Help with choosing the right G4?

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by Miguey, Aug 19, 2011.

  1. Miguey macrumors 6502

    Jan 5, 2006
    So Cal 909
    Alright so I'm looking to replace my desktop with a G4 but I'm having trouble in choosing the right one. My money limit is about 150 max and I've seen top of the line eMacs, PowerMac G4's, and iMacs go for around that price locally on craigslist so I'm just wondering which one I should go with.

    I'm staying away from G5's(out of price range and too risky) and this G4 will replace my current PC and use my iBook less(I'm tired of buying 3rd party adapters every couple of months and can't find authentic apple adapters).

    What will it be used for?

    Forum checking.
    Email checking.
    Light 360p youtube
    Small Xcode programming
    SC/WC3 Gaming.
    Typing up random papers.
    Storing music and videos. Nothing to extreme just AAC and small .mp4 files for my ipod

    The models I'm looking at right now specifically are,

    eMac 1.42GHZ. For some reason these are going for really cheap and the processor speed, hard drive space, and video card aren't that bad. Any cons to these computers?

    PowerMac G4 MDD or Dual 1.42 I've heard nothing but the best out of these machines.

    iMac G4 1.25 20" model. Haven't heard much but seem quite reliable?

    If any of these are to be strayed away from I'd gladly like to know :). I'm well aware of PPC having no support, just need something to replace my home PC(1.4Ghz celeron with 512mb ram...maxed out lol)

  2. MrCheeto macrumors 68030


    Nov 2, 2008
    There is, in fact, a reason. XD Don't bother with eMacs.

    All of my experiences have been good and you're going to get decent performance (even Youtube capability) from the Dual 1.25's.

    If you're using a 1.4ghz Celery, you're going to LOVE the dual 1.25ghz Mirror Door Drive PowerMac, really. Not to mention, Mac OS X makes better use of its resources than Windows could ever hope for. 1gb of ram goes a LONG way in OS X. Hell, you may even be able to use the RAM in that PC to upgrade the G4.

    What I recommend;

    Stay away from G4 iMacs, eMacs, and Mac Mini's. Get a Dual Processor PowerMac G4 Mirror Door Drive, upgrade to 1gb of RAM or more, enable HTML5 on Youtube and get a flash blocker for Safari, then enjoy the hell out of Leopard. I sure did. I miss my single-CPU 1.25ghz MDD =\ She ran Leopard like a champ.
  3. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

    May 7, 2004
    Sod off
    The eMac and iMac are going to be very close in performance. The eMac gives you a slightly faster CPU and the slightly faster Radeon 9600, but the difference is quite small. The eMac is heavier but newer, and the LCD screen on the iMac gives it a slight advantage in the display arena. Pretty much a toss-up there.

    The towers are a different story. You need to find a display (extra cost), and some of the MDD models are very loud (earning them the nickname "windtunnel" G4s). But they can give you better performance than the other two models you're looking at, particularly in terms of GPU performance (IF they have the better video cards installed such as the Radeon 9800 or GeForce4Ti). For basic tasks though, they are no faster than the eMac and iMac.

    The towers can be heavily upgraded, but that would put you WELL beyond your basic $150 budget. Only buy a tower if it comes complete with 1GB+ memory and one of the aforementioned high-end video cards, and if you have a display handy. Otherwise, there is little advantage to getting one over the iMac or eMac, given your stated purpose for the machine.
  4. Nova77 Guest

    May 12, 2011
    I'm a little biased in favor of the MDD, but well... facts are it's the fastest and most expandable G4. Get one with a front side bus of 167 mhz, or else you are better off with a quicksilver G4 or digital audio (less noise).

    MDDs have one big flaw : noise. If that doesn't bother you, go for it.

    Put in 2 gb of ram and even a 1 ghz MDD will fly for your needs.
    Ram doesn't cost that much... and helps A LOT.

    Main issue you are gonna get with a G4 is flash video playback (keep in mind it sucks on PPC macs).
    Get mactubes 3.0.8 for youtube, and select quicktime as default player.

    Hope that helps!
  5. Hrududu macrumors 68020


    Jul 25, 2008
    Central US
    Lots of people seem to be jobbing on the eMac quite a bit. If you get one with USB 2.0 they're actually pretty good machines. The older ones that used PC133 RAM and were USB 1.1 were slow, but eMacs had beautiful CRT screens and are built to last. iMac G4's are works of art. They look amazing and the LCD screens are very nice even for their age. For this reason, they fetch a premium in going price. Dollar for dollar, you're going to get a better eMac with the same performance as a G4 iMac any day. Unless you score a killer deal on a 1.25GHz 17" or 20" G4 iMac, you're going to pay a lot more for the same kind of daily performance in almost every case. The PowerMac is the only one I never owned aside from MDD's and Qucksilvers that I serviced. The only G4 powermac I've ever had is a Cube. From what little I've used them, they are super fast. Anything with a dual 1GHz CPU or better is going to fly. If you can get one, go for a dual 1GHz Quick Silver or a nice dual MDD. Most everyone says the actual difference between the 1.25 and 1.42 is hard to see, but if they are close, it never hurts to have those extra MHz for your YouTube. One last thing, if you haven't considered a G5, take a look around. I was able to get a pair of dual 2.0GHz June 2004 G5's for $123 each a year ago, so $150 CAN get you a G5.
  6. cocacolakid macrumors 65816


    Dec 18, 2010
    The top of the line eMac's are nice machines, but the OP should have plenty of room in the budget at $150 to get a nice dual processor MDD or FW800. Stick with the 1.25 or 1.42 ghz versions. Make sure the video card is at least 64mb, if it's 128mb, even better.

    The Quicksilvers are nice, but the DP 1.25 and 1.42 MDD's/FW800 have faster bus speed and faster RAM. Those should be your preferred ones to look for if you have a choice.

    Not only should you up the RAM to at least 1gb, but a few of the software that will really help max out the effectiveness of that machine are:

    MacTubes, for streaming Youtube. Works great.
    MPlayer, for playing locally stored videos.
    TenFourFox for the browser. Camino is also an excellent browser, but the latest build of TFF is great. TFF and Camino have specific builds for G4 CPU's. For either of the MDD's you would want the 7450 G4 builds. (right now you would want the TFF 7450 6.0 download)

    There is another thread here with other software that runs great on PPC Macs, so look around.

    Here is the Everymac page for the G4 Power Mac's for system comparison:
  7. dandeco macrumors 6502

    Dec 5, 2008
    I still use my 1.42 GHz eMac as my main desktop, even having since gotten my early 2009 MacBook a few weeks ago. Those later eMacs were GREAT computers, IMO. I maxed out the RAM to 2 GB, added an AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi card, put Mac OS X 10.5.8 Leopard on it with iLife '09, and it gives me a pretty good Mac experience. I even added a small USB Bluetooth dongle so I can use an Apple Magic Mouse with it!
    I've had this eMac for over a year and a half now, and it still performs pretty well, even outperforming my Dell Dimension tower with a 2.5 GHz Pentium 4 processor at times! I can even run iMovie '09 on it with little hassle (it's great with editing, but rendering/exporting can take a pretty long time!)

    I also have a PowerMac G4 QuickSilver (867 MHz) as well as an early 2004 15-inch 1.5 GHz PowerBook G4, and they are both pretty good computers too (I currently use the PowerMac as a backup/server Mac desktop in my basement.)
  8. tom vilsack macrumors 68000

    tom vilsack

    Nov 20, 2010
    ladner cdn
  9. cocacolakid macrumors 65816


    Dec 18, 2010
    Just a generic bluetooth dongle or a specific name brand? I have a 1.42 eMac at my brother's house, plus a generic dongle, I should try to remember to try that out. The eMac's also have a surprisingly nice monitor, far nicer than any other CRT monitor I ever had. (I'd still highly recommend a DP G4 PowerMac for the OP's needs and budget)
  10. Miguey thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 5, 2006
    So Cal 909
    +1 for Powermac. Right now I'm switching around between ebay and craigslist, both are giving me good prices.

    Monitors not a problem I already have one and probably will use the same keyboard and mouse :). Another vote for Powermac.

    Thank you it did! This iBook isn't all great for youtube but I've learned to suffice for 360p and its good enough for me! Powermac +1

    The eMac's are within my pricerange and the only reason I was looking at them was because it gave me the option of doing a RAM upgrade and an external HDD within the budget. +1 for them

    I've seen some locally go from $50-70! and I'd love a G5 but I've read too many faulty reviews on it other than the 1.8GHZ Single processor one.

    Thanks! Yeah I've realized PPC has been left for dead, my iBook isn't exactly up to date with any new software but I've managed to work my way around it. Hell at one point i just grabbed my mini-VGA adapter and hooked it up to my monitor to replace my desktop and it worked 10000x faster and quieter.

    Really? +1 for eMacs then.

    Like I've said before I'm not really gonna be throwing some hardcore editing or encoding at it(iMovie, iDVD etc...) Just really basic web browsing and occasional programming(nothing past Xcode). Heading towards reliabilty for the most part which is why I chose the G4's!

    Current count
  11. MrCheeto macrumors 68030


    Nov 2, 2008
    Just note that all MDD G4's are going to have only DVI and ADC. If you're using VGA, there are, of course, adapters and in my experience most PowerMacs being sold may come with one.
  12. zen.state, Aug 20, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2011

    zen.state macrumors 68020


    Mar 13, 2005
    I say get a G4 tower. In my many years of using G4 towers and also doing a lot of research over the years I find the Sawtooth to be the most reliable.

    I will break down the pros and cons of each model:

    G4 Yikes (PCI Graphics) 1999
    -Range from 350-400MHz

    -none over other models

    -G3 logic board
    -2-3x slower memory controller compared to other models
    -PCI graphics
    -Only 1GB memory max

    This is the model Apple released when Motorola didn't have the AGP (sawtooth) logic boards ready yet so they had 10-15,000 more B&W G3 logic boards made and put G4 CPU's in them on ZIF cards. This was to fill the gap for 2-3 weeks in late 99. I would avoid this model as it's by far the slowest.

    G4 Sawtooth (AGP Graphics) 1999-2000
    -Range from G4 350-500MHz

    -Very reliable logic board and PSU
    -2GB memory max.
    -Can take dual G4 duaghter cards from the Gigabit model.
    -237 watt PSU vs. only 200 watts in the later GE model

    -100MHz bus vs. the 133-167MHz in later models

    G4 Gigabit Ethernet 2000
    -Range from Single 400MHz to dual 500MHz

    -2 GB memory max
    -2 of the 3 models have dual CPU's

    -Less reliable logic board and PSU than Sawtooth
    -100MHz bus vs. the 133-167MHz in later models

    G4 Digital Audio 2001
    -Range from single 466-733MHz and there is also a dual 533MHz model

    -Slightly faster 133MHz bus and CPU's
    -Better built in audio

    -Only 1.5GB memory max vs. 2GB on 3 of the other 4 AGP towers. 2GB is 33% more than 1.5GB and that helps out more than the slightly faster bus

    G4 Quicksilver 2001-2002
    -Range from single 733-933 and dual 800MHz-1GHz

    -Slightly faster 133MHz bus and CPU's
    -Later 2002 model allows drives larger than 128GB

    -Like the DA above it only has a 1.5GB memory max

    G4 MDD 2002-2004
    Ranges from single 1-1.25GHz and dual 867MHz-1.42GHz

    -Fast G4 7455B CPU's
    -2GB memory max
    -2x HD busses (ATA/66 and 100)
    -2x optical drive bays
    -167MHz bus (fastest ever on the G4)

    -Most unreliable model and PSU of all the G4 towers
    -Can be quite loud without fan replacements
    -Uses up to twice the electricity of earlier G4's


    Closing thoughts:
    I personally chose a Sawtooth to base my FrankenMac project on because of the reliability and the 2GB RAM. I have owned 2x MDD's in the past and compared to them the 100MHz bus in my Sawtooth doesn't hold it back much if at all.

    My end result is only close in performance though because of the fast and expensive CPU upgrade (1.8GHz G4 7448) I have in it. If you don't want to deal with CPU upgrade hassle and cost and don't care about longevity/reliability as much as me then buy an MDD.

    For myself reliability and longevity are paramount so I bought 3x Sawtooth's total and keeps 2 for parts. Not only are they the most reliable but you can find them for 30-50 bucks on ebay vs. 100-250 for later models. Obviously when Motorola held these first AGP boards back they wanted to get them just right. Their reliability has proven that it was worth the wait.
  13. ThunderSnake macrumors 6502

    Jul 23, 2010
    The computer I'm typing this from was put together only slightly beyond your budget. It's an MDD dual 1.42 (running at 1.5) with a Radeon 9800 Pro.

    MDD: $100 Craig's List (w/ no hard drive)
    R9800: $5 eBay (had to flash it myself)
    new fan for R9800: $8 (fan failed two weeks after getting card)
    hard drive: $50
    SATA adapter: $4

    Total: $167

    The R9800 makes it a nice Core Image machine. Using Aperture is an absolute joy.

    I don't know what the market is like in southern California, but I think the trick anywhere is just to have patience and check Craig's List daily. I purchased two more dual 1.25 MDD's last year for parts. One was $60 and the other $75. Both with 2GB of ram and run fine.

    I took one of these and put 3TB of storage in it to make it a home media server.
  14. ThunderSnake macrumors 6502

    Jul 23, 2010
    Oh, and you'll need a USB 2.0 card with any G4 tower if you're planning to sync with your iPod. Many that you'll find for sale already have them installed, though. If not, add another $15 or so.

    2004 & 2005 eMacs and late 2003 iMac G4s already have USB 2.0.

    Still, I think you'd be better off with a tower. There is just more versatility there.

    Although the MDDs are my favorites, I agree with zen.state's post above. MDD's are known to have the highest potential for PSU failure. I've been lucky, but, as noted in my previous post, I do keep a parts machine in the closet.

    The Sawtooth has to be one of the most dependable computers ever made. I purchased mine the first day that it was available and it has been running daily for nearly 12 years. I've upgraded the CPU, video card, and hard drive for performance reasons, but I've never experienced the failure of an OEM Apple part in these machines.

    However, unless you can find a good deal on a Sawtooth that already has some generous upgrades, I think you're likely to get more bang for your buck with an MDD or Quicksilver with that initial $150 investment. Then, down the road a bit, when you have a little more cash, look for a good deal on a parts machine (ideally, one that has something that can be used to upgrade the one you're using, like a nice video card or whatever else might be needed).
  15. zen.state macrumors 68020


    Mar 13, 2005
    The cheapest new upgrade is actually on sale right now at OWC for only $159 US. It's a G4 1.6GHz but it's the slower 7447a CPU. It's kinda the Celeron of the G4's but it would smoke any stock G4 cpu other than the dual Quicksilver or any of the MDD's.

    The dual 1.6GHz is also on sale for 319.


    Spare parts are always a great idea when you are still running PowerPC and plan on it for a while. Great minds think alike. :)
  16. Nova77 Guest

    May 12, 2011

    Upgrade CPUs for G4s over 1.4 ghz use 7447 cpus (like zen.state mentionned), which lack the L3 cache. A stock 1.42 ghz MDD, and maybe even a 1.25 would smoke it right out of the box because of the L3 cache. Plus, these days it would cost you the price of the upgrade to buy the whole computer. Thats just my advice. Peace!
  17. zen.state, Aug 20, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2011

    zen.state macrumors 68020


    Mar 13, 2005
    What you say is true about the 7447 yes and L3 can help a lot with stuff like media work that deals with massive files but it helps little with normal computing.

    The fastest ever G4 chip is the 7448 and it has no L3 but it does have 1MB L2 vs. 512K in the 7447 and only 256K in the 7450/7455 chips that have L3.

    The main reason it's so fast is that it's on a 90nm die vs. the 130-200nm of all the other G4's. Smaller CPU = faster. A single 7448 can outperform any dual G4 other than the rare dual 7448 upgrades that used to be sold.

    The 7447 was the cheapest and easiest to make G4 chip ever so Apple really used a lot of them in later G4's like the G4 PowerBook, G4 mini, G4 iBook and the eMac also. The 7448 upgrades when still around were a lot more expensive and seemed to cater more to high end users that already had a lot invested in their G4 tower. There were also a couple iMac G4 and PowerBook G4 7448 upgrades but they were short lived. Most people opted for the cheaper 7447 upgrades.

    I paid 350 US for my 1.8GHz 7448 in summer 2009. A single 1.8 7447 at that time was only around 225.


    I forgot to add the 7448 is also the coolest running and lowest power consumption G4 chip. A 1.7GHz 7448 was rated at 18.3 watts at max CPU load. The 7447's use about 30-40 and 7455 can be up around 50.
  18. ThunderSnake macrumors 6502

    Jul 23, 2010
    Another important point that doesn't get mentioned nearly often enough.

    Installing CHUD and enabling nap mode (a good idea for more than this reason) can help with the 7455s.

    On my computer (MDD 7455 X 2 @ 1.5 GHz w/ R9800) at idle measuring current to the PSU with nothing connected to Firewire and only an optical mouse on USB:

    1.54 Amps X 110 Volts = 170 Watts (nap mode disabled)
    0.96 Amps X 110 Volts = 106 Watts (nap mode enabled)

    That's nearly 40% less power (for the whole computer) with nap mode enabled, but still more than would be used by a machine running a 7448. Enabling nap mode with the 7445s puts them on par with the 7447s in terms of energy use. (And, for those who don't know, nap mode does not deter performance. It's a matter of nanoseconds for the CPU to spring back into action when needed. It's not something that you'll ever notice even with benchmarks and it'll make your MDD run MUCH cooler.)

    To put it another way, my computer uses more electricity at idle than zen.state's uses when running full-bore.

    I think I'm going to cry, though. Reading your post reminded me how much I want a 7448 for my Sawtooth. So I checked eBay only to find that I missed THIS four days ago. Holy cow! A dual 1.6 GHz 7448 for $103 from a seller with a good reputation is absolutely unheard of. The only reason I can think of is that it wasn't listed with Mac stuff, but with PC components. I can't believe I missed that. Damn!

    I bet you're glad that you got yours when you did. The new ones have dried up and people who own them sure as heck ain't selling them.
  19. zen.state macrumors 68020


    Mar 13, 2005
    Never heard of a dual 1.6 7448 ever. It might have been a typo and he meant 7447.

    The only 7448 upgrades I remember are single 1.7, 1.8 and 2GHz and then dual 1.7 and 1.8GHz. The dual 1.8GHz was $800!
  20. ThunderSnake macrumors 6502

    Jul 23, 2010
    I'll choose to believe that it was a typo so I can stop crying, but the dual 1.6 GHz 7448 does exist.

    Yup, the dual 1.8GHz models were $800 until they sold out a few months ago. Sigh.
  21. zen.state, Aug 20, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2011

    zen.state macrumors 68020


    Mar 13, 2005
    Interesting. A dual 1.6GHz 7448 would be worth far more but if really a 7447 it makes sense since the current new one is only 320. The dual 1.7 7448 was about 700 so based on that I would imagine a dual 1.6 7448 would have been at least 600 new. You never know though.

    My single 1.8 7448 was 350 as I mentioned but it was 375 just before that and this was just 2 years ago. The single 7448's vanished before the duals which I found a bit odd.

    If it makes you feel better just go with the typo story. :)


    I keep thinking of more and more..

    The G4 7448's are actually a newer chip than any of the G5's. They came on the market in 06. A good 10+ months after the last G4 Mac and just a few months after the Quad G5 came out.
  22. Miguey thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 5, 2006
    So Cal 909
    Roger that! I don't think those will be too pricey to begin with.

    Wow really? I didn't about buying an older G4 and doing a CPU upgrade... Thats really nice to know for a future project. However I can't do the upgrade so I'm guessing MDD is the way to go.

    Yeah, I check pretty much every day in hopes of seeing one less than $100. I'm actually looking at one right now for 100 with 2GB ram, 1GHZ and a 120GB hd. However I'm going to keep on looking, I want to make sure I choose the right G4.

    I'll keep that in mind! I've been getting my arse kicked by University prices for the past two years, and can barely save up little by little. Just need to replace this Celeron desktop!

    Saved for future reference!
    Thanks guys!

    One question, I've noticed a few eMacs on ebay have some screen burn-in issues is that common or just a low percentage of them?
  23. Nameci macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2010
    The Philippines...
    Burn-ins are common for emacs because they are CRT's.
  24. Nova77 Guest

    May 12, 2011
    Oh, I forgot to tell...
    As for PowerMacs...

    If some, like zen.state, like the sawtooth better over the more recent G4s, you still have to know the sawtooth has a 2X AGP slot vs the 4X AGP of the Digital Audio, Quicksilver and MDD. So if you care about putting in the best graphics card, you might want to stay away from slow AGP slots. Depends on your needs...

    G4s with slower 2x AGP slot are:

    PowerMac G4 AGP Graphics (Sawtooth, P5, Project E)
    PowerMac G4 (Gigabit Ethernet)
    PowerMac G4 Cube
  25. zen.state, Aug 22, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2011

    zen.state macrumors 68020


    Mar 13, 2005
    Yes but 2 of the 3 models with AGP 4x only allow 1.5GB RAM. That is an absolute deal breaker for me. Also, AGP 2x and 4x offer little difference performance wise on PowerPC.

    I play many games very smoothly on my G4 like C&C Generals, BF 1942, Halo, Quake 3 and 4, LOTR and many others. All I have is a Geforce 6200 256MB. It's far less powerful than a Radeon 9800 or even Geforce 6800. It does support core image and all the other graphic features of OS X 10.5 though.

    List all the stats you want but you don't seem to have any real world experience to offer at all. I have been using G4 towers since 1999 so I have 12 years of experience to offer. I wouldn't have chosen the Sawtooth if I thought it was going to hold me back. I can even show you many Xbench benchmarks where all the graphic test score higher on my GF 6200 on AGP 2x than a Radeon 9800 on 4x in a DA or QS.


    3 benchmarks:

    My Sawtooth vs. a Quicksilver with a G4 1.8GHz also and a Radeon 9800

    My Sawtooth vs. another QS with G4 1.8GHz and a 9800:

    A 3rd one just to help reinforce my point:

    Look at the user interface and text scores in particular. Those are a direct identifier to GUI speed and my Sawtooth is 2x and above higher on most..

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