Why spend so much money on a G4?

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by Gav, Aug 1, 2007.

  1. Gav
    macrumors regular

    Jun 23, 2007
    This thread is based on American pricing, to make it easier.

    So I was thinking, a lot of people upgrade their PowerMac G4s. Now bear in mind that Sawtooth G4s can be had for about £70/$140 these days, you'd probably think that with the plethora of upgrades availiable, that its a pretty good starting point?

    I beg to differ.

    When upgrading a PowerMac G4, its immediatly classed as a refurb. Yeah? Lets compare this 'Refurbished Mac Mini' to a 'Upgraded PowerMac G4'

    Refurbished Mac mini, 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo
    512MB memory
    80GB hard drive
    SuperDrive (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    Intel GMA 950 graphics processor with 64MB of DDR2 memory

    PowerMac G4 (Pre-Upgrade) - 400Mhz Single G4
    256MB memory
    30GB Hard Drive
    DVD-ROM Drive
    Ati Rage 128 Pro Graphics (32MB)

    Cost of upgrade:

    Memory Upgrade to 512MB - $40
    Graphics Upgrade to equivialent 64MB chip - ~$90
    Processor Upgrade to Dual 1.8Ghz (Sonnet) - $589.99
    Hard Drive Upgrade to 80GB - $35
    Total Cost of Upgrade - $754.99
    Cost of PowerMac - $140

    TOTAL - $894.99

    Quite a lot, in fact - for that price you could get:

    Refurbished MacBook 2.0GHz Intel Core Duo - White
    13.3-inch glossy widescreen display
    512MB memory
    60GB hard drive
    SuperDrive (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    Built-in iSight camera

    Have I missed something out here? Is the G4 actually an Intel Core beating machine, so much so that its price tag is justifiable? I'm quite interested to hear from people who have upgraded their G4s...

    What do you think?

  2. macrumors 604


    Jun 27, 2006
    Seattle, WA
    Well, sans the processor upgrade its cheap so it'd make a pretty good secondary computer for non-processor intensive tasks. But the processor upgrade is way over priced and the core duo would be able to beat it.
  3. macrumors Core

    Jun 16, 2004
    But the FBS of the G4 is cripplingly slow for a processor of that speed.

    I'd go with the Mac Mini.
  4. macrumors 68020


    Jun 28, 2007
    most people wouldn't upgrade their processor.
  5. macrumors member


    Feb 28, 2006
    Depends on usage.

    I see why you would think that the Mac Mini is better initially, but you need to consider what is going to be happeneing on the Mac to get a better picture. I write hardware reviews for MacMod.com so I've been able to play with many upgrades and a few Mac Mini's. The Mac Mini is a great little computer. If all you have to do is simple tasks (email and web browsing, photo browsing) then you will love it. However, once you want to get into anything intensive you will start to see performance issues.

    One draw back to the Mac Mini is the video card. It is not a dedicated video card, but rather a shared memory card. By default it takes 80MB away from your RAM for the Graphics. If you want to upgrade it you have to buy more RAM and install it, then it will take more memory away from that. Two other drawbacks to the Mac Mini are no PCI slots and the hard drive speed. The hard drive is only a 5400K drive. Not horrible if you are browsing the web, but if you need to R/W to a drive alot you will start noticing the difference. The PCI slots is probably the biggest reason to keep an old G tower around. The mac mini is pretty much stuck with what you buy, but a tower you can upgrade with new technology as it comes out (SATA card, USB 2 card, 811.* cards, upgraded video cards, etc.).

    I'm not sure about your pricing, but here is the pricing I got for upgrading (assuming you already have a G4 tower).

    Newer Technology MAXPower G4/7448 DUAL 1.7GHz Processor Upgrade = $599
    3 x Crucial 512 GB RAM ($67 each) = $201
    GeForce2 MX Twin View 64MB = $170
    SATA 4 Channel 3 Int and 1 Ext PCI-X = 50
    3 x WD Caviar WD2500KS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA Hard Drive ($42 each) = $126
    Pioneer DVR-112D Dual Layer DVD Recordable Drive = $40
    USB 2 PCI card = $30

    Now you would have a smoking machine that would be able to have massive storage, decent power, and dedicated memory for $1,216. Way more than the Mac Mini, but you also now have way more options than the Mac Mini. You can run a RAID 5, and have an external SATA port, dedicated video memory, a hell of alot of memory, and the ability to still expand further if needed.

    It really depends on what you need from your machine. Simple web browsing, email and some iPhoto work and a Mac Mini would be great. If you want to edit video, audio or anything needing power, speed & space, then you should upgrade.

  6. macrumors 68020


    Aug 27, 2006
    I got a DP 500 with 1GB and Radeon 9000 for $75... I wouldn't buy a mini for $500 although it may be slightly quicker. The CD mini I had was rather slow IMO though. I would rank them about the same. And the mini had 2GB.
  7. macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2006
    Sheffield, England
    Mac Mini is just fine for editing video. Even manages HD quite well.
    The lack of a dedicated GPU really only limits it for games, and high-end 3D like Maya.

  8. macrumors 6502


    Aug 15, 2006
    Your Apples and Orange comparison...

    Dear friend,

    I understand your point. However you have also many points you didn't mention. I see it like in the Auto market. You want to compare a brand new Ford Focus to a 5 year old Mercedes S-Class. So what would you like to drive ? I want you to remember the G4 was the Powermac at the time, the class which is the Mac Pro today. The decision to upgrade also is not always based on plain budget. In my case I never had a mac before a couple years ago and I could buy a G4 1,42 MDD for a great price at that time. On top of that I am an engineer and I love to enhance stuff, pretty much the way like Tooltime..yeahhh. I had a lot of fun to come with a new cooling solution, upgrade the hell out of it and dremel here and there a bit.
    With a lightning fast Raptor drive and my Radeon 9800 I beat your G5 easy because of the L3 cache on the dual processor. Also the MDD is Apples XServe technology, so you actualy get server technology. On the other hand if you look on the mac mini you have a throw away product with no, none, nada, zero upgrad possibility. Not in my live I would trade my G4 against this mini taiwan box

  9. macrumors 65816


    Mar 12, 2006
    N'Albany, Indiana
    sorry your estimation of upgrading a G4 is incorrect. :p Here's what i summed up for my setup.

    Sawtooth 250
    Monitors 60
    Video Card 65
    PSU 60
    Superdrive 70
    PCI cards 50
    Bluetooth 35
    Fans 60
    keyboard mouse 50
    fan controller 25
    RAM 120
    CPU 275
    HDs 120

    Total - $1240

    yeahhhhhhh, amazing right?
  10. macrumors 6502

    Jul 15, 2004
    In general, G4 upgrades are for people with legacy peripherals, where it's easier to upgrade rather than buy all new peripherals, or for people that want to run MacOS 9 or some other old software.

    Buy new is generally the better upgrade.
  11. macrumors 68030


    Jan 8, 2005
    On the moon.
    Also, you can do the G4 piecemeal, you dont have to do it ALL at once.

    And you can also score deals on used parts on eBay, and instead of paying 90-200 for a 64MB card, find a old 9800 Pro that someone pulled from their PC, borrow or use your PC for 10 minutes, and reflash the BIOS to a Mac card.

    Works perfect. Just like the actual Mac card, as thats all ATI really does.

    I spent 250 on my G4, and got a Dual 1 GHz Quicksilver G4, with no RAM, and no hard disks, but a Superdrive, Zip 250 (how useless), and a Radeon 9000 Pro card.

    Dropped two hard disks I had lying around, and some SDRAM I had as well. (Now have 1.5GB as I found a 3rd 512MB module.)

    Runs beautifully, and is quite snappy.
  12. macrumors newbie

    Aug 1, 2007
    How does one flash it for mac? Can this be done with nVidia cards too?
  13. Gav
    thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 23, 2007
    I see your point everyone :) I know the G4 is a great machine in actual fact.

    Personally, I think its the price that would put me off. The one fact you can't deny is that the G4 processor upgrades are overpriced. They really are...

    Although if I could bag one cheap, I probably would. I feel like upgrading my G4 now :p

    £60 for 2GB of Ram isn't that bad.

    The graphics cards are also a tad pricey, but you can mod a few PC cards - so I'll probably do that.

    I might buy a quicksilver though, because this AGP Graphics model doesn't support dual cpus.

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