PowerMac G4 - a few questions

TheBassJunky

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 23, 2009
1
0
Hi all,

I have recently bought my first Mac - it's a Powermac G4 Graphite with a 433Mhz cpu, a 30 gig HDD and 1.25 Gigs of RAM. All that for the princely sum of £25 :D

I remember always wanting one when they first came out, so it'll be pretty cool to own one even though they are quite old by today's standards.

It arrives tommorrow and I believe it currently has Panther installed - the first thing I would like to do is put Tiger on as my father used to run this on his Mac Mini before upgrading to Snow Leopard and I quite like it. My questions are thus:

- How capable will it be of running Tiger? Will the slow CPU let it down at all?
- It currently doesn't have a DVD drive, only a CD-RW. Can I put in a normal IDE DVD-RW drive? Only because the Tiger install disc I have happens to be a DVD (it is the PPC version).
- I'd like to upgrade the hard drive - I've got a 160 Gb IDE drive hanging around, will this be a straight swap?
- Can the CPU be upgraded or is it hardwired to the motherboard?


Also, how interchangeable are the parts with normal PC parts? Can I add normal SDRAM to it (got quite a bit sitting around)? What about stuff like power supplies and the like?

Sorry for the dumb questions, I'm pretty experienced with PC's but I've never owned a mac before and I'm looking forward to it even though it is an oldie.

Cheers.
 

kate-willbury

macrumors 6502a
Feb 14, 2009
684
0
you are kidding me right.

you were probably better off just getting a modern pc for cheap and installing hackintosh on it.
 

jMc

macrumors 6502
Nov 19, 2001
321
7
London N8, Late-16th Century
Hi

I've had a lot of experience of messing around with old El Capitan style PowerMacs from the B&W G3 onwards.

- How capable will it be of running Tiger? Will the slow CPU let it down at all?
I've run Tiger on a 500Mhz G4 (which was in an upgraded B&W G3) and it will run decently for day to day tasks. I wouldn't want to use it as a graphics workstation or for encoding video, but it will run fine for everything else. Flash performance on websites will probably be more than below par however, and any graphics intensive app will be severely limited by the CPU.

- It currently doesn't have a DVD drive, only a CD-RW. Can I put in a normal IDE DVD-RW drive? Only because the Tiger install disc I have happens to be a DVD (it is the PPC version).
Yes. You can just perform a direct swap. There's only one optical drive bay in these cases.

- I'd like to upgrade the hard drive - I've got a 160 Gb IDE drive hanging around, will this be a straight swap?
Yes, yet again you can just put it in. OSX should identify it and format it accordingly. I would suggest putting it in in addition to the current HDD and then installing a clean install of Tiger on the new drive.

- Can the CPU be upgraded or is it hardwired to the motherboard?
There are third party CPU upgrades available, though I don't think it's worth spending the dollars. You can sometimes find second hand CPU daughter cards from compatible Mac models on Ebay. The pins on the CPU daughter cards remained the same up until the Digital Audio models, but the cards on these faster machines were a different shape so some internal remodelling may be required to get them to fit in the case (which is fun if you're feeling brave).

Also, how interchangeable are the parts with normal PC parts? Can I add normal SDRAM to it (got quite a bit sitting around)? What about stuff like power supplies and the like?
Yes, good old fashion SDRAM will work. It may be a bit temperamental about the quality of the RAM, so it's just a matter of slotting it in and seeing if it causes any problems. There are four slots available, so 4x256 will give you 1GB (which is your max on these machines).

Hope that helps a little.

I would suggest nosting around older posting to http://www.xlr8yourmac.com/ .

Jx
 

Darth.Titan

macrumors 68030
Oct 31, 2007
2,728
419
Austin, TX
  • That machine's specs will be fine for Tiger.
  • Any IDE DVD drive should work fine. Some models might require Patchburn to get full Finder and iTunes support, but that's really no issue.
  • You should be fine with any 160GB IDE hard drive. Some older Macs have issues with drive sizes over 128GB, but results vary so there's apparently no firm answer. For $30 there is a driver that will bypass this restriction if you come across it.
  • The CPU is socketed so upgrading is possible. G4 CPU upgrades for that machine are still kinda pricey, but may be worth it for you. (I know Newertech still makes some) Search for G4 processor upgrades, but make sure to check compatibility with your specific machine before ordering.
  • Other generic PC hardware is hit and miss. RAM should be fine, as long as the specs are correct it will work in your Mac. That Mac does not use a standard ATX power supply, (It looks like one, but the pinouts are different) so a standard ATX power supply will require modifying to be used with that machine. If you're considering a video card upgrade I believe that machine has an AGP slot so an upgrade is possible, but make sure the card is either Mac-compatible or has been flashed with a Mac ROM. I think the ATI 9800 pro is as good as you'll find for that Mac. Other PC parts (expansion cards, etc.) will also need to specify Mac compatibility, otherwise OS X probably won't recognize it.
 

jMc

macrumors 6502
Nov 19, 2001
321
7
London N8, Late-16th Century
Other PC parts (expansion cards, etc.) will also need to specify Mac compatibility, otherwise OS X probably won't recognize it.
While this is generally true, I have purchased 'generic' USB2 cards and 54G wireless cards from Ebay which have worked without a hitch in just such a machine. Probably more by luck than judgement, but worth bearing in mind, particularly when these things are so cheap to be worth a punt...

jx
 
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