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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Desktops > Power Mac G5 Upgrades?

Power Mac G5 Upgrades?
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Fresh-Faced Recruit
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Jun 14, 2010, 01:08 AM
 
Hey all,

I recently dug my old (early 2005) dual 2.0 ghz power mac G5 out of the closet, where it has been vacationing for a few years while I was too mobile to lug it around. Now that I have access to it, I'm looking to resume using Photoshop CS3 and do a fair amount of photo editing (no video...). The tower currently has 1 gb of memory and a 160 gb hard drive.

My question is simply: What sort of upgrades should I try to give the thing? I figure memory and hard drive space are a must, but there are tons of open slots inside - should I fill them with anything to move the computer forward a few years?

The question seems pretty elementary, but I just have no idea how to keep the computer current...

Thanks.
     
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Jun 14, 2010, 01:22 AM
 
More RAM is good. You can expand to (early 2005: 8 GB official / possibly 16 GB unofficial) (late 2005: 16 GB official / 64 GB unofficial). 4 should be plenty, but 64 will draw the admiration of all the geek girls.

A modern hard drive will be bigger and quite a bit faster. A 2nd HD would be good for Time Machine backups.

You don't really need expansion cards unless you want more than two monitors. Or more than 2 SATA drives.
( Last edited by reader50; Jun 14, 2010 at 02:15 AM. )
     
Clinically Insane
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Jun 14, 2010, 02:01 AM
 
1. RAM - that's an easy one (remember to buy matched pair kits)

2. Fast hard drive

3. Graphics card flashed for G5s from eBay. You can check out Todd's posts in the YouTube performance thread for more information. I recently replaced a Radeon 9800 with a Nvdia 6800, and aside from not having dual link DVI anymore I'm pretty happy.

4. eSATA card perhaps

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
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Jun 15, 2010, 05:09 PM
 
As a 2x2 G5 owner, I agree with adding as much RAM as you can afford. Photoshop loves RAM. Though, I think there's an upper-limit to how much RAM CS3 can access. A new/second HD would be good, too, especially if your plan is to work with Photoshop. A second drive would be good for use as a scratch disc.

I'm less convinced that a new graphics card would make any difference. AFAIK, Photoshop 3 doesn't access the graphics card for anything. I'm pretty sure graphics card acceleration came in with CS4. But, for other non-Photoshop stuff, it may be worthwhile. I put a Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Special Edition in my G5 and was very pleased. I'm not a big-time gamer, though.
     
Mac Elite
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Jun 15, 2010, 07:29 PM
 
I've got an old dual G5 of these lying around. Mine would only take DDR400. Anything else it wouldn't pick up at all. It's pretty happy with 2.5 GB of RAM for web surfing and that sort of thing on Leopard. More RAM is good. 1GB will make it feel like it is a lot slower than it is really capable of. I'd just pick up a pile of the cheap stuff at newegg.com.

+1 on the HDD, too. You could drop in 1TB for $70. If you end up replacing the machine with something better, you've got a NAS!

I don't think I'd bother with a graphics card. The one in there is good enough for what you're doing.
     
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Jun 21, 2010, 05:56 PM
 


Believe me having the full 8 is a nice thing but I'm starting to see limitations with certain audio software where the G5 2.5's will actually
hit the wall. Caches just not big enough and the bus in this thing could have been faster. For its time pretty cool, still pretty cool but
it's starting to show its limits. I still like it though.
     
P
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Jun 22, 2010, 04:01 AM
 
It's the latency to main memory. The theoretical memory bandwidth in the G5 2.5 is very high even by modern standards, but the latency is abysmal and yes, the caches are too small. Way too small. The Power4 that the G5 is based on had 16MB L2 cache. The first G5 had 512KB.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Jun 24, 2010, 12:01 AM
 
6 years is an amazing service lifetime for an audio editing machine. If you get another year out of it, you'll have done excellently.
     
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Jun 24, 2010, 05:49 PM
 
Yes, it's really done well for me. I've recording several dozen full length CD projects with it, at least one full length concert DVD and dozens of little youtube clips.

it's my main "surf the web, watch anime, entertain the monkey behind the keyboard" machine.

I bought it June 15, 2005 so it's over five years old now. Hard to believe, seems like it was just yesterday that I took it home.
     
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Jun 24, 2010, 05:52 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
It's the latency to main memory. The theoretical memory bandwidth in the G5 2.5 is very high even by modern standards, but the latency is abysmal and yes, the caches are too small. Way too small. The Power4 that the G5 is based on had 16MB L2 cache. The first G5 had 512KB.
Yep. PPC970FX v3.0 have 512 kilobyte caches. I think if this machine had larger caches (ala 2 MB or so)
it still would be a monster even today but that would be impossible to add on so......

As it is, it's amazing the changes that have come since those heady days of the G5.
     
voo
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Jun 26, 2010, 03:58 AM
 
Todd, how fast is your G5 bootup to login desktop all ready for action?

Originally Posted by Todd Madson View Post
I bought it June 15, 2005 so it's over five years old now. Hard to believe, seems like it was just yesterday that I took it home.
Thats when I more or less got mine.

I'm still on the stock hard drive, heh! 250GB, 500GB on the next bay. I'm really needing to change the drive. Can feel how slow it is to the Samsung. Plus my Leopard install is coming up in 3 years now. Had Leopard installed the day it was released.
     
P
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Jun 27, 2010, 02:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by Todd Madson View Post
Yep. PPC970FX v3.0 have 512 kilobyte caches. I think if this machine had larger caches (ala 2 MB or so)
it still would be a monster even today but that would be impossible to add on so......
Actually the 16 MB cache on the Power4 should be considered an L3 cache, as there was a very complex L2 cache as well (correcting myself before someone else does). The issue is that the entire core design was based on the idea of a big cache to hold a large dataset, and without that, the entire pipeline stalled way too often. If you had known in the design phase that the big cache might not be there, you could do something about it. The Power5 was interesting here, as it added simultaneous multithreading (what Intel calls Hyperthreading) and an integrated memory controller - it was basically Nehalem in 2004. A dual core, L3-less version of this as the G6 would have been a very interesting chip.

Ah well. It turned out pretty OK with Intel as well, and there was always that little issue of no real laptop CPU.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
   
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