Mac Daniel's Advice

Beige G3 a Good Value?

Korin Hasegawa-John - 2001.08.27

Q: I've seen beige G3 desktops (the 233 MHz ones) going on eBayfor $400 or less. Are these a good value?

A: It all depends on what you want to do. For simple database, spreadsheet, and word processing, they're fine. You can also play some games, although we're talking Marathon II (remember that?) and Quake (the original). They will run OS X (however, it's painfully slow), have PCI slots for video cards and the like, support cheap IDE drives, some have AV in and out, and they support inexpensive ZIF processor upgrades.

However, they also have a slower system bus (66 MHz) and don't have very fast IDE controllers. They also don't include newer ports such as USB and FireWire, although these can be added with a third party card. The built-in video is lousy (Rage II+ or Pro) as well, so if you want to play games such as Unreal Tourney, you need a third party card.

If you're looking to do a bit more, a better value might be the Power Mac G3 "Yosemite." These are the blue and Yosemite designwhite minitowers. They have all the new ports, a much better video card - the ATI Rage 128 (similar to the iMac's video card) - and a faster bus (100 MHz). They include a faster IDE controller as well.

Some of them include a DVD drive with a hardware decoder, allowing you to use a DVD movie as a dynamic desktop background, something you can't do with any other Mac (exception: WallStreet PowerBooks with DVD). Very cool.

Speeds range from 300-450 MHz, and they also support ZIF upgrades. Prices are about $750 for a Yosemite with a DVD drive.

To get similar specs for a beige G3, you'd need about $100 for a video card, $70 for a USB/FireWire card, and $200 for a processor upgrade, putting you in roughly in the same neighborhood. And you don't get the nifty DVD drive with it, either.

The beige G3 is a good computer, but in terms of bang-for-the-buck you may do better a little higher up on the scale - especially if FireWire, video, and overall speed are important to you.

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Editor's note: In recent months, the beige G3 has become the most popular Mac profile on our site. For more on that, see The Low End in Low End Mac. Recent sales on eBay have closed between $250 to $500. The blue & white G3 typically closed at $700-900.

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