How to keep my PowerMac as long as possible?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by jne381, Jul 13, 2006.

  1. jne381 macrumors regular

    Feb 27, 2006
    Grand Rapids
    I am currently working on PowerMac G4 Quicksilver.

    Apple G4 Dual 1GHz (Quicksilver 2002) (M8667LL/A)

    I bought it new in 2002, and I have been more than happy with the performance of my machine. I have never had any problems with it, and I hope none occur any time soon.

    I am planning to buy a new MacBook or MacBook Pro 13 inch, if it happens to start being made, in the next few months. But I want to keep my G4 as a nice machine for home use, backup and media storage. I don't do anything major on this computer anymore: word processing, web surfing, and run a few different language software programs on it, as well as iLife sort of stuff.

    I have not done a lot to the machine since I got it. I put 1.5 GB of RAM into it, and I put two 80GB Hard Drives in. I did have a third 80GB Drive installed in the space under the superdrive, but took it out because I was told of possible overheating.

    I am afraid that as a couple of years go by, this machine will become unusable as the OS keeps getting updated, and new iLife stuff becomes too much for it to handle. What I want to know from the MacRumors community is how I can get this machine to last as long as possible in the way of performance, without spending so much that I should just buy a new computer for home. I know this machine is getting old, but I have become attached to it nonetheless.

    Peripheral questions:

    1. I want to get a 23 or 24 inch display, and I don't think the graphics card in this machine will support it, but if I'm wrong let me know. If I'm not, can I get one for this machine that will support it, and what would be the best card to buy for my purposes.

    2. I think media storage will be a bigger part of computers in the next few years, how large are the Hard Drives that I can put into this machine? Also, can I use this machine as a hub to keep such files so that I can access them fairly easily with my new MacBook? I don't have wireless card or bluetooth in this machine, but it is hooked up to a wireless-G router.

    Thanks for any advice that is given, and I hope this isn't perceived as an annoying post.

  2. Topono macrumors member

    Jun 12, 2006
    You will be able to use a 20'' or 23'' ACD, if you wish.
  3. Squareball macrumors regular

    Mar 16, 2004
    Palo Alto, CA
    If you're worried about software becoming too much for it to handle.. don't update it then ;)
  4. seany916 macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2006
    Southern California
    1. Go to Apple's website & look it up under "Support" or walk into an Apple store & ask a Specialist (make her look it up for you). Pretend you want to buy a 20" or 23" monitor.

    2. Get an external HD, then you can use it with any future computers including your new notebook. Same work can be used on both computers from one HD.

    3. Save your money, don't bother upgrading your Powermac. I'm sure it'll do what it does now well for many more years. But invest your money into a nice Macbook that can do what it did far faster. Upgrading hardware toward the end of a computer's lifecycle is usually a bad investment unless it's something simple like it needing more RAM. Otherwise, put it toward a new low end computer.

    Good luck.
  5. ricgnzlzcr macrumors 6502a


    Jun 7, 2005
    Perfect advice
  6. slooksterPSV macrumors 68040


    Apr 17, 2004
    How about, update as needed?

    Let's say iWork '07 comes out and pages 3 doesn't have features you'll be using a lot and let's say iWork '08 pages 4 does and '08 will run on your PMG4, then upgrade to it, unless you can find a work-around for how to do it with your current software.
  7. eXan macrumors 601


    Jan 10, 2005
    I think your videocard (Radeon 9000, right?) supports resolutions up to 1920x1200, so you'll be fine with 23 or 24 inch display:)
  8. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603


    Apr 29, 2005
    San Francisco
    Honestly the machine as is will last to 2009 probably with no upgrades.

    But I will recommend the RAM total be increased (particularly with future OS versions). And upgrade the HD as you need too. You can put 3 hard drives in that machine (or maybe just 2). Just get 2 x 250gb drives or get a Blu-Ray burner when the prices come down.

    My G3 B/W from 1999 still gets the job done and I've only upgraded the RAM, and but a DVD drive in it.
  9. jne381 thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 27, 2006
    Grand Rapids
    It looks to be a NVIDIA GeForce4 MX

    When I go into System Preferences, the Max resolution it shows is 1792 x 1344, but it is at 75 Hertz. Would this change if I plugged in a different display?

  10. savar macrumors 68000


    Jun 6, 2003
    District of Columbia
    A polite post asking for information is never annoying. I've got a QS also, although a little older than yours and lower-spec'ed. The card can drive a 23"/24" flat screen I believe, but naturally it won't play high-end games at those resolutions.

    The hard drives are, I believe, commonly referred to as 3.5" hard drives. They definitely makes these in sizes up to 300GB, and I assume they make them up to 500Gb or more. Of course, you can also use an external firewire drive if the case is getting filled up. Over time, the parts that are most likely to fail are the ones with moving parts, HD included. So if you want to keep this one for a long time, consider moving your critical data over to a new HD and just use the current one for System/Application installs -- anything you can reinstall from discs. The fans are also another common failure point.

    The G4 makes a fine server, also. You probably want to set it up with FTP (built-in) because its faster than AFP, although in a windows evironment the SAMBA file sharing is good too.

    My experience is that most OS upgrades make the machine faster, because they turn off the high-end features, and the core is much more efficient. Of course, if at some point this trend reverses, you do have the option not to buy. Networking between versions of the OS stays backward compatible for many years.
  11. roland.g macrumors 603


    Apr 11, 2005
    I have a first generation, first revision original 'sawtooth' G4 PowerMac which was the high end machine when Apple released it. It is a 450mhz with 768MB RAM and came with a 30GB drive. I got the machine in Feb. 2000. Yes that's 6 1/2 years ago. I have since then added a western digital 120GB as a second drive for media files. It cost me about $100 at the time and that was about 2 years ago. Obviously as people have said you can go to 300 or more gigs now. I personally don't think you need an external. You can always slap it in a case yourself later if need be.

    It is now running Panther 10.3.9 with iLife '05 and I use Adobe CS2 on it as well. However, I will admit, it is getting old. It hangs a bit sometimes, and the graphics card is AGP, so it can't even handle quartz extreme, which was 10.2. I am planning on getting a new machine after WWDC, either a mid-tower if they announce one, a low end Pro if not, or possibly a Mini that will act as a nice stop-gap machine for 12-24 months and can be relocated to my TV as a media server/dvd player when I get a new tower down the line. We'll have to see what gets announced, but I'm ready to upgrade.

    So yeah, I've gotten 6 1/2 years out of my G4, expect that you can still use your Quicksilver for a good 18-36 months. I'll tell you this. I've never heard of a Windoze machine lasting that long.
  12. Cowinacape macrumors regular

    Jul 3, 2006
    Surrey B.C. Canada
    Exactly, this is what I did with my last mac (sawtooth 400 agp) simply stuck with all the aps I loved on 9.2.2, up untill the mobo poofed on me, then I was S.O.L. :( it was a good machine. can't wait to get back into a mac of some sort again!
  13. KingYaba macrumors 68040


    Aug 7, 2005
    Up the irons
    Those G4 towers are easily upgradable. You can always put in a faster processor, a new graphics card, and whatever else. But I recoment to invest in a new Macinteltosh.
  14. Ryan T. macrumors 6502a

    Ryan T.

    Jun 13, 2005
    Rochester, NY
    Uh, this isn't true. AGP cards in the PM G4's can not only handle Quartz Extreme, but also certain cards (ATI 9800) will even enable Core Image.
  15. leekohler macrumors G5


    Dec 22, 2004
    Chicago, Illinois
    Yep- upgrade that video card and you'll see a vast improvement. They aren't that expensive anymore. Look on EBay.

    To the OP- you should have that Quicksilver a long time. I wouldn't worry about it not being able to handle software. It's a DP, right? No worries. Get as big a hard drive as you want, it can handle it.
  16. Demoman macrumors regular

    Mar 29, 2005
    Issaquah, WA
    I use the LaCie Network Drives and really like them. This is a good solution to gaining extra life (as others have said). You can share the drive with your old and new Mac, so the investment is very timely.

    As for the video card, and possibly even memory; I upgraded my PM G5 2.0x2 and have some stuff collecting dust. I removed the standard video card and added 2 9800 Pro's. I have the original card that I would part with for the cost of shipping and a 'nibble on the ear' (females only). I also replaced the (2) 256 MB memory chips with (8) 1 GB ones. I would love to have these find a nice home before their useful life has passed.

    Actually, I will ship these free to anyone who will send me a check for the postage and not make this a 'for profit' deal. I would like to see them go to someone on a limited budget who could really use them.

    If anyone is interested, you may contact me @ MacDaKnife@Comcast.Net
  17. pablodo macrumors newbie

    Jan 4, 2006
    RAM in a qs?

    I am fairly certain that Quicksilvers max out at 1.5gb of RAM? Mine only has three slots and I don't think these machines support 1gb chips.

  18. 9Charms macrumors regular


    May 19, 2006
    Vancouver, BC
    Wow, jne381, I had the exact same machine and I was thinking the exact same thing you're thinking: how to prolong its life. Then I discovered that if I pooled the cost of an upgrade (video card, SATA card, super drive) with what I could sell it for, I could get a used iMac G5 17" or a PM G5 1.6, both computers would be faster than the Quicksilver.

    So after I got past the sentimental reasons of keeping the machine (Macs are tough to let go of, aren't they?), I put it on craigslist and sold it in a week.

    When the new Mac Pro's are introduced, you will see the prices of all PowerMac towers start to tumble, and you can probably score a good deal on a used G5, which will last you for a long long time. That's my plan if I don't like the price or configurations of the new towers.

    But if you're set on keeping it, I would upgrade the video card (flash a PC video card, they're cheaper), add USB 2.0 PCI card, and a SATA card so you can put 2 more SATA drives in it (no point in buying any more IDE drives...). Meanwhile, keep an eye out for price drops in the processor upgrades. The Quicksilver is the last Mac that they sell CPU upgrades for.

    ... side note: if you haven't done it yet, cut the grill off the power supply, it will reduce the noise sooooo much.
  19. NJuul macrumors 6502

    Mar 15, 2006
    My Sawtooth 400Mhz support 2 gigs, so I'm sure the Quicksilvers do as well (or more)
  20. dex22 macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2003
    Round Rock, TX
  21. leekohler macrumors G5


    Dec 22, 2004
    Chicago, Illinois
    Yeah, for some reason they only put 3 RAM slots in the quicksilvers. They older G4s had four. That never made much sense to me.

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