Upgrading from a G3 circa 1999

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by bluecabochon, Oct 29, 2006.

  1. bluecabochon macrumors newbie

    Oct 29, 2006
    I've been limping along with my 350 MHZ B & W Yosemite, using OS 9 but it's finally time to upgrade. I'm overwhelmed with the choices available and need some advice.

    I am a designer and use Photoshop and will be using Illustrator and possibly other graphic programs. I have an external 120 Gig HD that I run Photoshop on but it still freezes up quite a bit. I'm not into gaming but these graphics programs use a lot of memory. I added 256 MB or RAM to my 256 but still, 512 MB isn't enough to make much of a difference with this processor. MY 17" Apple Display is on its way out and I'm thinking of buying a new monitor as the machine runs OK, just a bit slow and I'd keep it on hand for backup. I'd either find a cheap CRT monitor or buy a new flatscreen monitor that could work for both the new computer and this old one.

    I visit a lot of graphics-heavy web sites, use some memory-heavy graphics programs and create huge graphic documents. I also share large graphic files with other designers and often have to email compressed photo files. I want a laptop for portability but would also consider buying a monitor that I could attach to it for home use as I am used to looking at my work-in-progress that way. *see previous paragraph*

    Would an iBook suffice or should I consider another Powermac like the MacBook pro? I don't have tons of dollars but it will be a huge expense as probably none of my software (Office 98, Photoshop 5.5, older Filemaker Pro, Corel) will be compatible.

    What about recent versions of Photoshop used by G4s and the new machines? Will it be compatible with th new chip? Do all of the new laptops have the Intel Chip?

    I know it's a lot of questions, but I hope someone can help. Thanks in advance!
  2. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    That's a big upgrade. I think what you should do is set out your maximum budget for everything; RAM, software, the whole lot, before making your final purchasing decision

    I think Adobe were doing good deals on upgrading to the Creative Suite from any version of Photoshop and in that case, perhaps waiting (and maybe saving some more money) until May for the release of CS3 would be well worth it.

    I'm also a designer and would not consider using an iBook for work; they're just too underpowered. In the past, I've been very wary of laptops for good reasons but next year will probably replace my dual 1.4 for a MBP just to save some space in the flat as they've become quite powerful these days.

    I think looking at a minimum of 1.5gb of RAM would be about right... you can always get more later.
  3. frankblundt macrumors 65816


    Sep 19, 2005
    South of the border
    I tried using an iBook for a while but it just didn't cut it - the speed was OK (after using a B&W) but the screen resolution was impossible to work with and (without a fimrware hack) the lack of screen spanning meant that you still only got the same resolution on an external monitor. I went with a Mini in the end which i take from home to the office, but am idly dreaming of picking up a secondhand MBP at some point.

    The Adobe software is likely to be the big cost in any case. Either wait for CS3 (if you're going Intel) or keep an eye out for a second hand copy of CS2 or 1
  4. bluecabochon thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 29, 2006
    I meant Mac Book, not iBook, sorry! The MBPs are a lot more expensive, in the US anyway, where I am.

    How do you/can you compare MacBooks vs. MBPs for graphic performance?

    Frank, what can I buy in laptop-land that's new that doesn't use the Intel chip? I don't see anything at the Apple site that doesn't feature it. I'm a little wary of buying used, due to my pattern of needing heavy tech support with new machines. I certainly got my Applecare's worth of money seven years ago, but I was a newbie and it was my first computer.

    I'm hoping to buy my hardware through a teacher friend for an academic discount. That should ease some of the pain. I got my software that way, but I think that I didn't get all of the goodies that the commercial version had.

    I just hope my G3 lasts a while longer - the monitor probably won't!
  5. FFTT macrumors 68030


    Apr 17, 2004
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    Your current software situation presents you with more limitations than choosing the right replacement CPU configuration.
    Generally education software licenses are not upgradable.

    Fortunately, the new Intel Based models give you in excess of 10 times
    the performance of your G3 at 1/3 the original cost.

    You mention a desire to go for a notebook, when I think you would be far better
    off going for a 20" iMac Core 2 Duo.

    To run OS 9 Applications, you'd need a PPC model capable of running OS 9 Classic.
    Any good late model PPC PowerBook is going to cost you nearly as much
    as buying the far more efficient iMac.
    The same thing goes with any late model PPC G5 Tower.

    There's little point in upgrading your license for Adobe Creative Suite2
    when the Universal Binary CS3 version is just around the corner.

    You can go ahead and buy the education version of CS2 to hold you over, but
    you'll need 2 GB RAM installed in any Intel based Mac to counter the RAM requirements of Rosetta's PPC emulation.

    It's difficult to give you approriate advice without having an idea of your budget.
    I assume that you're doing this for a living, so your upgrade path will determine
    the continuity of your workflow.

    If your CRT display is on it's last legs, the least expensive option is to find a nice
    19-21" used CRT. but all these issues are better covered with an iMac.

    I configured a well equipped 20" iMac Core 2 Duo at the education store.


    2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    2GB 667 DDR2 SDRAM - 2x1GB
    250GB Serial ATA Drive
    ATI Radeon X1600/256MB VRAM
    SuperDrive 8X (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    Apple Keyboard & Mighty Mouse + Mac OS X (US English)
    20-inch widescreen LCD
    AirPort Extreme
    Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR

    It would be very difficult for you to put together any other good professional solution for the same money with equal performance and a great 20" display.

    You'll have to find out what your cost would be for Adobe CS 2.

    Even with the emulation drag caused by running CS2 under Rosetta, you're still going to outperform what you're using now.

    These are tough choices because another 6 months or so will have great impact on your options once CS3 is released.
  6. bluecabochon thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 29, 2006
    Wow, FFTT, that's some specific info - pretty technical, a bit beyond my understanding, but I get the gist of it.

    I do really need a laptop, as I travel. Can't afford a new desktop AND new laptop. Maybe it was confusing in my post, but I don't expect to be running my OS 9 software on my new computer. I have a cable modem now but I guess might give that up with a new computer, where I would use airport. Not sure what I'd be doing with the old computer if it was not compatible with new software - have to think about this. Maybe I'll just get rid of it. I have terrible problems with my old browsers so going online with the old computer would be for emergencies, if my new computer had a problem.

    I don't see how any new machine can give me more than what I had at 1/3 the cost. My computer and monitor together in 1999 cost around $2000. I'm sure that I'll have to buy a new printer and scanner with the new machine as well, even though mine work just fine.

    I'm sure that the MacMini would outperform what I have now! :)

    That's a pretty wonderful reconfiguration, price-wise. I don't have a set budget but I think that between the hardware, software and peripherals, in the end it will be around *gulp* $5000. Of course, I'd love for it to be less. I'm hoping to borrow software from friends here & there. Have you any idea if Photoshop and Word/Excel used on G4 laptops would be compatible with new Intel -Core machines?
  7. frankblundt macrumors 65816


    Sep 19, 2005
    South of the border
    Sorry, I meant used. I've bought a lot of used machines over the years and generally had pretty good experiences with them - many of the things that seem to go wrong with computers are to do with manufacturing faults, which have been weeded out by the time you buy them.

    unless you REALLY need a laptop, you're paying an enormous premium for that form factor. [edit] sorry - ok, you do really need a laptop :) [/edit]

    If your budget is extremely tight I'd go for a new screen (CRTs are a lot cheaper than LCDs and generally give you much higher resolution for the size) and a used G4 Mini or G5 Powermac and save what's left of your cash for a second hand copy of CS2.

    If you can wait or have a larger budget, go for an Intel Mini and screen or an iMac and get CS3 when it comes out.
  8. FFTT macrumors 68030


    Apr 17, 2004
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    My 1998 Beige G3 Tower ran me $2709.00 at education price plus the monitor was another $40O.00, by the time I added RAM and an upgraded video card and
    a DVD burner, and software, I was pushing $4000.00

    That machine is left in the dust by a current mini for $600.00


    You're talking about professional use, and you want a notebook, so it looks like
    your best bet is the NEW Core 2 Duo base model 2.16GHz 15" MacBook Pro
    adding an extra 1 GB of RAM and maybe the 160 GB perpendicular hard drive.

    Since you're doing professional photography, the Macbook's glossy screen would not be desirable for color correction.

    I configured this one pretty close to the iMac Specs without the extra 128 MB of VRAM.

    2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    2GB 667 DDR2 SDRAM - 2x1GB
    160GB Serial ATA Drive @ 5400 rpm
    SuperDrive 6x (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    MacBook Pro 15-inch Widescreen Display
    Backlit Keyboard/Mac OS - U.S. English
    Accessory Kit
    $2047.00 (education)
    $ 649.00 Adding a 20" Apple Cinema Display
    All you need is software.


    Get the 20 " iMac listed above and buy a refurbished MacBook 2.0 GHz model
    for $1099.00 just to cover your true portable needs.

    This would give you the best of both systems.

    Portability, performance, large display for big jobs and storage.

    $2724.00 for both systems.
  9. ricgnzlzcr macrumors 6502a


    Jun 7, 2005
    That really is an amazing leap in technology. Kudos on keeping your machine up as long as it has been. I think maybe a MBP will keep you happy for a very long time. Just out of curiousity, why are you upgrading? Does the software not do what you want it to do anymore or is it browser related?
  10. bluecabochon thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 29, 2006

    It has been a long haul with this G3, and it has performed very well. I started using Photoshop a year ago, pushing this machine very hard; it only has a 6 Gig HD! I purchased a Glyph 120 Gig external drive when I had no scratch disk space left and only added more memory this year when it started crashing and freezing constantly. I can't use Photoshop or browse for a certain period of time before it freezes up, which is daily, and more than once. I've had this problem throughout its life. The monitor had the "snapping spasm issue and Apple fixed it once a few years ago but won't anymore as it is so far out of warranty. It's now flickering a lot and may just die at any moment. I lost the original modem in a lightning strike a few years ago and replaced that. I have to say that it has been in the last year since acquiring my digital camera that it has taken its highest use and shows its age. My main problems are OS and browser-related. I can't get into some websites(no Flash 8), can't download some media, and am wary of upgrading to OS X with my system. Some folks can do it with my specs, others say forget it, you're processor is too slow and you need more RAM. I'd also like to use .mac and build a website. I think I've gone as far as I can with this machine and I don't want to keep throwing money at it. I bought a new scanner a year ago when the Umax died after heavy usage; my scanner was the only one available (Ebay) that would work with OS 9. It's a good one but I don't think it will work with a new Mac.

    FFTP, your breakdowns are most impressive. Where are you located? :)
    J/K, I supposethat you're in lower Manhattan?

    I clearly have more research to do before making any decision. It's like buying a car.

    I would need to be able to use the same software on both machines, if I got two. I've never purchased from a reseller; do you get tech support when buying refurbished machines? I'm no expert on these things, even efter a seven year relationship with Mr. Yosemite, which I purchased from MacConnection.

    It's been really valuable hearing from you all. I'm glad I posted here, and welcome any more opinions, as I am still overwhelmed but at least am a bit more educated than I was earlier today....
  11. FFTT macrumors 68030


    Apr 17, 2004
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    I'm actually 50 miles outside of Washington D.C. ( the OTHER ground zero ) ;)

    If you're going through all the trouble and expense of a major upgrade, you'll want a system running Mac OSX Tiger 10.4 or later.

    Mac OSX 10.5 Leopard is due this spring and Adobe is still scheduled to release
    CS3 2nd quarter of 2007 so your timing is actually just about perfect.

    One thing for sure, you'll be amazed at how many new truly useful features are included in Mac OSX compared to OS9.

    If you are considering a refurb, I would go directly to Apple's refurbished listings
    on the Apple Online Store page. (left lower column) " Refurbished Mac" and look through the listings to find the latest current model in the listings.

    The listings change nearly every day, so keep watching them.

    One thing to note, is that the "Core Duo" listings are Intel 32 bit dual core processors, where the "Core 2 Duo" are the newest 64 bit Intel dual core processors.

    If you need any help in breaking down some of these specific details please don't be afraid to ask.
  12. daveIT macrumors member

    Oct 25, 2006
    AK, USA
    Just FYI...OS X 10.2.8 runs pretty good on my iMac 266 with 384MB RAM. OS X does a pretty good job running processor intensive tasks. I use Photoshop a lot and it takes longer to render changes, but it keeps chugging along. That being said, I'm really growing tired of it so I'm upgrading to a Mac Pro so I can expand and do my own maintenance (I'm scared when I open the iMac / laptops).
  13. ricgnzlzcr macrumors 6502a


    Jun 7, 2005
    Do you mean that you want the new version of photoshop to run on both your g3 powermac and whatever new computer you get? I think that once you upgrade you're going to be a little lost at first. OS X is very intuitive, but you're clearly accustomed to OS 9 so you will have to get used to how things run. I would buy directly from Apple so you're comfortable with the warranty and all, even if you get a refurbished computer. Apple sells those refurbs with the 1 year warranty and upgrade to 3 like any other computer. Whatever decision you make, make sure to have a lot of RAM
  14. bluecabochon thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 29, 2006
    No, I meant that if I ended up buying 2 new computers, they would both need to run the same software. I'm used to a desktop for my major graphic projects but I'd like to be able to work on them when I'm traveling ratherthan just using the laptop for email and surfing.

    Question: do new computers come with zip drives? Are they avalable, or is it all CD-storage now? I'm hoping that it will be easy for me to transfer my files to new computers and access my back-ups. I've transferred some zip disk data to CDs through friends but still have a lot of files on zips.

    My brother has an Imac running OS X and yes, the setup is different from what I am used to. I will need to use my old computer until I understand the new OS. I think it's good advice for someone like me to buy from Apple - I usually need a lot of tech support at first and I'm not good at figuring out stuff on my own if it's a new problem. I actually had great tech support from Mac Connection, where I bought the G3.

    I'm reading other threads on buying and although I'm still not sure what to get, I'm learning.
  15. prostuff1 macrumors 65816


    Jul 29, 2005
    Don't step into the kawoosh...
    You could buy and external USB zip drive, but i dont suggest using zip disk for any extended period of time. They are not really a technology that is moving forward anymore. No computers apple sells have zip drives in them anymore. If you are looking at storage of stuff then i suggest external HD or burning stuff to CD-RW.

    Also, a USB flash drive is a good thing to have. I think you can get small ones that go all the way up to about 4 GB, but those tend to get kinda expensive. I have a 2GB model and it works really well for keeping school files on and transferring stuff between my laptop and my desktop.
  16. Eraserhead macrumors G4


    Nov 3, 2005
    Hmm, a 15" Macbook Pro might be the best option with an external display too if you need the portability/software, if I were you and could I'd wait for CS 3 as then you can completely move to the new machine.

    Definitely on the flash drive you can get a 2GB for £20 on Amazon so they are really cheap, now everyone uses CD's/DVD's for backup not zip's (and they are really cheap (like 20p each) too.
  17. iBookG4user macrumors 604


    Jun 27, 2006
    Seattle, WA
    I recently got a MacBook Pro 15" and love it. I also have an intel iMac but it's really slow because it only has 512MB of RAM, while my MacBook Pro has 2GB. I did a photoshop benchmark on my MacBook Pro 15" 2.0GHz Core Duo, 2GB RAM, 80GB 5400RPM hard drive and it took roughly 4 minutes. I also did the same benchmark on my old 14" iBook G4 1.33GHz, 768MB RAM, 60GB 4200RPM hard drive and it took about 13 minutes. Just to give you some take on Rosetta.
    here's a MacBook Pro that would be great.

    2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    2GB 667 DDR2 SDRAM - 2x1GB
    160GB Serial ATA Drive @ 5400 rpm
    SuperDrive 6x (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    MacBook Pro 15-inch Widescreen Display
    Backlit Keyboard/Mac OS - U.S. English
    Accessory Kit
    AppleCare Protection Plan for MacBook Pro/PowerBook (w/or w/o Display) - Auto-enroll

    Subtotal $2,286.00

    Assuming you get the enducational discount.

    I've seen 19" widescreen LCDs going for about $200, you could pick up one of those and you're set for a good long time.
  18. FFTT macrumors 68030


    Apr 17, 2004
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    The jump from OS9 to OSX is honestly not that difficult.

    It's just that OSX has so many more useful features which help to streamline your workflow.

    Adobe applications still work pretty much the same, so once you know where things belong in your Home Folder, you'll be fine.

    Even so, a lot has changed over the last 7 years in computer capabilities.

    Zip Drives have fallen to the wayside with CD and DVD Burners and Even LightScribe external Burners that engrave the Title right onto the CD.
    Mass Storage medium has become so cheap that a zip or a floppy drive
    is impractical

    If many cases, it's easier and safer to buy an external Hard Drive like the new 250GB and 500GB Western Digital MYBookPro.

    A single layer DVD can now hold 4.7 GB of data and the new Dual Layer Burners
    handle DVD's capable of holding 8.5 GB.

    You will have all the room could could ever dream of for large format detailed photo storage along with vastly improved process rendering capabilities .

    You'll have to ask the photo Pro's about all the new Photoshop plugins.

    Any of the machines we have recommended here will cover your current and future needs for quite some time.

    With these new machines, you can write the story, take the photos, turn those ideas into a screenplay, shoot the film, score it, edit and publish it all on one machine. :D

    Of course you can install the same programs on both machines but as long as you make the move up to the Intel Models, you'll be gradually replacing some PPC
    applications with thier Intel compatible Universal Binary version.

    So you can still run original OSX PPC applications using the built in Rosetta virtualization, but as soon as those applications have a UB counterpart, you'll upgrade to the UB version thus greatly improving performance without the need
    for virtualization any longer.

    There's nothing wrong with using a "single user license" on both your desktop and your laptop.

    The thing is that you are buying for the long haul, like me hoping your purchase
    will still have a useful life that lasts as long as our G3's

    The technology is changing so rapidly that 4 years is a loooong time on any one system.

    I made my jump from G3 to G5 a bit over a year ago and never regret it, but
    I held out for Tiger models.

    While you clearly need to upgrade and when every penny counts,
    I'd plan to order one of the OSX 10.5 Leopard models this spring.

    No matter what you do, you're going to need new software.

    There's a good likelyhood that the Universal Binary Upgrade CS3
    will be several hundred dollars, so buying CS2 now might get you rolling, but
    you'll have to figure in the upgrade as soon as it's available.

    If you must get something right away as your only system, then the base Core 2
    Duo MacBook Pro get's you up and running with portability.

    Plan on roughly $400.00 for an external display.

    For safety and back-up, buy a MyBookPro external drive and a bunch of CD's
    $159.99 at newegg.com

    If you decide to add a desktop later, time is on your side.
    Intel Quad Core desktop processors are due to release on November 15th
    so Apple should have something VERY interesting this spring for all of us with Leopard on board.

    The MacBook Pro will easily handle the Leopard update, so it's a win win situation
    that way.

    It's also better not to sink all your money in to same year technology.

    A desktop is your primary workstation, so the more you have to work with the better.

    I sure hope this helps.

    Best wishes on your decision.
  19. bluecabochon thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 29, 2006
    >It's also better not to sink all your money in to same year technology.<

    I'm not surse what you mean by this, FFTP.

    Thanks for all of the suggestions, everyone. I looked at the refurbished computers at the Apple site and I'm tempted by some. They do offer a year warranty and Applecare, and some of the savings are as high as $1000, though it's mostly $400-500. There are MacBook Pros there that say they are Intel Core Duos - I don't know how old they are but they would be compatible with recent Photoshop versions (like Photoshop 7), right? I may have to borrow Photoshop from someone using a recent-ish laptop but not a MacBook Pro. I don't know if I need CS2/3 as I only use Photoshop now and have enough on my plate without learning how to use Illustrator, although the whole suite would be nice to have.

    I have an external drive - a 120 GB Glyph that I bought this year at Tekserve. It works well and I have tons of room left on it, and I mean tons.

    Not sure what the educational discount is. I've never bought a computer that way - if I buy it through a friend who teaches, would there be a problem later on a s far as service, if I needed it? Whose name would the computer be in?

    I've never heard of a flash drive - will have to look into this. I'll also be visiting the Apple store this week to look at the hardware there. That is , if anyone will get off the computers long enough after downloading music and checking email to let me! :)

    I have an online store and they are upgrading from beta this weekend. My nightmare is that I will not be able to upload or access the site with my decrepit browsers. I'm wondering if it's possible to lease or rent a laptop running OS X with Safari for a few months. Does anyone know where I might be able to do this - reasonably?

    Questions answered certainly beget more questions, don't you find?

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