Just picked up a g4

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by Shownarou, Dec 24, 2008.

  1. Shownarou macrumors regular

    Sep 15, 2008
    Newton, IA
    Okay, I was given a graphite g4 just the other day, and I'm not really familiar with them. I've got 256mb of sd ram sitting in it right now, so that I can hopefully do a Tiger install. It's a 400 mhz model using the AGP graphics. DVI/VGA. Is there anything you'd recommend I can do? I'm hoping to pick up 2 gb of ram, and maybe a processor/video card upgrade if there's anything out there.

    Thanks in advance,

    EDIT: I was looking at the Sonnet Encore ST processor upgrades, is there a place to get those in the US for a reasonable amount, or could a processor from a later model g4 powermac work in mine?
  2. TrapOx macrumors 6502

    Dec 4, 2008
    Don't waste money on aftermarket CPU upgrades. Look on eBay, there are lots of cheap CPUs from later models that will work or can/have get modified to work.

    I spent $30 for the 600mhz upgrade CPU to my G4. If your logic board is compatible (Mine wasn't), you can get a dual 450 or 500 cpu card for really cheap and get a huge performance boost in OSX.
  3. SmurfBoxMasta macrumors 65816


    Nov 24, 2005
    I'm only really here at night.
    There are both cpu & video card upgrades available for these machines, at macsales.com... but the 1st thing to do is mAxDaRam 4 sure. Moving up to SATA drives & controller wont hurt either :p

    However, you would be able to save some $$ if you look on ebay for the other upgrades.......

    Also, if your machine is a sawtooth and has a "Uni-7" motherboard (some do, some don't) it will support dual-cpu upgrades (been there, done that nottaproblemo!) Look on the site above for a utility that will check the mobo for you......

    The best video card for these machines is the Radeon 9800pro.....pc cards that are flashed w/ mac roms usually go for around $70 (a true mac-version of this card is usually about 2-3x that)

    This is a fun project, however it is also a money pit for an antique machine........ regardless of what upgrades you get, the machine's performance will forever be limited by it's slow mobo/fsb etc.......
  4. TDM21 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 7, 2004
    I have to agree with Smurf. I bought a used Quicksilver around Christmas '06 (after the Intel announcement) with the plan for a slow and gradual upgrade. In then end I know I dropped close to $1000 on the machine, but it was a fun learning experience. A few of my friends even got into the Mac game by buying a few PowerMacs and upgrading.

    One note on RAM. If you look at buying it from ebay make sure the description specifies "low density."
  5. bigbird macrumors 6502

    Aug 17, 2007
    Every day you own that G4 it becomes more and more obsolete. If all you're using it for is web browsing, email, word processing, iPhoto and iTunes, I'd recommend maxing out the RAM (1.5GB I believe) and THAT'S IT! You can run Tiger 10.4.11 on it. Otherwise, wait for the new Mac Mini which will blow the socks off your G4 at way under $1000.
  6. Shownarou thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 15, 2008
    Newton, IA
    I've got 2 IDE drives in the powermac as of now, without a controller they're maxing out at 130 of course. The Tiger install is underway as well. I've got my MBP for most of my big work, I was just looking for a machine at home. I've also a bit of <3 for the antiques.

    I'll check the other stuff out once Tiger's running. Thanks for the help. :)
  7. Semiopaque macrumors regular

    Oct 7, 2008
    As other said, RAM would be your best upgrade at this point. Also, you will notice intermittent slows downs (not terribly bad but perceptible) even if you upgrade the processor.

    I watched Ebay for 3 months before I found a Sonnet Encore Dual 1.8 GHz proc upgrade for $300 (brand new) for my Sawtooth. Picked up a flashed Radeon 9800 Pro for $55 also on Ebay(I did have to clean and reapply thermal compound as it was done poorly but works great now). Added a Sonnet USB 2.0 card as well for $30 (Got that from welovemacs I think). All 2GB RAM came from Ebay for around $30 total. Covered a tiny fraction of the costs by selling the RAM and graphics card already in the machine on Ebay.

    It's been a fun little project, if you're into it. Certainly not really worth spending the money if you're looking for serious bang for your buck, though I must admit I love running a nearly 10 year old machine that, for the most part, keeps up with many more modern machines.

    I'm still debating how much further I want to go. I need to eliminate some of the noisiness so a replacement fan may be in order (and possibly some Dremel work) and/or I may add a standard HDD cooler in the zip drive slot. I'm still running off the original PSU so I might modify a new one and replace, especially if I add in a new HDD controller (I'm not really having any speed issues with the hard drives yet, but haven't pushed it much at all).

    As has been stated, there is a limit to how 'good' you can make these things compared to what you buy off the shelf, but they can be very functional for many things if you put some time and money into them.
  8. Shownarou thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 15, 2008
    Newton, IA
    I've got Tiger up and running, took a new DVD drive, and finding out which of my ram sticks were bad. Just ordered a 512mb stick of ram, (will get more when money's not tight, heh). It is a Uni-7 mobo. Is it really worth the money to buy dual core when I can pick up a 1.8 halfway cheap?
  9. Semiopaque macrumors regular

    Oct 7, 2008
    Dual processors probably won't do much for you, however, it will depend on what you are going to do with it when you're done. I would have done one proc but the price I got on the dual was close enough to a single I figured...why not? I also was planning on queuing up DVD images a TB at a time and Handbraking them into MP4s.

    Before you go out upgrading too much, get your RAM and see how that works for you. Then upgrade a bit at a time. You may find that you don't really need to put much money into this - again depending on your needs and expectations. You also need to make sure your model supports dual processors. Some older ones do not. I'm not sure which you have.

    If it helps, I went this route, in order:
    1. upgraded from OS X Panther to Tiger (a huge difference to me)
    2. USB 2.0 card (needed it first to access my network wirelessly via USB)
    3. put the two hard drives in the computer into striped set (minor but noticeable difference)
    4. RAM to 2GB (1.5GB probably would have worked for my needs, though)
    5. added 2x1.8 processor upgrade (big speed difference but made the FSB bottleneck much more obvious)
    6. added 9800 pro graphics card (I probably didn't need this but I had already done this much)
    7. upgraded to OS X Leopard (in retrospect, I probably could have gotten by with Tiger)

    I still have a bit of buyer's remorse every now and then on the processor upgrade, but, again, it's a cool 10ish year old computer. I've never had a machine that old that I could still call functional and highly doubt I ever will again.
  10. DZ/015 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 23, 2003
    New England
    If you want the most bang for your buck, buy a mini. It will run rings around the G4 for the same price of all the upgrades you will buy.

    If you have money to burn and an incurable streak of curiosity, by all means upgrade the G4. My own desktop is a heavily upgraded AGP G4. My MacBook puts it to shame in the performance department, however.

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