What to do with an old PowerMac G4??


macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 3, 2004
The Moon
Hey everyone,

I am writing to ask for recommendations about what to do with an old yet fully functional PowerMac G4 (300 MHz, AGP ATI card, 512 ram, OS 9.2).

I bought the computer in early 2000 and have a long and memorable history with it. Today, however, the computer barely gets any use and is instead sitting idle in my basement collecting dust. Although I could donate the mac to a place like Good Will, I am a little hesitant to do this, especially after my recent donation of my old PowerMac 7300 (G3).

So what should I do with this old mac. I think OS X is out of the question considering the computer's specs. Maybe use the computer as a server? But with what OS? Any recommendations.

Sorry if my question seems strange and overly personal, but I really don't know where else to ask for advice.

Thanks in advance!


Moderator emeritus
Jan 9, 2004
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
This PMG4 actually also has Firewire, doesn't it? I am pretty sure that any version of OS X, up to and including Tiger, will run on it.

You could try running PPC Linux on it. I bet one of the distros such as Yellowdog could be contorted into making it a good server for you, in the end, too....

EDIT: It's this one, right? The Apple-history.com website says 10.3.7, but it has not been updated much recently. My understanding is that pretty much every Mac with firewire will run Tiger.

EDIT: Here is the official Apple page showing that your PM is supported by Tiger. :)


macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 3, 2004
The Moon
Yes, that is my mac. It has two firewire ports and is actually 400 MHz. Still, I am worried that tiger will run very poorly on it. And regarding it acting as a server, I am beginning to have doubts. I just remembered that my cable modem company (Comcast) doesn't offer static/dedicated IPs so no FTP access and the upload speed is very poor (around 71 kb/s).

Is it possible to upgrade the processor?? Is there anyway to make it into a duel-processor G4? It doesn't seem so according to Apple-History.com.


macrumors regular
Jul 7, 2005
North Carolina
You shouldnt Give it away, you should try to sell it, or Maybe get an ext. HD and install OS X on it, it should run smooth being as you say it has 512MB's of RAM, hope I helped.


macrumors regular
Feb 7, 2005
Los Angeles, CA
I have that same Mac.

I upgraded it with a 1 GHz processor upgrade card, 832 MB Ram, and a superdrive. It is still my main computer, although I have a new powerbook G4 for the road, and Tiger runs just fine.

If you don't want it, I'll gladly take it off of your hands. Still a great machine! :)


macrumors 6502a
Jul 20, 2004
Yeah, Sonnet and OWC (and a couple other companies) make CPU upgrades for that which would make running Tiger pretty nice. With a little memory boost and a new (faster) hard drive it'd probably run very well. No, you wouldn't get ALL of the gee-whiz visual effects (but who REALLY uses a system just for the visual effects?) unless you can upgrade the video card to a Radeon 9600 or better (possible but unlikely), but the system would run well nevertheless.

And as for running as a server, you could put Darwin on it; no need to bother with Linux. Then you're binary compatible with any MacOS X command-line and X11 apps (like, say, OpenOffice.org 2.0).

Kevin Nelson

macrumors newbie
Feb 25, 2004

You don't really say if you are opposed to putiing some cash into it or not, but I have (had?) a similar setup. I upgraded to an ATi 9800 video card and popped in a 1.2 mhz card with a larger hard drive and a maxed the memory out. All told I added (over 6mos. time) about $500.00 dollars of upgrades.
Latest additions were a $149.00 miglia DVR Card, $60.00 VGA Converter and and last a $70.00 Belkin USB wireless keyboard. I am typing this on my TV as we speak and I have a way cool media center PC that screams!
Yeah, I am bragging, a lilttle. I don't fell I wasted a penny and when I can complete the puzzle with a 32" LCD FlatScreen TV, I will be quite thrilled with this setup for at least a couple of years.
At the very least with the DVR Card and VGA Adapter and larger hard drive you should be able to use it as a Tivo for a long while yet and only put in a couple hundred bucks.
WIth the upgrade Card and Tiger this machine hauls serious booty and would be pretty comparable to a G5 for everyday use.


macrumors 6502
Jun 17, 2005
Well, I would *definitely* upgrade the RAM to at least 1GB (preferably 2), but other than that I don't see why it couldn't run OS X. The server where I work is an only slightly faster PowerMac G4 from 2000 and it runs Panther just fine (can't vouch for Tiger, haven't tried it). We had the same qualms as you when we pulled it out of storage and upgraded to OS X last year, but they turned out to be unfounded.


macrumors newbie
Jan 6, 2005
I have the 400 mhz version of the sawtooth g4, too, and bought a 1.2 GHz processor, lots of RAM, a new hard drive, and a DVR from OWC back in January. I'm runnign OS X 10.3.3. It's a great-running machine now, and I love still having it around.


macrumors newbie
Jun 7, 2005
many options....


First, I use at work a stock BnW 300 g3 running tiger, it works as a suplimental machine, so you should have no trouble with your ride. You can actually run OSX on a beige mac with a little app called "XPost Facto" from the OWC site, but I digress.....

Now on to the fun. I got an AGP g4 400 mac on Ebay for 125 bucks. It now is a dual Giga Designs 1.4 ghz g4 with 4 meg cache total booting from a 160 GIG SATA drive with ATI 128 meg 9200 card, DVD SuperDrive, 1.5 gig ram and another 700 GIGs of storage on 7 other (3 internal and 4 external) IDE, scsi, and Firewire drives. It boots Panther as the main OS, but also Tiger, and 9.2.2, on other drives. sorry could not resist the brag.. ;)

Yes, you can do a lot with your machine. If you want to spend a little cash, and dont mind getting inside your machine and using a little duct tape.

Total cost to up my g4 to the specs above...about 800 bucks for the hardware, most stuff off ebay, got the dualie cpu.... HERE I could have gone dual 1.8 but the cache of that card is not nearly as much as the one I got, and the benches of the two cards are very close because of this.

You could just drop in an upgraded g4 single for about 300 bucks and you are done, my machine benches faster than a stock dual g4 1.25 ghz machine, so I am pleased, I use it for pro video stuff. maybe bring ram up to 1 gig, and that should be fine. Granted my video card does not support core video in Tiger, I am using Panther mostly anyway as the new Quicktime is messing up my video software.


macrumors 65816
Jan 27, 2005
One Endless Loop
For the price of upgrading you can sell your computer and buy a G5. Apple sells refurb dual 2ghz G5s for $1649. Ask them for a deal and they knock $50 off. Got mine for $1599.


macrumors newbie
Jun 7, 2005
sawtooth prices

These days a 400 g4 Sawtooth that is stock goes for up to 300 bucks or so on Ebay, so still cheaper to drop in a single g4 than get a refurb g5. All depends on how much you want to spend really.....

crap freakboy

macrumors 6502a
Jul 17, 2002
nar in Gainsborough, me duck
My G4 sawtooth run Panther really well, with minimal beachballing.
If you are thinking of upgrading the motherboard be aware that not all sawtooths can have dual sonnets installed. To find out if yours can do the following in Terminal. from the command line, type the following-
ioreg -n uni-n | grep device-rev
In the line following the text you typed, find the number following the words "device-rev". If the number following the seven zeros is 3, your Sawtooth is not able to have the Dual upgrade.
As for graphics card the Ati 9000 should do fine, anything more is a waste due to the AGP bottleneck of x2. More details here , although the 9000 doesnt support ADC only DVI and VGA.


macrumors newbie
Jul 26, 2005
Powermac G4 450mhz AGP Upgrade

I just like 2 days ago aquired a G4 450mhz and have decided to upgrade it. My current machine is a iMac G4 800mhz and I have been wanting something with more power, but can't afford a brand new machine yet. So I went to Giga Designs and bought the 2ghz Upgrade G4 for 499. I also purchased 2 gigabytes of ram, 250 GB 7200 rpm hard drive, 60 GB 7200 rpm hard drive, 16x Dual Layer DVD burner from MCE Technologies, ATI 9200 128 mb ram and a USB 2.0 card from the sonnet website. Now all told i've spent, ohhhh, let me see about 800 bucks for it. I ebayed alot of it and got some pretty damn good deals. Oh and a 21 inch Apple CRT for 50 bucks and local pickup. In the next 2 or 3 days i'll have it all here and be rolling in my new comp. Although I haven't set this up yet, it's got to be leaps and bounds above where i am . Any suggestions or comments?


macrumors 68030
Jan 8, 2005
On the moon.
I'm running Tiger on a 400 MHz Yikes with a 7000 Radeon 64MB w/ PCI Extreme enabled and 1 GB of PC100, and it runs very nicely. Dashboard, all the animation is very smooth, and its quite snappy.

And hey, if you dont want it, I'll throw ya a bit of cash for it. :)


macrumors 603
Jul 17, 2004
oddball6996 said:
250 GB 7200 rpm hard drive
Uh... you did get a PCI controller card, right?

Otherwise you can only see 128GB of it. The onboard controller on older Macs is limited to that. Post-Quicksilver Macs are all good AFAIK.


macrumors 68020
Jul 4, 2002
Muncie, Indiana
Don't bother upgrading the CPU. The machine will run Tiger just fine. The only times it will seem slow is rendering video in iMovie. I would suggest adding some RAM, but since it's PC100 SDRAM you should be able to get it really cheap, and there are 4 SIMM slots so you can get cheap 256's. I know, I have the same machine.

Upgrading the CPU is very expensive and won't give you that big of a boost; 1GHz won't even double your Xbench because of the 100MHz bus. Getting a 7200RPM HD will give you a 10% boost for little money (say, $100), and a video card will likely help (around $50). You didn't say what optical drive you have, but if it's the ancient DVD-RAM, that drive is slow as molasses. You can get a fast DVD-ROM for $25.

As the other posters have said, don't put a lot of money into upgrading an old machine. Even the slowest 1.6GHz single G5 is more than twice as fast as your Sawtooth could ever be. But the Sawtooth is a better machine than most people think. It has just about the nicest cabinet any computer has ever had, with easy access to everything; a nice combination of ports; plenty of room for adding hard drives, cards and memory; and it looks good. Dust that baby off, get it out of the basement, and use it proudly.