Suggestions on Upgrading Beige G3

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by flyhunter, Jan 26, 2004.

  1. flyhunter macrumors newbie

    Jan 26, 2004
    I am looking for some help. I know how to use computers pretty well, but have never really had to or wanted to upgrade a computer, so I have very little knowledge on the subject.

    I have been asked to update a G3 beige desktop so that is capable of handling new software such as Photoshop, Quark, etc. The computer right now is very basic: Mac OS 8.6, 64 MB RAM, PowerPC G3 266 Mhz, 4 GB Hard Drive. It is basically the stock package that you get with a new computer.

    I would like a new hard drive, processor, memory upgrade, system upgrade, cd drive, FireLite Hard Drive, USB connections and a new monitor. The ethernet is the only thing that I think should stay. What are some good resources to help me get this project done? What are some good products, brands and places to buy these items? Which items should have a higher priority to make the whole unit work. Also I would like to keep costs down of course. I figured making my own upgrades would save a lot compared to the price of a new unit.

    I was wondering what the difficulty level of this project would be? I have done a little research on the net, but everything I find and read, talks about all the problems upgrading a systems nothing on how easy it was. Is it better to just buy a new computer?

    All advice and suggestions are welcome. If there is any other information that you would like to know please let me know.

    Thanks for your help.

  2. Horrortaxi macrumors 68020


    Jul 6, 2003
    Los Angeles
    I wouldn't even bother. You could get a ton of RAM, a bigger drive (SCSI, right? $$$), and it'll run OS X. It will run it slowly but acceptably if you do things like email, word processing, and web surfing. Add Photoshop or similarly demanding software and it'll choke. You could buy a processor upgrade, but by the time you've done all that you will have spent more than the cost of a used G4 400mhz PowerMac, which will run all the new software just fine.
  3. applemacdude macrumors 68040


    Mar 26, 2001
    Over The Rainbow
  4. whocares macrumors 65816


    Oct 9, 2002
    I would suggest *not* upgrading it but getting a spanking new Mac or a refurbished one capable of running OSX comfortably.

    It might not work out to be that much more expensive and you'll be a lot more productive!
  5. MoparShaha macrumors 68000


    May 15, 2003
    San Francisco
    Don't even bother upgrading that thing. The cost of everything you want would be significantly higher than just buying an older machine off of ebay. You could get a cheap CRT iMac for a few hundred bucks that would run circles around your G3, and still be signicantly cheaper than upgrading it. Given the amount of money you're prepared to spend, I'd look around for a used eMac. If you're going to be doing Photoshop and similar applications, you want a G4. A G3 just isn't going to cut it. Plus, with the eMac, you get a CRT.
  6. Counterfit macrumors G3


    Aug 20, 2003
    sitting on your shoulder
    Here is a list of stuff you can upgrade:

    Processor: there are 1GHz and 1.42GHz G4 upgrades available from Sonnet and PowerLogix

    Memory: you can get 3 256MB PC100 sticks for about $60-$70 from somewhere on, but hurry, prices are going up soon.

    Video: a PCI Radeon Mac Edition or Radeon 7000 mac will do, they have DVI, VGA, and S-Video out.

    USB/FireWire: Sonnet's Tempo Trio is good, but it might not work in your DT. It has USB 2, FireWire 400, and ATA 133.
    If you go with it, you can also use the big ATA drives (120+GB) and not have to partition them (on the beige G3's PowerBook G3's and early iMacs, OS X has to be within the first 8GB of the drive. You could install from another computer, but partitioning is easier).

    Monitor is really up to personal preference.

    Optical drive: I got a Phillips (or was it Panasonic...) Combo drive from for about $65, so check them and for good prices and stuff. Also, make sure the drive will work with the Drive Compatability Database at

    All in all, you would probably spend less money on a new or refurb MDD or QuickSilver G4 and end up with a faster overall system, even if the system bus is 100MHz or so faster :)rolleyes: )
  7. Hemingray macrumors 68030


    Jan 9, 2002
    Ha ha haaa!
    The Mac side of me says "upgrade it to the hilt!" but the practical side of me sides with the others, not to bother...

    You could get a refurb or used G4 for practically the same price as souping up that ol' beige G3, with the added bonus of stuff you can't upgrade, like AGP graphics, faster bus, higher RAM capacity, built-in combo or Superdrive, official support of Panther, etc. etc.

    So unless you're going at this to upgrade it just to upgrade it... go with something newer. IMHO! :)
  8. john123 macrumors 68020


    Jul 20, 2001
    I gotta disagree with you guys. If the dude is on a shoestrings budget, then it's not practical to tell him to just buy a new machine. And a 400Mhz G4 is not much of an upgrade over a 266Mhz G3....I've used both so it's safe to say that. The only advantage to that option is really in Photoshop, running filters and the like (because Photoshop makes extensive use of the G4's AltiVec capabilities).

    This is an easy upgrade project. I own the same G3 and think it was one of the best constructed computers Apple ever built.

    On each issue:
    *Hard drive: you can get a 60GB drive as cheap as $20. OfficeMax has a Western Digital drive for that price after rebate this week.
    * Processor: it's all about what you want to spend. If you care about G4 capabilities, you can get a G4/533 for $150, or if AltiVec isn't that important to you, go for a G3/900 for $235. sells both of these.
    * System upgrade: not sure what you mean here....
    * CD drive: standard on the beige G3 was a 24x CD-ROM, so you don't need to touch this. You will also find that many third-party drives won't fit in the case quite right, despite the fact that they should.
    * FireLite Hard Drive: check any of the price engines out there for whatever size you want
    * USB connections: cards are as cheap as $20 at sites like The key is to make sure that it will work with a beige G3; many of the USB 2.0 cards are incompatible with the beige G3 series.

    Hope this helps!

    EDIT:I forgot to mention that there were 3 versions of the beige G3 created (each with a different ROM version -- you can find out what ROM you have in the System Profiler). Your ROM will affect compatibility with USB/FW cards -- and it can also make installing OS X above 10.1.x a bit of a hassle. My G3, for example, won't take Jaguar through a "normal" installation. (There are workarounds to this, but it's a bit of a hassle.)
  9. ltgator333 macrumors member

    Jul 6, 2003
    Albion, MI
    Beige G3..

    I'm using somewhat of what you want to acheive right now, and let me tell you that to a certain aspect what you want to do is a good idea and to certain point it's not. I got this comp- was a Beige G3 desktop, 233Mhz G3, 4gb HD, and right now it's got a 30Gb HD, 512Mb RAM, 466Mhz G4, and I maxed out the onboard VRAM and got a USB/Firewire card for it. During all this upgrading I gave it to my parents. I've just upgraded from OS X 10.1.5 to 10.2, and it did web surfing, email, word processing, and even the first folding WU I did just fine in 10.1.5, and prob will continue with Jaguar. I would think with a slightly faster G4 chip, (533Mhz..) it should have some decent crunching power, and with the 1Ghz chip would do nicely with most stuff. The problems are that I agree that you could, for the price of all your upgrading, get a 'new-world' Mac off ebay which does have a clear advantage with running OS X and the overall system archetecture. So really I think the question comes down to whether you want to play it safe and have a comp that you know all about it and have it be viable for the next year or so, or take the plunge and get something that could be viable for a few years down the road. I think also if you were to get a new-world machine I would definitely look for something that's not a blue and white G3 or a sawtooth G4 (the original G4's), because it reality that's not much of an upgrade from you Beige G3, other than 33Mhz faster ram and 64 bit PCI, and not much more selection of processor upgrades either. Another plus to getting yourself a new world G4 is that you can always of course then ebay your beige and get some $ out of it as well.
    But if you tend to want to stick with you beige I agree that other world computing is an excellent choice for mac upgrades, and upgrades for a newer machine as well.
    Hope this helps..
  10. pianojoe macrumors 6502


    Jul 5, 2001
    N 49.50121 E008.54558
    List your G3 on eBay, take those $250 you'll get for it plus the money that john123 wanted to spend in the above post, add $100 for the unavoidable memory upgrade that john123 chose to omit...

    for those $600 you'll get a 466 G4 with a 100MHz system bus. Shell out a little more, and you're in for a small 733 Quicksilver.

    BTW, I owned this 266 G3. A CD burner will fit into the optical drive bay just luvly.

    I just sold my 2x800 QS 1,25GB RAM for 1165€ on eBay...
  11. tdhurst macrumors 601


    Dec 27, 2003
    Phoenix, AZ
    Seriously though...

    However, once you start buying very cheap parts for computers, you more than likely have problems in the future....
    Like putting a tape on a pipe leak....
    It'll work for a while, but who knows for how long?
  12. john123 macrumors 68020


    Jul 20, 2001
    I didn't "choose" to omit the memory upgrade -- I just forgot about it. Sheesh.

    Anyway, you can't sell a beige G3 for $250. There are places you can buy them right now for $89 with a 60 day warranty on them. If you know anyone willing to pay $250 for a beige G3, I'd be happy to sell them mine!

    As for the CD burner issue: some will, and some won't. That's what I said in my first post. I have a burner sitting on my floor right now (rather than inside my G3/266) because the tray won't eject when you put the chassis back on the case.
  13. CalfCanuck macrumors 6502a

    Nov 17, 2003
    Listen to the other posts - don't upgrade this

    As someone who himself upgraded only a few parts of his B&W G3 last March (to use as a dedicated machine for a Nikon slide scanner), the other posts are correct. While I can still find some use the machine, in retrospect the money was not that well spent. A few people out there might argue it still has some life, but the motherboard limitiations CAN NOT be overcome cheaply, and those will be your long term problems.

    Many posts here about buying used boxes instead - check them out. Also, don't forget to factor in an extra $120 to upgrade to OS X. You also might check out the refurbished models in the Apple's store or other sites - eMacs start at $499.

    One temporary fix - someone suggested getting by with minimal upgrades for a while. You might overclock the G3, and toss in a lot of cheap RAM (I went to 1 GB of RAM on my B&W), and possibly throw in a $25 Firewire card in a PCI slot.

    If you can do a limited upgrade for $100 (plus OS X) and buy yourself another 6 months while you're learning the new OS, that might let you put aside $50 a month towards a newer system.
  14. mkaake macrumors 65816

    Apr 10, 2003
    i've got a beige 266 (rev 1) sitting at home. that's a quirky little machine...

    my biggest issue with upgrading the thing is it's lack of AGP, which instantly makes upgrading video a hassle, cause the *only* retail card you can get right now that'll run X is the radeon 7000, and you'll get hit up 120 bucks for that (or you could flash your own for 20 bucks). my second biggest problem with it is the system bus - you can slap that 1.2 g4 upgrade in there, but the system still has to move info through that small little bus.

    oh, and if you have the rev 1 like i do, it's all single chanel IDE, so you can't have more than 2 ide devices. plus, if you check the drive compatibility part of, you'll find that there's a lot of burners that don't quite work with our mac (or usb cards for that matter).

    you can do it if you want, but i have to recommend that you try to find some cheap g4 (oh, and the sawtooth is fine for upgrading - it has the agp and can take up to a 1.42 g4 - it's the yikes! g4 that you want to stay away from). the little beige is nice, but it's really really quirky (like my usb mouse only recognises the second button and scroll wheel if i have my printer turned on when i boot up)...

  15. ltgator333 macrumors member

    Jul 6, 2003
    Albion, MI

    Yep, I realized 10 mins later yes, sawtooth is ok stay away from Yikes!. Also, having used Jaguar for a whole day I can attest to the fact it runs like absolute crap on this machine. 10.1.5 ran good once you got it installed, but 10.2 installer has crashed more times than I want to get into trying to get it all installed on this machine.

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