My Powermac G4 DA gets Sata

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by MagnusVonMagnum, Feb 29, 2008.

  1. MagnusVonMagnum macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2007
    After the disappointing and bizarre 'sleep induced' death (died after putting the computer to sleep mode instead of shutting off) of my new 9700 Pro graphics card for my PowerMac Dual 533 Digital Audio for reasons unknown, the next hardware upgrade arrived yesterday, a Sonnet dual Sata PCI card. I just completed using CCC to clone my previous two 40GB drives onto a new Western Digital 500GB "green" Sata 7200 RPM drive and then removed both 40GB pata drives and installed the sata into the drive carrier and booted up from Tiger (Leopard is also installed on a 2nd partition, but it's a good deal slower on 512MB of ram compared to Tiger so it'll have to wait for further upgrades before being employed in regular use).

    I've also already added a USB 2.0 PCI card and replaced the internal ZIP drive with a 3.5" dashboard hub device that gives it 4 front panel USB 2.0 ports (connector inside connects to the PCI card's internal USB connector), a fire port (wire slips out back slot to connect to one of the FW 400 ports on back which then moves it up front) and it also has headphone and microphone jacks (sadly the Digital Audio has no mic input jack on it so the mic jack isn't useful; I'll need a y-adapter to make use of the headphone jack since it's running to my speakers already).

    The first and most immediate joyful benefit of the new drive is that with the removal of the Apple 40GB WD drive, the LOUD "whining" noise it made from the day I got this machine last spring at a computer show is now blissfully gone. I thought it was the internal fans until I rolled up a piece of paper and held it to my ear to figure out it was the original hard drive making that loud mechanical 'whine' sound. This Powermac is now quieter than my new PC, which I thought was ultra quiet compared to my last PC which itself was definitely a fair amount quieter than this PowerMac until I removed that drive. The PowerMac is barely audible now at all with just a slight whisper of a fan sound. I'll probably add a 2nd 500GB internal drive in the near future to use as a backup drive as the system will soon be used as a server to drive a whole house audio system.

    I read a post somewhere where someone said to get an external firewire drive instead because the slow bus on the PowerMac doesn't have the bandwidth to utilize sata and it will perform slower than an external firewire connection. Despite the claims by Apple that this tower can only hold 3 hard drives, it can actually hold 4 (6 with a bit of double sided tape for positions 1 and 2) so why would I want to clutter my desk up with external drives if I don't have to. The USB 2.0 card is the only other item on the PCI bus so I didn't buy the claim it didn't have enough bandwidth.

    Well, I'll let my Xbench drive test speak for itself:

    Drive Type WDC WD5000AACS-00ZUB0
    Disk Test 71.00
    Sequential 95.26
    Uncached Write 121.97 74.89 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 128.31 72.60 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 52.00 15.22 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 147.83 74.30 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Random 56.58
    Uncached Write 22.36 2.37 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 163.36 52.30 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 80.89 0.57 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 133.66 24.80 MB/sec [256K blocks]

    That's up from 24 MB/sec sequential read/writes on the old Apple 40GB 7200 RPM drive on the motherboard controller. Needless to say, I'm pretty pleased with the improvement in both speed and much quieter operation and there is no way a Firewire 400 connection could do better than that Sata PCI card (400Mbit is ~50MB/sec max). Firewire 800 could theoretically go that fast, but on a Powermac that would mean buying a PCI card to get FW800 so it'd still use the PCI bus. Plus I'm likely seeing the limit of the hard drive or close to it anyway. SataI is 1.5MBit theoretical which trumps FW800.

    Next up will be more memory and possibly a CPU upgrade. I guess I'll need to replace that 9700Pro video card since the Rage 128 I had to put back in sucks.

    Yeah, I could have gotten a MacMini or a low-end iMac for what the final cost of this system will probably end up at, but they have no internal storage options or expansion and so make a lousy server, IMO. Besides, an upgraded Powermac with a good video card can actually run heavy 3D games up until 2 years ago whereas a MacMini can't run any real 3D games period even with its faster Intel CPU. Besides, the PowerMac G4s were by far the best looking Macs ever made, IMO.
  2. Tracer macrumors 6502

    Jun 20, 2007
    My main mac machine is a dual 1.25 MDD. With 2GB of ram and a SATA drive, it is plenty snappy for everyday use.

  3. tivoli2 macrumors regular


    May 29, 2007
    My own little world...
    Good on ya mate for the cool upgrading - although I have to admit I couldn't bring myself to do electrical tape... yargh... way to keep an old girl running strong. I have to agree with you, too - I have the '02 Quicksilver and it's still a nice looking tower. Another thing - although I love my Power Mac and how quiet it is and how well designed the innards are, part of me misses how the innards swing out with the side panel on a G4.

    Can you post pictures of how your G4 looks inside now?
  4. AlexMaximus macrumors 6502a


    Aug 15, 2006
    A400M Base
    Go for WD's Raptor HD ....

    Oh yes! I got pretty much the same machine and I am very happy with it!
    Still going very fast. I got the 1.42 MDD and I put that 10K SATA Raptor Drive in as a start up device... can't beat that !!!

    I wouldn't see a reason to sell it ever!!

  5. MagnusVonMagnum thread starter macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2007
    I can post some when I get my new digital camera. I've only got film cameras in the house at the moment (Canon SLR and a Pentax point'n'shoot). I don't think my web cam would take a very good picture.

    I'd be more curious to see what people think of what I did to the front of the case when I took the zip drive out and put in a USB/Firewire/Audio Jack hub thing there instead. I think it would look better if I bought a graphite bezel from another model (gigabit?) so it's framed better than just the partial outer frame that was left after I took the contoured zip bevel off (so I could access the whole thing), but most sites I've looked at want such ridiculous amounts of money for a piece of plastic I couldn't bear to do it. This leaves a metal 'bridge' look between the outer frame and the device (which is white in color). I'm thinking of painting the metal part so it blends in or something, but it still looks OK to me, considering it IS 'graphite' colored to begin with and metal grey isn't far off anyway.

    The side door thing on the case seems awesome, but I've found it's surprisingly difficult to work on it on the floor (so I don't have to disconnect everything) because I have no leverage as I sit off to the side. I'm sure it would be better if the case were on a workbench or something, but with my PC, it's a pain to take the cover off, but once it's off, it's very easy to work with because I can set the entire case on its side if need be and work from above (and not have to lean on anything to get to something inside). All cases should be that easy to open, though.

    Man, I can't get over how quiet this thing is compared to before with that noisy apple hard drive.... Like I said, it's now quieter than my new PC which I already thought was very quiet compared to past computers.

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