Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Hello,

 

I own 6 PowerPC Macs in total (see them in my signature), and most of them I've found uses for. G5 is my main Mac, iMac G4 is for music and writing, iBook G4 is laptop, Intel iMac is file server. iBook G3s are collectables.

 

But then I have my Mac mini G4 which is not being put to good use right now. Which is sad, as it's one of my fastest systems. It just sits there, never used.

 

Any ideas for a good use for this guy?

 

Thanks,

 

Henry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I bought a Mac Mini G4 when it was new back in 2005.  It was a terrible machine then, and I would imagine even worse now.  As far as G4s go, its got to be one of the worst.  Terrible graphics card, 1GB max of slow DDR RAM, no gigabit ethernet, and still used ATA hard drives.  Now mine was the 1.25GHz model, and if you've got one of the 1.33 or 1.5GHz models it might be a little better but just about ANY other G4 powered desktop is a better choice for actually using, and the lack of gigabit ethernet really IMO hinders its ability to be a decent server.  Long story short, the G4 mini was actually one of the few systems I opted to sell rather than keep.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

seen threads on making them media servers and such.  I have not done it but most of my stuff is older.

Well, as I said, my Intel iMac is my server.

 

I bought a Mac Mini G4 when it was new back in 2005.  It was a terrible machine then, and I would imagine even worse now.  As far as G4s go, its got to be one of the worst.  Terrible graphics card, 1GB max of slow DDR RAM, no gigabit ethernet, and still used ATA hard drives.  Now mine was the 1.25GHz model, and if you've got one of the 1.33 or 1.5GHz models it might be a little better but just about ANY other G4 powered desktop is a better choice for actually using, and the lack of gigabit ethernet really IMO hinders its ability to be a decent server.  Long story short, the G4 mini was actually one of the few systems I opted to sell rather than keep.

 

I have a 1.5GHz model and it's really nice! The graphics must be pretty good too as I've run Minecraft at a reasonable speed on it. This machine is my second-fastest PPC, so I don't think I'll be selling...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have an 1.25 Ghz. Use mine as home file/backup/Music server, with two 1Tb external hd. Works very fine, 10.5 installed.

It also runs a private gopher server for my old machines to connect to.

G4 Minis have low power consumption, which makes them good small servers.

Edited by galgot

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, as I said, my Intel iMac is my server.

 

 

I have a 1.5GHz model and it's really nice! The graphics must be pretty good too as I've run Minecraft at a reasonable speed on it. This machine is my second-fastest PPC, so I don't think I'll be selling...

Yeah the 1.5GHz would be the one to own for sure with double the VRAM and some more CPU power.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I find they make good book ends and coasters.

 

In all seriousness, I'm on board with Hrududu. I have every G-series PPC Mac except for an iMac G5, and my Mini is one for which I just can't find a use. The complaints raised above are perfectly valid-slow, little memory, and poor graphics.

 

One of these days, I'm going to install MorphOS on mine as it's one of the easiest off-the-shelf systems for it, but that's really the only immediate use I can see for it.

 

I should say that my opinion of the G4 Mini does NOT extend to Intel Minis. I find even the earliest CoreDuo models to be quite nice machines.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've had 2 Mac mini G4s... They are by far the most useless of the G-series PPC Macs other than for a file server or time machine server. The graphics are laughable, and the 1GB RAM limit is a killer. My first MMG4, which was a 1.25GHz, went to @Bunnspecial and I decided to never get another unless it was free. Sure enough, someone offered me a free 1.42 maxed out MMG4, so now I have another. I installed Ubuntu Mate on it and it ran semi-decently, but was still very slow and limited.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I tried to use one about 5 years ago as a media server, but it was just too slow and laggy.

 

Tried the same about 3 years ago with an Intel Mac Mini, and no such issues...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've had 2 Mac mini G4s... They are by far the most useless of the G-series PPC Macs other than for a file server or time machine server. The graphics are laughable, and the 1GB RAM limit is a killer. My first MMG4, which was a 1.25GHz, went to @Bunnspecial and I decided to never get another unless it was free. Sure enough, someone offered me a free 1.42 maxed out MMG4, so now I have another. I installed Ubuntu Mate on it and it ran semi-decently, but was still very slow and limited.

 

When I look at the entire G-series of Macs from the Kanga(3400c with a G3 grafted on) to the G5, there are really only two "clunkers" that stand out. The "worst G series Mac" title would have to go to the first generation low-end Wallstreet, AKA the Mainstreet, with a passive matrix LCD and no L2 cache. The Mini is second. Both of these machines had abysmal specs when new, and time hasn't done them any favors.

 

Back in 2015, I made a point of using a different laptop every week of the 14 week semester when I was teaching. I pulled it off, although I it was helped by my collection expanding over that period. At the time I didn't have any pre-G Macs. I had to leave out iBook G3s since Airport cards can't even SEE our network, but most anything that could run Tiger or better and either had built in Airport Extreme or had a Cardbus slot was fair game. The Mainstreet meets both those qualifications, but got left out of the rotation since I didn't think my patience could handle it. I should add that were I to repeat, I'd likely cycle in my 292mhz Wallstreet-it would be slow but workable.

 

I commented to lightbulbfun that, to me, the Mini would not be a half bad OS 9 machine, and he tells me that it's one of the few G4s that hasn't been "cracked" successfully to run OS 9.

 

If I get motivated(a big thing) and have time(usually not an issue) this weekend I MIGHT install MorphOS on my G4 Mini. Then again, now that I've finally hit on a combination of parts that gives me 170psi of compression in my MG and should the engine from self destructing when it's started, I'm anxious to get it back together and on the road :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I, for one, don't think that the Mac mini was a bad machine. If it had gigabit ethernet and took up to 2 gigs, I think it'd have been perfect for most PowerPC things.

 

I got one new and used it for years as my primary machine. I had an Elgato EyeTV and had no problems using the system while it was recording or playing. It played Unreal better than the first generations of Intel Mac mini.

 

I still use one as a low power NetBSD machine, and another as a Leopard Server file server with several terabytes on Firewire. The NetBSD machine has a 2 TB 2.5" SATA in a SATA-IDE adapter in place of the DVD drive, and the Leopard Server machine has a 500 gig SATA SSD. They both run very well. For their time, I think they were quite good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I MIGHT install MorphOS on my G4 Mini.

 

I vaguely wonder how well the new Amiga X5000 benchmarks compares to the G4 Mini. I of course in vain tried to Google up an answer to that, but as usual I ran into that same wall of misdirection, excuses, and incompetence that crops up every time you try to find a fair comparison between these modern-day "Amigas" and anything else that's both far easier to lay hands on and costs a fraction as much. Judging from the track record of the X1000 I'm guessing it's a depressingly close contest.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At $499 for 1.25/256mb/40gb in 2005, the Mac mini was never going to be the best computer ever, but it was a good deal and it probably brought a lot of kids to the yard, so to speak.

 

I don't think it was ever going to be a particularly good long-term computer, much less useful for all that much (even its grand max config with an entire whole gigabyte of RAM) here in 2017, but it was a competent starter computer, switcher bait computer, and basic machine for the basic web and productivity needs of 2005.

 

Johnklos'  implied suggestion of bsd shellbox is probably one of the things an original Mac mini would be best at today -- other than putting 10.3 on it and using the basic productivity software of the day in 2005. iWork and iLife '05 would be great on it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ditching the original HDD can do a fair bit for performance too. The 80GB drive original to my 1.42GHz model was only 4200rpm which made the whole system dog slow. I put a WD 160GB 7200rpm drive in there before 2.5" PATA drives went extinct and it made a huge difference. I've started fooling around with MIDI and the mini makes a great machine for GarageBand.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry for my inactivity here. I thought I was receiving email notifications on this thread but apparently not!

 

Sounds like the majority of people here think the mini is a terrible machine with really bad performance. I'm with johnklos here; the mini has performed really well for me on Tiger and Leopard. Of course, since I use a G5 as my daily driver, we probably have different definitions of "bad performance". To me, you haven't seen slow until you try to use a Clamshell as your daily driver. Even that was acceptable. It depends on what you're used to.

 

For now, I do have a use for the mini. I'm helping out the developer of the amazing PPCAppStore by taking screenshots of apps to be used in the store. The mini is the machine I'm using for that. But I'll be done with that in a week, then I'll need to find a good use.

 

I don't think I'll be selling the mini as it has been useful at times. It's the spare machine that can be used whenever the need arises; like those PPCAppStore screenshots. I just don't usually have something I need it for, so it sits collecting dust.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For the price the Mini was probably an "acceptable" machine, if on the lower end of the mainstream performance spectrum, when it came out, but it really hasn't aged well, just like every other late G4 Mac.

My last Powerbook (still have it) was one of the 1.67ghz high-res screen models that came out the same year as the Mini, and its performance was *significantly* inferior to the better Pentium M laptops available at the time. The Mini was in roughly the same sort of position; by the time it came out a $499 PC would be a Celeron or even full Pentium 4 at close to 3ghz; here's a face-off between one and a mid-2004 vintage Celeron 335 and it looks about as bad. As bad as these look, though, you could at least sort of make with a straight face an argument they were in the same "ball park" as the competition; dollar-per-dollar they were both about two years behind the times, but most people will be reasonably happy with a two year old computer.

The problem really is that the shape of the ballpark completely changed only a year after it came out; instead of being 60-70% as fast as a comparably-priced Intel machine suddenly single-CPU G4 Macs were only around 25-30% as fast as a new Core Duo box. (Which, of course, included new Macs, not just Windows machines, so when universal binary software started coming out Mac users could see the speed difference for themselves directly.) That's one heck of a kneecapping. Systems like that poor Powerbook of mine which felt "okay" suddenly felt *soooo* slow; maybe it's just me but those systems sort of leave a bad taste in my mouth. The charade was *over*.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah. I don't disagree with the performance numbers. Subjectively, though, Leopard on a G4 is still pretty snappy. For me, it was about size and power - no Intel machine until the Core Solo / Core Duo could even come close to the performance while using 30 watts or less. The Pentium 4 was essentially the heating element in a space heater.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Subjectively, though, Leopard on a G4 is still pretty snappy.

 

Most late G4s like the DLSD Powerbooks, last gen iBooks, and even the 1.42ghz eMac are quite good on Leopard, but they differ from the Mini in that they have a Core Image capable GPU. IMO, the Radeon 9200 was really the downfall of these systems, and on a GPU heavy OS like Leopard it can make or break the experience.

 

I've run Leopard on some pretty low spec systems and can usually tolerate it pretty well esp. considering the better software compatibility it offers. On towers where I intend to run it a lot, I will install a CI-capable GPU. Otherwise, I crank down the animations quite a bit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What an interesting take.

I generally disagree though. Apple was the only place where you were going to get a Mac, but in general, TDPs scaled up on PPC almost as fast as it did on Intel (but, perhaps a few years later) and in general, Intel was winning in raw numbers, and in pulling the TDP back down in order to build reasonable laptops.

 

For me, it was about size and power - no Intel machine until the Core Solo / Core Duo could even come close to the performance while using 30 watts or less. The Pentium 4 was essentially the heating element in a space heater.


On the mobile side:
 
Mobile P4s and also Pentium Ms had been outperforming mobile G4s for a few years. Apple pretty clearly fudged the G5 benchmarks to the point where there were almost always P4s that were faster, and even if there weren't, you could look in the direction of Xeons.

At 35 watts, the Pentium 4 Mobiles in the ThinkPad T30 (2002) outperformed the G4 in the 1.67GHz PowerBook G4s (2005.) These Pentium 4Ms generally run at about 30w. There was a few SKUs using as much as 35w\, but once you’re cooling 30w in a laptop, 35 isn’t an awful lot more. 

At their wattage, the Pentium M made the damage worse because you're talking about chips that bring down the wattage to below 30 (22-25 generally) and ramp down the clockspeed massively but still outperform G4s and P4s.

On the desktop side:

Granted, the G5 is said to have used less power (generously: the original 970 is relatively low power but a 970MP at 2GHz is pulling 100w) than those Xeons, but if that was your goal then you could go get a 1u system or a blade system with Sossaman Xeons in it and still outperform G4s. I also like this page saying "The G5 isn't hot" and then (in 2004 when 50 watts of heat was still utterly insane to think about on the Mac side of things) shows that the 970FX at 2.5GHz can use 90-100W "max".
 
The last-gen mainstream P4s topped 65-86w (a previous generation had reached 89W.) The Extreme Edition chips (which are the equivalent of today's 6+core i7s and "core i9" CPUs, at ~140w) were the only ones to go over 90w. Pentium D saw 95-130w chips, which is pretty much par for the course for gluing two 65w chips together on a single die.

——
 
Wattage comparisons are super interesting, but almost exclusively from an academic perspective. Perhaps the lesson here is that at the time, every chip company thought that throwing more power at the problem was the solution. The real problem was that the PC OEMs and even Apple hadn’t really had any experience with cooling hot chips. That experience (or: a few reasonable ideas tossed into the dark) ultimately came about. (Interestingly: If the original G5s were as low-wattage as I've seen, that system needs nowhere near the type of cooling it got -- perhaps Apple knew what was coming down the pike.)

From a “product” perspective it almost doesn't seem worth talking about the wattages on, say, a Pentium 4 when a G5's CPU isn’t far off, and when the top chip on the mainstream Haswell and newer platforms is 90+ watts, so there’s obviously still a certain amount of thought (Apple is also using these chips) that you can get horsepower from wattage.

I think the main thing IBM/Apple figured out before Intel is how to ramp the CPU frequency down when the system is idle to save energy and put out less heat for no good reason.

Even with as “bad” as the P4 was, I think Apple pretty clearly saw how much better Intel was doing with processors for personal computers.

I truly think the main reason Apple got away with this is because they were the only way to buy a Mac. I think that there’s things Apple could have done, possibly even blindingly obvious things (like better disks) to make the lowest end and portable products feel like better computers.

Edited by Cory5412
fixed a typo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To add, again: One of my favorite linux shellboxes was a PIIIm laptop with a slow CPU and a low RAM ceiling. A G4 Mac mini might have a chance at outperforming that, and 1GB is more than sufficient for a text-only ssh console for things like irssi and alpine. It would likely be better suited to the task than an ultraportable laptop, too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

On the mobile side:

 

Mobile P4s and also Pentium Ms had been outperforming mobile G4s for a few years. Apple pretty clearly fudged the G5 benchmarks to the point where there were almost always P4s that were faster, and even if there weren't, you could look in the direction of Xeons.

 

At 35 watts, the Pentium 4 Mobiles in the ThinkPad T30 (2002) outperformed the G4 in the 1.67GHz PowerBook G4s (2005.) These Pentium 4Ms generally run at about 30w. There was a few SKUs using as much as 35w\, but once you’re cooling 30w in a laptop, 35 isn’t an awful lot more. 

 

 

I have the P4 Gateway laptop I got new for college in 2006 running XP and Firefox 52. Just in terms of web page rendering speed, my DLSD with Leopard and Leopard Webkit blows it away, although admittedly the Gateway is more usable on the web.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The benchmark I used was Cinebench. The ThinkPad T30 was mine, but the 1.67 PowerBook belonged to somebody else. It would be a fairer comparison for web browsing if you had a clean install, a fresh reboot, and contemporary versions of the same browser on both platforms. I forget which CPU the T30 had, but I'm sure I have it written somewhere. My guess is that it was a 1.8 or a 2.0GHz chip.

 

Do you have the detailed configuration information of the P4 based system and, like, JS rendering scores on something like Octane or one of the other js benchmarking tools?

 

The other thing is that Firefox has been, from time to time, the slowest of the modern browsers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm going to set up some side by side comparisons when I have a chance.

 

One of the things I have in mind is to run lens correction filters on some of my medium large format film scans(which are ~20mb and ~80mb in size). Most of the MF scans are of originals taken with Planar-type lenses which introduce some noticeable "mustache" distortion. The LF scans are simpler since all my LF lenses are Tessar types and tend to only have simple pincushion distortion. I

 

In any case, distortion corrections are among the most computationally intensive things you can do in Photoshop, so I think this is a decent stress test especially with the larger files.

 

Also, I'll mention that XP SP3 is roughly the same age as Leopard, and it's often thought that running an older OS with less computational overhead will give that computer an advantage. The P4s that were still shipping in ~2008 often still shipped with XP SP3.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me, it was about size and power - no Intel machine until the Core Solo / Core Duo could even come close to the performance while using 30 watts or less. The Pentium 4 was essentially the heating element in a space heater.

 

Cory makes the case for the various mobile Pentium 4 variants which, quite honestly, I can't say a single nice thing about, but the case for the G4 basically disintegrates when the Pentium M enters the picture. Here's the data sheet for the MPC7447A used in the last Powerbooks; at 1.42Ghz it sucks a maximum of 30 watts, 21 watts typical, whatever "Typical" means. 1.42gz is the maximum frequency in the datasheet, assuming it scales fairly linearly add maybe three or four watts to that for the 1.67mhz version. Intel set the design TDP for all Dothan Pentium Ms at 27 watts except for the 800mhz ULV version, which was set to 10.8 (By comparison there, the "typical" consumption of the 7447 at 1ghz is 16 watts, 23 watts max.)

 

Granted this *isn't* an apples-to-oranges comparison, because Intel bases TDP on some strenuous code mix but states it's not to be taken as the theoretical maximum the CPU might use, but even if we assume that Intel's "TDP" is directly comparable to Motorola's "Typical" the few watts theoretical win that gives the PowerPC is more than offset by the greater performance of the Intel CPU. That 27 watt TDP goes up to a 2.26ghz version, and according to GeekBench even the 1.6ghz Dothan handily outperforms the 1.67ghz PowerBook.

 

(Even the lowly 1.3ghz Banias Pentium M from 2003 scores around 870, which puts it right up with the very best Powerbooks and a good chunk faster than a Mini G4, which didn't come out until 2005. Banias actually drew less power than Dothan as well; Dothan doubled the size of the onboard cache and made a few other changes that significantly increased performance at the cost of increased power consumption. But still not enough to make it "worse" than where PowerPC was stuck at.)

 

I'm not entirely sure why Intel didn't embrace the Pentium M as a desktop solution once it became obvious just how much better it was than, well, basically everything in the consumer space. I think in part it was harder to produce/lower yield than the Pentium 4 at first because of the relatively huge amount of onboard cache it sported, and, well, there's also the fact that Intel's marketing had gone all in on the whole more-megahertz-is-better thing, it probably was wise of them to keep their counterexample quiet until the were ready to jump ship en-masse. (As great as the Pentium M was from an efficiency standpoint it didn't *quite* scale up high enough to match the very fastest, over-the-top desktop Netburst chips.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×