G4 upgrade advice...


Hello. I'm wishing to get YOUR opinion on my G4 upgrade dilemma.

Now before people start posting abuse - I know this has been done to death, but I still, just wanted to get YOUR opinion. So here goes...

I have a G4 867mhz Quicksilver.
(I love it - not interested in getting a G5...)
I've spent a bit of time and money making this tower rock.
Including 1.5gb of CL2 SDRAM, Radeon 8500, Adaptec 39160 SCSI card, 10K SCSI drives, DVD-RW/CD-RW drive, and the most wicked fan cooling setup.
It's mean, lean, and quiet.

Besides popping in a Radeon 9800 card, the only thing left to do is the dual processor upgrade... (I've put this off as long as I could).
This has been my little project - building the best Quicksilver ever!

(it's running Panther 10.3.9 - haven't had time to install Tiger just yet - want to do a clean install...) Just for consideration - I'm an illustrator / graphic designer so my programs of choice are Adobe Creative Suite, Macromedia Studio, Microsoft Office, Safari, iTunes, and DVD Studio Pro.

Anyway my budget for a processor is $500.
And I'm torn between two different G4 processors.

#1 - Gigadesigns dual 1.6 7447 G4 / L2 512K = $432
#2 - Gigadesigns dual 1.33 7455 G4 / L2 256k / L3 2mb = $515

(Due to price Gigadesigns seems to better than Powerlogix or Sonnet.
+ I've heard better things about 'sleep' issues and reliablity from Gigadesigns...)

Anyway, initially my first reaction was to go for the dual 1.33 because of the L3 cache - and by the sound of most reports it would be the faster of the two. However on consideration I'm now feeling that due to the lower power usage (a consideration since I want to use a Radeon 9800) and overall reliability and speed I might be better off with the dual 1.6...
As you can see I'm doing my head in a bit...

I know L3 cache helps (I couldn't believe the performance difference between an 800mhz G4 (without L3) and an 867mhz G4 with 2mb L3 cache. But since I've now got 1.5gb of CL2 SDRAM - I started thinking that I could probably benefit more from a purely faster processor...

So... give me your personal choice, opinion, and reasons.
Please, I need help with this decision.
Processor cache makes all the difference in the world. I would go with the dual 1.33.

RAM will not compensate for lack of or tiny amounts of processor cache.
Okay... been doing my research.

It seems that a Quicksilver which has a 344W power supply should be able to handle a 7455B dual 1.33 processor + Radeon 9800 + SCSI drives + more okay.
(Concern was raised when a review of this processor card found that it could not work with a Radeon 9800 in an eariler G4 due to PS restrictions.)
So that deals with that concern.

Thanks for your comment 'ElDiabloConCaca'. I totally agree you. L3 cache does make a big difference. I never meant that my fast CL2 RAM could compensate for the loss of L3 cache - only that without L3 I'm not going to suffer as much as I would if I was using CL3 RAM. Slight advantage there - especially since the system /memory bus ratio to processor is x10 - (133mhz x 10 = 1.33ghz.)

I'm certainly thinking along your lines that because there is such a huge speed gap between the memory controller and the processor, an L3 cache seems more desirable than a faster processor.

However, I do know (from my research) that the programs I use don't nearly tax the L3 cache as other applications do - such as gaming or video work. So the performance of both processor cards would be roughly equal for my uses.

mmmmm, anyone else wish to slot in their two cents?
I also have a Quicksilver G4 that I want to keep ( I also love it!) and want to know if there are any problems in upgrading the HD and RAM. I have chages the optic drive to a Pioneer Super Drive, which is great and I am now in OSX 10.4 which is fine. I have 256+512 RAM and understand that I can maximize this to 1.5GB but I have heard that some people have problems in increasing memory. I have 40GB HD and would also like to increase this but have heard that 120 GB is the limit. Any advice please. I shall watch your post on the CPU as I would like to upgrade that eventually.
I have a G4 MDD dual 867. I recently upgraded from a 60 gb drive to a 160 gb samsung drive. Havn't had any problems so far.

Where did you read about the size limit?

I read it at macupgrades.co.uk. It says that this model can take IDE HD up to 120 GB and for larger drives you need a high spec IDE controller into PCI socket. My Quicksilver model is a single processor ( I think). Might this make a difference?
The size limit applies to all G4 towers prior to the MDD models. MDD models can use hard drives in excess of 128GB (137GB depending on which system you use to count). Previous models are limited to 128GB (137GB) capacity without the help of a PCI ATA card.

Here are some benchmarks and application tests with a variety of upgrade cards:

You can see that even though the 1.2GHz upgrade is about 600MHz slower than the 1.8GHz upgrade, the 1.2GHz's 2MB of L3 cache really help it along in some tests -- even beating the 1.8GHz upgrade which lacks an L3 cache.

That cache makes more difference than people think!
If you need a hard drive upgrade liam, you could go down the route I took which was to get a Serial-ATA card. I had a 40Gb and 80Gb on my internal ATA bus so added a Sonnet Tempo 2-channel card (cheaper than the RAID options) and stuck a 200GB drive on that. Now my 40Gb drive is getting a bit rickety (it was the original drive when I got my mac - G4/867), it's making way for a 160Gb S-ATA drive and hopefully a bit of a performance increase. I do a lot of photo-intensive graphic design work and a bit of video so space is always useful to me - 440Gb on my 3 internal drives should keep me going for a while!

On the subject, does anyone know how many drives I could sensibly run in my Quicksilver. I only have 3 power leads so have not exceeded 3 drives so far. Could I split any of the power leads for a fourth drive since there is room for another one in there, and I have enough controllers for a fourth, or would the whole thing meltdown?! All my drives are Seagate Barracudas.
As far as I know, if you can physically mount them in the case, you can run four drives. The Sawtooth/DA/GigE and PCI model G4s can have four drives physically mounted in the machine -- three on the floor and one stacked (they came with a bracket for stacking drives). If your Quicksilver has four bays, I say go for it.

I used to have four drives in my machine and used a cheap-o Y-splitter for one power cable and it worked fine -- no heat issues, either, but then again, my machine is about half as fast as yours and my processor gets only warm to the touch.
Hmmm, the SMART thingies in my drives are reading 36, 44 and 45 degrees, and the operating temps are given as 0-60 (5-55 for the 200Gb) so I have some room to play with.

There's easily room for another drive in there, so I might get me one of them Y-splitters and see how it copes. The 867 processor has a giant heatsink and fan combo so never seems to get more than slightly warm in normal use, and never really "hot", even after a few hours of video nonsense.

It's already really loud with all the drives and fans going, so it's gonna get even worse now. Gotta be worth it till the original drive expires anyway!
Factor41 said:
It's already really loud with all the drives and fans going, so it's gonna get even worse now.
I hear ya on that (albeit barely over the noise of my machine)!

I got a 60GB Western Digital 2MB cache 7200RPM drive about 3 years ago, and it whines louder than necessary. Totally normal, though, as I installed 2 other identical models in clients' machines and they did the same thing. I guess it's just specific to that exact model. Makes my machine quite loud in addition to the purring of hard drives and fans. My machine also sits above the ground on a wire shelf, so you can hear the fans much more than if it were sitting on the ground.

It's kind of good in a weird way -- it makes me feel as if my machine is somehow more "powerful" because it makes a lot of noise... ;)
ElDiabloConCaca said:
...it makes me feel as if my machine is somehow more "powerful" because it makes a lot of noise... ;)
Yeah, I quite like it too! Bit of a pain trying to get some kip while something's downloading, but at least most of the drives go to sleep after a while. The Seagate's are pretty good on the noise front really, but with three or four of them, it's a fair old row they make.