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Is the G4 1.5/64 Mac mini worth getting?

AndiS

Well-known member
Hi!

I found mentioned late 2005 G4 Mac mini with 1.5 GHz and 64 MB graphics. The seller does not ask too much so I will just get it in any case. Right now my "goto" PPC Mac is a 1.25 Ghz Mac mini model, running OS 9.2, Tiger and Leopard. It is great and having a (faster) spare will be a good thing.

But now the question. Is there any considerable advantage to the faster model with more Video-RAM? Late PPC games? Or when driving bigger screens? My current mini does for example not drive all 1920x1200 displays - except Apple's of course.

Experiences anyone? Tanks!
 

Franklinstein

Well-known member
At its core it's basically the same (167MHz bus, 1GB RAM max, PATA hard drive, etc) but the 1.5GHz model comes with a 20% CPU speed bump and of course double the video memory. You probably won't notice the graphics improvement day-to-day unless you do lots of video-intensive stuff but if you game it's a noticeable improvement. Plus it opens you up to games that previously wouldn't run on a 32MB GPU.

If you want to compare the performance improvement of just the GPUs you can clock up your 1.25GHz mini, they can usually handle 1.5GHz without a problem. Some will go higher but you'd have to edit some stuff in OS X if you want System Profiler to properly recognize a mini clocked over 1.5GHz.

I may download XBench and try the comparison myself since I already have an OC'd mini and a 1.5/64 model.
 

AndiS

Well-known member
Hi, thanks!

I'm not terribly interested in Benchmarks. I also have a 1.5 12" PowerBook for comparison, but this comes with a Geforxe FX 5200go (IIRC).

Im more interested in real-world experiences regarding gaming and screen sizes. I won't do heavy work with this machine anymore. The only "real-world" application I have nowadays is capturing some DV Tapes. And even G3 iMacs can do this well enough :)
 

Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
I don't know that you'll notice the speed difference except in benchmarks and/or if you're, say, doing some kind of rendering/compilation task under OS X.

I suspect the only thing you'll notice the graphics difference on is if you play, as you said, late OSX/PPC games, but even a lot of those are probably going to be better. Mostly what the extra VRAM gets you is more texture storage, which can make some games work better and may make higher resolutions possible, but IME in 2005 everyone was still turning their systems down to like 800x600 and 1024x768 to play games, even if they worked at much higher resolutions, so there's a couple ways to solve that problem.

That said, if you want it, and it's available and within your budget, I don't see any reason not to. Mac minis typically top the MacBench charts in OS 9 (even more than faster PowerMac G4s) because that bus speed does them LOTS of favors in raw numbers and the 32-64 meg Radeon 9200-9250 is almost certainly good enough for anything you'll ever need to do in OS 9.
 

Byrd

Well-known member
In OS X, the performance difference is pretty minimal - the reason you pay more for a "silent upgrade" Mac Mini 1.5/64 is you're competing with Amiga fans who want the smallest fastest PowerPC to run MorphOS.
 

Gorgonops

Moderator
Staff member
Plus it opens you up to games that previously wouldn't run on a 32MB GPU
Is there really anything that falls into this category? So far as I know the “grunt” of the GPU in the two models is basically the same, just one of them has more RAM integrated onto the die. (I could be mistaken but I‘m pretty sure the Mini used essentially a Mobility chip without external RAM.) Unless there’s some really edge case situation regarding texture memory starvation I’d assume they’d be mostly interchangable.
 

Franklinstein

Well-known member
For the era, on a Mac? I'm not sure. I don't really have an extensive library of Mac games to compare but it's not uncommon in PC land for stuff to not work properly with less VRAM but run fine with more, even on the same chip. From what games I do have at hand, The Sims 2 and SimCity 4 for Mac both say 32 is minimum, 64 recommended. So while 32MB would get you in the door, you'd have a better experience with 64MB. Civ IV does have a minimum 64MB VRAM requirement, but it also wants a G5, so that may not work anyway.
 

AndiS

Well-known member
As written above, it was rather cheap and I wanted to have a spare anyway. So I bought the "Silent Upgrade" Mac mini and it is here now. Time for some quick testing.

The CPU is 20% faster than my 1.25 GHz Model, no surprise there. The OpenGL performance is exactly the same with benchmarks that do not take VRAM into account. But I was asking for practical differences, and there I can report great success. The 64 MB VRAM version is able to drive my Eizo 1920x1200 screen, whereas the 32 MB VRAM version is not.

Years ago I had a Dell 1920x1200 Screen that did work on the lower VRAM mini. So I guess I ran into the "able to drive 1920x1200 with coherent displays" issue that is written into the mini's specifications. It seems the 1.5 GHz/64 MB VRAM model can drive the screen just a bit quicker and is compatible with more "non-coherent" displays.

This is a big deal since it means I can remove one TFT from my desk. I'm pretty happy with that outcome. Now I just have to transfer the SSD from the older model and then I'm off to the races :)
 

ArmorAlley

Well-known member
For Mac OS 9.2.2 you have a 1250MHz G4 and you are thinking about a 1500MHz G4 with more VRAM.
The extra VRAM makes almost no difference for games designed for Mac OS 9.2.2.
The DVD-burner in the 1500MHz G4 might be a big plus point.
The hard disc is the slowest part of the mac mini G4 and sticking in an mSATA card in an IDE-adaptor will make it a lot faster.
That being said, the hard disc is not slow on the 1250MHz by any means.

My recommendation is this: if it will be a Mac OS 9.2.2 machine primarily, only pick up a 1420MHz (preferably Powermac 10,1) or a 1500MHz if one comes your way at a good price. You define what a good price is. For me, it's under $50, but it is your call. The minimum spec. for a Mac Mini G4 is more than enough for Mac OS 9.2.2 and is a great machine. 512MB is nice and makes browsing the Macintosh Garden easier.

Mac OS 9 on the Mac Mini G4 comes with a lot of idiosyncracies. It may also be that my particular Mac Mini G4 has health problems.
I believe that the rev. A models (Powermac 10,1) handle the USB sound card better than the rev. B models (Powermac 10,2). I have a 1500MHz model and I've connected it to a small bluetooth speaker via a simple headphone cable. The sound is not bad.

Problems that I have occasionally encountered are: mouse staying put in the upper left hand corner (and I have to restart), freezing, not handling sleep well and once you boot into Mac OS X, you need to boot with the Mac OS 9 CD to to be able to get back into the Mac OS 9 partition.
DVI is funny on Mac OS 9. It's connected to a 1600x1200 IBM monitor via VGA and there are no problems with VGA. Only some of the DVI screen sizes are supported. This may be a problem if you have it connecte dup to a KVM. It has also run 1920x1200 on VGA without any problem.

That being said, it is my file server (for the moment) and does a good job of it. It's running AppleShare 6. I have 2 firewire drives attached to it. I still playing Deus Ex on it and it handles it very smoothly.
 

AndiS

Well-known member
After some more testing I can report that the 64 MB mini reliably drives my EIZO 1920x1200 via DVI (the 32 MB mini does not). But this works only in Tiger or Leopard. In OS9 only smaller resolutions are supported. 1920x1200 shows ugly artifacts but it is possible to find the Monitors Control Panel for switching to lower resolutions. I did not test VGA yet.

once you boot into Mac OS X, you need to boot with the Mac OS 9 CD to to be able to get back into the Mac OS 9 partition.
For this reason it is helpful to install Mac OS 9 on a separate partition. You may then select the boot partition by holding down the "ALT" key on startup.

I bought my original 1.25 GHz Mac mini to use it as a file server in 2005. Starting with OS X Tiger, I moved it over to Linux about a year later when it was apparent that Apple cut back support for the PPC platform rather sooner than later. It worked well in this role until about 2009 or 2010 when it was replaced by something bigger with internal drives. Anyway - now with the possibility to boot OS9, Tiger and (Sorbet) Leopard, it is just a great machine for every PPC task! And with the newly aquired 1.5 GHz model, I have not only a faster one, but also a spare. Win! :)
 
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