PowerMac G4 noise levels. how loud are they??

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by iJny9956, Nov 1, 2012.

  1. iJny9956 macrumors member

    Jun 16, 2012
    Hi everyone! please help!

    1. I'm in the need of running Mac OS 9 (classic mode will not work)

    2. I don't want to invest a lot.

    3. PowerMac G4's seem/are cheaper at the moment than iMac G4's and iBook G3's.

    4. machine doesn't need a lot of power.


    my concern is noise. i've heard rumors that MDD's are very loud. personally i've gone to see a 800mhz quicksilver 2002 machine that was for sale on craigs and boy was that thing loud! :eek:


    few things to keep in mind:

    I currently own a 2010 mac pro equipped with 4 hdd's and 1 ssd and its a quiet hum. no other noise what so ever :) i use it in an audio recording environment.

    I thought about an ibook g3 because of portability but apparently they smell like BO:mad:

    iMac's are expensive and only the earlier models run os9 which are hard to find:confused:


    now my question is what about the previous gen "graphite" powermac g4's? like agp / pci / digital audio?

    I would really appreciate it if i could get some feedback form owners. how loud are these actually? :confused:

    + im not collecting macs or anything. i really need it to run old midi librarian apps for all the old synths / keyboards around here.

    also, if there are any alternatives / suggestions do let me know.

    thank you so much...
  2. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    Just curious - would any of the G4 laptops work for your needs? I have a 12" PowerBook with a G4 in it, and that thing is essentially silent. I'm sure there are some available for sale, but I'm unsure of the prices.
  3. tjsdaname macrumors 6502

    Jun 18, 2009
    cedar rapids IA
    my PM G4 is loud. about double as loud as my PM G5.
  4. Jessica Lares macrumors G3

    Jessica Lares

    Oct 31, 2009
    Near Dallas, Texas, USA
  5. powerpcguy macrumors newbie

    Oct 22, 2012
    Just got a MDD in the last couple of weeks. My first reaction when turning it on, "holy **** that thing is loud!"

    But, I do have to say, it seems to have gotten a bit quieter--or, I've just gotten used to it :p
  6. MacinDan macrumors regular

    Jun 26, 2010
    Sawtooths aren't bad. Especially if you have a graphics card with no fan or you unplug the fan if you do.

    I think Power Mac G4s got progressively louder with each new model, but if you install CHUD tools and run in Nap mode, it should reduce the noise a little. I know Nap mode worked on MDDs, not sure about Quicksilvers.
  7. Michael Anthony macrumors regular

    Oct 18, 2012
    I've got a Digital Audio G4 and it's pretty loud, it's a constant hum kind of thing
  8. cocacolakid macrumors 65816


    Dec 18, 2010
    I have a Gigabit Ethernet G4 and it's much quieter than my MDD.

    If the OP is in the U.S. near a major city they should be able to find a Sawtooth or newer G4 for next to nothing. (Free to $30 is about normal here in the Chicago area) A Sawtooth is easily fast enough to run OS 9 nicely. A Mac laptop is going to run more, unless it's a G3 iBook, those white ones are kind of forgotten in the computer world.

    Here is a link to the Power Mac G4's:


    Don't be put off by the speeds of the CPU's. It's easy to think that a 400MHz CPU must be slow as molasses compared to today's machines and lean towards the last G4 models. That's not necessary. My GE G4 is shockingly fast, and it's only a single CPU 400 MHz version. Something like that would be perfect, easy to upgrade, plenty of room for additional hard drives, built like a rock, and dirt cheap. The perfect computer to play around with.
  9. Ariii, Nov 2, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2012

    Ariii macrumors 6502a


    Jan 26, 2012
    Have you considered a TiBook? It would probably fit your needs quite nicely, though not nearly as expandable. I have one and it's nearly silent, and the models with lower clock speeds are lest costly. One in working condition might cost you ~60 dollars, and if you find one, I recommend a 667 MHz model :).

    Or, if you can find one cheaply enough, a Power Macintosh G4 Cube.
  10. Jiggly Billy macrumors member

    Nov 2, 2012
    Everything below a MDD tends to be fairly quiet in my experience. I've had a Sawtooth, Digital Audio, and Pre-2002 Quicksilver and they all just produced a nice quiet "hummmmmmm" sound. Except for the Quicksilver...it had a REALLY loud hard drive, but that's easily and cheaply fixed with a new hard drive :)
  11. mike457 macrumors 6502

    Sep 10, 2010
    The ultimate model for quiet is the Cube, as Ariii says, since it has no fan and you say you don't need a lot of power. You can probably find a good used Cube in the US in the $100-200 range, especially if cosmetic condition is not an issue. I have an SSD in mine and it's dead silent.
  12. iJny9956 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 16, 2012
    Thank you all for replying. I found couple older pm g4's on craigs that I will go visit. Hope they will be at least manageable. Now I'm really thinking about a Cube, but the $$ tag is expensive!

    [ i cannot do a ibook g4 since they wont boot os9 natively. and virtual os9 is poor due to lack of usb support, and I need os9 9.2.2 which sheepshaver doesn't run anyway ]

    I've also looked into powerbook ti but they come quite beat up, hard to find a decent looking one.

    Anything under 100 is sort of my target. I found few older g4s going for under 40 so, thats too good. :rolleyes:

    (under 60 the ibook g3 seemed perfect, since it was small and stylish, could go in a u1 rack tray. but this stink doesn't sound pleasant)

    oh gosh what crisis!! I have to choose either a stinky or a loud mac. :p

    maybe I should start another thread, how stinky is the ibook g3. haha

    again thank you all.
  13. ihuman:D macrumors 6502a

    Jul 11, 2012
    What about an older eMac or Mac mini or a Clamshell iBook G3? Not sure if they can run OS9 or how loud they are though(or stinky!)...
  14. iJny9956 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 16, 2012
    only the very 1st gen eMac will boot os9 + lots of desk space. Mac Mini G4 will only run classic. Clamshell is sort of overrated $$$ since its like a "collectible" item.
  15. ihuman:D macrumors 6502a

    Jul 11, 2012
    Oh, you can get them cheap where I am, for about €35(The G4's are €80+).
  16. 666sheep macrumors 68040


    Dec 7, 2009
    I'd vote for Cube if you do not need to use PCI cards. There is few on eBay under $100. If you do use any PCI cards, get DA. It has faster CPUs, it's quite silent, and OS 9 won't use more than 1.5GB RAM. 667MHz one would be perfect IMO.
  17. MacinDan macrumors regular

    Jun 26, 2010
    The smell is from the glue corroding underneath the keyboard. It doesn't smell at all if you keep the laptop open all the time.
  18. seveej macrumors 6502a


    Dec 14, 2009
    Helsinki, Finland
    Yes, they are loud. Especially the MDD's really earn their "windtunnel" name.
    Then again, I managed to silence my MDD (see sig) by switching all the fans (also the PSU fans) into more silent and NEWER fans. Now I do not mind the noise - in fact when my FW800 external drive on my MBP starts spinning up, it's more noisy than the silenced MDD.

    Thenagain, I also have a Quicksilver 1 Ghz DP, and that is not so much more silent...

    I'd say, that the older the G4 PM, the lower the noise level, but I'd like to remind everyone, that older fans usually make more sound (fans clog up, bearings get worn etc.), so if sound is an issue, I'd replace the fans every 5-7 years anyway.

    P.S. If you really do not need the power, how about a G3 machine? Those are generally quite silent.

    I'd second a view
  19. Nameci macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2010
    The Philippines...
    What brand of fans did you use to replace the ones on the MDD? I have an MDD and I thought the most noisy were the fans on the power supply...
  20. PowerPCMacMan macrumors 6502a


    Jul 17, 2012
    PowerPC land
    I'd like to add.. those who had MDD's with 400W PSU's were suffering from loud fans. The quiet model which shipped in later MDDs was a 360W PSU.

  21. wobegong Guest

    May 29, 2012
    Not sure how late mine was (I bought it second hand) but my old Dual 1.42Ghz MDD was a screaming banshee once you asked it to do anything.... (still loved it though ;) )
  22. Cox Orange macrumors 68000

    Jan 1, 2010
    I do not know, if this is an option at all, but if you really do not need much CPU-power and cost/efficiency isn't a matter, why not use a iMac G3 DV "slot loader" (be aware not to take the one version without firewire). The only thing you hear moving is the hard drive (which you can easily swap for a more silent one, but you will be limited to 128GB).
    Problem is, it takes 80-115W, because of the CRT.
    A PowerMac G4 AGP (wouldn't take PCI), GE will consume about up to 55W with a 500MHz CPU. A MDD 1,42GHz will take arround 145W (the CPU-power will be overkill for OS 9, even with old midi libraries, I'd say, but maybe you would like to use it for other tasks later. But then again, you could sell it again, if you need more). Quicksilver and DA will be somewhere between, Watt-wise (haven't tested).

    Since a Cube is to expensive for you, because (at least here in Germany) they go for collector's prices, then why not just search for any Mac from 400MHz up (do not have any experience with G3 Laptops, though, so ask, what others say about them, compared to desktop G3s) and take the one that is cheap (and worth it) and will give you the connections you need (do you need firewire?). You can look for prices and then make a list to compare features/noise/power with prices, by searching Ebay for "Apple", choosing "computers, laptops etc". Then choose "ended auctions" from the left (scroll down a bit), then choose "show lowest prices first" (red once were not sold, green were sold). This is to get the prices. But this will be a lot of work, opening every auction, to see the details, if not named in the title line. (Do not know how much time you have)

    While a graphite PowerMac G4 will be more silent than a MDD try a graphite one first and if it is to noisy for you, change the fans. They will be loud when old and worn out (which is due to the design of fans, ball bearing, where the fluid is dry or sleeved fans, were they are worn out, like seveej already said).
    Often fans got loueder over the years, when the thermal compound paste on the CPUs (mostly on MDDs and G5s) got old or wasn't attached enough during production.
    I don't know, if it is worth while for you, to change the fans on an MDD, because it is harder to do (for the PSU) and can still be somewhat noisier and you will pay extra money for CPU power you will not use.

    Another option, take some G4 innerts, rearrange them and place them in a custom case and use bigger fans at lower speeds. Also you could add a cheap Zalman 4-fan controller (like MFC2), which will give you temperature sensors, too (though this effort maybe only worth, if you really try to find the ultimate minimum speeds for the fans. you can put it in the optical bay, when removing the bay-door-panel of the graphite G4s).

    If you go ahead and replace the fans, there are links with the exact fan speeds and airflows.

    I would like to know, too.
    btw. here are the stock parameters of the MDD fans http://aquamac.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=talk&thread=1174&page=1#8403
    Here are parameters for other fans http://infohost.nmt.edu/~holstien/g4info.html

    Yes, but the 360W PSU fans were still louder than some you would choose yourself.
  23. seveej macrumors 6502a


    Dec 14, 2009
    Helsinki, Finland
    Well, my final set of fans (see below) was the result of a lengthy selection process. Some (while silent) were not able to push enough air, while others were not silent enough.

    Also note, that
    • my selection of fans was ultimately based on locally available models and by no means represent an optimal selection
    • I am located in an area (Finland), where I need not plan for ambient temperatures over 30c and my average indoor temperature is around 22c. This may not hold true for you.

    Subsequently I situated the machine in an unheated room and my machine's last two weeks (It functions as a multipurpose server) CPU utilization and CPU temperature statistics are:
    Utilization: low 12 %, max 100 %, avg 25%
    Temperature: low 27c, max 42c, avg 36c
    Before moving the machine into a lower ambient temperature those figures were exactly 12 degrees higher.

    - - -

    Main Fan: Scythe Ultra Kaze 120mm / 3000 rpm
    PSU fans: Fractal Design Silent Series 60mm

    - - -

    P.S. Having had a look into a wide sets of PSU's, I have to admit, the MDD's PSU (the 400W version) is a megakludge. Imho, the main problem (besides the fans being loud and resonating with the machine's metal parts) is that those components creating the most heat, are situated in a way, that the PSU's main air flow mostly bypasses them. As most electronic components do not appreciate heat, this is reason for concern (and incidentally the reason why I decided to treat the machine with cooler air).
  24. ppcg4mac macrumors 6502


    Feb 13, 2012
    Northwest Kansas
    when i had mine, a gigabit ethernet model, it was pretty quiet, but it depends on the machine. i got another one and the fans were really loud.

    good luck.
  25. AtmChm macrumors regular

    Jul 6, 2010
    I'll agree on the noise issue in the G4s. There's going to be a PSU fan no matter what, so expect at least one fan. But if you go with one of the early G4's up to dual 500 MHz cpu, there is no cpu fan, which is what I think is the cause of most of the fan noise in the G4. AND those early ones are dirt cheap as others have mentioned. I have a dual 450 MHz and a single 733 MHz G4; the latter has a cpu fan and the former does not. The single 733 is definitely louder than the dual 450.

    Also, the only noise coming from a Cube is the HDD, and if you replace that with an SSD, it will be dead silent, since there is not a single fan in a stock Cube!

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