Power Mac G4 Upgrade Guide

I own a Power Mac G4 (FW800) M8841LL/A, which is an older server computer made by Apple. It originally comes with two 1.42GHz PowerPC G4 chips, 512MB PC2700 RAM, a 7200RPM 120GB hard drive, and a Radeon 9000 Pro. This hardware is fairly out of date, so I’ve upgraded it some; however, I aim to get the maximum performance out of this system. Below is a list of hardware I will purchase, as well as an explanation as to why the upgrade will help

Graphics

  • Nvidia GeForce 7800 GS
    • Released 2006, supports Core Image and OpenGL 2.0
    • Runs Mac OS X Leopard very smoothly
    • Precautions
      • Requires pins 3 and 11 to be taped
      • Make sure you get the Power Mac G5 edition, as the PC versions will not work on Macs out of box
      • If you buy a Mac-flashed PC card, beware of improperly flashed setups. I would personally spend the extra money to buy an Apple OEM card.

RAM

  • 2x1GB PC3200 DDR DIMMs
    • Although this Mac supports PC2700, it will accept PC3200. I found PC3200 cheaper, and it can be used in other computers. I consider it more forward compatible.

SATA II card

  • This Power Mac sports PCI 64-bit, which has a bandwidth of 266MB/s. Because of this, I suggest getting a SATA II card to upgrade your Mac, as SATA II can use the full bandwidth of your PCI slots, whereas SATA I is capped at 187.5MB/s. If you are a Time Machine user, I suggest having the Time Machine backup drive on the IDE interface to prevent the SATA interface from becoming overly saturated. A SATA II SSD would be a very good drive for this card.

Hard drive/SSD

  • I will be purchasing an OWC Mecury Electra 3G SSD 240GB for my Mac. If you wish to use a solid state drive, I suggest using an OWC-manufactured drive, as their drives have firmware-enabled TRIM, which is important because Mac OS X does not support TRIM on third party SSDs, or on older Macs. Here is an OWC-provided guide on how to replace the hard drives on the system (the IDE jumper is not needed on SATA drives).

Time Machine

  • Because of the low cost of hard drives today, I would honestly suggest that everyone set up a Time Machine backup. Because the Time Machine backup does not need to be extremely fast, you can install a simple IDE drive of any size and capacity, as long as it can fit the backups from your main drive (Time Machine ≥ Macintosh HD). It’s actually better if your Time Machine is slower than your main disk, as it prevents your computer from slowing down as much while Time Machine is running.

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