Muschamp Rd

Upgraded my old Power Mac G4

March 12th, 2009
Power Mac G4

I have an old G4 Power Mac Tower, a 400MHz “Sawtooth” model. One of the many selling features was the CPU was on a daughter card. It has served me and my family well since I bought it. I mainly use it to store and play music now, but when I learned it was too slow to run the latest version of OS X I decided to upgrade.

I bought a Newer Technology upgrade card. Installation wasn’t a problem, the problems I had was one, I had it hooked up to a TV via S-Video which their firmware upgrade utility wouldn’t work over and two I was using a wireless keyboard and mouse. So in the end I had to buy the cheapest, smallest flat screen monitor I could find at Best Buy before I could install the several hundred dollar upgrade card I had ordered.

I now have 1800 MHz CPU with two fans, it is noticeably louder even when just idling, but it is silent when put to sleep. I ran Xbench but now things are settle down more I’ll rerun it. The original hard drive is only 10 Gigabytes, so I had to install Leopard on my second hard drive, move my user account to that hard drive, then erase and install Leopard on the original hard drive, move my user account again. iTunes lost some metadata, that always seems to happen which is why I need my G4. Though considering I upgraded the hard drive in my laptop too not long ago I suppose I could fit my entire collection on my laptop now.

One upswing of the upgrade is the ability to use Time Machine instead of Retrospect, but to get the most out of Time Machine I’ll probably get a Time Capsule, that is what Apple wants, and hardware/software interaction is what Apple does best, see the iPod and the iPhone. The faster CPU magically solved my iPod synching issues so everything is good in Musk’s Mac land.

But not anytime soon, I need to pay off debt.

Eventually I got a bigger boot disk, apparently I detailed my purchase in a comment below. The original 10 GB one caused upgrade issues and now Apple says it isn’t big enough to download System Upgrades. Hard drives are cheap and I think I can put three or four inside my case, so I can even keep the 10 GB for some evil purpose. While googling, I found an article on a very similar upgrade to mine. He has a 7200 RPM hard drive which I always wanted as it makes a fairly big difference when running OS X.

This computer has been in storage while I lived in China. Now I’m back in Canada and after finding a new job I got it up and running. It booted up no problems. I even remembered the password after over four years. The M-Audio Transit didn’t work but once I got internet access that too works. But this Frankenstein G4 with upgraded CPUs and GPUs and three hard drives is too loud to be a digital jukebox. Plus Apple really doesn’t want 20 year old computers using the iTunes store so I think eventually it will be replaced with an Apple TV which won’t have an optical drive but I have a Blu-ray player to play my movies on. I will have to add a new picture when I get everything just how I want it in my living room again.


  • Muskie says:

    My Sonnet Tempo Serial ATA and matching hard drive arrived from FedEx. Once again it arrived on a Friday. I’m not sure I’m willing to spend my Friday night upgrading my Mac again.

    The FedEx guy remembered me and what I ordered. I told him about my next upgrade plans and I told people in my office. For the 600 plus dollars I’ve spent I could have bought a Mac Mini. Besides more hard drive space and more Firewire ports, my ever more Frankenstein G4 has little over the mini. It is bigger, louder now, has a slower system bus, slower RAM. I’m not sure how much faster serial ATA, 7200 RPM, and 16 MB of cache will be, but that 10 GB drive that this computer came with is probably pretty pokey.

    I do enjoy listening to my music. Next up some sort of external digital audio I/O box. I already looked at them at Tom Lee’s. The salesman recommend one about 3-400 hundred dollars. Canadian dollars matters again because of the exchange rate.

  • Muskie says:

    I just ordered a Serial ATA PCI card and a matching hard drive which should be way huger and way faster than the default 10 GB disk that is still my start up drive in my old G4 Loretta. I wish XBench would get their website working as after this next batch of 200 dollar upgrades, maybe I can run Civilization IV or something useful, or maybe I’ll just use it to do backups, share the internet wirelessly, and play music. Even stream it over the internet with Simplify Media.

    Too much time in front of a computer today, not enough painting, but I still have one large unfinished posting I really should finish.

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