g3 imac as cheapo itunes device?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Fungazi, Apr 10, 2007.

  1. Fungazi macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2007
    #1
    Hey there. I'm a novice when it comes to macs, but am thinking of purchasing a ridiculously cheap g3 imac to serve as an itunes device to store my (huge!) cd collection. I just have a number of practical questions before I make a move.

    1) Since the mac's primary function will be to run the itunes program, I'm guessing it doesn't matter what processor speed I go for. Is there a minimum speed requirement to run the current version of itunes? Do I need to be running a particular version of mac os? Is there any particular advantage, in my case, to having a 400 or 450 mhz imac, versus a 350 mhz model?

    2) I'm assuming that the g3 imacs and/or mac os x support a suspend or sleep mode, so that I don't have to shut down the computer every time I'm finished playing music. Am I correct in my assumption? If not, approx. how long does it take for a 350 mgz system to boot up from scratch and launch itunes? Let's assume there is a minimum of software installed - just os x and itunes.

    3) On the g3 imacs, is CRT power-off supported? Or only "blank screen", with the CRT still powered on? Once I have itunes blasting away, there's no need to have the screen on and wasting electricity.

    4) Is there a hard limit to the size of the IDE hard drive that the imac supports? I'd need to install a 250gb drive to store my entire cd collection at lossless quality. I'm assuming this is a 3.5" drive, not a notebook-sized HD, right?

    5) OK, this is a long shot, but... is there any device (usb I'm guessing) that would allow me to watch TV on a 350 mhz or similar imac? I'm not talking HDTV or vid capture, just a standard catv tuner device. If so, what hardware requirements would I need in terms of processor and memory?

    Well, I really appreciate your feedback on these questions. I apologize if they are rather basic, but like I said I have no experience whatsoever with macs. I do, however, love itunes interface, so hopefully these wonderfully cheap "recycled" imacs on ebay will be a suitable replacement to my clunky old stereo and cd collection. Thanks for your input,

    Fungazi
     
  2. Super Macho Man macrumors 6502a

    Super Macho Man

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    #2
    No - the MP3s get decompressed on the client side, the server doesn't do anything besides streaming them out.
    Yes, sleep mode works great, just press the power button on the front and it goes to sleep, press it again and it wakes up. Takes <5 seconds for it to do either.
    Good question. Not sure. From my experience with a 500MHz Indigo G3, I'm guessing it's only "blank screen" because I've never heard that static-y sound from it that monitors make when they're turned off. But I'm not 100% sure.

    Edit: Now that I think about it I'm pretty sure it's "blank screen," because when it turns back on, it lights right back up immediately - no "fade in" effect.

    It's a 3.5" drive and you're limited to 128GB due to the older IDE controller. You can, however, attach however much storage you want externally via Firewire, IF your iMac has Firewire (you definitely want to get one that does, because these old things don't have USB2).
    The problem is that the G3 iMac has only USB 1. Try the EyeTV 200 (discontinued, look on eBay). It had a built-in MPEG-2 compressor to take the load off the CPU, and it connected via Firewire. It has great DVR software. I think it would work. You could also use a Firewire DV bridge or DV camcorder in "AV/DV passthrough" mode and hook up a VCR or cable box w/ TV tuner to it. But I would definitely recommend the EyeTV 200.
    I think an iMac would work fine. Just make sure you get one with built-in Firewire. Earlier ones didn't have it. Also, later models, I think the slot-load models, had no fans and used convection cooling which made them silent except for the hard drive.

    You know, if you can spend a little more, you should also consider an old Power Mac, such as a G3 Blue & White, G4 Yikes or G4 Sawtooth. The 400MHz Sawtooth usually goes for around $100, the others less. It would give you tons of drive bays, some nice 64-bit PCI slots, two extra RAM slots, and although its IDE bus is older and limited to 128GB, you could use newer/larger drives with the help of an appropriate PCI controller card, and you wouldn't need to buy any Firewire enclosures. The 400MHz Sawtooth only uses around 40 watts of power (I think), and you could pull the video card out to save power and VNC into it. Course, then you couldn't watch TV on it :)
     
  3. iMacZealot macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2005
    #3
    The requirements of iTunes 7 are Mac OS 10.3.9 or later, a 500 MHz G3 or faster, and 256 MB RAM, although I'm running version 7 with only 128 MB RAM, but it wouldn't hurt to get more.

    I had a version of iTunes 4.5 on an AirPort Express disk, and I tried installing it this summer, but the iTunes store will not show up on iTunes 4 (not sure about 5 or 6).

    In System Preferences, you can choose the screen to go blank after a certain amount of time. In Mac OS 9, but Mac OS 9 only, you can also spin down the hard disk, which is like sleeping, only keeping the display on and any music.
     
  4. Super Macho Man macrumors 6502a

    Super Macho Man

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    #4
    Those may be the official published requirements, but iTunes will definitely run on slower machines than that. I'm running iTunes 7 on a 400MHz G4 right now and it's using 1.2% of the CPU doing nothing. If all it's doing is serving out MP3s, I would estimate it would use less than 10% of a 300MHz G3, since all it's doing is sending out 128Kbps or 256Kbps or whatever over the network.

    Likewise, iTunes 7 does not use 256 MB of RAM. More like 35 MB. The 256MB figure is how much RAM it would be nice to have in your system *while* running iTunes. But if you are running OS 10.3 and all you are doing is leaving iTunes open to serve music, you could probably even get by with 128MB.

    And if the iMac is serving iTunes music over an AFP volume, there is no need to even run iTunes at all.
     
  5. iMacZealot macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2005
    #5
    ^^^

    I was going to say that in my post, but I wasn't sure. iTunes certainly isn't as much of a resource hog as Final Cut, and you most certainly could probably do it on a system slower than 500 MHz. However, I was still using my G3 as my main system two years ago, and with iTunes, Safari, Mail, and iChat open, it gets SLLOWWW. But, yes, as you said, with just iTunes open, it should be fine.
     
  6. xparaparafreakx macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2005
    #6
    I belive the monitor does shut off if your using OS X and the engery settings.
     
  7. Fungazi thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2007
    #7
    awesome - thanks people!

    Marvelous! It looks like the indigo g3 imac "se" is the right one for me - 400mhz + firewire. Will also check out the tv device you recommended. Too bad about the hd size limit, but I suppose 250gb was too much to wish for :rolleyes:
     
  8. iSee macrumors 68040

    iSee

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2004
    #8
    I think the biggest drawback of this setup is that those iMacs don't have USB 2, so syncing a newer iPod (that doesn't support firewire syncing) will be pretty slow.

    Super Duper Macho Man mentioned this, but I didn't want you to miss it.

    So if you have (or might get) a newer iPod this may or may not be a problem depending on how you like to sync your iPod. If you're like me, you'll plunk your iPod in its cradle before you go to sleep at night, and the sync speed won't matter. You mostly won't be able to do large syncs (involving video or more than 10 or 20 songs) on-the-fly.
     
  9. Fungazi thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2007
    #9
    iSee - thanks for the heads up. I (unfortunately) don't own an ipod, so this won't be an issue. Actually, I'm more or less looking to convert an old g3 imac into a (rather large, ghetto) ipod-like device :)

    Another questions comes to my mind, though - the imac I am looking to buy on ebay comes with mac os 10.4 pre-installed on a tiny (10gb) hard drive, but no mac os install cd. How would I go about replacing the smaller hd with a larger (120gb) drive without using a mac os cd? I have a fat32-formatted external usb hard drive at my disposal, but even if I mac-formatted it, could I boot from this drive? If I could, then I suppose I could "clone" the internal HD to the (temporary) external USB device, swap the internal 10gb with the new 120gb, boot from the USB device and then transfer the usb hd contents onto the new 120gb hd. Does this make any sense? If anyone has experience doing something similar to this, please let me know. Thanks again!
     
  10. Super Macho Man macrumors 6502a

    Super Macho Man

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    #10
    That would almost work, except you couldn't clone from the external HD to the internal HD while the internal is in use. Instead, if you are comfortable with taking things apart, you could open up the USB drive, pull the drive that's in there now (it's just a standard IDE drive), put the 120GB in its place, clone directly onto that, then swap the iMac drive for the 120GB drive.
     

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