitachi 7200 drive. It runs Panther great, haven't bothered with Tiger.

    I've also upgraded a 266mhz imac to 512 and a new 40gb Hitachi. Ran great.

    I am pretty sure you can put 1gb of ram in those machines, just that they take expensive laptop ram.
  7. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    On the downside, those iMacs are indeed a major pain to get into--you need to rip the whole thing apart just to get to the RAM slots, and if you're upgrading the lower RAM slot (probably), you also need to pull the processor out (which is scary, but not that big of an additional step once you've gotten that far). On the up side, there's not that much to do wrong--it's not precision work, just a lot of stuff to keep track of, a lot of spots to skin your knuckles, and a decent potential for dropping screws in places they're difficult to retrieve. I've torn them apart dozens of times, and there are worse things to dig into.

    Pretty much any ATA drive should work fine--I wouldn't worry much about it (just don't waste money on anything bigger than 120GB). If you want to make sure, though, go to XLR8YourMac.com and look at the upgrade database--somebody has probably tested the drive in that particular model, and will tell you if it worked and if they had to do anything unsual to get it working.

    That slot loading CDRW is neat, but $130 is an awful lot to spend on a computer that crusty to begin with. You'd probably be better off with an external drive in a USB2 case; that'll run you well under $100 (probably $80 if you DIY and shop carefully), will burn DVDs (at least in theory), and while you'll be SEVERELY limited by the speed of the USB1 connection, you will also have the option of using it on a newer computer at full speed.

    And to California--I'm nearly certain that you CAN'T put 1GB into those machines. I've certainly never heard of it being done. They're not even supposed to support more than 192MB--the stock 64MB and a 128MB stick in the expansion slot. In reality, you can replace both sticks, and they will generally handle 256MB sticks if you buy low enough density ones (that also physically fit--again, DMS and OWC will sell you what works for each slot). 512MB sticks, however, I SERIOUSLY doubt. That's four times the claimed max size for a stick, and I don't think 512MB sticks even come in density low enough for the controller in those to support.
  8. moooosedude macrumors member


    Dec 18, 2004

    Just to clarify your question about ram...there is no answer. It sounds funny but it changes from logicboard to logicboard. I've had 2 imac g3 233's, and 1 of them would show up 512 but the other never read over 256. They were bought the same day from the same store. My best suggestion would be to go on ebay, and buy a new processor card (i did 333) for 20 bucks. Thats gunna give you a great performance boost, and actually make tiger acceptable. The only other board to go with is the sonnet? one because it gives you a firewire port which makes the disc burning more possible. Good luck with your imac! They're quite fun to take apart.
  9. dmw007 macrumors G4


    May 26, 2005
    Working for MI-6

    I agree, go with www.datamem.com for your RAM amemoryoncelost. :)

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