iMac G4 good Leopard machine?

vb7200

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Jul 21, 2014
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I've been looking for a decent computer to run Leopard on and I was thinking maybe an iMac G4 considering decent ones are relatively cheap on eBay. I found a 1.25 GHz 17" with an 80 GB HDD for $140. It's only got 512 MB RAM, but I could always buy more. I don't need an Intel Mac considering I have a perfectly capable MacBook Pro with Retina running Mavericks. Should I go for a G5 or just stick with a G4?
 

Zotaccian

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Apr 25, 2012
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Well I think G4 machines work faster with Tiger but I install Leopard mainly because it has better software support. As far as I know graphics play bigger role, I have FX5200 which I believe is the worst video card on Macs which supports Core Image and Quartz Extreme.. but I assume biggeest reasons for Leopard being slower is the OS itself and 1GHz G4.
 

vb7200

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Well I think G4 machines work faster with Tiger but I install Leopard mainly because it has better software support. As far as I know graphics play bigger role, I have FX5200 which I believe is the worst video card on Macs which supports Core Image and Quartz Extreme.. but I assume biggeest reasons for Leopard being slower is the OS itself and 1GHz G4.
So maybe go for a G5? Or even a dual PowerMac G4 MDD could probably run it a lot better (with decent processors). I could always get a cheap Intel MacBook or something and throw Leopard or even Snow Leopard on it if I really wanted to shell out a bit more cash.
 

128keaton

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Jan 13, 2013
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So maybe go for a G5? Or even a dual PowerMac G4 MDD could probably run it a lot better (with decent processors). I could always get a cheap Intel MacBook or something and throw Leopard or even Snow Leopard on it if I really wanted to shell out a bit more cash.
I have the exact same machine you are looking at and Leopard runs really well on it. I've run Leopard on a machine with a 667MHz CPU and 512MB of RAM, so I think you might be good :p.
 

Intell

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Jan 24, 2010
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That iMac you're looking at will run Leopard well. Not as well as a PowerMac, but still fairly well.
 

vb7200

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That iMac you're looking at will run Leopard well. Not as well as a PowerMac, but still fairly well.
I've seen dual MDD's going for around the same price so probably go with one of those then? Of course, I don't know what graphics cards are in those so I'd have to upgrade those if they turn out to be crap. I know Leopard will run choppy as hell regardless of what processors you have in the thing.
 

Intell

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$140 is a bit much for a G4 iMac. GPU wise, the G4 iMac with its GeForce 5200 is better than all but one or two of the OEM MDD cards. The only two cards that are better or could be close would be the GeForce4 Ti or the ATI 9700. Both of those cards are rare and expensive. Leopard isn't overly choppy once its loaded and the GPU supports CoreImage. Even the lowly GeForce 5200 can take graphical load off of the CPU.
 

eyoungren

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Aug 31, 2011
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OP, I think you're fixating too much on a model/performance viewpoint.

As always, the faster the processor and the HD and the more RAM you have, the better the performance. But that's true on any PowerPC Mac.

To give you some perspective, I have run Leopard on a G4/450 PCI with 1.75GB ram and the Adobe CS4 suite. It's keep it's own in a production environment. Right now it's performing as a print server for the work MacPro with Leopard and about 192mb of RAM.

I've run Leopard on my personal 400mhz TiBook with 1GB ram. My son runs it on his 1Ghz Titanium DVI with 1GB ram. His Mac is a rocket. My daughter is running it on a 1.42 Ghz iBook G4, my wife on a 1Ghz 12" PowerBook G4 and I have a 1.2Ghz iBook G4 that it's running on too. All those machines with max ram.

Add ram, get the Mac you want. Leopard does best with at least 1GB ram. You can disable the eye candy and make some Leopard specific tweaks and it'll be fine.

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I know Leopard will run choppy as hell regardless of what processors you have in the thing.
NOT TRUE!

I've had it run smooth on every Mac I've every installed it on.
 

vb7200

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Jul 21, 2014
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$140 is a bit much for a G4 iMac. GPU wise, the G4 iMac with its GeForce 5200 is better than all but one or two of the OEM MDD cards. The only two cards that are better or could be close would be the GeForce4 Ti or the ATI 9700. Both of those cards are rare and expensive. Leopard isn't overly choppy once its loaded and the GPU supports CoreImage. Even the lowly GeForce 5200 can take graphical load off of the CPU.
I guess I'll have to start hunting for a G4 then at a bit lower price. I've actually seen iMac's with Core 2 Duos going for decent prices, but a bit to high for mainly a system to mess around with.
 

vb7200

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Original poster
Jul 21, 2014
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OP, I think you're fixating too much on a model/performance viewpoint.

As always, the faster the processor and the HD and the more RAM you have, the better the performance. But that's true on any PowerPC Mac.

To give you some perspective, I have run Leopard on a G4/450 PCI with 1.75GB ram and the Adobe CS4 suite. It's keep it's own in a production environment. Right now it's performing as a print server for the work MacPro with Leopard and about 192mb of RAM.

I've run Leopard on my personal 400mhz TiBook with 1GB ram. My son runs it on his 1Ghz Titanium DVI with 1GB ram. His Mac is a rocket. My daughter is running it on a 1.42 Ghz iBook G4, my wife on a 1Ghz 12" PowerBook G4 and I have a 1.2Ghz iBook G4 that it's running on too. All those machines with max ram.

Add ram, get the Mac you want. Leopard does best with at least 1GB ram. You can disable the eye candy and make some Leopard specific tweaks and it'll be fine.

----------


NOT TRUE!

I've had it run smooth on every Mac I've every installed it on.
I have seen a lot of older systems like the ones you are describing struggle to run even Tiger. I couldn't tell you the reason, I just remember it being god awful. Maybe they were just dying or maybe the drives had some issues. The only reason I mention the graphics card is because all the fancy visual effects almost every OS X versions have can stress it out. Especially on older systems could stress them out a bit past their limits.
 

eyoungren

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Aug 31, 2011
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I have seen a lot of older systems like the ones you are describing struggle to run even Tiger. I couldn't tell you the reason, I just remember it being god awful. Maybe they were just dying or maybe the drives had some issues. The only reason I mention the graphics card is because all the fancy visual effects almost every OS X versions have can stress it out. Especially on older systems could stress them out a bit past their limits.
I can see that on systems that are seriously underpowered, even with my dislike for Tiger. But, if you have plenty of ram you should be good.

512mb on Tiger is sufficient. Not great, but sufficient. Leopard needs more.
 

vb7200

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I can see that on systems that are seriously underpowered, even with my dislike for Tiger. But, if you have plenty of ram you should be good.

512mb on Tiger is sufficient. Not great, but sufficient. Leopard needs more.
Maybe it was the RAM. I don't remember exactly what they had in them, but it was something close to their minimum when they were released. I really love Leopard and just want it to run at it's best so I can fully enjoy it.
 

eyoungren

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Maybe it was the RAM. I don't remember exactly what they had in them, but it was something close to their minimum when they were released. I really love Leopard and just want it to run at it's best so I can fully enjoy it.
It will rip on the G4s when you have 1 or more GB of ram. I have a dual 1.6Ghz G4 Quicksilver and it runs very well on it.

I also have a G5 at work that it's rock solid on and it's taken all the crap I've thrown at it easy over the last few years.

It's just down to ram. Kind of like giving a Corvette 87 gas. It'll run, but it really performs on 91 (or higher).
 

Hrududu

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Jul 25, 2008
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And dual CPU machine will easily give you a better Leopard experience over an iMac G4. Both of my iMac G4's have Leopard installed (20" 1.25GHz and 17" 1GHz) and neither handles it particularly well. The G4 iMac really is more of a computer to buy if you're just looking for a beautifully engineered machine. If you want a Leopard Mac that'll actually perform well, then I would go for no less than a dual MDD G4 or G5.
 

vb7200

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G4 iMac has to be my favorite iMac hands down. Favorite mac plus favorite OS X would be amazing, if it was actually slightly usable for browsing web, playing music, and maybe school work now and then.
 

128keaton

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G4 iMac has to be my favorite iMac hands down. Favorite mac plus favorite OS X would be amazing, if it was actually slightly usable for browsing web, playing music, and maybe school work now and then.
For a while, thats what I used my iMac G4 for. At this point, I'd get it if you like it that much. Yes, A PowerMac will run Leopard better, but an iMac is truly beautiful.
 

vb7200

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For a while, thats what I used my iMac G4 for. At this point, I'd get it if you like it that much. Yes, A PowerMac will run Leopard better, but an iMac is truly beautiful.
I'm just worries it may not even be able to handle that. The last time I used a system with a G4 in it had to be a few years ago and I just squezzed by with that
 

Intell

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I'm just worries it may not even be able to handle that. The last time I used a system with a G4 in it had to be a few years ago and I just squezzed by with that
The later G4 iMacs handle Leopard just fine. Just don't starve its memory and don't forget that it's a 10 year old machine, so don't expect it to be the most amazingly fast thing ever.
 

128keaton

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I'm just worries it may not even be able to handle that. The last time I used a system with a G4 in it had to be a few years ago and I just squezzed by with that
What Intel said is right, disable some crap and you are good to to. Also, I checked and my iMac has 256MB of RAM, and it runs Leopard fairly well, haha. So, in all honestly, I'd get it, I love my iMac and I wish I had the room to use it as a daily driver. Side story: I pulled an older C2D iMac off the curb and baked the graphics card, with 2GB of RAM it runs Mavericks and does some light gaming. Now, my sister uses it everyday haha.
 

128keaton

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What amount of RAM should I be looking for when I go hunting on eBay for one?
Honestly, RAM is so cheap, you could get one with stock RAM and upgrade it. Thats what I'm doing with my TiBook if it turns out to only have 128MB of RAM. I have two 256MB modules from another project.
Here is a 1GB upgrade module for $22.
And, for a whopping $4, you can get an AirPort card.

Plus, PowerBookMedic was recommended to me by an Apple Genius when I brought my AluBook (which a friend has collecting dust argh) in for kicks 5 years ago.
 

jrsx

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I can see that on systems that are seriously underpowered, even with my dislike for Tiger. But, if you have plenty of ram you should be good.

512mb on Tiger is sufficient. Not great, but sufficient. Leopard needs more.
The iBook G4 2005 models (A1133) that came with Tiger had a default amount of 512 MB RAM. Granted, it was upgradable to 1.5 GB but I don't know if the option was available with the order.
 

128keaton

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The iBook G4 2005 models (A1133) that came with Tiger had a default amount of 512 MB RAM. Granted, it was upgradable to 1.5 GB but I don't know if the option was available with the order.
I ran Tiger with 667MHz and 512MB of RAM. That sucker ran iMovie pretty darn well, haha.