Give the old G5 some love!

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by hartleymartin, Sep 22, 2016.

  1. hartleymartin macrumors regular

    hartleymartin

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2016
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #1
    My PowerMac G5 started out as a bit of a joke bid on eBay for $20, description was for "not working - no hard drive." Much to my surprise, I actually won it. I went down with my car and picked it up.

    Now, asides from being a little dusty it looked okay. I put in a spare HDD and hooked up a monitor, etc. Much to my surprise (again) it posted, but I would get absolutely nothing on the display.

    Turned out to be a dead Graphics Card. $23.50 later and I had an FX5200 from another G5, $10 on eBay found an original G5 install/restore disc for OSX 10.2.7 $12.50 got me a new PRAM battery.

    So it turned that that I got a 2003 Mac Pro Dual 2.0GHz PowerPC G5 CPUs. It came with 4.5GB of RAM.

    There was a long saga trying to get OX 10.4.11 to install, but long story short, it turns out that the old superdrive couldn't read discs burned at high speed, so I just had to burn the dmgs at the lowest speed on my other Mac.

    PPC_G5_RAM.png

    OSX 10.4.11 with all updates installed (and Flash removed) I also bought 8x 1GB RAM sticks for a total of about $48 incl. shipping. I figured that all-matching new RAM would probably be better than the mixed collection of RAM that this G5 had acquired over time. I have even set it up with an era-appropriate Mac A1048 Keyboard and ProMouse (both of which were bundled with my Mac Pro, but I had replaced with bluetooth models).

    I then discovered that particular G5 I had was the most powerful model released in 2003. Touted by Steve Jobs as the "world's fastest personal computer" at the time. But I had put the FX5200 card in. That belonged in the two single-processor models. So a bit of a hunt on eBay brought me for about $40 an original ATi Radeon 9600 card with dual DVI outputs and 128MB of RAM.

    The FX5200 did seem to manage just fine, but I decided it would nicer having the original card.

    ATI_Radeon_9600_Graphics_Card.png

    I have also added Audacity, VLC Player, LibreOffice and a bunch of classic OS9 games and i really like this computer. It hasn't been anywhere near the world's fastest personal computer in a long time. For a machine that is 13 years old, it still runs nicely. In fact, it boots in about 42 seconds, which is starting to give much younger and more powerful computers (which have SSDs) a run for their money. My early 2009 MacBook boots off an SSD in 36-38 seconds. My 2011 MacBookPro boots in about 22-25 second, again off an SSD.

    The computer is not a "daily driver" and the 27" Phillips display is only borrowed from my much more powerful, though not that much younger 2008 Mac Pro.

    So why did I buy the G5 in the first place? Well, it was a joke bid on eBay, but I did happen to like the case design. In the back of my mind, I had decided that if the G5 was dead, I could always gut it for a Hackintosh or ATX case conversion. But it all worked, save for the graphics card, and it is now effectively a back-up machine which also carries alot of classic Mac games.

    The only thing I need to make this a genuine retro-gaming machine would be to acquire an original Apple Cinema Display, though I would go for the models with the Aluminium stand and bezel rather than the white picture-frame models. At the very least I would go for the 23" 1920x1200 display, though if a 30" came up at the right price, I would jump at it (and probably need yet another graphics card!)
     
  2. ITguy2016 Suspended

    Joined:
    May 25, 2016
    #2
    There's something about the PPC that I like. I can't put my finger on it but I find myself using my single 1.8GHz system quite regularly to browse the web and perform some UNIX system administration to my servers.

    For some reason the 2003 dual 2.0GHz seems to have been a very popular model. The appear to be the most popular model for sale on Craigs List. I don't know if that's because Apple sold more of them and there are more to sell. Or if people don't want them and therefore list them for sale more frequently.

    I recall when Apple first released the G5's. I wanted one but my computing needs didn't warrant such a powerful system. I attempted to rationalize the purchase of one but just could not find a good reason. Then it hit me: My brother could use one of these beasts so I bought him one along with the 22" Cinema display. My need to get one of these was fulfilled and its capability would be put to good use.

    Ahh...good times. Glad to hear yours worked out and you're enjoying it. At the current pricing I could fill up my basement with them!
     
  3. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    Aug 31, 2011
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    #3
    We have a 1.8Ghz G5 at work. The boss bought it in February 2005. The only non-original parts on the computer are a ram stick replaced six months after purchase and a new logicboard/CPU replaced in 2013.

    The Mac has been on 24/7 since February 2005 and is used to do the same work I do on my MacPro. Namely, ad design, page layout, Classifieds, Legals, etc (I work for a newspaper).

    Been one of the best Macs I've used.
     
  4. hartleymartin thread starter macrumors regular

    hartleymartin

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #4
    I installed a bit of software which gives me an indicator in the menubar about the total CPU capacity and RAM capacity being used. I've never been able to use more than about 600 MB of RAM (so having 8GB is probably overdoing things a bit) But at least with that much physical RAM available, it never has to read from the Virtual Memory Swap-File.

    I replaced the FX5200 with the ATI9600 Graphics card this morning. I think some games seem to run the tinest bit smoother. I don't really know. I am not even sure what graphics card came with this computer when I bought it, as it doesn't look much like either the FX5200 or the 9600!

    I am rather tempted to get one of the old Cinema displays from around 2003-2005. Not so fond of the white picture-frame style models, but I do like the silver ones. Perhaps a 23" if I find one at the right price.

    I wouldn't mind a 30" Cinema Display, but I think I would keep that plugged into my Mac Pro. If I want to do big-screen retrogaming, I will have to lug the lot down to the living room and plug it into the big Samsung Smart Tv we've got down there. Not looking forward to carrying around the weight of the G5!
    --- Post Merged, Sep 23, 2016 ---
    By the way, the G5 can always do double duty as a small under-the-desk space heater in the Winter months! Boy does that thing pump out some heat!
     
  5. ITguy2016 Suspended

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    May 25, 2016
    #5
    I've always been puzzled by these comments as my G5's don't seem to put out an extraordinary amount of heat.
    --- Post Merged, Sep 23, 2016 ---
    I've always been fascinated reading how you continue to use PPC in a business setting. Given their age and the sharp decrease in prices on older Mac Pro's I would think replacing the PPC's with faster systems would be in the cards. What is preventing the paper from moving to the Intel based systems? Is it related to the software you use?
     
  6. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #6
    We would have stayed current with everything as the years progressed if I had the authority to release funds. I do not have that authority however. Even small expenditures are difficult to get approved.
     
  7. ITguy2016 Suspended

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    May 25, 2016
    #7
    That's understandable. I would have thought upgrading the equipment and software would have a positive ROI based on the increased speed they offer (I get the impression the type of work you perform would benefit from faster systems). However that's just an assumption. I know nothing about that industry and therefore such a thought is based on an assumption and no actual knowledge.
     
  8. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #8
    The product we produce (newspapers) comes down to one item. Everything everyone does every week culminates in a PDF that I send to our printer - who then turns it into print on paper.

    I have never complained about not being up to date for the singular reason that my boss has one very effective counterpoint. That is that because our product is a PDF I can provide our printer a PDF on any platform using any design program capable of making a PDF.

    When I was hired that was a PC running Adobe Pagemaker 7. That is not a level I care to return to but it is entirely possible to do. This paper did it using that platform and app for years before they hired me.

    That said, I have managed to get certain things because I presented it at the correct time and used the threat of being unable to open customer's ads (which is true).

    But as long as whatever I have is working…they see no need to give me any higher priority.

    I don't like it, but it is what it is and they do pay me much better than what the average person who does this gets paid. So, there's that. :)

    EDIT: But yeah, speed would help me. At the moment, having some ram would also benefit me greatly. The G5 has 4GB ram. The MacPro I am typing this on has 3GB ram. So, the G5 has more ram than the MP. Go figure! :D
     
  9. apple apple, Sep 23, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2016

    apple apple macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2014
    #9
    I'm partial to the aluminum cinima displays as well. When I got a new monitor for the missus, I kept her aluminum model. It's a little banged up right now, but I plan on replacing the polarizing filer in the not so distant future. It will make the perfect companion for my late 2005 Powermac.
     
  10. ITguy2016 Suspended

    Joined:
    May 25, 2016
    #10
    I've always been an advocate of "If it ain't broke don't fix it". PPC systems are great systems and if the meet the needs of the business then I see no reason to replace them unless the replacement offers an acceptable ROI. Apparently the business feels the increased productivity, assuming there is one, doesn't offset the replacement cost. If that's the case more power to them. It's nice to hear stories they're still in active use.
     
  11. AmazingHenry macrumors 65816

    AmazingHenry

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2015
    Location:
    Central Michigan
    #11
    Glad to see it being put to use! I have the same model as you, and I find that 10.5 Leopard runs really well. You should consider Leopard, as it runs more software.
     
  12. hartleymartin thread starter macrumors regular

    hartleymartin

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2016
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #12
    The air that comes out of the G5 isn't that hot, but consider the volume of air running through the machine. When I have had it running under the desk in my bedroom, after a few hours, the room is noticeably warmer than if I were doing the same with my Mac Pro. It isn't quite like having a heater, but the warmer exhaust air does have a way of warming my room.

    The position that my G5 (and Mac Pro) occupy mean that they more or less get cold air straight from the air conditioner into their front intakes during the summer.
     
  13. ITguy2016 Suspended

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    May 25, 2016
    #13
    This may explain it. Mine is downstairs in the basement which is likely to be much larger of an area than most bedrooms.
     
  14. stewart1981 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2014
    #14
    Like Erik I still have a G5 in business use but the humble 1.6ghz. This much maligned and derided box has never let me down in the five years I have had it and prior to that a family friend had it from new. The only non-factory materials are a hard drive and ram as I replaced these.

    It's main use is backup via CS2 to my win10 with Pagemaker 7(also discussed before and not my choice but the music publisher I work for will mot budge as it works) and as a digital audio workstation with Logic 9. Sibelius 6 and Office 08 with Libreoffice gives me access to most of the files I need. Only the adoption of Sibelius 8 stops me working full time on it.

    a great machine!
     
  15. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #15
    I was told, way back when, that the 1.8Ghz G5 Macs were crap and that they had the largest failure rate of all the G5s.

    That said, the logicboard/CPU on the G5 at work lasted eight years of being on 24/7 (full power/no sleep) and being put to work hard for 8-11 hours five days a week.

    The current logicboard/CPU is from an even OLDER G5 than the original.

    At one of my jobs (two months) the publisher had a G3, one of the originals with the ADB keyboard port. I worked with that for a short while because they had a G5 on order. Turns out that G5 was the 1.6Ghz version.

    For the short time I was there it was a nice decent Mac. I think they might have been appreciated more if Apple had not discontinued them so quickly.
     
  16. hartleymartin thread starter macrumors regular

    hartleymartin

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    #16
    It was rather unfortunate that the G5s were only on the market for 3 years. The G5 is probably what finally made Apple decide to switch to intel chips. Powerful architecture, but very power hungry and makes a lot of heat. The heat problem is why there was never a G5 in a laptop. Perhaps the writing was on the wall for the architecture, especially with Motorola no longer part of the partnership?
     
  17. ITguy2016 Suspended

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    May 25, 2016
    #17
    I think you've hit the nail squarely on the head with this.
    --- Post Merged, Sep 25, 2016 ---
    I have the PCI 1.8GHz system and it is noticeably slow when browsing the web with TFF. I see the spinning disc a lot due to CPU consumption. The dual processor configurations are noticeably more responsive due to the availability of the second CPU. Despite this it is a great system and has served me well for many years. Unless if gives up the ghost I plan to continue using it for years to come.
     
  18. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #18
    Back when I was using the Mac (2013 and before) I kept a clean profile in T4Fx without many addons. At work I visited few sites, most of them work related.

    It's the same now with the MBP. T4Fx was never that slow for me on the G5. However, I was not using it like I use it on my personal Macs. Hence, the thread I created on all my tweaks and addons for T4Fx.

    I almost certainly would have altered this plan with the G5 if I'd been using it as my own personal Mac.
     
  19. hartleymartin thread starter macrumors regular

    hartleymartin

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    Sydney, Australia
    #19
    A couple of photos:

    Picture 1:
    The Dual G5 heatsinks. This is a Dual 2.0GHz model from 2003. Apple were quite clever in making the massive heatsinks a design feature rather than a design flaw of the PowerPC. That said, have you seen the size of heatsinks used on Intel CPUs recently?

    14469622_10154382867106251_3527664989661361225_n.jpg


    Picture 2:
    New PRAM battery. When I got this computer, it still had the original battery from 2003! Also seen here is the ATI 9600 Graphics card. The graphics card in this computer was dead when I got it. I bought an FX5200 just to get it all working again, and recently put in the ATI-9600 which was original specification for this particular model of PowerMac G5. I also added a PCI-X Wifi card which is natively supported by OSX 10.4.11 "Tiger". I was going to install an Airport card in the original slot, but I am told that these tended to have fairly poor range by comparison to cards with external antennae. Previously, I had this piggy-backed on my Mac Pro which had to be running to get this computer online. Now I can use the G5 without having the Mac Pro on.
    14485163_10154382867151251_4085951042869835877_n.jpg


    Picture 3:
    8x 1GB Sticks of DDR-SDRAM by Samsung. This computer had 4.5GB when I got it, but they were a fairly random collection of sticks - evidently it had been upgraded over time by the original owner. I figured that it would be worth installing the maximum RAM and to have all matching modules. I do have an indicator which tells me how much RAM is being used, and I don't think I've ever managed to use more than 512MB, but it is nice to know that I have plenty of RAM in reserve and no need to use the swap-file/virtual-memory function, keeping the G5 at peak performance.
    14495489_10154382867211251_3919019310555990916_n.jpg
     
  20. stewart1981 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2014
    #20
    My 1.6ghz inline via wifi is steady but more than just useable. More than four tabs, even with Erik's tweaks hits the CPU hard but then again this machine wasn't built for that kind of web use.

    I agree entirely though that these are great machines, yes the multi processor G5's are without doubt a breed above but if used for the right purposes these keep doing a sterling job on some of the best versions of Mac OSX. With our Macbook 4,1 running Snow Leopard we have a rock solid system for audio that runs perfectly well along side my Windows 10 work setup.The best of both worlds really. (Ok i know there us always room to squeeze in Linux, I just need a spare machine...)
    --- Post Merged, Sep 29, 2016 ---
    Please forgive the typos, what comes of one handed typing and not checking it!
     
  21. ITguy2016 Suspended

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    May 25, 2016
    #21
    I think the issue is the single processing core. The dual 2.0GHz was considerably more responsive than the single 1.8GHz system. I suspect that was because the Java Script could execute on one core and the application on the other. The performance exceeded even what a 200MHz difference would suggest. Activity Monitored also showed lower total CPU usage.

    I've been very happy with my 1.8GHz system. I think I've had it for five years, four at the least. I'm currently looking for another dual 2.0GHz G5 system. Not many in my area.
     
  22. hartleymartin thread starter macrumors regular

    hartleymartin

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    #22
    I have thought about parting with the G5 for the right money, but I am in Sydney, Australia and I have spent a bit of money doing the system up.
     
  23. hartleymartin thread starter macrumors regular

    hartleymartin

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    #23
    So I picked up a brand new 500GB drive to install in the G5. I had all sorts of issues with installations not working properly, then when OSX did install, it kept beach-balling and refusing to load some programs.

    Turns out that PowerMac G5's don't like Seagate drives. I think it is to do with the SATA-I controller in the G5. In any case, after all that faffing about, the Western Digital 640GB drive is going back into the G5 and the 500GB Seagate drive is going into my Mac Pro to serve as my document/file storage drive (the SSD is the Boot and Application Drive).
     
  24. hartleymartin thread starter macrumors regular

    hartleymartin

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    #24
    Well, that didn't seem to work. I decided to try re-seating the RAM and found that one of the slots has a broken clip. Thankfully this is the third slot out from the centre, so I am pretty sure that I can just install RAM in the first and second slots and still have 4GB - plenty for my needs, but I am annoyed because I just bought all matching brand new Samsung RAM modules and I do have 8GB! It wasn't expensive, but the fact is that I have the RAM and would like to use it!

    Hopefully, I can install some RAM in the fourth slots and still have 6GB, but I don't know how well that will work.
     
  25. hartleymartin thread starter macrumors regular

    hartleymartin

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    #25
    Not sure what is going on but I think that the PowerMac G5 is either failing or has indeed failed. Reduced the RAM back to 2x 1GB sticks and trying to get it to install Tiger again but it looks like it isn't going to work.
     

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