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Michael.S

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 30, 2014
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I am recently into buying a mac mini G4.
Think, it makes a good addition on my desk and I can drive my 30" Apple Cinema display with it.

Couple of questions though.

With respect to System 9 software - I plan to run the Adobe suite there, mostly Illustrator though - would you still recommend a MM G4?
Or would you rather go with an older Intel based MM and run on Rosetta?

If G4, which config? Is it best to look for the maxed out 1.5 GHz PPC or is a 1.42 GHz good enough?
The 1 being pretty rare - at least in Germany, where I live, while the latter is quite common.

Would it be possible to run a dual boot setup on it (Sys 9 and MacOs X)?

Will the 30" ACD wuold be able show a picture? Or is this just to large resolution for a MM G4.

Appreciate any serious anwers.
 

joevt

Contributor
Jun 21, 2012
6,785
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Dual boot shouldn't be a problem. Maybe the OS 9 partition can be the classic partition for Mac OS X?

I think the Mac mini G4 is limited to DVI single link 1920 x 1200. That means the 30" ACD will be limited to 1280x800.
https://support.apple.com/en-ca/112579

There's some Mac mini G4 / OS 9 notes at:
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/mac-mini-g4-is-the-ultimate-mac-os-9-machine.2427969/

If you have Mac OS X compatible PowerPPC software, then Rosetta may work up to Mac OS X 10.6.

Intel base Macs can't run OS 9 unless you use an emulator such as SheepShaver or UTM/QEMU or MAME. I've used SheepShaver. I tried UTM/QEMU. I have no experience with latest MAME.
 

Amethyst1

macrumors G3
Oct 28, 2015
9,435
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With respect to System 9 software - I plan to run the Adobe suite there, mostly Illustrator though - would you still recommend a MM G4?
Are you talking about software for OS 9 which needs Classic to run on OS X, or software for OS X on PPC?

Or would you rather go with an older Intel based MM and run on Rosetta?
If the former (see above), PPC Mac with OS 9 or Classic. If the latter (see above), one of the fastest Intel Macs capable of running OS X 10.6 and Rosetta would be my choice, simply for speed and availability.

If G4, which config? Is it best to look for the maxed out 1.5 GHz PPC or is a 1.42 GHz good enough?
The only difference between those two is CPU speed and video memory (32 MB on the 1.42; 64 MB on the 1.5).

Would it be possible to run a dual boot setup on it (Sys 9 and MacOs X)?
Yes, using this installer to run OS 9 unofficially. Both systems can share one partition, but I'd create separate partitions for both OSes so one of them can safely be messed up without affecting the other.

Will the 30" ACD wuold be able show a picture?
Yes, but only at a pixel-doubled 1280×800 resolution because of the MM's single-link DVI output. Pixel-doubled 1280×800 is all the 30" will do via single-link, and it looks pretty terrible IMHO. This is a limitation all "early" 30" monitors share.

Or is this just to large resolution for a MM G4.
The resolution alone isn't the problem, it's the combination of resolution, refresh rate and blanking that determines the required pixel clock. The Mac mini's single-link DVI output can do 3840×2400 if the refresh rate is reduced enough to stay below its pixel clock limits (154 MHz for coherent displays or 135 MHz for non-coherent displays). The 30" needs 268.5 MHz (2560×1600@60Hz CVT-RB) – no way.
 
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davecom

macrumors regular
Aug 10, 2009
117
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Although they share the same model number (A1103), late in 2005 Apple improved the specs on the two Mac mini G4 models from 1.25 Ghz and 1.42 Ghz to 1.33 Ghz and 1.5 Ghz respectively. However, these new machines also had slightly updated video cards. Unfortunately, although these "silent upgrade" variants are faster, they tend to have issues with the hacked version of Mac OS 9 from macos9lives.com displaying high resolutions. Some people have found workarounds but it's a bit of a hassle. It may actually be preferable to have a 1.42 Ghz machine to a 1.5 Ghz machine in the current state of Mac OS 9 on them. But the 1.5 Ghz machines are the fastest you can go!
 
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ojfd

macrumors 6502
Oct 20, 2020
403
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The resolution alone isn't the problem, it's the combination of resolution, refresh rate and blanking that determines the required pixel clock. The Mac mini's single-link DVI output can do 3840×2400 if the refresh rate is reduced enough to stay below its pixel clock limits (154 MHz for coherent displays or 135 MHz for non-coherent displays). The 30" needs 268.5 MHz (2560×1600@60Hz CVT-RB) – no way.

@Amethyst1, where does this information about 135 MHz pixel clock limit for non-coherent displays (?) comes from.
Do you have a link to authoritative source on this?

The only more or less authoritative souce I've been able to find so far is this one:

Thanks.
 

ojfd

macrumors 6502
Oct 20, 2020
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:D :D :D That's the last place I would be looking for such information. Thanks!

More questions, if I may.
1. Do you have a similar link for 1.33 and 1.5GHz Minis?
2. What's the coherent or non-coherent display?
3. Source that I mentioned above says "Single-link DVI is limited to 165 MHz". Why does Apple mentions 154 MHz as limit? Sub-standard GPU?
 

TheShortTimer

macrumors 68030
Mar 27, 2017
2,796
4,926
London, UK
:D :D :D That's the last place I would be looking for such information. Thanks!

More questions, if I may.
1. Do you have a similar link for 1.33 and 1.5GHz Minis?
2. What's the coherent or non-coherent display?
3. Source that I mentioned above says "Single-link DVI is limited to 165 MHz". Why does Apple mentions 154 MHz as limit? Sub-standard GPU?

@Amethyst1 will no doubt have pearls of wisdom to offer on this topic. :) You might also find my experiences with this issue on my Mini of interest as it contains a discussion of coherent vs non-coherent displays.
 
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Amethyst1

macrumors G3
Oct 28, 2015
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1. Do you have a similar link for 1.33 and 1.5GHz Minis
I don't. They were a very silent upgrade indeed.

2. What's the coherent or non-coherent display?
I'd like to know too :)

3. Source that I mentioned above says "Single-link DVI is limited to 165 MHz". Why does Apple mentions 154 MHz as limit? Sub-standard GPU?
Most* 1920×1200@60Hz LCDs use CVT-RB timings requiring 154 MHz so the stated limit might have been a guess based on the timing?

One exception I'm aware of is the acrylic 23" ACD which requires 155 MHz (EDID). Another is the Samsung 240T which required 193 MHz (German manual) and didn't do 1920×1200@60Hz via DVI at all prior to a firmware update.
 
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barracuda156

macrumors 68000
Sep 3, 2021
1,798
1,312
I am recently into buying a mac mini G4.
Think, it makes a good addition on my desk and I can drive my 30" Apple Cinema display with it.

Couple of questions though.

With respect to System 9 software - I plan to run the Adobe suite there, mostly Illustrator though - would you still recommend a MM G4?
Or would you rather go with an older Intel based MM and run on Rosetta?

If G4, which config? Is it best to look for the maxed out 1.5 GHz PPC or is a 1.42 GHz good enough?
The 1 being pretty rare - at least in Germany, where I live, while the latter is quite common.

Would it be possible to run a dual boot setup on it (Sys 9 and MacOs X)?

Will the 30" ACD wuold be able show a picture? Or is this just to large resolution for a MM G4.

Appreciate any serious anwers.

If you will go for Rosetta, max out the MM, do not buy an archaic Intel (unless of course you have a specific reason to, like ensuring to run only 32-bit).
10.6.8 can run on MacMini 2012 (needs a custom kernel, but it is publicly available). Those are really nice machines (save for being Intel). FireWire, 16 GB RAM, Thunderbolt, also smaller than the early CoreDuo-based models.
Obviously, you will have a much better graphics in this case.

As for G4, I do not think that 0.08 GHz make a noticeable difference. If you need a fast machine, dual or quad G5 is the must. But 1.42 should be okay, especially if you max out the RAM and install SSD.

(No experience with OS 9, so everything above is assuming 10.5/10.6.)
 
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joevt

Contributor
Jun 21, 2012
6,785
4,110
AGDCDiagnose (for intel Macs) may show a Coherent flag for displays connected to AMD GPUs. Not sure about other displays.
The HDMI 1.4 spec mentions coherent and non-coherent clocks a handful of times relating audio and video to a common clock.
The HDMI 2.0 spec mentions non-coherent clocks once.
I don't know if the above are the same thing as what Apple describes in https://support.apple.com/en-us/112579

I found these which might be related:
https://www.techpowerup.com/forums/threads/technical-explanation-of-amd-dvi-setting.217195/
https://discussions.apple.com/thread/1788561?sortBy=best
 
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ojfd

macrumors 6502
Oct 20, 2020
403
246
Thanks, @joevt, that's at least something. Btw, what is AGDCDiagnose and where one can get it?
 

ojfd

macrumors 6502
Oct 20, 2020
403
246
It has been part of macOS since High Sierra.

Oh, I see. I rarely visit that Apple's SIP jail, no wonder I haven't encountered it yet.

Anyway, I think we've drifted off of the original topic and I'm partly responsible for it. My apologies.

Back to OP's inquiry. I tend to agree to what @Amethyst1 have said. If you own a legit copy of Adobe's suite for OS9, go with Mac Mini G4. You definitely will need a smaller than 30" display for it, but those go for almost nothing these days, even with IPS panels and LED backlight. For display compatibility with Mini, check MacOS9Lives forum.
If you own Adobe products for PPC OSX then Mac Mini 2011 with 10.6.8 will be the fastest to run those under Rosetta. Whether 4 core 2.0 GHz 2011 Mini server will be faster with PPC apps than 2 core 2.5 GHz model with dedicated GPU, I don't know.
 
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ojfd

macrumors 6502
Oct 20, 2020
403
246
I have three of those and they all are OK. They were used quite heavily before I bought them. But, YMMV, as they say.
 

Michael.S

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 30, 2014
102
64
Would there be a way how to emulate Mac Os 9 + using former software on it?
 

Amethyst1

macrumors G3
Oct 28, 2015
9,435
11,598
Would there be a way how to emulate Mac Os 9 + using former software on it?
You can run OS 9 natively on a Mac mini G4. No emulation necessary. On an Intel Mac, SheepShaver (9.0.4 only) or QEMU can be used to emulate a PPC Mac running OS 9.
 
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Michael.S

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 30, 2014
102
64
You can run OS 9 natively on a Mac mini G4. No emulation necessary. On an Intel Mac, SheepShaver (9.0.4 only) or QEMU can be used to emulate a PPC Mac running OS 9.
And is this possible on modern macs as well?
 

repairedCheese

macrumors 6502a
Jan 13, 2020
621
820
And is this possible on modern macs as well?
Well, QEMU and SheepShaver can "run" OS 9, but I wouldn't call it worth it. SheepShaver is horribly unstable and QEMU is extremely clunky. Also you will not have any 3d acceleration. These are all things a real PPC G4 has over emulation. I wouldn't expect that to change any time soon, either.
 

DearthnVader

macrumors 68020
Dec 17, 2015
2,104
6,354
Red Springs, NC
I don't. They were a very silent upgrade indeed.


I'd like to know too :)


Most* 1920×1200@60Hz LCDs use CVT-RB timings requiring 154 MHz so the stated limit might have been a guess based on the timing?

One exception I'm aware of is the acrylic 23" ACD which requires 155 MHz (EDID). Another is the Samsung 240T which required 193 MHz (German manual) and didn't do 1920×1200@60Hz via DVI at all prior to a firmware update.
I ran across some Linux documentation that says the Mini G4( maybe only the silent upgrade models ) have both the R9200 internal TMDS and an External TMDS.

So if we can confirm this, then we maybe able to use the external TMDS to drive non-coherent displays beyond the pixel clock limits of the R9200.
 

DearthnVader

macrumors 68020
Dec 17, 2015
2,104
6,354
Red Springs, NC
Well, QEMU and SheepShaver can "run" OS 9, but I wouldn't call it worth it. SheepShaver is horribly unstable and QEMU is extremely clunky. Also you will not have any 3d acceleration. These are all things a real PPC G4 has over emulation. I wouldn't expect that to change any time soon, either.
Well, I mean Qemu-ppc can do PCI passthrough in a Linux host. I've fired up and run Quake3 and JK2 just fine in Mac OS X Tiger on a PCI Rage128 16MB.

It wasn't the fastest thing in the world, but it was playable. The host was a 3.75Ghz AMD Ryzen 7 1700. Qemu's integer performance was about on par with a 1.25Ghz G4 but FPU and AltiVec suffer greatly.

A Radeon 9200 PCI, or even a PCI-E graphics cards should be doable. I did pass a GeForce 6600 PCI-E to it, but we need to do some work with OpenBios to get those cards working. With SLOF I was able to boot PPCLE linux in Qemu-PPC and I did get display form the GF6600 in text console it worked perfect, but got all garbled when I tried to run X. I think I just had an improperly configured X.

Anyway, nobody other than me has ever run OpenGL games in Qemu-PPC on the Mac OS, so I just didn't continue with the work of updating OpenBios to load FCODE ROMs for later cards than the Rage128.

You can run PCI Passthough on any Mac Tower from the MacPro 3,1 to I assume the 7,1 if you are running Linux as the host OS. You can ran as many GFX or other PCI devices as you have slots for.

I also ran a PCI FireWire card and passed it to OS 9 and Tiger. Tested my FW iSight in Tiger and a FW HD in OS 9. They worked just fine.
 
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