The Low End Mac Mailbag

G4 or Intel mini for Video?, G3 Support in Leopard, Searching for an Old Mac, and More

Dan Knight - 2007.04.24

Old Mac or New Mac mini for Video Work?

Dan,

A good friend of mine at work keeps looking at eBay and finding dual 1 GHz and below G4 Power Macs that he wants to use for editing family movies and other iLife activities, etc. Would he be better off just buying a newer Dual Core Mac mini and using external FireWire or USB 2.0 drives?

I love the old hardware but it seems like he can find a SuperDrive mini for less than what a G4 would be?

What do you think?

Thanks for your help,
Joe

Hi Joe,

I work with a dual 1 GHz Power Mac G4, and it's a wonderful computer for almost everything I do. Except. For. Video.

The G4 was a powerhouse in its day, but processing video is a long, slow process on these old workhorses - and always has been. By the time you max out RAM and put a fast hard drive in a used Power Mac, you've more than covered the cost of a new Mac mini.

Unless your friend needs Classic mode, I can't see any reason to choose a Power Mac over a dual-core Mac mini. Max out RAM to 2 GB, buy an external FireWire/USB 2.0 hard drive, add iLife, and work efficiently. You can even buy fairly large internal 7200 rpm drives for the mini these days (200 GB drives have recently been announced).

Dan

G3 Support in Leopard

Hi,

I don't know how to tell Apple this, but it would really benefit them to keep G3 support in Leopard. I've brought in a whole bunch of "switchers" who were willing to pay $100 for a used G3 just to try out the Mac. They weren't willing to invest in a Mac mini yet.

As long as the G3 is still supported, Apple will have a huge reservoir of inexpensive used machines to bring in new users. You could do a story on this, and Apple might actually read it (?)

Thanks for your great website and swap list. I check it daily.

Scott Cook
Reluctant Radio
Grand Prairie, TX

Hi Scott, and thanks for writing.

I agree with you, but I can understand why Apple may not. The Mac OS has always been about the user experience, and most G3 Macs (as well as older G4s) are already straining with Tiger (OS X 10.4).

As nice as it is to run the latest version of the Mac OS, except for new software that requires Tiger, I think my dual 1 GHz Power Mac G4 would be more efficient with Panther (OS X 10.3). I'm pretty sure the same can be said of most G3 Macs.

At Low End Mac, we love old Macs, and we want to see them kept in use as long as practical - but most of the time that means using an older version of the Mac OS.

If Apple were to ask my opinion, I'd suggest that Leopard (OS X 10.5) support any G3 Mac with a 500 MHz or faster CPU and at least 16 MB of video memory. This would keep the Summer 2001 iMacs and May 2002 iBooks on the supported list.

Anything slower than that is probably better off running 10.3. And we can expect Ryan Rempel to do his best to make a version of XPostFacto to support Leopard on as many older Macs as possible.

Dan

Laurence Gartel's Search for an Old Mac

After reading New Is Boring, So Back to the Old, Gene Osburn writes:

Hi Dan,

If Laurence buys that 8100 and is happy with it, more power to him! However, please let him know that there are lots of more recent Power Macs that will almost certainly run that old software of his . . . and that they can be had dirt cheap!

For example, two of my PCI Power Macs that have fallen into disuse - an 8600 and a Power Computing PowerCenter Pro. Both are currently in various stages of reassembly. Please tell Laurence that if he wants either of these, I'd be happy to send it to such a good home for the cost of shipping + a few bucks:

  1. 8600 mobo with 350 MHz Mach V CPU in Power Mac 7500 desktop case. This puppy is screamingly quick in OS 8.6, which I'm 95% certain will run any/all of those old apps of his. If he'd prefer System 7, I'm positive that OS 7.6 will run those apps. I'd include an install CD of his preferred OS, natch. Config would also include at least 512 MB interleaved RAM, 2 MB onboard VRAM + TwinTurbo video card (9600 pull) for dual monitors, and 7200 RPM Seagate 36 GB hard drive.
  2. PowerCenter Pro MT with 240 MHz 604e + 1 MB L2 cache. As you know, the 60 MHz bus allows this unit to "perform bigger" than the specs would suggest. The 512 MB RAM limit is probably its only significant shortcoming . . . and that's a huge amount of RAM for the old "Classic" OSes. Same config options as the 8600.

Feel free to pass on my contact info.

Pax,
Gene

Gene,

Thanks for writing. I'm forwarding your email to Laurence.

I remember lusting after the kind of hardware you mention here - and then watching the blue & white G3 leave them in the dust. Then the G4. Then the G5. Now the Core 2 Duo.

I don't know what it is about the 8100 that makes Laurence Gartel want that model, but I have some thoughts.

  1. It was the fastest NuBus Power Mac ever.
  2. It was very expandable.
  3. It still used SCSI hard drives.
  4. Apple made an AV version of the 7100 and 8100.
  5. The tower design allows for more internal drives than the 7100 and has a smaller footprint.

But there seems to be more at work here than a lust for power or a desire to use "outdated" software. It's rediscovering an experience that's been lost along the way - a big part of the reason some Low End Mac readers love to use their older Macs even when they have newer ones.

Dan

Connecting a Mac to a Korg Keyboard

Sunil Patel writes:

Hi I need some information on buying right Mac laptop for connecting a Korg keyboard (x50) then put this software in that Mac. Then I will need to connect Internet, I already have Comcast.

Mainly I will use it for making music. What software do I need? Are there any websites that help (other than just Apple.com) which tells me more info about interfacing it to keyboards and other explanations without buying more computers later on. I bought a Pentium 4D, and it keeps crashing with simple fruity loop program so that's one reason I am going to buy a Mac.

Sunil,

This is way beyond my area of expertise. I'll post your question in the Low End Mac Mailbag and hope some readers can offer advice.

Dan

AirPort Card for WallStreet

I'd like to find an AirPort Card for WallStreet - but on eBay, there are so many kinds of AirPort Card that I can't tell which kind will work for a WallStreet G3.

Please advise.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,
Alan Lance Andersen

Hi Alan,

You won't find an AirPort card for WallStreet, as the computer was discontinued before Apple first offered AirPort (which was on the 300 MHz iBook, July 1999). The oldest PowerBook to support AirPort is the Pismo from Feb. 2000.

There are several third-party WiFi PC Cards that will work with older 'Books, but you'll want to make sure they support whatever version of the Mac OS you're running before buying one.

I'm forwarding your email to Charles W. Moore, who writes the Miscellaneous Ramblings column and in much more knowledgeable about WallStreet PowerBooks.

Dan

Help, I Have a Dead iMac!

Hi Dan,

I am the photographer Curtis Knapp. May I please bend your ear a minute.

I am for sure I am a 'low end guy'. I have been on a G3 Graphite iMac. Don't ask numbers or RAM or any ID questions please. It's on the floor and will not even light up (the button). I am in the middle (right now) of scanning my photos for a movie for Dennis Hopper and screwed as this is dead!

I think that is a 'Apple iMac DV Special Edition', and it was good enough for me and really cranked quick good. I had 9.2.2 and OS X 10.2.5 in it. I mainly used the 9.

I use an MO [magneto-optical] drive for saving photo files. (Much easier than DVDs. but that's another story.)

I have no time to sit and learn a new system as the movie started today. I am online looking for a new/old Graphite right now.

I saw at someone's office larger than iMac type of computer. Looked like a large iMac (white in color). Do you know what that model is?

Any idea on where to go to find a Graphite - 'Apple iMac DV Special Edition' at a low price? Other than eBay or Craigslist?

Or any suggestions? In very simple terms?

Thank you very much,
Curtis
www.curtisknapp.com

Hi Curtis,

The oversized white iMac you saw was probably an eMac, which has a 17" display, a G4 processor, and weighs about 65 lb. I've had a few over the years, and they are pretty powerful and fairly reliable.

You might check our Swap List for a used G3 iMac or G4 eMac. You might even find someone close by. Early eMacs can boot into Mac OS 9, but the newer ones can only run it in Classic mode.

Dan

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Dan Knight has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. Mailbag columns come from email responses to his Mac Musings, Mac Daniel, Online Tech Journal, and other columns on the site.

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