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Gorgonops

Tested: Cheap 2.5" PATA SSD for old PowerBooks

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As noted in this thread about emulating Target Disk mode using a Linux computer:
 

 

I discovered my test mule Aluminum G4 PB had a borked internal hard drive. (And a borked memory slot, but I'm ignoring that for now.) While browsing everyone's favorite e-Commerce big brother for the right FireWire cable to do some additional testing on another machine I stumbled across a listing for a laptop-size PATA to M.2 SATA adapter for $13. (The particular seller for the one I bought is sold out now. Here's the same one listed for $20, but someone else may well have it cheaper. So, just for laughs I bought it and The second-cheapest 128GB M.2 SATA stick that didn't have terrible reviews to see if it would work as an HD replacement. The bits got here today:


ADATA_IDE.jpg.fce9b2ca3a3c32c9f2499944853fee90.jpg

And so after the expected hassle I got it installed in the Powerbook. (Side note: Jeebus Xrist, I'd apparently blocked out just how terrible it is to replace the HD in an Al PowerBook G4 despite doing it fairly regularly once upon a time. That stupid little yellow cable is basically folded sharply in two when the HD is fitted and that makes it almost impossible to get the little bugger plugged back into the motherboard... aaaargh!)

TL;DR, it seems to work fine. I booted the laptop over Firewire from my Linux computer as described in the linked thread, installed OS X 10.4.6, and let Software update do the combo update. It boots in about 20 seconds from the initial gray Apple logo to the Desktop, and TenFourFox is actually close to usable on the system, which is particularly amazing considering at the moment I'm stuck with only 512MB of RAM. It's quite remarkable how much it helps the computer, well, suck a lot less.

I stumbled across this thread of people posting Xbench results for various SSD-in-a-PowerPC solutions; this particular combination of parts nets a disk score of 218.94. This seems to be near the ceiling that people can get with this laptop if the results of that thread are accurate. Total BOM was about $40, so for the price this seems pretty darn good. (I don't want to slag on OWC's turnkey solution, but there's a lot of difference between $40 and $130.)

It looks like mSATA-IDE adapters with a similar laptop form factor are even cheaper so maybe I should have gone with that, although the drives are slightly more expensive so I guess in the end I would have broken about even. In part I bought a 128GB drive instead of a larger one because I was kind of curious if the drive would be compatible with my B&W (assuming it still works) when fitted with a 40-to-44 pin desktop adapter, but after what a pain it was to get it into the PowerBook I don't think I feel like pulling it back out. Anyone tried something like this in an older machine?

Also wondering how durable this is likely to be, but I'm guessing I probably won't use the machine enough to stress it too hard.

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Xbench disk results, if anyone's curious.

 

Disk Test	218.94	
		Sequential	144.99	
			Uncached Write	158.99	97.62 MB/sec [4K blocks]
			Uncached Write	151.33	85.62 MB/sec [256K blocks]
			Uncached Read	114.62	33.54 MB/sec [4K blocks]
			Uncached Read	167.63	84.25 MB/sec [256K blocks]
		Random	446.82	
			Uncached Write	374.48	39.64 MB/sec [4K blocks]
			Uncached Write	270.00	86.44 MB/sec [256K blocks]
			Uncached Read	3126.83	22.16 MB/sec [4K blocks]
			Uncached Read	442.83	82.17 MB/sec [256K blocks]

 

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3 hours ago, Gorgonops said:

[...] TenFourFox is actually close to usable on the system, which is particularly amazing considering at the moment I'm stuck with only 512MB of RAM.

 

I am planning on taking this absurd setup with me to Mountain View representing #TeamPowerPC, with 2 GB of RAM.

 

Wish me luck.

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It looks like mSATA-IDE adapters with a similar laptop form factor are even cheaper so maybe I should have gone with that, although the drives are slightly more expensive so I guess in the end I would have broken about even. In part I bought a 128GB drive instead of a larger one because I was kind of curious if the drive would be compatible with my B&W (assuming it still works) when fitted with a 40-to-44 pin desktop adapter, but after what a pain it was to get it into the PowerBook I don't think I feel like pulling it back out. Anyone tried something like this in an older machine?

I've been converting PB's this way for a little while now, first started using actual IDE SSD's years ago but they're expensive and slow, the mSATA adapters have been my go-to way of getting SSDs into them now for a while, so far all worked fine and given a decent improvement in performance, reduction in heat and power consumption and also....silence!

 

I've also used them in B+W G3's and various G4s too, all with same success but I've only used 64GB SSDs in the older machines, but there is a 256GB in one of the G4s but it's running off a Sonnet IDE card rather than the onboard controller.

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