Mac Daniel's Advice

Yikes! This Power Mac G4 Just Isn't Worth the Money

Dan Knight - 2003.03.05 - Tip Jar

This week we're looking at the value of four generations of Power Macs: the beige G3, blue & white G3, "Yikes" (PCI) G4, and early AGP G4s. Today we take a look at Apple's first budget Power Mac G4 - Yikes!

When Apple introduced the G4s on August 31, 1999 - about nine months after rolling out the b&w G3 - they Power Mac G4announced three models based on two different motherboards. The G4/450 and G4/500 has a brand new motherboard designed to support a higher speed memory access mode supported by the G3.

The entry-level G4/400 was based on a slightly modified Yosemite (b&w G3) motherboard.

Due to severe problems getting 500 MHz G4s out of Motorola, Apple bumped the speed of each model down 50 MHz in October 1999 with no reduction in price. (The 500 MHz Power Mac G4 finally shipped in February 2000.) Thus the Yikes! G4 is available in both 350 MHz and 400 MHz versions.

The Pros

The biggest benefit the Yikes! G4 has over the b&w G3 is the G4. Feature for feature, spec for spec the two models are nearly identical except for the CPU.

Except for the case color, dropping a G4 upgrade into a b&w G3 would essentially give you the same computer with the same performance.

Yes, the G4 is a wonderful CPU and all, but that's really the only advantage that Yikes! has over the G3 - and that can be solved with a CPU replacement.

The Cons

Compared to the b&w G3, the G4 has precisely one less feature: No ADB port.

As on the b&w G3, there is no SCSI in the standard G4 configuration, although Apple offered it as an option.

If the Ultra33 bus isn't fast enough, you can add a third-party Ultra66 or Ultra100 card, although I think most users will be happy with performance of the standard bus on Yikes!

Since it runs the same video card on the same 66 MHz PCI bus as the b&w G3, video performance is very nice under the classic Mac OS and very adequate under Mac OS X. You can improve this by adding a third-party PCI video card (the Radeon Mac Edition is a favorite). Although it will never match Quartz Extreme on the AGP Power Macs, you can have decent video performance under Mac OS X. And the G4 processor does help out when running Mac OS X - although you can also upgrade a b&w G3 with a G4 CPU.

Although we list the Yikes! G4 in our Power Mac G4 Price Tracker, I haven't seen any compelling prices. In fact, I've often seen the superior AGP models available for lower prices on the used market. With the typical Yikes! selling for around US$700, the b&w at half that, and G4 upgrades for the b&w G3 selling for far less than the difference, the Yikes! G4 is definitely overpriced.

A Poor Value?

When evaluating the beige G3 and b&w G3, we asked if either should be called a Low End Mac Best Buy. With the Yikes! G4, that isn't even an option. Instead, it should be put in the Road Apple category, since Apple already has a superior motherboard available.

Even with prices sometimes below $700, I can't see any reason to buy a Yikes! when a b&w G3 with a G4 upgrade costs less and will offer similar performance - or better with a faster CPU.

At today's prices, avoid this computer. It might merit a $100-150 premium over a b&w G3 at the same clock speed, but it's not worth $300-400 more. LEM

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