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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Desktops > Upgraded PowerMac G4 or Intel iMac?

Upgraded PowerMac G4 or Intel iMac?
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Nov 7, 2006, 12:53 PM
 
Hello everyone! Just signed up today and had a question I have been thinking over for a while now. I am a huge Mac fan and have been all my life. I currently have a 12" PowerBook G4 1.5GHz which is a great laptop but it really lacks when is comes time to play games or do Photoshop work. My Dad has an old G3 Blue and White as well as a Quicksilver upgraded to dual 1.6s. I have always loved the Quicksilver as well as the MDD. So my question is whether or not it is worth spending $1000-$1500 on some PowerMac G4 (digital audio, Quicksilver or MDD) and upgrading it (processor, RAM, HD, graphics card, etc.) or to invest in a new iMac or something. I hate taking a step back when it comes to technology but for some reason I just love old PowerMacs. I cannot afford a MacPro or a G5 and kinda like the idea of having a one of a kind PowerMac G4.

So am I stupid? Does anyone have any experience with upgraded PowerMac G4. Does the slow bus speed (100 or 133 or 167MHz) really hinder any kind or processor/RAM upgrades? I was also intrigued with the new Sonnet dual 1.8s for the MDD that just came out. So lets hear some opinions. I'd love to have a customized G4 but am hesitant about older technology. Thanks.

-Sacha
     
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Nov 7, 2006, 01:02 PM
 
invest in a new imac...

i had a DA upgraded to dual 1.8s, 1.5gb ram, 9800 pro, raid, etc etc... It was fast and all, but after all that money I could have easily had at least a 20" iMac that would be as fast or faster at most everything (definitely faster after more apps are universal)...
     
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Nov 7, 2006, 02:43 PM
 
I'd rather spend it on a new machine …
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Nov 7, 2006, 04:25 PM
 
Go Intel.
     
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Nov 7, 2006, 04:37 PM
 
Another vote for an Intel machine.
     
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Nov 7, 2006, 04:57 PM
 
If you are worried about your photoshop performance, I am not sure that a C2D iMac would be much better in the current version, CS2. However, when CS3 come out, it will be much faster.

According to Macworld, photoshop runs about the same on both.
Macworld: Mac Laptops - 12-inch PowerBook G4/1.5GHz (SuperDrive) - Overview
Macworld: Mac Desktops - 17-inch iMac Core 2 Duo/1.83GHz - Overview

I would still recommend the iMac for CS3, because of the great cost of buying a G4 and upgrading it.
     
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Nov 7, 2006, 06:00 PM
 
new imac.

no contest.
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Nov 7, 2006, 06:43 PM
 
I bought an SP 1.8Mhz upgrade card for my Gigabit Ethernet G4 about a year ago. I had to return it for a replacement because my computer kept freezing. I returned the replacement card and if I remember correctly, another replacement card and still have a $300-something paperweight rather than a faster machine.

A friend of mine, who is a Mac tech, has installed a number of Sonnet's upgrade cards without any problems. Based on my bad experience, however, I cannot recommend going that route. I would recommend saving your money and buying a new machine.
     
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Nov 7, 2006, 09:13 PM
 
Intel
     
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Nov 8, 2006, 09:33 AM
 
Go Intel
I upgraded my G4/400 with a ATI 8500 and then a GigaDesign 1.2 GHz G4 4 years ago. Now I will not replace anything more expensive than the pram battery on it. It is still a useful computer but the writing is on the wall that it is to be outdated. Many games are G5 and Intel only and next year I am sure we will see Intel only games and apps. Windows in Parallells is also a good thing for those odd win only apps

I got a second G4/400 for free, I have not upgraded it one bit...There are no resonably priced AGP cards for the G4 (a nvidia 6600 for 100-150€ would be resonable). The lack of USB 2 is an other thing that cost a bit to fix. The 128 GB disk limit is one more thing...

A free tower and a 300 dollar 1.8 GHz G4 is resonable deal but adding graphics, RAM IDE cards, disks, US2 card and so on it starts to look really silly as an investment.

If you as a hobby "pimp" a PM 7500 with 1 GHz G3 ATI 9200 and all the trimmings that is OK but sinking money in old computers is a silly way if you want a good computer at a good price
     
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Nov 8, 2006, 10:03 AM
 
Heavily upgrading an old machine rarely makes sense. Once in a while it does - for instance, if you've already put some meaningful upgrades into it, or if you can somehow get something nice for SIGNIFICANTLY less than a new computer. But why spend so much on ancient hardware when you can have new stuff?

Absolutely no contest, get the iMac. I'd spend $600, max, on a Power Mac G4.

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Nov 8, 2006, 09:06 PM
 
Thanks for the replies guys. Always good to hear some first hand expereinces and it sounds like its just not worth it. Thanks again.

By the way, great forum you have here.
     
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Nov 15, 2006, 12:42 PM
 
Had another question I figured I'd just post here. Do you think apple will ever offer a non-pro machine in tower form. The iMac is about at the speed I want but is limited to RAM and HD in terms of expandability plus I don't necessarily need the monitor. The MacPro is way too expensive and overkill. Think it's out of the question that Apple might bridge the gap between pro and consumer machines some more?


-Sacha
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Nov 15, 2006, 01:52 PM
 
Not any time soon.
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Nov 15, 2006, 02:58 PM
 
The Quickslvers had some issues -- wimpy power supply (means you can't add too many drives, or a really powerful video card) only 3 RAM slots (max. 1.5 gig) and I've had overheating issues with mine. I think it's because the RAM slots are situated right between the CPUs and the video card. When it gets too warm in here, I've got to crack the case, or everything gets crashy & unstable.

Go for the new machine.

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Nov 18, 2006, 10:57 PM
 
Powerlogic Dual 1.7ghz--$499
2 channel Sata cntroller card-$49.95
250 gb seagate 7200 ata drive-$79.99
4pins to 24pins power adapter cable-$4.00)
Pc133 512mb ram-$67.99
Ati 900 agp 128vram-129.95
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Nov 18, 2006, 11:00 PM
 
All price quoted are from OWC by the way.
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Nov 19, 2006, 02:27 AM
 
I'd go with the PowerMac G4. I love those machines.
     
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Nov 19, 2006, 09:58 AM
 
Originally Posted by wubrew View Post
Powerlogic Dual 1.7ghz--$499
2 channel Sata cntroller card-$49.95
250 gb seagate 7200 ata drive-$79.99
4pins to 24pins power adapter cable-$4.00)
Pc133 512mb ram-$67.99
Ati 900 agp 128vram-129.95
Not retiring an old friend since 2000-PRICELESS
Hoping to maintain that friendship 5 more years -$175/year go figure
You are seriously going to tax the power supply on a QS with all that -- take it from someone who's tried. I had to pull the video card out of mine & go back to the orig. Radeon 7500 because after a while, it'd fail to boot, or fail to power the vid. card, or fail to power the ATA bus. You might get a few months out of it, or you might not.

When a true genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift.
     
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Nov 19, 2006, 12:43 PM
 
Originally Posted by chris v View Post
You are seriously going to tax the power supply on a QS with all that -- take it from someone who's tried. I had to pull the video card out of mine & go back to the orig. Radeon 7500 because after a while, it'd fail to boot, or fail to power the vid. card, or fail to power the ATA bus. You might get a few months out of it, or you might not.
The power supply could *easily* handle those upgrades. I've had much more than that in G4s with much weaker PSUs than the Quicksilvers had. Sounds like your machine was having some kind of malfunction.

Originally Posted by wubrew View Post
Powerlogic Dual 1.7ghz--$499
2 channel Sata cntroller card-$49.95
250 gb seagate 7200 ata drive-$79.99
4pins to 24pins power adapter cable-$4.00)
Pc133 512mb ram-$67.99
Ati 900 agp 128vram-129.95
Not retiring an old friend since 2000-PRICELESS
Hoping to maintain that friendship 5 more years -$175/year go figure
You could save a few bucks by stepping down to the $29.99 SIIG 2-port S-ATA card and buying the RAM used from some message board for 1/2 the price.

Also, avoid PowerLogix. Their future is questionable at best. Pick up a Dual 1.7GHz GigaDesigns upgrade for $431 here; MacGurus: GigaDesigns CPU Upgrades
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Nov 19, 2006, 02:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
The power supply could *easily* handle those upgrades. I've had much more than that in G4s with much weaker PSUs than the Quicksilvers had. Sounds like your machine was having some kind of malfunction.

]
My problem specifically was with a Radeon 9600 Pro 256 MB edition that ATI had a tech note posted on, but now I can't find it on the new AMD page. It ran fine for several months, then one day, black screen. I also have 3 drives in the thing --2 on the ATA bus, & 1 connected by a SATA PCI card. I spoke to someone at OWC who said he'd seen widespread probs. with the PS on the Quicksilver machine (I.E. not beng able to handle all that I was trying to run in it) but maybe he was full of sh*t. Anyway, going back to the orig. Radeon 7500 fixed the issue, so I had no reason to believe that he was incorrect.

I stuffed the Radeon 9600 Pro in my G5, and it's been happy there.

When a true genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift.
     
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Nov 19, 2006, 07:52 PM
 
No problem except I need to push power button to wake thr QS. Normally pushing enter or moving mice would have done it. Worth it for using Adobe CS withmy original ACD 22".
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Nov 27, 2006, 02:25 AM
 
Recently purchased a Digital Audio and I came across this thread looking to see just how many drives I can safely install internally and not strain the power supply.

I've added an 8500 video card, 1 G Ram to the 256 present, 1.5 G OWC mercury extreme processor for a total investment of under $600 including initial G4 purchase. Had a Miles Initio UW SCSI card lying around and 36 G IBM and 50 G Seagate SCSI drives which installed fine in addition to 40 G IDE drive internal.

Running 10.3.9 beautifully with no sleep issues or any problems. This was an improvement over my old 9600 which had been upgraded to a Sonnet G4/700/1.5G Ram also running Panther via XPostFacto.

Opening Photoshop went from 45 seconds or more to about 14.
It's all about what you are expecting and what programs you need to run.
Figure I'll be OK for a couple years and then I'll get the latest and greatest.

I would like to add another ATA drive to the piggyback sled but now I'm not sure whether the fourth drive will compromise the power supply.
Comments?
     
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Nov 27, 2006, 01:03 PM
 
You go man! k-bear2. If the addition become too much fro the PM you can always take it out and use it as an external. BTW the sleep/wake issue is solved when I use the pci HD to boot instead of the native one. I will further upgade to 10.4.8. Why use multi small older 'less efficient drives' get a new BIG hd and get rid of the other two. As I recall DA PM do not have a 120g limit (I can be wrong). The prices at OWC for all you need are very reasonable. Enjoy.
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Dec 2, 2006, 02:46 AM
 
Thanks wubrew for the reply.

I read in MacTracker that 4 drives are supported so I should be OK adding another. The SCSI drives are pretty quick, faster than the 40 G on the ATA bus though as you note they are small in today's world. I'm actually thinking of taking out the Seagate and putting it in an external SCSI box so I can use it as an emergency boot for my Wallstreet which is upgraded also and running Panther just fine. It can't use USB/FW to boot but it can SCSI so that may be a good use of one of those drives. The Seagate is noisier during seek than the IBM (which is really quiet) so it will go to the external.

Been also thinking of getting an ATA or SATA controller since that is one way to avoid the 120G limit which the DA does have unfortunately. Have several external FW/USB drives from 60-300G so I have plenty of backup for the internals on the DA.

BTW, kbear is woman.
     
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Dec 6, 2006, 04:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by kbear2 View Post
Thanks wubrew for the reply.

I read in MacTracker that 4 drives are supported so I should be OK adding another. The SCSI drives are pretty quick, faster than the 40 G on the ATA bus though as you note they are small in today's world. I'm actually thinking of taking out the Seagate and putting it in an external SCSI box so I can use it as an emergency boot for my Wallstreet which is upgraded also and running Panther just fine. It can't use USB/FW to boot but it can SCSI so that may be a good use of one of those drives. The Seagate is noisier during seek than the IBM (which is really quiet) so it will go to the external.

Been also thinking of getting an ATA or SATA controller since that is one way to avoid the 120G limit which the DA does have unfortunately. Have several external FW/USB drives from 60-300G so I have plenty of backup for the internals on the DA.

BTW, kbear is woman.
Sorry.
However you should still go with newer HD and notice the difference. Consolidate all the data on the new drive and add more drives if you wish. Like you i hate to discard thing especially still works. I used my original 4G, and the 2nd 40G as portable FW drive. The 4G with os9. 40 G as backup. I now have 3 new HD in my QS. What a difference! Quiet, faster, snapppier and tons of space. 2 of them with a SATA pci card the other replaced original. SCSI drives are great except it cost much more$$$/GB. I have Ultra SCSI installed and use it only for high power scanning. Since FW & USB2, SCSI has been ignored! Seagate or IBM is good. Shop around can get 160GB < $75. That seems to be the price point. Bigger one cost much more. Look for one with lower power cosumption. Beware of higher rpm ie.>7200 rpm. Really taxed on the limited power supply PM G4 as well as PB G4 can sustain. You will find more threads here showing you that becase of the tech advance some 5400 rpm drive perform as good or better than equal GB 7200rpm drive.
Cheers man I meant lady
( Last edited by wubrew; Dec 6, 2006 at 05:01 PM. )
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Dec 6, 2006, 07:05 PM
 
Originally Posted by wubrew View Post
Seagate or IBM is good. Shop around can get 160GB < $75.
Even for a Seagate (with their 5 year warranty), $75 will get you 250GB. 320GB is another $20ish.
     
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Dec 7, 2006, 03:41 AM
 
wubrew, I too have Ultra SCSI for those internal drives, that's why they are pretty quick. But you're right about the size, they are small. I did actually check out that large SCSI drive you mention that is available but I was afraid it would be noisy like the Seagate SCSI I now have. Will most likely get a controller for future ATA/SATA drives.
Will wait to see if Ms. Claus has anything left over this year.

mduell, that price was for a SCSI drive which is actually pretty cheap. And yes, you can get much larger ATA/SATA drives for similar price. I have two USB/FW externals with 300G Seagates for backup as well as a two other 3.5 and two 2.5 drives for portable backup.
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