Second-hand Powermac G4 questions

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by DDorian, Aug 1, 2007.

  1. DDorian macrumors newbie

    Aug 1, 2007
    Hello! I'm a first time poster, long time Macrumors lurker. I recently got my hands on my first real mac, should I choose to purchase it (I'm taking it on a test drive, so to speak).

    The specs of the system are:

    400Mhz G4 processor
    256 MB Ram
    20 gig HD (feels very slow and is noisy to me)
    10.2 Jaguar

    In regards to this thread ( I can upgrade the ram, OS, and hard drive for relatively cheap. My real question is concerning the processor. The mac feels noticeably slower than another powermac that I have used (500mhz G4, 1 gig ram) especially using the internet. On the same connection I could literally surf faster on the 500 mhz G4.

    Is this because of the 100 mhz difference? more ram?

    I think that this mac would benefit from a new, speedy hard drive and a new installation of Mac OS X Tiger. Perhaps this would solve some of the speed issues?

    I think that I may purchase it, but I want to know if the processor is the root of the problem and if it would be cheap to go with a mac mini.
  2. ricgnzlzcr macrumors 6502a


    Jun 7, 2005
    Was the other powermac you used using Jaguar as well. I've never used that OS but maybe it has to do with that. Ram does make a big difference and would be sure to increase your performance. A new hard drive will also improve your overall experience. Good luck.
  3. DDorian thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 1, 2007
    The other one was Using Tiger updated to 10.4.10.

    I noticed a slight performance boost when I updated to 10.2.8
  4. fblack macrumors 6502a


    May 16, 2006
    It really depends what you are going to use it for, what the price is and which version of G4 400mhz.

    If all you are doing is word processing for school and some web browsing then it will do. If you are only going to run old software, or you have very expensive old peripherals (like a wacom tablet or really large format printer) that you want to get all you can out of it then it makes sense. But even this has limits as your old programs may have difficulty opening files from newer versions. If you have newer programs the cpu may very well choke on you.

    I certainly hope you are not going to pay for the 400mhz G4 the same price as a mac mini.:eek: A new low end mac mini is about $600, and you can get it cheaper refurbished.

    As far as why it maybe sluggish that could be many things, and it depends on the model. There was a 400Mhz PCI version, which did not have AGP graphics and its hard drive ran on the older ATA/33. So your hard drive is slow, to begin with. You would need a new card to install a faster hard drive. It has very little ram (256mb), so it will be using virtual memory (swapping) off your already slow hard drive. This will make it very sluggish, so you will need more ram. You will also need more ram to run a more robust OS. Jaguar is fine for that system, but if you really want to move up I would not go higher than Panther unless you are planning on upgrading the CPU.

    You are probably going to have to spend another $200-300 to upgrade it, not including Panther or a faster cpu. You can get a much faster G4 off ebay for $300-400 probably a 733Mhz to 1Ghz range. If you have the option of getting a MacMini look at it this way, it has a faster cpu (1.66 Ghz Duo), a faster hard drive (serial ATA), faster bus speed (667Mhz vs 100Mhz for the G4), faster ram, and you get Tiger. You also get a warranty. The only thing the MacMini doesn't have is good graphics, but if you are not a big time gamer then it doesn't matter.

    -Good luck
  5. cluthz macrumors 68040


    Jun 15, 2004
    To be honest i wouldn't buy a a G4/400 today.
    I got a 400mhz sawtooth (the agp model) quite a bit upgraded, with a new GFx card (Geforce 4mx, quartz compatible) two 120gb disks and 768 mb ram, and yet still it's pretty slow.

    As for the original HD, mine died several years ago, and if you will buy that machine you would probably have to get a new disk anyway, unless dataloss isn't a problem for you.

    Also, you will have to buy atleast 512 mb more ram to have any use with osx imho, and the 10.2 version is pretty oudated and compared to 10.4 it's a dinosaur.

    If the 20GB is original, I guess it's the APG version (the fastest ones)
  6. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    RAM would make the biggest difference. Use System Profiler to find out what chips you have (probably 2x128MB), then check out Crucial to find out what you can buy. If you are lucky than your Mac has three slots, so you can buy 1x512MB reasonably cheap and have 768MB.

    You can buy a replacement harddisk very cheap. Your Mac can only use harddisks up to 128GB, but you can buy any 3.5inch IDE harddisk, 160GB is probably the smallest you can get, put it in your Mac, and 128GB will be used (120GB harddisks are hard to find nowadays). Just make sure that you don't buy a SATA harddisk, it won't work. If you can use a screwdriver without hurting yourself then changing the harddisk is no problem.

    Then check eBay for a cheap copy of Panther (from people who upgraded to Panther first, then to Tiger, and are selling their Panther disks); Tiger can be found cheaply as well, but it is much less likely to be legal. Don't pay too much for Panther, compare the price with what you would pay for Tiger at Amazon or at the Apple Store. When Leopard comes out, you might get cheap & legal copies of Tiger on eBay.

    Having not enough RAM is what slows down a computer most, and it is easy and cheap to fix. Bigger harddisk is always good, and a new hard disk will be a lot faster. Upgrading the processor is expensive and not worth it.

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