Upgrading PMG4 AGP... is it worth it?

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by Doctor_Mac, Mar 23, 2016.

  1. Doctor_Mac macrumors newbie

    Doctor_Mac

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    #1
    Hello!

    I've been thinking about upgrading a 400 MHz AGP-graphics Power Mac G4. Get a SATA SSD, gigabit ethernet, USB 2.0 (3.0 if even possible), and of course a faster processor for Leopard. However, I am aware of the slow, 100 MHz RAM speed. How would that affect performance, even with 2GB of RAM?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #2
    You are asking this question on a PowerPC Mac forum. Of course it's worth it! :D

    Below, my own Quicksilver.

    1.8Ghz Dual processor Sonnet upgrade, 1.5GB ram, 3.6TB of SATA hard drive space (SATA PCI Card), USB 2.0 (USB 2.0/FW 400 PCI card), Bluetooth 2.0 (USB adaptor with Magic Mouse) and six displays (NVIDIA GeForce 6800GT, Radeon 9200, Radeon 7000).

    About 1352 or so on Geekbench 2. :D

    You have a Sawtooth and the same upgrades I've done are possible with yours, but you'll beat me with the ability to have 2GB of ram.

    2016-02-10 20.50.00.jpg

    PS. Welcome to the MR PowerPC forums!
     
  3. Doctor_Mac thread starter macrumors newbie

    Doctor_Mac

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    #3
    All right then. I'll make sure to keep the possibility of upgrading it open. Thanks.

    Side note: Whoa. Do you use that thing as a main computer?
     
  4. redheeler macrumors 603

    redheeler

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    #4
    He does. :)
     
  5. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #5
    Yep! :D

    That I do! :D

    Doc Mac, this is my main Mac. Graphic Design, word processing, web design, email, etcetera. I have an MBP, but it is not my main machine.

    I've got Adobe CS4, Acrobat Pro 9.4.5, Suitcase Fusion 3 and Office 2008. Works pretty well for me.
     
  6. MysticCow macrumors 6502a

    MysticCow

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    #6
    Maxing out the RAM is going to make up for a lot of the shortcomings in the system. In particular, OS X loves memory like a crack whore loves crack. Photoshop loves memory just as much.

    However, note the weakest links in the stock AGP systems now are the processor and graphics card if and only if they are the stock items. The graphics card can wait, unless you are playing PPC games. The most likely speed boost will be from upgrading the processor. Check and make sure the upgrade can work with your system, because some are pickier than others.

    After the processor, my thoughts on upgrades would be as follows, in order:

    1. USB 2 card
    2. Some kind of wireless that isn't 802.11b and is recognized by Airport.
    3. Graphics card (if you plan on playing PPC games, this jumps to #1)
    4. SSD and SATA card
    5. Gigabit ethernet if desired

    But those are just my biased opinions. I'm sure someone will chime in and say I am totally wrong. ;)
     
  7. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #7
    Yes, yes I shall! ;) Just kidding!

    No, my only quibble is with #2 and it's minor. The regulars here may (or may not) have noticed that I never upgraded my QS with any wireless card or device. I didn't do that on purpose.

    This all depends on your home network setup and the physical location of your Mac, of course, but for me my QS has Gigabit Ethernet. Hooking it up to my home network via ethernet cable is always going to result in faster speeds than anything I could hope to upgrade it to for wireless.

    Even if I am stuck on Fast Ethernet (10/100 switch) for the moment that is still faster than about 95 percent of any wireless upgrade you can find out there that will work on PowerPC Macs. And the one solution I did find once was really not workable.

    So, from my perspective I didn't do all that work to get faster and better to shove a wireless bottleneck into the works.

    Now, again, that's just me and my thoughts on this. Of course, OP has a Sawtooth so Doc may find a better wireless solution or may need to find a wireless solution. I'm not saying don't, I'm just relating how I see it based on my situation.
     
  8. MysticCow macrumors 6502a

    MysticCow

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    #8
    See, mine always wind up away from any physical plug. So that's why it's fairly high on my list. Now of yourse you could use a separate wireless to extend the range of the real wireless spot and hook that up to the Mac if nothing else.

    But to each his own. :D
     
  9. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #9
    Yeah, that's why I was specific about situations.

    I have several ethernet hubs and routers as well as a switch in my house. The wireless came way later than the wired so it's already a thing that got set up. Transfer of files is much faster on my home network over ethernet than it ever is wirelessly. So, consequently I don't use wireless except for my laptops.

    Everyone is different.
     
  10. Doctor_Mac thread starter macrumors newbie

    Doctor_Mac

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    #10
    Wireless isn't a priority for me, since I hardwire all my desktop Macs, either directly to the router or via AirPort Express.

    I've got some more questions about upgrading, though:

    1: I'm definitely getting a SATA SSD. I've searched if IDE or PCI was faster before, but only get answers saying to get a direct SATA connection, which I obviously cannot do. So, which is faster: IDE converter or PCI? I'm presuming PCI, but I still want a solid answer.
    2: I've found QuickSilver/MDD processors on eBay that, while they share the same connection as the AGP, may budge a little into the AGP slot on the motherboard, from what I observe. Are these processors for newer models "compatible" with the AGP?
    3: I'd like to use the empty slot on the front where the ZIP drive usually is for some front ports. However, all the front port modules I find use some weird connection that is certainly not on the Power Mac. Is there any front ports module that I can use with the PM? There's the FireWire port on the inside that I can use, and the USB PCI slot that I'm looking into may have an internal USB port.
     
  11. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #11
    1. The PCI bus is faster than the IDE bus. But the PCI bus is slower than a SATA bus would be. And you will only reach maximum PCI bus speeds in a controlled lab environment, not real world. So while having a PCI SATA card will allow faster speeds than IDE you are limited to the real world speeds of the PCI bus - which is STILL faster than the speeds you get with IDE.

    2.If you are talking stock processors I can't really answer that. I think the Sawtooth has some special mounting hole that delives some sort of voltage while the QS and MDD does not. That said, Sonnet, Newertech, Giga Designs and Powerlogix processors are compatible across the range. My experience so far has been that the Powerlogix and Giga Design processors differ in the way the heatsinks are mounted based on model. So be sure you're getting the right one if you buy one of those.

    3. None that I am aware of. This is most likely a do it yourself type of build.
     
  12. bunnspecial macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    #12
    It's the other way around. Sawtooth, GigE, and Digital Audio G4s(along with Cubes, but be careful putting a standard desktop processor in a Cube) all have three mounting holes in the same position(triangular). The Quicksilver added a fourth mounting post(although the other three are in the same position) supplied +12V to factory processors. Most upgrades use two or at most three of the mounting posts along with the same connector, so upgrades tend to be compatible across all of these models(although some upgrades may require playing with DIPS and or jumpers to account for bus speed differences).

    Also bear in mind that with both both a Sawtooth and a GigE, you have a 2x AGP slot and thus are somewhat limited in GPU selection.

    My "hotrod" Sawtooth(with which I haven't truthfully done a whole lot) has a single Giga that I think is set somewhere around 1.4ghz(@LightBulbFun can probably tell you) and a Radeon 9800(flashed). This is one of the best GPUs you can put in these computers. I haven't gotten around to installing Leopard on it yet, but it's quite peppy running Jaguar.

    As a general rule, I don't like Gigadesigns CPUs, but this one doesn't have the heat issues that plagued some of the other known ones. I have the "hot potato" dual 1.8 Giga that three of us on here have owned :) , and got the temperatures mostly under control by lapping the heatsink to fix the piss poor factory machining. I now have it at a rock-stable 1.6 ghz, although my Sonnet with a mirror finish heatsink from the factory is equally as stable at 1.8. The Giga in my Sawtooth(and a similar 1.5 I have on the shelf) have very nicely finished heatsinks.
     
  13. Doctor_Mac thread starter macrumors newbie

    Doctor_Mac

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    #13
    1: I'm aware that PCI's going to be slower than the actual SATA, but I'm still looking for the best possible that I can get with a PMG4.
    2: So it's safer to get a third-party processor? I was looking at the other processors because they're way cheaper, but they'll still give me something fast. Also, the only place I would think to look for these processors is eBay. Is there anywhere else where I can easily find these?
    3: It's something that I'd love to try, but I have no idea to start. In case that doesn't work, is there anything else that I can put up in that area, besides another hard drive?
     
  14. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #14
    1. Again, you are limited to the PCI bus. So the best possible speed you can attain is that, even though the drive is SATA.

    2. Safer? Well, it doesn't really matter except if you are trying to boost speeds past what each model was capable of. For instance, if you dropped in my old Sonnet 1.2GHz in to your Sawtooth you'd get 1.2Ghz. But if you dropped in a 733mhz processor from a Quicksilver into your Sawtooth there would be a speed reduction because of the differences between the two models. You would not get the full 733.

    eBay, craigslist, Amazon. Although I've only ever seen third party offerings on eBay. The problem is that those who sell these processors know that they are rare and so price them accordingly and they don't come up all that often. The average price for a dual Sonnet is around $230-350 depending on processor speeds.

    3. If that were me, I'd proably get some sort of PCI card that had internal ports. Hot knife or dremmel the fascia panel to accept port connectors (probably could find those online) and then run cables from those connectors to the PCI internal connectors.

    Currently I have nothing in that space because of the large amount of heat my Mac produces. I've stripped out most of the non-essential internal structural parts to make room for fans and allow for better cooling. At one time I thought I'd stick a second optical drive bay in there but everything I've got in that case is so tight now and I have a lot of power demands already so I've left that space empty.

    2016-01-29 21.26.46.jpg
     
  15. bunnspecial macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    #15
    I've seen generic PC boxes that fit in a 2 1/2" bay and often will have a couple of USB ports and some sort of memory card reader. I think I've even seen a few with Firewire. Someone use to make one for the G4, but it's NLA and I've never actually encountered one for sale. You could probably make one of the PC ones work by popping off the Zip bezel, although shop around to find one in the configuration that you want and you may still end up with some superfluous ports(like audio out in or out). To me, though, if I were going to pursue it I would live with the inconvenience of the extra ports.
     
  16. redheeler macrumors 603

    redheeler

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    #16
    This is simply because of the danger of overloading the stock VRM, so I'm assuming a single 1.8 Sonnet or similar would require a VRM upgrade?
     
  17. bunnspecial macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    #17
    I'm actually not positive about that. I have a Cube with just such a processor(Sonnet 1.8) that I haven't even had apart-I'll check and report.
     
  18. redheeler macrumors 603

    redheeler

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    #18
    Does it have the special Cube version?
     
  19. bunnspecial macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    #19
    Yes, it does. One of the big VRM issues comes from not Cube specific upgrades.

    A base fan also helps surprisingly with keeping the VRM temp under control, although it's certainly not the end-all, be-all.
     
  20. redheeler macrumors 603

    redheeler

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    #20
    Ok, I do plan to upgrade the VRM in mine so it will accept a non-Cube upgrade. Out of curiosity, what GPU do you have in yours? I want to put in a spare Radeon 9000 Pro pulled from an MDD, but the stock VRM is in the way (not sure if a VRM upgrade will solve that problem as well).
     
  21. jbarley macrumors 68030

    jbarley

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    #21
    Cube VRM's are routinely relocated to make room for non standard GPU's.
    Here is more info about this in a pdf file.
     
  22. bunnspecial macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    #22
    As jbarley said, the VRM location will be your obstacle with many non-standard GPUs.

    I'd guess that 90% or better of Cubes shipped with a Rage 128. I've used mostly GEForce 2MXs and Radeon 7500s in my upgrades, although my 1.8 still has a Rage 128. Both are an upgrade from the Rage 128(if nothing else because they support Quartz Extreme) and will fit with no modification. You can swap face plates off the stock Rage 128 with a 2MX, while the 7500 will either have to have a plate fabricated or simply go without one(I do the latter, as the top screw holds it fine. I have a slight preference for 7500 as it runs cooler and I think does slightly better in OpenGL benchmarks. The 2MX runs HOT-the Cube OEM one had a heatsink that covered about 3/4 of the card.

    Another drop-in card is the GEForce 3-I've been searching in vain for one for a year.

    One really promising card I have is the GeForce 6200. The Strangedogs guys wrote a Cube-specific ROM for it that downclocks it a little bit to control heat. The Wang branded version is quite compact-I just need to get around to flashing mine. This card has the advantage of supporting Core Image.
     
  23. redheeler macrumors 603

    redheeler

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    #23
    These posts are helpful. I have been using a GeForce 2MX as an upgrade over the stock Rage 128 Pro, but I've decided it's time for another round of upgrades and a better GPU.

    Would a Quicksilver GeForce 4MX (the one with VGA+ADC and 64 MB VRAM) be a drop-in upgrade? Proportionately it looks similar to the 2MX, and although cooling is a concern I do plan to add a base fan at some point.
     
  24. bunnspecial macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    #24
    It is a fair bit bigger than the 2MX. You will need a VRM move and some(careful) trimming of the top of the card. The R9000 and 4MX are about the same size.
     

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