Upgrading an older G4

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by TiMacLover, Nov 30, 2005.

  1. TiMacLover macrumors 6502

    Aug 10, 2001
    Clovis, CA USA
    I was curious what you all thought if I was to upgrade a old G4 400mhz to a 1.33 Ghz G4.

    Just curious if it would be worth it or just to save and buy something new though this would only cost me about $300 to get together.

    So give me your thoughts, I heard it would lag because of the older bus speed and such, but I'm really not sure bout much of this.
  2. 840quadra Moderator


    Staff Member

    Feb 1, 2005
    Twin Cities Minnesota
    Depends on what you plan on doing with it. If you plan on running some of the newest Graphic or otherwise programs, it may be more worth upgrading to a G5 or later G4 dual processor model with faster bus and better memory.

    I have a G3 upgraded to a G4 and use it to watch movies and play music. and manage pictures. It works well, and is quite fast for what it does.
  3. TiMacLover thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 10, 2001
    Clovis, CA USA
    Some photoshop.

    Maybe fooling around with iMovie and Garageband.

    $300 for a G4 1.3ghz vs. $1000 for a G5 1.8ghz.

    Course maybe I should wait until OS X intel comes out, not sure if things are going change much.
  4. 7254278 macrumors 68020

    Apr 11, 2004
    G5 upgrades dont exist, only G4 so its a G4 1.8, also look if any have L3 caches usually the L3 cache makes a proccesor faster so a 1.2 with L3 will be generally as fast as a 1.5 with no L3.
  5. moonislune macrumors regular

    Sep 11, 2005
    Go for the upgrade...

    When faced with a similar question a few months back, I decided to go the upgrade route for my sawtooth g4. the 400mhz to 1ghz jump was very very nice.

    Heres what I have now....
    Machine Name: Power Mac G4 (AGP graphics)
    Machine Model: PowerMac3,1
    CPU Type: PowerPC G4 (3.3)
    Number Of CPUs: 1
    CPU Speed: 1 GHz
    L2 Cache (per CPU): 256 KB
    L3 Cache (per CPU): 2 MB
    Memory: 832 MB
    Bus Speed: 100 MHz (wish I had a faster bus speed- I believe the mini has 140-160 range?

    I would advise to get an upgrade card with fast L3 cache. There is a difference on L3, so make sure you dont get a slow one (I did). If you compare the benchmarks on 2 identical machines that have different L3 speeds, you'll notice a substantial difference under heavy CPU use.

    I also decided to upgrade my video card ($99) so that I could have coregraphics and quartz support. While the whole upgrade process cost me around $350 (almost a Mac Mini), I have been very very pleased with my upgrade.

    My computer use: Mostly editing, compressing, and resizing video clips in quicktime (which can be a little slower at times), do alot of Keynote and Powerpoint presentations, downloading large files, watching a few DVDs here and there, an occassional RR Tycoon, Civ 3, or Jedi.
  6. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

    May 7, 2004
    Sod off
    Deciding whether to upgrade a G4 tower is a tough call - there are a lot of factors to consider.

    You say you want to do Photoshop. Photoshop is a heavy disk user so a hard drive upgrade would be a must - ideally a 7200RPM SATA hard drive, which requires a PCI adapter card. Total cost for drive and card will be somewhere around $120-200 depending on the drive, but will give you a 10% or more speed boost. I can personally vouch for that with my G4. A fast SCSI drive would be just as good too.

    As for CPUs, I would recommend a 1.4GHz or faster CPU with L3 cache. If you chose one of the 7447-based upgrades with no L3 cache, you are best off getting at least a 1.8GHz, but preferably the top-end 2.0GHz model. These upgrades run between $300-380+.

    So you are at around $400-500. And you'll want at least 512MB total RAM, maybe double that. $90 for 512MB. And a video card upgrade will be about $100 for a G4-modded Radeon 9600 from OWC, which fully supports Core Video.

    In short, upgrading your G4 will cost about as much as a new Mac Mini, but once upgraded it will outperform a Mini by a good margin due to the faster hard drive, better video card and equal or better CPU. Plus it can take multiple hard drives and fast DVD-RWs, whereas the Mini can't.

    Of course, you do not need to buy these parts all at once. I upgraded my G4 piece by piece over the course of a year. I would get the CPU or hard drive first, then add the other bits as you can.
  7. doucy2 macrumors 65816


    Jul 7, 2005
    if you need g4 parts a have everything you could want
    i have a 1ghz cpu upgrade w/ L3 cache
    and tons of ram
    tons of vid card and hd

    just PM or IM if you need ne thing
  8. za9ra22 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 25, 2003
    Having upgraded my late '99 vintage sawtooth (G4/450) with a 1GHz processor and added a 7200rpm ATA drive, Pioneer A106 DVD burner and a second video card to drive an additional two displays, it's like a completely new system. MUCH faster. I also scavenged a pair of 256Mb RAM sticks from a disused PC to boost memory, and that also helped. Total cost was about $350. I use it for video editing and some Photoshop work, along with the usual array of typical internet, email, wordprocessing sort of tasks.

    To me, the advantage is the sheer flexibility of this approach, because you can pick and choose which elements of the system you want to concentrate on most to give you the capabilities you need. Thus for me, storage capacity wasn't entirely critical, but I needed to make sure my projects were secure, so I have three drives installed; one a SCSI drive to which I boot if I am using Photoshop, and two 120Gb ATA drives for projects and backup. I find multiple displays useful so I can have the main workspace on one, toolbox and extras on a second, and even additional applications on a third to save shuffling around Expose. But because I don't need raw power, I didn't bother with a more expensive CPU upgrade since 1GHz seemed sufficient - and has turned out to be just that.

    We each have our own idea of what constitutes a good system to meet our own needs - upgrading an old G4 is the cheapest way to get it!
  9. SmurfBoxMasta macrumors 65816


    Nov 24, 2005
    I'm only really here at night.
    me thinks the OP was referring to a refurb G5/1.8..... :)

    errr..... OS X uses ~512mb all by itself to run well.....and PS can take another 512mb-1GB to run well......

    get 1.5GB if you can :D
  10. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

    May 7, 2004
    Sod off
    I didn't want to sound like you HAVE to get more memory than 512, but you're right - the more the merrier.

    I'd say that you could get by with 512MB and the new CPU while you save up for more - I ran my dual 533 with 512 and it was OK, though a bit too beach-bally for Photoshop. Photoshop will bog down any system if you let it, but going from 512MB-1GB makes a bigger difference than going from 1GB-1.5GB. Photoshop should run OK at 1GB, as long as you aren't doing big files.

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